One of the biggest challenges Trout Unlimited and other sportsmen’s groups face today is keeping alive the American sporting heritage and becoming relevant to more diverse demographics. TU is taking on this challenge in part by engaging young people from all walks of life in the outdoors and coldwater conservation through fly fishing.
Volunteer-driven programs like TU’s Headwaters Youth Education Initiative and Bay Area Youth Fly Fishing are at the forefront of this effort. Bay Area Youth Fly Fishing, dedicated to fostering a new generation of fly fishers and coldwater conservationists in the greater Bay Area of California, held its second annual youth clinic last Sunday at the venerable Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club in San Francisco.
According to organizers and participants, the event was highly successful, with more than sixty youth and their parents learning about entomology, fly tying, knots, fly casting and other skills taught by volunteers from the participating groups in the Bay Area Youth Fly Fishing (BAYFF) program and local supporters.
Partners in the BAYFF include the Golden Gate and John Muir Trout chapters of Trout Unlimited, the Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club, the Peninsula Fly Fishers, the Flycasters of San Jose, the Oakland Casting Club, the Grizzly Peak Flyfishers, and the Diablo Valley Fly Fishermen.
The Lost Coast Outfitters fly shop and guide service also strongly supports this initiative. LCO owner George Revel helped to lead the fly tying station both last year and at this year’s event. California Trout provided professional video and still photography throughout the day.
Competitive fly casting superstar Maxine McCormick, all of 15 years old, participated in teaching at this year’s clinic and put on a demonstration of her incredible casting skills, which drew over 100 additional spectators.
Last year, the program conducted a total of 6 clinics held at the Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club and at the Oakland Casting Club. This year, the program has expanded to include the Flycasters of San Jose casting ponds in Campbell. The next BAYFF event will be held at the Los Gatos Creek Park on Saturday, May 11, from 8:45 am – 1 pm, followed by another event in Oakland on June 22.
Trout Unlimited members throughout the Bay Area played a major role in the development and launch of this initiative, in particular Frank Harris, past president of the Diablo Valley Fly Fishermen. Unfortunately, Frank recently passed away and the event was dedicated to Frank’s spirit and passion for getting kids outdoors and fostering an appreciation of nature through fly fishing.
An annual Youth Fly Fishing Scholarship to the youth FishCamp hosted by The Fly Shop in northern California has been set up in Frank’s name to honor his legacy. This scholarship opportunity is open to all girls and boys ages 10-13 residing in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Applications can be downloaded and donations to help support the scholarship can also be made via this link.
All photos courtesy Dominic Gillibert.