Editor’s Note: President Hillas has returned from his winter steelheading trip and sends his last message as FCO President! LKH
For three years, it has been my privilege to serve as president of the Flyfisher’s Club of Oregon. I’m deeply grateful for the friendships and fishing opportunities that the Club has provided me. I’m also thankful that our Club has a dedicated and knowledgeable team of volunteers who are willing to devote their time and energy to running the organization. Although I am stepping down as President, I am taking on the role of Program Director and look forward to continuing to serve in Club leadership.
Nearly two years of my presidency occurred during the Covid-19 pandemic, which altered our world profoundly. Governmental shutdown orders kept us at home and suspended our monthly dinner meetings. Zoom video conferences via laptop replaced Wet Fly Hour and live presentations at the University Club. Our annual auction and fishing outings were canceled in 2020, and I often worried about the viability of the Club.
Despite the upheaval in our normal routines, our Club has adapted. We added new members, held our first online auction, celebrated our 60th Anniversary at our first in-person meeting back at the University Club, and published a beautiful hardcover anthology showcasing the best fly fishing literature from past editions of The Creel. The Fly Fisher Foundation is hard at work beginning to review grant proposals from worthy organizations, and plans are underway for our 2022 auction. I’m proud to say that our Club is surviving the pandemic, and I look forward to resuming more of our traditions, including fishing outings on local waters.
On a personal note, I am very happy to report that I have finally broken my no-fish streak for winter steelhead on the fly. I managed to hook and land my first winter fish on the Sandy River earlier in January on a guided trip with Brian Silvey and Rick Pay. We were fishing the Gauge Hole after putting in at Dodge Park early in the morning. Rick was fishing downstream and caught a bright chromer just in from the ocean. Mentally, I was resigning myself to another day of being out fished, but this time luck was on my side. I was stepping down the run about 50 yards above Rick and managing to cast a bit more consistently than usual. My fly was fishing well on a tight line about halfway through the swing when I felt the unmistakable sharp tug, followed by a sustained pull as the fish turned and took line. I raised my rod tip and moved it toward the bank and felt the weight of the fish. A few minutes later, my fish was in the net. It was a darker buck with a crimson stripe that had spent some time in the river. Not a particularly big steelhead, but one of my most memorable fish, as it was so many years in the waiting.
Good things come (again) to those who wait. Last week Rick and I went to the north Oregon coast for a three-day steelhead trip with Rob Crandall of Water Time Outfitters and I was delighted to land three more winter fish on the swing. Rob and his crew run a fine “camp” out of a riverside house that comfortably sleeps 4 anglers. Having a warm bed, hot showers, and gourmet meals makes for a quality trip, especially when the fish are around. Based on our first experience, I am confident that we will be back again next year.
I’m looking forward to seeing you at our February 8 meeting. Presenter Marty Sheppard of Little Creek Outfitters will talk about spey fishing for steelhead during all seasons. Now that I’m finally off the schneid for winter fish, I’m eager to keep searching for more throughout the year.
Annual Business Meeting and Year Round Steelheading
The Flyfishers’ Club of Oregon holds its annual business meeting and elections for Club officers in the month of February. At the Tuesday February 8th Meeting, the following officers and directors are up for election:
Officers (1 year term expiring February 2023)
- President – Mike Radakovich
- Vice President – Christian Werner
- Secretary – Janet Arenz
- Treasurer – John Bailey
- Past President – Jim Hillas
At Large Directors (3-year terms – expiration date indicated)
- Harold Weight (February 2023)
- Lisa Hansen (February 2025)
After the business meeting members will be treated to Marty Sheppard‘s presentation, “Spey Fishing for Steelhead: Winter, Summer, Spring & Fall.” Marty’s deep knowledge of Oregon’s rivers and steelhead fishing techniques, along with his enthusiasm for the sport will be sure to provide a great evening to all. Please sign up by Friday, February 4th.