Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Fly fishing avids seek club revival

Illustration: Ruth Hwang

Whitman is a college that is well known for its outdoorsy atmosphere, ranging from an excellent Outdoors Program to various clubs that have strong connections to the outdoors. It would seem a fly fishing club would fit well within the Whitman environment, yet over the years, it has struggled to stay afloat. The club has been started a few times by a group of proactive students, only to fall apart after their graduation.

There are a number of current Whitman students who enjoy fly fishing and would like to teach others. However, there is the problem of communication on a larger scale between these fishers.

Whitman’s fly fishing club can be traced back to 1994 when it was  run by alumnus Brandon Truhler ’96. When Truhler was a junior, the group was thriving with over 58 members ranging from experienced fishers, to beginners. They took advantage of the geographic location of Walla Walla, where there are plenty of small streams and creeks which are perfect for fly fishing. Unfortunately, after such a promising start, the club fell apart a few years later as the leaders graduated, and newer students failed to keep the group alive.

“When it first started, there were three or four guys who were really gung-ho about it–– they did fly casting clinics, and at one time, they actually had some equipment in the outing program that people could rent out. And when those couple students graduated, it just went by the wayside,” said Jeff Northam, head men’s varsity tennis coach and former fly fishing club adviser.

Northam himself is a fly fisher and still the teacher of a fly fishing class. He knows his way around the streams and creeks of the surrounding area.

“I have done a fair amount of fly fishing around this area. My class is a beginning class; my class would feed people into the club. I still teach the class every fall––it is full,” said Northam.

When the club was in its prime, there were a number of students who actively engaged with the club.

“There were a dozen who were active in it, and there were probably three or four that were leading it and were really active. They would go out and explore the local areas on their own,” said Northam.

While the term “fly fishing” may sound no different to some than the classic sedentary bait fishing, the sport requires skill, practice and finesse.

“You have to know how to cast. You don’t just throw it out in the middle of the pool and wait for a fish to bite; it is a lot more active than bait fishing. Fly fishing is quite a bit more challenging, and quite a bit more rewarding. You need to be able to present the fly correctly on the water, then you have to be able to mimic the right fly that you want. You’re active all the time, a lot more play,” said Northam.

Though the club may have faded at Whitman, there is still ongoing interest on the part of a few individuals on campus.

First-year Brian Lewis, an avid fly fisher since the age of 12, is one of those individuals.

“Coming here, I didn’t know anyone who also fly fished, and I don’t know how to reach out to them,” said Lewis. “I love it; I do it whenever I go camping. It is just a great way for me to relax and become a part of nature. It is time for me to go outside and hike through beautiful country, and see wonderful places, and be part of nature, and still have an activity,” said Lewis.

For the students who are interested in fly fishing, and who have knowledge of it, Northam recommends that they restart the club.

“If people are interested, they should reform the group and get going. At one time, they had a little bit of a budget to do things, and I assume that it wouldn’t be that much work for ASWC to refund that and get it going again. All it takes, I think, is three students to get it going. Should be an easy start if someone wanted to go again,” said Northam.

The only thing stopping Lewis from following this recommendation is a lack of fellow fishers.

“I would help start it, but I would need to know other people who are interested. I don’t think I could start it on my own; I would like to have friends or more people,” said Lewis. +


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    An Avid FlyfishermanApr 19, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    I don’t want to sound malicious; however, if you fish, then go fish. If you think you need somebody to fish with, then I think your attitude towards fishing needs to shift away from your ego and toward your skill and self-satisfaction. Also, how can you tell a good ‘fish tail’ when somebody was there to see you only caught a 2-finger fish? If you want to learn to fish, take beginning fly fishing; because, as someone who tries to fish as much as possible during the school year, it is nearly impossible to find time to both go fishing and teach someone to fish while balancing school and commitments. Finally, if you know how to fish and want to fish during the fall semester, but don’t know where to go/don’t have a way to get there, then reply to this with your best ‘fish tail’ and we’ll see whether you can tell a good one for me.