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Behind the Scenes

I have been told that the Santa Cruz Fly Fishing club has been doing an Annual Dinner and Fundraiser since way back in 1992. Last year’s lunch event was fun, but lacked the opportunity to have a sit down dinner with a lot of members of the club. Your board has been busy preparing for the February 3rd event and I just wanted to share with you some of what we are doing to make it happen and what you can do to help.

Wild Salmon Dinner

Securing a wild-caught salmon dinner has become more challenging due to the closure of the California fishery last year. However, for our upcoming dinner, dedicated members flew to a remote part of Alaska to obtain our salmon.. Below is Sam catching our dinner.

Along with the salmon, we will be serving salad courtesy of California Grill/Lakeside Organic Gardens. The Peixoto run the largest family-owned organic farm in the US and grow most of their vegetables around Watsonville including decades at my family’s farm. Along with the fish and Salmon, Dave South has been busy sourcing the rest of the dinner from local, organic vendors around the county. And Elaine Cook is organizing a team to prepare delightful appetizers for everyone to enjoy while perusing the prizes, purchasing additional raffle tickets, and mingling with fellow attendees.

Raffle Prizes

Oh do we miss John Steele. For many, many years, John, would shop sales, fix equipment and create wonderful art work for the Annual Dinner. John had big shoes to fill, so we so we got a big man, Rick Chace, to step into the role. We are still acquiring prizes, but from what I have seen, there is going to be some nice stuff and a lot of it: at least 16 rods, 4 float tubes, tons of fly tying material, and boxes full of flies. We are hoping to get more non-fishing prizes for the raffle and welcome any donations from the membership. Maybe a gift certificate for a product or service? A piece of art? Bottle of wine? If you have any donation, please contact Rick Chace ( or (831) 234-9200.

Unlike our monthly raffles, you must be present to win, ensuring that you’re only competing against others in the room. Our goal is for everyone to leave with something.

New Location

For years, the dinner has taken place at a church in Santa Cruz. Unfortunately, post-Covid, that location is no longer practical. After exploring various alternatives, we found a fantastic venue with ample space, full bar service, and a large BBQ pit for cooking the salmon. The only downside is its location at the south end of Santa Cruz county, near the Santa Cruz Fairgrounds (the location and map are available in the article about the dinner).

For those traveling from a distance, consider staying overnight nearby. The new Hampton Inn off Riverside is a suggestion. Other viable options in Watsonville include the Holiday Inn Express on Main St and the Comfort Inn near the Airport. Sunset Beach and KOA offer campsites for RVs or fancy vans. Alternatively, you could collaborate with other members to rent an Airbnb at Pajaro Dunes and enjoy some beach or Salinas River fishing the next day.

Volunteers, Volunteers, Volunteers

“Many hands make light work,” or, in the case of the fundraiser, we need many hands to make it work at all. Elaine Cook has already put in a lot of hours coordinating this event and needs volunteers. She’ll be passing around a sign-up sheet at the December and January meetings. You can also make her task easier by calling Elaine at (831) 234-6515 or email at on how you can help at the fundraiser.

Ticket Sales and Purchase

If you want an easy way to support the fundraiser, consider purchasing your dinner and raffle tickets before the end of the year. Old-timers tell me that half of the tickets are sold a week before the event, meaning we waste time worrying about filling the room or cutting costs. Let us handle the logistics while you focus on making the event as fun and successful as possible! Dinner tickets are $40 and raffle tickets are $1.00 each. You can buy tickets at the December and January general meetings on line at

And Happy Holidays!

Scott Kitayama