The International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF) is in town this weekend. Quite the honor. The organization of souls hopelessly addicted to the sport will host several workshops and social events all centered around the lowest common denominator of catching Eastern Sierra trout on the fly. It’s like having a major Western United States conclave for Alcoholics Anonymous, only instead of preaching about how to quash the addiction, participants engage in discourse and activities focused on the further exploitation of the obsession.
The IFFF is a one-of-kind, non-profit organization that represents and advocates the interests of fly fishing on a world-wide scale. The mission of the IFFF is to improve the sport of fly fishing internationally through conservation, restoration and education. In the early 1960’s, numerous fly fishing clubs throughout the nation sought to join forces to speak a louder, more resonating voice. In 1965, the first conclave of the Federation of Fly Fishers met in Eugene, Ore., to put the sport of fly fishing onto the public map. Within a year, 12 other clubs had joined. Today, there are roughly 225 member clubs and 13,000 individual members. Throughout the United States of America and beyond, the IFFF has committed to enhancing the quality of countless fisheries, restoring damaged fisheries to original pristine states, educate novice and experienced anglers alike in the world of fly fishing and fly tying, and creating a social network for great minds to come together to better the world of fly fishing and its environments. All species, saltwater and freshwater, are game for the IFFF.
Michael Schweit is the current President of the Southwest Council of the IFFF. The Southwest Council includes Southern California and Las Vegas, and its surroundings. Mono County is the northern border of the SWC; Mammoth Lakes is more or less the heart and soul of the fisheries of the SWC. In a state like Oregon, you can stand in Bend and throw a dart in any given direction and it will hit a trout, steelhead, or salmon species. But as we know from the visitors in town from May to the end of October, it is a one direction drive along the 395 to reach the Mecca of Southern California’s greatest cold water fishing, arguably, the best in the entire state: Mammoth Lakes. This weekend, Schweit is leading the Second Annual IFFFSWC Faire, held in Mammoth. Last September, Michael estimated 200 participants. The registration list doubled with 400 attendees.
So, what does the Southwest Council do? A big project is the Trout in the Classroom (TIC) program. This is a roughly two-month program when educators raise fertile eggs to fry inside the classroom, for students to witness the wonders of nature. I have done this myself a few times over the years, and it seems that the kids who you would least expect to take notice get really excited about the project. It brings river life to places miles away from any moving waters, including inner city schools.
SWC is a part of the Lahanton Cutthroat Trout (LCT) restoration project currently underway in both Silver Creek and Slinkard Creek. SWC assists in the sponsorship of the annual Rush Creek Clean-Up, working in conjunction with Silver Lake Resort every June. The Council partners up with Casting for Recovery and Project Healing Waters to assist returning servicemen and women. SWC communicates with retailers and manufactures to increase the visibility of fly fishing to unearth a more general audience. Many people are intimidated by fly fishing. The IFFF breaks down that barrier.
The Faire runs from Friday morning, Sept. 20 through Sunday afternoon, Sept. 22. For a minimal fee, the Faire includes non-stop films, clinics, workshops, casting, fly tying, and vendor displays. The headquarters for the event is at Cerro Coso College, though there will be numerous clinics on all of the popular waters around Mammoth Lakes. Experienced, professional guides have all stepped up to volunteer time for this worthwhile cause. Clinics are not limited solely to fly fishing, but also include such workshops as wildlife photography, tours of petroglyphs, and fly tying, just to name a few.
Saturday evening SWC hosts a dinner at Eagle Lodge. Fly fishing representative Brian O’Keefe, publisher and editor of Catch Magazine and world recognized photographer (he is Cabela’s fly fishing guy) will be speaking at the event. More information of this weekend’s events can be found at: southwestcouncilfff.org/faire.
In short, there are an estimated 500 guest in town this weekend attending this great gathering of fly anglers. The Town of Mammoth Lakes welcomes you, and we are glad that you are here. We wish you the best of times this weekend. May your journey home on Sunday include countless photos of bent rods, a collection of newly tied fly patterns, relationships built, and a sense of satisfaction and fly angling fun.
A more detailed report can be found at gthttp://kittredgesports.com/fishing_report.php. Leonard guides for Kittredge Sports. Call 760.934.7566.