FFF1

Fidalgo Fly Fishers

HISTORY

OF THE

FIDALGO FLY FISHERS

 

FFF4 The idea to form the Fidalgo Fly Fishers was spawned in the late spring of 1974 around a campfire. Dan Coleman, a fly fisher and resident of Anacortes met a member of the Washington Fly Fishing Club, Oral Dudder, while fishing at Tunkwa Lake in British Columbia. Oral talked about the Washington Fly Club and suggested that Dan form a fly club in Anacortes. Later that summer, Dan Talked with some of the local fishers to see if there was any interest in forming a club, while at the same time, he continued to communicate with a few members of the Washington Fly Club.

 

FFF4 In December of 1974 Dan Coleman, Danny Beatty, Dale Elliot, Eric Moe, Dave Rice and Ernie Atterberry met with Ed Foss and Bob Strobel of the Washington Fly Fishing Club and Errol Champion, then president of the Northwest Council of The FFF, at Dan's house. Copies of the Washington Fly Fishing Club by-laws, rules, and other items brought to the meeting were used as a guide in drafting the Fidalgo Fly Fishermen by-laws and aims and purposes.

 

FFF4 Early in 1975 officers were elected, a club name was adopted and the Fidalgo Fly Fishermen were on there way. In the next couple of months friends and acquaintances that were known fly fishers were contacted and an additional ten charter members were recruited. Three of the sixteen charter members are still active in the club: Danny Beatty, Ken Jacot and Robin LaRue.

 

FFF4 In July of 1979, the club was incorporated as a non-profit corporation with the State of Washington. In the mid 1980's the name was changed to the Fidalgo Fly Fishers.

 

FFF4 The Fidalgo Fly Fishers have taken part in several projects, such as Bob Smith Creek, to improve salmon runs in the Samish River, and vibert box planting of eyed Steelhead eggs in Parker Creek, a tributary to the Skagit River.

 

FFF4 Pass Lake has been unofficially adopted by the Fidalgo Fly Fishers. With the support and urging of the Fidalgo Fly Fishers, the fishing regulations on the lake have changed from a "Put and Take"in the mid 1970's to the "Quality Water" that it is today. Many work parties have been held over the years from cleaning up of litter in and around the lake to making improvements to the parking and boat launch areas.

 

FFF4 Fidalgo Fly Fishers can be found fishing in Pass Lake, and the Skagit River, the lakes and rivers both east and west of the Cascades, and in the waters of British Columbia. In the years ahead, members of the club look forward to continuing to improve and enjoy this wonderful fishery.

 

 

 

FF3

 

 

The History Corner with Danny Beatty.

FFF4 A link to the Western Washington Libraries Special Collection, Fly Fishing Oral Histories with Danny Beatty interviewing Louis Corbin aka the Mayor of Pass Lake .

 

Because of the challenges using the WWU site Danny has posted in his corner this abridged PDF version of A Visit with Louie Corbin a real education, a must read.

 

 

FFF4 This picture was taken at Pass Lake in the late 70s.
Seated is Ken Jacot, Charter member.
Emory Harrison (deceased) has his back to us.
Bob Whitney is on the right, also a Charter member
Ken is working on the creel census the club did in those days.
Danny

 

 

FF3

 

 

FFF4 Back in 1939 Pass Lake was restricted to the use of fly only, the first such regulation to be made by the Game Commission of Washington. The fly fishing only regulation was rescinded in 1955 which continued to 1965 when it was once again designated for fly fishing only. Louie Corbin told me he fished Pass Lake on every opening day from the 1930s. This tradition was not altered during the ten years the lake was not fly fishing only nor when it was designated for year around fishing. Louie just picked the weekend for the normal opening in April and called it his "Opening Day at Pass Lake". About 1960 Louie took this picture of the opening day crowd.
Danny

 

 

FF3

 

 

PASS LAKE'S FLY FISHING HISTORY
I



FFF4 I have been accumulating Pass Lake History for about forty years. I have books, papers, pictures, conversations and oral histories which should be of interest to fly fishers for years to come. Most of this is now shared with the Fly Fishing Collection at Western Washington University.

Pass Lake was the first lake in Washington to be designated for fly fishing only when on January 9, 1940 the Washington Game Commission adopted a resolution from the fairly new (1939) Washington Fly Fishing Club (WFFC) of Seattle.

Click to show more.

 

 

FF3

 

 

PASS LAKE'S FLY FISHING HISTORY
II

The Game Department did a rotenone treatment of Pass Lake in 1946. After the treatment Cutthroat trout were planted. Their growth over the next few years created a trophy fishery for fly fishers.
In 1947 Russ Willis, long time Fidalgo member and his partner Duane Genung, bought 20 cedar rowboats and set up a rental on the then Heilman property. The rowboats were made by a boat builder in the Lyman/Hamilton area and cost between $35-50 each. Willis and Genung wanted to buy some property close to the highway but Heilman was not interested in selling. Instead they got a three year lease on property east of the Heilman house.

Click to show more.

 

 

FF3

 

 

PASS LAKE'S FLY FISHING HISTORY
III

A July 1946 letter from the Department of Game Assistant Chief Fisheries Biologist, Robert Meigs, to the Washington Fly Fishing Club (WFFC) explains that the poisoning of Pass Lake was scheduled due to a "heavy population of perch". The other reason was based on the future building of the Department of Fisheries Hatchery/Research Station at Bowman Bay. After the hatchery was in use, rotenone poisoning could not be done. Meigs went on to write that if cutthroat are available they will be used for the plant when the lake cleans up.*

Click to show more.

 

 

FF3

 

 

PASS LAKE'S FLY FISHING HISTORY
IV

On December 19, 1974 a group of Anacortes fly fishers gathered at Danny Coleman's home to formulate the organization of a fly fishing club. The club's history on the web site explains how Errol Champion (NW Federation Council President), Ed Foss (Council Secretary/Treasurer) and Bob Strobel met earlier in the month with local fly fishers to offer their support. Ed Foss and Errol Champion were members of the Washington Fly Fishing Club (WFFC) and had brought their club's bylaws and other papers to the previous meeting which offered ideas and methods of getting the club up and running. Errol went on to be the Federation of Fly Fishers (Federation) treasurer and president. Ed was very involved with the sea-run cutthroat coalition.

Click to show more.

 

 

FF3

 

 

PASS LAKE'S FLY FISHING HISTORY
V

From 1940 to 1976 fishing regulations for Pass Lake had gone through many changes. There was also a movement advocating catch and release (C&R) which fit in with the quality water designation. One of the stories I would hear about C&R came out of Yellowstone Park in the 1970s. Rangers had noticed the trash cans around Fishing Bridge contained many dead trout. People would catch fish and as they left the area, would drop the fish in the cans. I asked Yellowstone Park historian Paul Schullery about this story. Paul sent me a more detailed account.

"The question about Yellowstone fisheries management requires a longer answer. The story you describe, of "the Yellowstone Park Ranger" finding dead fish and the park consequently deciding to change the fishing regulations, is a highly simplistic, almost folkloric, version of what happened. You know how these stories change as they move from person to person - after a while they become wishfully idealized versions of what actually happened." (I'm placing Paul's complete answer at the end of this essay.) .

Click to show more.

 

 

FF3

 

 

PASS LAKE'S FLY FISHING HISTORY
VI

After Pass Lake was regulated with Fly Fishing Only and Quality Waters, the Fidalgo club's efforts continued with twice annual shoreline cleanups, creel census and communication with the Game Department. Creel census data from 1978 to 1982 was compiled and is shown below in a histograph analysis. This analysis was to show the fish size increase after the fish plant numbers were consistently reduced.

FFF4 The tallest (middle) bar is for twelve inch long fish. The range is from nine to sixteen inches. There was no distinction between species of fish present in the lake.

Discussion of ideas for increasing the fish size centered around the idea that if the fish had a chance to spawn, they could return to the lake and continue to grow. There was concern about the lack of spawning which caused the fish stress and death.

Click to show more.

 

 

FF3

 

 

Rememberance of Russ Willis

FFF4 Russ Willis was a member of the Fidalgo Fly Fishers for many years from the 1970s to the 1990s. When Russ retired he and Shirley bought a motor home and became "snowbirds" spending their winters in Arizona and summers where ever there might be some good fly fishing.

Russ was a lifetime fly fisher. He grew up in Sedro Woolley. When he was about 18 years old he hiked into Deer Creek from Lake Cavanaugh to fish for summer run steelhead.

In his W.W.U. Fly Fishing Collection Oral History you will read about his fishing Pass Lake and owning a boat rental in the late 1940s.
His Trophy Fishing article from the club's Wahoo News was written about a large steelhead he caught in 1957. Walter Johnson, Russ's long time friend, also wrote about the steelhead in the November-December 1987 issue of Flyfishing magazine.

At one of the early club outings to Lac Le Jeune Russ hooked a large Kamloops Rainbow. As he played the fish there were a series of exclamations from Russ. WAHOO, WAHOO-OO as he brought the fish to the boat. I was looking for a name for the club's newsletter. That seemed to fit.

So if you thought it had something to do with the large tropical fish or an Indian Chief from an Ohio tribe then now you know it was the excited reverberating cry of an excited fly fisher.
Danny

 

 

FF3

 

 

Guest post to Danny's corner by Robin Larue
FFF4 Shortly after the founding of the Fidalgo Fly Fishers, then the Fidalgo Fly Fishermen, the club unofficially adopted Pass Lake as its "Home Waters". Over the year's numerous work parties have been held at Pass Lake. Work Party activities have included removal of embedded large rocks from the boat launch area, painting the outhouse, since replaced, and the information kiosk, and litter cleanup. FFF4
The 1976 photograph shows the results of a morning's work. The litter was removed from the launch area and the shoreline adjacent to the State Highway. The second photograph shows another work party in the early 1980's.Click on Photos to enlarge.

 

 

FFF4 Pass Lake Boat Launch
This photograph was taken by Louie Corbin in the late 1960's and shows the float structure that supported the cast iron intake pipe for a pump house, located at the launch ramp area. The pump house supplied lake water to the Washington State Department of Fisheries Hatchery/Research facilities located at Bowman's Bay State Park just north of the lake. When the water is clear a portion of the pipe can be seen resting on the bottom of the lake. The remnants of the concrete foundation are still visible next the picnic table supplied and installed by the Fidalgo Fly Fishers.
Robin