The Sooke based Westcoast Flyfishers are celebrating 10 years of community involvement and camaraderie in the artful sport of fly fishing.
Jochen Moehr, Westcoast Flyfishers secretary, said the club was founded by Garry Bettridge, who remains as president to this day.
Moehr said one of the motives behind the club was to open up the world of fly fishing to youth, who at the time were not eligible for membership in other organizations.
“It’s definitely one of our things to try to involve youth and try to get them started in the sport,” Moehr said.
“We think our sport is a great sport and if people start at a young age, then they become more proficient.”
As part of their youth-oriented initiative, the Westcoast Flyfishers have offered fly tying courses as electives at Journey middle school over the past 10 years.
They have also held fly tying demonstrations for local Scouts, and other children at local community events.
The club is fairly active, meeting three times a month for a social/instructional evening, a general meeting and a fish out. Other events include fishing excursions, instructional events, fly fishing demonstrations and fundraising.
“These events are great fun and it’s very rewarding to see that we can get new fishers up to speed quite quickly,” Moehr said.
“It took me years before I caught my first fish on a dry fly, and this year we had a few fish outs in the summer and people who had joined in February or January were able to catch their first dozen fish on the dry fly.”
A dry fly is the use of fibres like feathers, hair or fur to construct flies, which are attached to a hook. They are tied in a manner to resemble naturally occurring fish food — which can change at certain times, according to Moehr.
“Certain times when black ants swarm, the fish will eat nothing other than black ants and other times they eat very, very small insects that actually develop in the water and come to the surface and fly away as adults.
“So one has to match these natural events that go on and one has to have good technique as we say to present the fly and then the fish come and grab it — it’s a very exciting sport.”
Other fly fishing techniques under the club’s umbrella are wet flies, nymphs and streamers.
The fish outs take place at local bodies of water, like Young Lake, Thetis Lake, Sooke River, Sooke Basin, Cowichan River and Matheson Lake.
“[There’s] a huge variety of game fish and they’re all fished in different manners and different times and in different environments. So it’s a fascinating hobby and very diverse,” Moehr said, adding all anglers are encouraged to fish in the most humane manner and within the parameters of the law.
“We do a lot of catch and release and try to do it in such a way that the fish are not harmed.”
Moehr said one of the joys of fly fishing, and all sorts of fishing for that matter, is the serenity of the outdoors and respectful interaction with wildlife.
Over the years, the club has seen membership fluctuate. Currently there are 33 members, some from around the world like Tasmania, United Kingdom and Ontario.
“We are quite open armed for new people and I know there’s a lot of interest and we have again quite a few members this year from our website and just from little flyers from the fish shops,” Moehr said.
In a 10th anniversary Westcoast Flyfishers video, President Garry Bettridge, said he hopes the club will continue on the same path as it has in the past.
“I would hope that the club continues to have a community precense and community activities… and also keep up our tradition, if you want, with youth.”
To learn more about the West Coast Fly Fishers, visit: www.westcoastflyfishers.com