Puget Sound Fly Fishing Fair

One of the great things about fly-fishing is the amazing amount of information there is about fish, the fisheries, and casting. There is always something more to learn.

Books, magazine articles, videos, and knowledgeable friends can provide a good deal of that information. But there is something very special about gatherings where experts share their knowledge in an environment of energy and enthusiasm with large numbers of fly fishers.

Yesterday Puget Sound Fly Fishers provided such a forum at the Puget Sound Fly Fishing Fair at Environmental Services Building in University Place. Sponsored by Fly Fishers International (FFI), this was a fun and informative day for those who attended.

Activities included fly-casting instruction, fly tying demonstrations, silent auctions, a local authors table, and vendor and fly shop booths. And then there were the presentations.

The challenge was choosing among the speakers and topics as simultaneous presentations were going on in two rooms. It was an excess of riches.

I chose to attend presentations by Carol Ann Morris, Leland Miyawaki, and April Vokey.

Carol Ann’s presentation was on improving one’s nature and fishing photographs. I believe photography is another area in which there’s always something more to learn.

Given my planned trip to Henry’s Fork in late September, I thought this would be a good refresher. And it was, as Carol showed mistakes in her photographs over the years and how she corrected them. A key tip was not including too much sky when it’s not needed for the focus of the photograph.

Leland of Orvis Bellevue gave another funny presentation on top water fishing for sea run cutthroat trout. I’ve heard him talk about using his popper before, but there was elegance to the way he described how he’s reduced his fishing in his choices in gear and focus on the fish he loves so much. As he said, he works in a fly shop and still basically uses only one rod setup all year.

One thing I was impressed with was when talking about where to go for information on locations, he mentioned both Puget Sound Fly Company and Gig Harbor Fly Shop. Both had booths at the fair and it was a simple but gracious act to recognize them.

And then there was April Vokey’s talk on steelhead.

I had seen photographs and articles about her for years, and had listened to her podcast. But this was the first time I heard her in person. Her talk on steelhead was the most informative I’ve heard. For someone only 34 years old, she’s forgotten more than I will ever know. Her obvious interest in others and her commitment to preservation of the natural world were evident throughout her talk.

She did exact a promise from the audience that when chasing steelhead people should catch two and then call it a day. The days of catching and stressing large numbers of those fish should be long gone as these fisheries are under pressure. The same could be said most fisheries due to population growth, pollution, and climate change.

While a number of the local fly shops conduct events and seminars and there is the annual FFI Fair in Ellensburg, this was the first event of this scope and size in Puget Sound that I can recall. The credit is due to Puget Sound Fly Fishers who planned and staffed the event.

I can only hope given the large numbers who attended yesterday that more events like this will be held in future years.

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