Outdoor Writers Association of America
Northwest Outdoor Writers Association
This Week's View

by Deanna Birkholm

The Ladyfisher

June 1st, 1998

Busman's Holiday?

We fly anglers live in an interesting world. This comes to mind after a day "off" . Of course, our idea of a day off may not be yours, but we planned a quick trip to Victoria, B.C. for an afternoon visit with Clive Schaupmeyer who writes the "Our Man in Canada" column for this website. Clive and his wife Willie were in Victoria for the annual meeting of the Outdoors Writers of Canada.

And like many of us on the web, we had web-chatted, spoke on the phone - but never met in person. So here was an opportunity to have an "eye-ball" meeting. For us it's an hour or so drive to the ferry in Port Angeles WA, and another hour on the passenger ferry, The Victoria Express to make the crossing.

Beautiful sunshine day - the first in a couple of weeks. Nice music on the C.D., thermos of hot coffee and tooling down the road on cruise control. Pretty nice.

"Say, as long as we are going right by, how about we stop and say 'hi' at Tommy's?" (Castwell, and his idea of a day off - stop at a fly shop.)

Tommy it turned out, was off somewhere fishing. But we spent a half hour going through new books on his rack. A couple of which will show up on the book review section. And looked at some new fly tying materials. And a shirt . . .

Smooth sunny crossing, polite, friendly customs officers, and sitting outside on a bench waiting for us when we landed, Clive and Winnie. Over refreshments at Clive's hotel, mention of fly-tying materials. A list of local island fly shops was produced, Winnie found a downtown map at the bellman's desk, zeroed in on the address, and with Winnie guiding we took off walking.

Victoria is a beautiful city. Clean, flowers everywhere, traffic neatly controlled and at least in the harbor area, lots of little shops and restaurants. Not a mall in sight. Absolutely lovely! For American's it is also a major bargain. With the current exchange rate about 40% you can have a holiday for very little expense. Certainly less than the same amenities in our closest city Seattle.

So it was off to find the fly shop, (second one of the day.) Nice people, well stocked, but not the materials we needed in the right color. But Castwell did manage to spend a few bucks anyway. But there is another shop! Not within walking distance, 'tho.

The clerk at this fly shop recommended another other fly shop, and offered to call a taxi for the four of us. How nice! Cab was prompt in arriving and took us miles away to the "other" fly shop, which turned out to be Island Outfitters Ltd., which bills itself as a sportfishing center. Gratefully they did have the hair he wanted, in the proper colors, and he will be able to tie Castwell's Marblehead for a number of years.

Island Outfitters is a very neat shop. In the U.S. it would be called a "cross-over" shop. They have spin, bait and fly fishing items and gear. Well done, nicely laid out, with a large, knowledgeable, friendly staff. (One of their staff Carlin Bennett is a well-known B.C. tier and writer who we hope you will see soon on FAOL.)

As fishermen tend to do, we all were visiting, when we became aware of another person wearing a green shirt with an embroidered Cortland logo. Introductions all around. The Cortland guy is Bill Gower. (Who by the way, made room, and went out of his way to take the four of us all the way back downtown in his van.)

If I sound a little impressed by the courtesy and friendliness of our Canadian neighbors, you are bang on. And the point it this: On the drive back downtown, we asked Bill how fly fishing is doing in Canada. We have heard all sorts of doom and gloom comments about how bad the fly fishing industry is here.

Bill said there isn't any problem with a declining sport, or declining interest in fly fishing in Canada at all. Hmmmmm.

This became quite a lengthy discussion. And maybe it has to do with attitude. Many fly shops in the U.S. are private little kingdoms of the owner. If five years ago he received a free demo rod from one of the major companies, or bought one at key-employee discount, that was the rod! I mean THE Rod. No matter what came out new or better, he pushed sales of that rod. Because he used it, and was an "expert" everyone had to have one!

At some point people all either had his pet rod, or lost interest after being pressured to buy. Is the market "saturated?" Even in B.C. where ever more stringent regulations are enacted to protect their salmon, fly fishing is increasing.

And where do most of the new fly fishers come from? Spin fishing, bait fishing . . . the same place most of us started. And most of us probably bought our first fly rod from a shop that we trusted where we had bought spinning or bait rods. We bought other rods based mostly on our own experience and knowledge of what we needed for a particular fishery.

Does the difference in attitude between Ward Bonds " Island Outfitters" shop in Victoria, B.C. (which Bill Gower said was very typical) and our speciality fly shops count toward the lack of new fly fishers in the U.S.?

Interesting question. ~ LadyFisher

Archive of Ladyfisher Articles

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ] © Notice