A young fly tying enthusiast sports the appropriate colours at the 2009 Pink Salmon Festival.

Westcoast Flyfishing Association bobs for kids

Sooke has a long reputation of being a fisher’s paradise. And people like Garry Bettridge, president of the Westcoast Flyfishers Association, try to get them hooked early.

Sooke has a long reputation of being a fisher’s paradise. And people like Garry Bettridge, president of the Westcoast Flyfishers Association, try to get them hooked early.

Nearing its 10th year of operation, WFA teaches mostly kids but also adults (members range from 7 years old to 70) the finer points of fly fishing from tying their first “fly” (both artificial and real insects) on a hook to casting their first line in the water.

“Right from the very first year we were committed to youth,” said Bettridge, whose own son Justin got involved with the sport at a young age.

The club meets a few times a month: the first Tuesday is usually spent tying flies upstairs in the meeting room at Village Foods, followed by a fishing expedition for trout or salmon a week or two later.

“(We go to) Kemp Lake, (and other) different types of lakes. We go to Young Lake once a year.”

The group also participates in the Pink Salmon Festival that involves over 100 kids from Greater Victoria out in the waters off Sooke angling for the fish during their biennial run.

Bettridge started the club because he wanted to spread his love for fly fishing to a wider demographic.

“If you go to any fly club meeting, I guarantee you the average age would be 55 to 60.”

He said he has helped young kids his whole life, and has “been a coach for just about every sport there is.” Taking that expertise and applying it to his passion for flyfishing was the next logical step.

Belonging to the Haig-Brown Fly Fishing Association based out of Victoria in the late 1990s, Bettridge wanted to enroll Justin.

“Lots of members of that club recognized my son as a very very good fly tyer. They wanted him to join the club, (but) when they looked at the constitution there was no youth allowance.”

That’s when it dawned on Bettridge to start a club in Sooke. In 2002, he placed a one-inch ad in the Sooke News Mirror and posted some fliers in a few stores. Expecting about six people to show up to the inaugural meeting, 27 attended. Since then the club has consistently drawn membership from as high as 42 in some years to as low as nine in others.

WFA is active in the educational system as well. It puts on an annual fly tying event at Journey Middle School, and is part of their exploratory program that exposes kids to unique  extracurricular activities.

“We teach 30 kids on two different days how to tie their first woolly bugger fly (imitation leech),” he said.

On the community front, Bettridge and his crew have set up demos at the fall fair, Canada Day celebrations at the flats and Camp Barnard in the past.

Applications are accepted year round, and you can find more information on their website at www.westcoastflyfishers.com, or drop in to a regular meeting  at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday or third Thursday of every month upstairs in Village Foods.

Just Posted

MISSING: Victoria police seek 42-year-old Craig Hughes

Hughes was last seen on May 20 at 5:45 a.m.

Some showers, high of 18 C for Tuesday

Plus a look ahead at your weekly forecast

Peninsula crews extinguish early morning boat fire in Central Saanich

Firefighters saved nearby home from further damage

Bay Street Bridge construction begins today

Point Ellice Bridge will be closed to eastbound vehicle traffic until October

Rescuers finally persuade Eiffel Tower climber to come down

The official said the man was ‘under control and out of danger’ on Monday night

Federal government funds millions to help B.C. police spot drugged driving

Many police departments have expressed wariness about using the only government-approved roadside test

Judge: Mississippi 6-week abortion ban ‘smacks of defiance’

The new law would prohibit most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Oil companies, 24-cent gap between B.C., Alberta to be focus of gas price probe

Premier John Horgan called the spike in gas prices ‘alarming’

Meals on Wheels needs volunteers

Cooks, meal planners desperately required

Motorcycle deaths spike 50% since 2017

Riders were most likely fatally crash on the weekends compared with the rest of the week

Mother of accused charged in death of Surrey teen girl found in torched SUV

Manjit Kaur Deo charged with ‘accessory after the fact’ in 2017 death of Surrey teen

Family of B.C. pilot killed in Honduras trying to ‘piece together’ tragedy

Patrick Forseth has a number of friends in the area and was loved by everyone

Most Read