It seems serendipitous that Sandy Jarrell was drawn at random to be our February member of the month. During his interview he shared with us first hand information about both versions of the club. The information included how and why the first club disbanded and when the second club held the first meeting (Feb 5th, 1985) and the first outing (Feb 23-24th, 1985). There is also information about club officers and dues, early events, and where you could find fly fishing and tying materials in the area. I hope you enjoy this historical look back at the early days of out club as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of our club. If you have any other historical information to add, please send it to email@example.com so that we can pass it on as well.
From the winter (1985-1986) issue of the NEWSLETTER of the FWFF, Buster Edwards gave this interview:
“…did you know that the Fort Worth Flyfishers started from the Dallas Flyfishers?” As Buster explains, he “and several other locals originally belonged to the Dallas Club. After a few years, the cowtown boys numbered enough to start their own club, so DFF President Jim Corey offered to help the boys get organized. Doug Ezell, local Baptist Pastor, was elected the first President, and John Buttko was Vice President. There were 40 flyfishers on the original
membership list during the first organizational meeting in 1976. The club was very active for about three years, with monthly programs and flyfishing sessions. Unfortunately,
membership slowly dwindled and the club was eventually disbanded.”
Buster feels that for us to avoid repeating history, we must continue to recruit new members at every opportunity and that everyone must be willing to put some time in for the good of the club.
From the February 1995 Club Newsletter: (TENTH ANNIVERSARY)
FWFF Chronology by Brian Camp
Our club was first formed in April 1976. Basically, we were an off-shoot of the Dallas Fly Fishers. It was felt that enough members of that club were from Tarrant County to form their own club here in Fort Worth. The first membership list shows 23 men and 2 women. The first club newsletter was published in June 1976 and was called The Fly Line. The first officers were Doug Ezell. President; Sandy Jarrell, Vice President: Glenda Wilkes, Treasurer: Bob Gartner. Sec./Newsletter; John Bottko. Programs. They met at the South Hills Baptist Church.
An interesting side note to this are the places you could procure tackle in those days. These were:
Hunter Bradlee, then located in the Quadrangle in Dallas. This was the only source of decent fly tying materials in the area.
Fred’s Fly Shop, located in a back corner of the Western Auto Store in Decatur. Fred’s is no longer there, but in those days you could buy a Leonard bamboo rod, a Hardy reel and Genuine flies tied by Dave Whitlock himself in this most unlikely place.
Chapman Fly Shop, located in Weatherford. John Chapman was quite a character. He was a national rifle champion that built target rifles for the U.S. Olympic team. He also had quite a fly shop in a tiny building in his backyard. John sold fine fiberglass, graphite (quite new then) and bamboo rods made by Fenwick. R.L. Winston, Hardy, Scientific Anglers, Sharpe, Claudio and Leonard. He also carried a large selection of bass bugs. (I have no idea of what became of John but the shop disappeared many years ago.)
The original club meetings featured programs by local anglers or movies (there were no videos then) and raffles, much like our club. Original dues were $12.00 per year so our current price of $15.00 seems like a bargain. However, dues were a constant source of argument among the members and they had fallen to $5.00 per year by the time the club collapsed. They took regular outings mostly to the Brazos below Possum Kingdom and Granbury and they had annual bass fishing contest. George Carefoot won the first of these contest with a six pounder he caught fly casting an unweighted plastic worm from Benbrook Dam. His prize was a Leonard bamboo rod which certainly outclasses the ugly hat we give for the Perch Off prize! The club plugged along for several years, but never really grew much. Minor problems such as not being able to get into their meeting place (someone kept forgetting the key), speakers not showing up, and conflicts among a few members finally did the club
in. There was a general agreement among the few members that were left that they all hung out and fished together anyway, so who needed the paperwork and formality of a club? They officially disbanded in April 1981 and sent 400 some odd dollars left in the treasury to the Federation of Fly Fishers with the understanding that if the club ever reformed, they could get the money back.
Sandy Jarrell is the only current member of the club that was a Charter Member of the old club. Buster Edwards and George Carefoot were also Charter Members of the old club that were very active in the current club but, unfortunately, both of these fine gentlemen
have since passed away. John lliff, the first manager of The Backwoods here in Fort Worth,
is responsible for introducing fly tackle to The Backwoods chain. As an avid fisherman, he somehow convinced the Backwoods’ corporate management staff that it would be worth their while to devote a small corner of the shop to fly fishing. This was in mid 1984. Ralph Marshall, a local fly fisher that knew about the old club, got together with John and they set out a sign-up sheet in the Backwoods for anyone interested in forming a club. Twenty-two names were on the original list and on February 5, 1985, the current club had it’s organizational meeting. Our first outing was to the Brazos trout area on February 23-24, 1985. Ralph Marshall was our first president. John Illiff was Vice President. George Carefoot was Treasurer. Rob Robbins was Membership Chairman. Bill Bell was Outings chairman, and I was Publicity Chairman. Getting
new people involved was the main goal of the club at that time. I was able to get the club on an outdoor TV show in March. It was called, “Just Huntin’ and Fishin'”, and was hosted by a man named David Hack. He filmed the club on a trout trip to Possum Kingdom, our second outing (incidentally, this show was produced by Perry Tong of Third Coast Productions). Ralph put out a one page flier which sort of substituted for a newsletter until the club officially voted to have one in May. Our first “official” newsletter came out in June 1985 and was published quarterly. I was “volunteered” to do the newsletter on the sole basis that I had gotten the club on TV. We met at The Backwoods and haven’t really changed much except that we’re much bigger and have a bank account that we would have killed for ten years ago. Sandy Jarrell, Bill Bell, Fred Clingerman, David McMillan and myself are the only current members that I’m sure were Charter Members when the club was reformed. The rest, as they say, is history. The club
has come a long way and we owe John Iliff (now living in Atlanta, Georgia) and Ralph Marshall (last heard of living on the banks of a salmon river somewhere in Canada) a debt of gratitude for having the forethought of getting the club back together and guiding it past the pitfalls that befell the original club. And thanks to Sandy Jarrell for supplying invaluable information on the original club for this article.