Editorial by Chris Marshall
Publisher, Canadian Fly Fisher Magazine
In September, 2003 fly fishing in Canada changed.
Fly fishers from across the country gathered
together in Russell, Manitoba for the first
Canadian National Fly-Fishing Championships and
Conservation Symposium (see Paul Marriner's feature
in the Jan/March 2004 issue of Canadian Fly Fisher).
While there have been a number of local and regional
competitions in Canada for a number of years, the
event in Manitoba was a milestone, for it was the
first time that there had been any attempt to organise
on a national scale.
It was an event which had been a long time in the
making. It began in 1985 with a phone call from
my English riverkeeper friend, Ron Holloway. He'd
been asked by people from the international fly
fishing crowd for Canadian fly fishing contacts,
as they were interested in getting Canada involved
in international competitions.
Because the competitive fly fishing scene in Britain
and Europe, which was a totally catch-and-kill affair;
was the utter antithesis of the conservation-focused
spirit of fly fishing and Canada and the USA, I told
Ron and his contact that it wouldn't work over here.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
When I dropped the ball, it was picked up by Jack Simpson,
who created Fly Fishing Canada to pull together Canada's
first team to compete in the world championships in
England in 1987. Jack has been CEO of Fly Fishing
Canada ever since, every year taking a Canadian team
to compete in venues all around the world.
But he did much more than that: rather than holding
his nose at the long lines of dead trout, he showed
them that the mass killing wasn't really necessary
and that fly fishers should be actively involved in
fish habitat conservation. Consequently, since Jack
and other Canadian fly fishers got involved, the World
Fly Fishing Championships has been transformed into a
catch-and-release event. Moreover; when the International
was held in Canada for the first tine, in 1993, he insisted
on adding a Conservation Symposium to the programme. This
is now a permanent and valued part of the world championship.
Our first national championships in Manitoba this
September was another quantum leap. This is a big
country, and unlike Britain and Europe, there are
significant obstacles in travel distances and expense
for us to gather together in one place. Manitoba's
Parkland was the fitting location for such an event,
for besides having excellent trout lakes, it's close
to the geographical centre of the country. Apart
from uncooperative weather and the usual teething
problems, the event was a resounding success. The
organisers and the Manitoba hosts can be proud of
their accomplishment. Together they've made Canadian
fly fishing history.
And this was just the beginning. Already locations
for the 2004 National Championships have been offered
and are being explored. From now on, every year will
bring the opportunity for Canadian fly fishers to gather
in a different part of the country in the spirit of
friendly competition and to share skills and experience.
For the hosts, it will provide the opportunity to show
off the fisheries in their region, and for the visitors,
it will provide hands-on fly fishing experience beyond
their home waters. There is a rich diversity of fly
fishing across this land. It's good to read about it,
but nothing can substitute for the real thing. The
National Championships will make that happen. But most
of all, it will enhance fly fishing in this hugely
diverse country, by generating deeper understanding
of what is needed to conserve and preserve our fisheries
on a national level, as well as a strong, united voice
to implement those needs. ~ CM
Credit: Excerpt from the January/March 2004
issue of The Canadian Fly Fisher. We appreciate use
Our Man In Canada Archives