The Red River Fly Fishers taught Eisenhower State Park patrons how to fly fish Saturday. The event was held free with a paid park admission.
Interested parties congregated at the Deer Haven Rec Hall within the park. There, members of the RRFF demonstrated the proper way to cast outside while other members demonstrated how to tie a fly inside. Members were also there to answer any questions people might have about the sport.
RRFF member Lee Yeager said he began fly fishing when he moved to Texoma 15 years ago.
“I had always wanted to know about fly fishing and there was a group here in this area that had just started called Red River Fly Fishers,” Yeager said. “I went to one of their meetings and started talking to them. Then, I started showing up to learn more about fly fishing, casting, tying. The club is now 16 years old. It keeps growing. The interest in the sport keeps growing every year.”
The local organization is dedicated to the enjoyment and education of fly fishers as well as the preservation of natural resources.
President of the Texas Council for Fly Fishers International Jerry Halmon explained the Texas Council is the largest in the world with more members than any other FFI council. There are 22 official fly fishing clubs throughout the state of Texas. The Texas Women Fly Fishers have 130 members.
Yeager explained the biggest misconception about the sport is that it is only for places with trout.
“You can fly fish anywhere there is water and fish,” Yeager said. “We fish on Lake Texoma for stripers with specially designed flies for that type of fishing. We’ll also fish the area in smaller lakes around Grayson, Cooke and Fannin County for Bass and all types of pan fish.”
The class was held in conjunction with the RRFF’s 2018 Red River Rendezvous event. This annual event, dubbed a “fly tying extravaganza,” is for members to tie an inventory of flies for the season, visit with friends and practice casting. This year marked the sixth Red River Rendezvous event, which is usually held on the last Saturday of January each year.
Members were stationed at tables with tools and colorful materials. Although they smiled and laughed with fellow fly tiers, they also concentrated through magnifying lenses at the delicate work.
Yeager said part of the challenge of fly fishing is designing the flies.
“People have been doing this for hundreds of years,” Yeager said. “There is an infinite number of patterns that you can tie and imitate. You just have to create flies for that type of fish for the type of bate you’re trying to imitate. By coming to groups like this and sitting down and talking to people, you find out what kind of flies work for what kind of fish.”
Red River Rendezvous activities began Friday with a chili dog dinner and continued Saturday with fly tying, pot luck lunch and raffle drawing. The fly tying was held in the Recreation Hall inside the park.
RRFF member Cathy Case said her love of fishing began at a young age.
“I grew up in northern California,” Case said. “You are given a rod and you’re taught to go get the larvae out from under the rock and the crickets and crawdads and dig up worms. It sticks with you. I stayed fishing all my life. But it wasn’t until I got older that I was exposed to a fly fishing club.”
Case went on to explain the art and style of fly fishing appealed to her.
“It also eliminated for me that I didn’t have to deal with crickets and bugs and worms and larvae,” Case said. “I don’t have to deal with any of that. I can tie a fly and it is nice and clean and not messy. I like that. When I started fly fishing, I bought my flies. As time went on, I realized I could make the flies for much less.”
The group consists of a wide range of experience levels from beginners to FFI Silver Award tiers. RRFF’s monthly meetings occur on the first Tuesday of each month at the Baylor Scott and White Surgical Hospital Conference Room in Sherman. Meetings begin at 6 p.m. with fly tying followed by a general meeting at 7 p.m.
For those that missed this event and would like to try fly fishing, Fly Fish Texas will take place on Feb. 24 at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens.
More information on the RRFF can be found at www.rrff.org.