Federation of Fly Fishers History

The Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF) is a unique non-profit organization concerned with sport fishing and fisheries*.

FIRST, FFF supports conservation of all fish in all waters. That is, FFF believes that:

(1) clean waters and healthy ecosystems are important for bluegills, smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, muskie, largemouth bass, redfish, bonefish, perch, crappie - not just trout and salmon,

(2) some of the world's most productive, largest and most used fisheries are in the greatest need of help,

(3) one cannot focus on just an isolated part of our water resources - healthy rivers, oceans, streams and lakes are inherently interconnected, living systems from trickling springs upstream to big rivers and warm lakes downstream, with wetlands and woodlands in between.

With this philosophy, we feel that a broad ecosystem view is the only biologically sound approach to fisheries conservation. We try to avoid a focus that is too narrow; highly focused special interest efforts often result in critical issues being ignored; at the present time we need to protect all species and all fishery habitat, not just a favored few.

SECONDLY, FFF has a long-standing commitment to solving fisheries problems at the grass roots level. By charter and inclination, we are organized from the bottom up; each of our 260+ clubs, all over North America and the world, is a unique and self-directed group.

Our grass roots focus reflects the reality that most fisheries solutions must come at that local level. Catch and kill fishing regulations, hatchery displacement of wild fish, riparian degradation, pollution of ground water primarily require decisions and actions at the grass roots level. Local state, county or even township officials enforce federal water and pollution standards.

Clearly what appears to be the most serious problem facing fisheries in North America, polluted runoff from feedlots, ranches, fields, lawns, streets and golf courses - is almost exclusively a local responsibility. On National Forest Service or BLM land, the local regulations on catch and release, bag and size limits, whether to plant fish or not, etc. are usually local or state decisions. Even the widely publicized FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) re-licensing of hydroelectric dams is conducted as a series of negotiations and agreements within each state. Only a very small percentage of the dams in the U.S. are under FERC (less than 2% in Wisconsin, New York and Montana). In fact, the most destructive dams (with top discharge and low flows) are exclusively under local control.

For these reasons, almost all of the estimated $400,000 raised by fly fishing clubs and at FFF Regional auctions, conclaves, raffles is used locally; our national office - in Bozeman, Montana, exists to serve clubs and members, with a minimum of administrative expense.

FINALLY, our members believe that fly fishing is the most fun way to fish because of its diversity (it works very well for all fish in all waters), the continuing need to learn more about all those species and their habitat and the challenge to always improve our fly fishing skills.

Fly fishers also share the common experience that once an angler tries to imitate aquatic food in a lake or stream, a transformation takes place and that individual, like most fly fishers, becomes a more dedicated conservationist. For this reason, 80% of the 260+ FFF clubs with approximately 35,000 club members, have active programs aimed at teaching kids and other adults about fly casting, fly tying, insects, with club outings to get beginners on the water and into fish. Many believe that the best conservation efforts come through education in fly fishing.

Based upon these principles FFF has been quietly effective for over 32 years, including the very earliest promotions of catch and release, distribution of thousands of Whitlock-Vibert trout boxes, as the most effective tool for raising wild trout, participation in fishery management of the National Parks as well as thousands of local projects and political battles. Because of our historical position on catch and release, regional Councils of FFF as well as individual FFF clubs have also been instrumental in getting no-kill, fly fishing regulations implemented, from the New Haven River in Vermont to Robidoux Creek in Missouri to the Willamette River in Oregon, and many others. For all of these reasons, belonging to FFF and an FFF club is not only an enjoyable and growing experience it is good for fisheries too.

*From a statement originally from Jim Abbs, former FFF Vice President and editor of the FFF Quill.

If you are an avid angler, we urge you to join the chapter if you are within the Greater Salt Lake City area or contact Federation of Fly Fishers to find a chapter near you. Help us preserve our nation's beautiful wild fisheries.

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