A short history of the John Steele Award:
Back in the 1980s, there was a Fly Shop in Los Gatos named ‘The Upstream Flyfishing company’. The proprietor contacted the Santa Cruz Fly fishermen, (at that time we were a fairly new organization). He offered to sponsor an annual award that he named ‘The Dame Julianna award’.
Dame Julianna was purportedly a 15th century woman of means. She greatly enjoyed the field sports of the day. She has been generally credited with writing some of the earliest treatises on Hawking, Hunting, and Fishing.
The ’Book of St Albans’ was a sporting tome written in about 1486, with an addendum in 1496 called: ‘A Treatise on Fysshynge with an Angle’. This book is generally considered one of the first writings about fly fishing. She also wrote of the virtues of environmental conservation and field etiquette.
In honor of Dame Juliana, we were asked to name the one club member that assisted our other members the most in their flyfishing journey. Upstream Flyfishing then donated a gift to the luckily chosen member.
While Upstream Flyfishing ultimately went out of business, the Santa Cruz Fly fishermen’s club continued the award tradition for the next several years, giving each years chosen member a cash award to purchase their own fishing tackle.
A few years back, we recognized that we had a club member that personified Dame Juliana, in that he strove to constantly give back to our flyfishing community. In addition to being a founding member of our club, he has at one time or another filled just about every position on our board of directors. He has donated incalculable hours of time, material, monies, artwork, fishing knowledge, and general good spirits. For decades he gathered and stored all of our annual club dinner raffle prizes and silent auction items, (many of the items he hand made himself). To this day he and his lovely wife continue host our monthly board meetings.
I am speaking of course of our own John Steele. We decided to rebrand the Dame Julianna award as the John Steele award. It is our attempt to honor both Dame Juliana, and our own John.
Each month, we ask our membership to nominate any and all who have helped them. Whether it be teaching a skill, showing a hot fishing spot, giving a fly, volunteering as a board member or fish master, encouraging or just humoring a member on their own flyfishing journey.
Members may nominate as many members as they like, as often as they feel they have been assisted. Nominations can be made by Emailing me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. A sentence or two about how you were helped makes the actual presentation more fun. We make the presentation each year at our annual club installation dinner. Last years winner was Scott Kitayama. Who knows who next years winner will be?
Thanks for your time,
Posted on April 21st, 2021