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Adventures in Fly Fishing

Posted By Karen Young On June 1, 2010 @ 11:40 pm In Featured,Features,spotlight | No Comments


(Editor’s Note: This is the first in a three part series about Adventures in Fly Fishing)

The conversation revolved around cutthroats and perfect casting, but we weren’t talking Hollywood. I was sitting at a table with a half dozen dudes encompassing a wide variety of character types, from grizzled, grinning retirees to buttoned-down businessmen. All of them had one thing in common: a love of fly fishing.

This was my first meeting of the Sierra Pacific Fly Fishers (SPFF) and I was learning fast, taking in just a wee bit more than I wanted to know. One guy mentioned that a .44 caliber gun was best for bear attacks, another talked rattlesnakes. I thought scales and funny smells were the scariest things I’d deal with in my new sport of choice. Silly me.

Left, Bennett Mintz, my soon-to-be casting instructor, caughta 90-pound Pacific sailfish while fly-fishing for billfish in Guatemala.

The San Fernando Valley-based club meets the third Thursday of every month at The Monteray of Encino. Of the 200-plus members in attendance at the May 20 meeting, I discovered some devote a hefty portion of their twlight years to catching fish, while some are weekend warriors, eager escapists who can’t wait to hoist “gone fishing” signs outside their offices come Friday.

I went to the meeting in search of new adventures, new sources of inspiration to fuel my writing career and a physical activity that takes me way outside my comfort zone. Since the dinner inched me outside the familiarity of my bookish, everyday habits (think reading, writing, movies, theatre), I’m going to have to say the sport itself will land me somewhere in my comfort zone’s Siberian realm. The club’s past president, Bennett Mintz, has already agreed to take me on a fly fishing lesson at Balboa Park in the coming weeks (seriously, Balboa Park for fishing lessons – who knew?). He’ll teach me how to tie a fly and cast a line, two activities that are as foreign to me as speed to a turtle. I’m already thanking the gods of ill-coordinated indoorsy types that Bennett appears to be a patient man.

Though reel talk abounds with this bunch, SPFF doesn’t solely focus on a good catch. They also support education and conservation in a meaningful way. At the May meeting, they granted three scholarships to high school seniors Tyler Engel, Prathiba Sewandi Madigaploa and Sorelle Fluke, of San Pedro High School, Cleveland High School and Newbury Park High School, respectively. The students each got $1,000 to help fund studies in marine/aquatic biology and oceanography. Other educational efforts include fly tying classes and casting lessons at Reseda High School. Graduates of casting classes take a trip to Bishop to try their luck at hooking trout in the Owens River.

From left, high school students Prathiba Sewandi Madigaploa (Cleveland High), Sorelle Fluke (Newbury Park High) and Tyler Engel (San Pedro High)all got $1,000 scholarships at the May meeting of SPFF.

If you’re simply up for learning more about flyfishing, the meetings often feature speakers who are experts in the field. I had the pleasure of viewing a slide show by Dave McCoy, a wildlife and destination photographer, who also works as a fly fishing guide. McCoy’s Seattle-based guide service, Emerald Waters Anglers, fishes Washington’s waters from Puget Sound to the Olympic Peninsula and Cascade Mountains. McCoy had some stunning shots of hidden creeks and more popular waters all over the state, images that inspire stewardship of the environment. He’s all about conservation, aiming to educate as many people as possible about the fragility of our planet’s waters and the importance of maintaining marine eco-systems. He’s also a hell of a fisherman, a young guy who has reportedly been casting lines since he was in diapers.

Bennett is floating the Green River in Utah from June 2-6. When he gets back, I’m going to set up my first fly fishing lesson. I’ll check in with My Daily Find readers from time, just so you know I didn’t fall in.

Learn more about SPFF at http://www.spff.org/

Amy Lyons is a professional freelance journalist and theatre critic, with a degree in Theatre Arts and English from UMass, Boston. She started her journalism career at The Boston Globe and is a member of the Drama Critics Circle. Her articles, theatre reviews and photos regularly appear in numerous publications, including the Beverly Press, Valley Life Magazine, the Santa Monica Mirror and www.nohoartsdistrict.com

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