September 15th, 2008

By James Castwell

I have been hearing a lot about volunteering lately. Some of it has to do with politics, some has to do with some of the fly fishing organizations push to get small grass-roots groups to form and try to develop fly fishing power from the ground up.

I am in favor of that, the 'from the ground up' idea. I have seen too many well-meaning organizations become top heavy and actually believed their own promotional materials. Too much weight at the top makes things plop over. So far they have not fallen but many have merged with others to attempt to form new images. So be it. I still think that fly fishing is an individual thing that can be done in a group.

Take a weekend on a lake or stream, half a dozen guys wading or belly-boating, each in his own way, at his own speed and with his own methods. But, they all spend the weekend doing it together. I used to spend my weekends that way. A few of us would meet at a campground to trout fish. We all used different fly rods, reels, lines and usually, flies. But, in the evening, when all was done, a soot-smeared aluminum coffee pot graced the rocks outlining our campfire.

The chill drifted up from the river and down jackets were the preferred garment for the hours till midnight. Then off to our tents or campers and back at it the next morning. A group had been formed. No official name was given, but we had rules and ethics. Even then, without any formal stratifying, we agreed without discussion that part of each day would be spent cleaning up the area of cans and trash. It just went without saying.

Work was out. That was one of the firm rules though. No one was allowed to mention any part of his job. Kind of silly I suppose but we had fun having it that way. One of the bunch did teach us how to sharpen a knife correctly, he was a butcher and felt sorry for us. We allowed that exception. Back home a group just seemed to form and before I knew it I had a dozen or so meeting on a regular basis at my house to tie flies. That group went on to become the first FFF in the state. That was a long time ago. Ground up. That is the way to get it right.

Volunteer to do it. Teach it. Tie some flies at a store or a mall or wherever you can find an audience. Our recreation can not be saved or developed from the top down. You are what is important, what it is all about, you are who it's for. You and future generations of volunteers.

Lastly on a completely different subject, or maybe it isn't. Here is this. There is a law now called the Clean Boating Act of 2008. This was recently signed into law by our president. What it does is this. Permanently restores a long-standing exemption for the nations 18 million recreational boats from permitting requirements under the Clean Water Act.

This permanently reverses a September 2006 court decision that would have required recreational boaters to obtain a federal or state permit in order to operate their boats. Think about this one. ~ James Castwell

Till next week, remember . . .

Keepest Thynne Baakast Upeth

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