After a Covid hiatus in 2021 and a postponement to April this year, it certainly felt nice to once again connect with “my people” (as my mom refers to fellow fly fishers, tyers, and conservationists) at the 2022 Marlborough Fly Fishing Show. The show is not only a great chance to chat with some of the biggest names in the industry, but also meet other, like-minded outdoorspeople with whom I could talk for hours on end about a host of fishy topics.
This year, I was lucky enough to help out at the Native Fish Coalition booth. For those who don’t know what NFC is, here is the 30-second spiel I gave any time someone walked up to our booth: Native Fish Coalition is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven, grassroots conservation organization with the mission of protecting, preserving, and restoring wild, native fish populations in their native ranges. We started up in Maine, and have now expanded to 11 states throughout the East Coast and Midwest.
Helping out at the NFC booth wasn’t just a way for me to give back to an organization I have learned so much from, but also a way for me to go full circle. I began my journey with NFC by attending an arctic charr presentation by Bob Mallard at the 2020 show. Inspired, I visited the organization’s booth, where I also met Emily Bastian, NFC co-founder and superb native fish advocate. We chatted for a bit, and I felt they’d be a great addition to an eighth-grade capstone project I was doing at the time.
Well, two years, a board position, and numerous volunteer projects later, I was back working the very booth where my passion for native fish conservation began. It was heartening to meet other kids with a similar passion for protecting wild fish because I know sometimes all it takes is a connection with a wonderful organization like NFC to spark a lifetime of passion.
While at the show, I was also able to meet and reconnect with some people I enjoy. I finally got the chance to talk with Bill Hager, a Blog Fly Fish author whose writing I really admire. I also spoke with Scott Biron, known for his featherwing streamer tying, but better known to me as the person who taught me to tie flies at Barry Conservation Camp. Finally, I chatted with Jon Peterson of Maine Guides Unlimited about some of the monster pike he’s been putting clients on – on the fly!
Everyone at the show, both those that I’m familiar with and people I was just meeting, was incredibly friendly and accepting of the native fish message. While everyone agreed it was unusually quiet, especially for a Saturday, the NFC booth seemed to attract plenty of attention (I’m sure the eye-catching booth didn’t hurt). In a sport driven by inflicting harm – though minor – upon innocent creatures, it’s nice to see anglers so interested in a fish-not-fishing focused group with the goal of preserving and conserving fish as a crucial piece of the environment, not just for the pleasure of recreationists.
With April vacation this past week, I also got a chance to do a good amount of fishing, or at least a lot more than I’ve been able to do the past couple months. Here are a few pictures from some of my more successful trips: