Posted on

We Want You To (WWYT):

As you may know, the club currently has 15 members on the Board of Directors. But did you know that we also have at least 10 others working in the background to help the club flourish? We have a lot of ideas to improve the club and we need more volunteers. Take a look and step up, We Want You!

WWYT organize and lead a fishout: We’re actively expanding our fishout opportunities and are looking for enthusiastic leaders. You don’t need extensive experience or a large group to get started; just a passion for organizing enjoyable fishing outings for our members.

WWYT publicize your business for free: As a club, we want to support our members’ businesses and services. To make this happen, we’re creating a dedicated page on our website to showcase and promote member businesses and organizations that contribute to our club’s success. Let us know about your business so we can feature it!

Facebook Group Administrator: We’re considering using a private Facebook Group to enhance member interaction and engagement. If you’re social media-savvy and passionate about fostering community within our club, volunteering as a Facebook Group Administrator could be a great fit for you. This role involves managing the group, encouraging participation, and sharing exciting updates and content.

WWYT help with the end of year slideshow: Rich Rubin has graciously volunteered to create a slideshow for our January meeting. We’re seeking a volunteer to assist in collecting digital photos from members throughout the year and coordinating with Rich from October to December to ensure a fantastic end-of-year presentation. If you have an eye for visuals and enjoy working collaboratively, this opportunity is perfect for you.

WWYT sell and attend the May 11 Swap Meet: Save the date! Our May 11 swap meet at the Aptos Grange is a fantastic opportunity to buy, sell, and connect with fellow members. Make sure to mark your calendar from 9 am to 1 pm and join us for a fun and lively event.

WWYT help us learn about our members: Understanding our members’ interests, preferences, and feedback is crucial for enhancing our club’s offerings. We’re looking for someone passionate about gathering insights, devising meaningful questions, and developing strategies to engage and serve our diverse membership better. Your input can shape the future of our club activities and initiatives.

WWYT invite your friends to join the club: Our club thrives on the enthusiasm and camaraderie of members. We’re aiming to get our membership to 260 by year-end and believe that our current members are our best advocates. Invite your friends to join us for casting lessons, fly fishing adventures, and a vibrant community of fellow fishing enthusiasts.

If any of these opportunities resonates with you or if you have any questions, please reach out. Your involvement and contributions are invaluable in making our club flourish.

Scott Kitayama

Posted on

Response to Petition to ban fishing in parts of Monterey Bay

We are fortunate to call the Monterey Bay area our home, where the ocean’s health directly impacts our well-being. Recently, our club members became aware of petition 2023-33MPA, pushing for new no-fishing zones around Pleasure Point and off the coast of Natural Bridges State Beach. While protecting kelp forests is a commendable goal, the proposed fishing ban has raised concerns in our community about potential threats to our fishing rights.  Personally, I joined the club because I wanted to learn how to fly fish the surf and I know a lot of club members that enjoy fishing from the beach as well as fishing the kelp beds from a kayak.

The heart of the debate revolves around assessing how fishing activities may affect kelp ecosystems in Santa Cruz. Advocates for the petition, primarily environmental groups from Southern California, argue that implementing no-fishing zones is crucial to safeguard these fragile habitats. However, opponents of the petition, including members of our club, question the necessity and effectiveness of such broad fishing bans. We argue that the conditions in Santa Cruz’s kelp forests may differ significantly from those in other regions, such as Southern California, where fishing restrictions might be more warranted. This article in Santa Cruz Local and its links give a good explanation of the issue.

During our recent Club Board meeting, we discussed the issue and decided to take a stance of patience and proactive engagement. The California Commission of Fish and Wildlife is currently handling numerous petitions, including 2023-33MPA. In solidarity with those opposing the petition, I have sent letters on behalf of SCFF to key opponents, including Supervisor Cummings, UCSC Professor Zavaleta (a member of the California Fish and Wildlife Commission), and the All Waters Protection and Access Coalition. These letters express our readiness to collaborate and provide assistance in finding sustainable solutions that balance environmental protection with community interests.

Although there is no specific deadline for the commission to decide on the petitions, we are committed to remaining informed and actively participating in the ongoing dialogue. We encourage members with experience or insights into navigating such petitions to share their expertise with the club.

Posted on

A program for all SCFF members

The Santa Cruz club is a member of the Fly Fishing International  (FFI) which provides us with well priced insurance to run the club.  I thought that was all it did, but after attending a lunch meeting at the Pleasanton Fly show, I am convinced that they have a program that will be a cornerstone of our club as well as many clubs around the world.    This year our club will continue to roll out the Fly Casting Skills Development program and I can imagine a time when we will have 20+ people at our casting clinics.    The “aha” for me is that the program is based around Skill Assessment,  not a pass/fail test and not a classroom.   And the Skills Development program is for everyone, below I have pulled information about the mission and skills involved at each level.

The mission of the Fly Casting Skills Development program is to give all fly anglers a guide to learning and improving casting skills that address increasingly advanced fishing situations. It starts at the Foundation level, for true beginners to the sport who might be picking up a fly rod for the first time. It progresses through 4 levels of Foundation, Bronze, Silver, and Gold. These provide a broad, relevant range of fishing casts covering skill categories of loop control, accuracy, roll cast, presentation, change in direction and distance. Better casting skills open more fishing opportunities with less frustration. All fly anglers can benefit and should be proud of their accomplishment. There is even an opportunity for recognition of casting accomplishments with an award document and a pin at Bronze, Silver and Gold levels.

The Bronze Level is focused on developing or reinforcing solid beginning fly casting skills. A fly fisher with this level of proficiency can successfully fish many common fishing situations. The Bronze Level challenges are as follows:
B1. Pick-Up and Lay-Down cast (PULD): 40 ft.
B2. Vertical to Horizontal Casting: 40 ft.
B3. Roll Cast, Dominant Side: 40 ft.
B4. Roll Cast, Non-Dominant Side: 40 ft.
B5. Shooting Line: Starting at 40 ft. shooting to 45+ ft. with no false casts allowed.
B6. Accuracy: Hit 0, 30, and then 40-foot targets
B7. Distance: Starting at 40 ft. shooting to 50+ ft.

The Silver Level is focused on developing intermediate level fly casting skills. A fly fisher with these casting skills can successfully fish common situations and often achieve more challenging presentations.
The Silver Level challenges are as follows:
S1. Vertical to Horizontal False Casts, Non-Dominant Side: 40 ft.
S2. Reach Mend to Right: At 40 ft., the caster will perform a reach mend to the right.
S3. Reach Mend to the Left: At 40 ft., the caster will perform a reach mend to the left.
S4. Slack Line Presentation: At 40 ft., the caster will make a slack line presentation
S5. Belgian style or Oval Cast: At 40 ft., the caster will perform a Belgian cast (open loop)
S6. Accuracy, Non-Dominant Side: Hit 0, 30, and then 40-foot targets
S7. Distance and Shooting Line: Starting t 45 ft., shooting to 60+ ft.

The Gold Level is focused on developing advanced fly casting skills. A fly fisher with these skills can successfully fish in a wide variety of fishing situations.
The Gold Level challenges are as follows:
G1. Loop Control, Non-Dominant Side: At 45 ft., the caster will perform 4 or more false casts off the non-dominant shoulder (left shoulder for a right-handed person) ending with fly hitting a 4 ft. target. Hauling is allowed.
G2. Curve Casts: At 40 ft., the caster will perform a curve cast to the side of their choice with the line/leader curving around an obstacle at approximately 25 ft. The fly should land at least 45 degrees from the line layout between the caster and the obstacle.
G3. Roll Cast Pick-Up: Starting at 40 ft., the caster will perform a roll cast pick-up with extension of line to 55ft.
G4. Change of Direction Casts: At 40 ft., the caster will perform two different change of direction casts of their choosing with fly line and leader landing relatively straight.
G5. Accuracy: Hit 20, 30, 40, and then 50-foot targets
G6. Casting While Seated or Kneeling: While sitting in a chair or kneeling with one knee on the ground, start at 30 ft. and shoot to 40 ft.
G7. Backcast Presentation to a Minimum of 55 ft.:
G8. Distance and Shooting Line: Starting at 45 ft., shooting to 70+ ft.

For more detailed information, here is a link to a PDF about the program.

Hope to see you on March 23rd at the Casting Clinic where I will be working on skills S2 and S3!

Scott Kitayama

Posted on

State of the Club

For the second year in a row, I get to proclaim “The State of the Union Club is strong”.

Some indicators of our strength:

  • Our finances are strong:  In November,  our treasurer, Jim, reported that our bank account was about $42,000. Since then we have had additional membership renewals and an upcoming sold-out fundraising dinner which will strengthen our financial position.
  • Our philanthropy is strong:  In 2024, we will contribution $4,000 to to Fishing and Conservancy organizations.  Also, club members have been generous in volunteering work hours for local conservation programs.    And in 2024, we will again provide  $3,200 in total scholarships, to eight seniors from the eight Santa Cruz public high schools  going on to study environmental science.
  • Our membership is growing:   In 2021, we had 150 in the club directory, in 2023, we had 175 in the club directory and in 2024 we will have at least 210 members listed.    That is a significant growth over three years!

In 2023, I tried to emphasize Fellowship as a way to improve the value that the club to each member.    I hope that your interactions with the club and other members have been positive.

As we look forward, I can easily see  the club getting to 250 members in the next year or two.   I worry that our current structure of 16 members of the SCFF Board of Directors managing all the club activities will limit the club.  We need a way to get more club members to participate in planning and running activities; we need to figure out how to scale the club.

A step in the right direction is what Bob Garbarino has done by creating Conservation Committee.    Suddenly he has involved three more club members in providing insight and effort to tackle conservation issues for the club.  I am hoping that we will be able to reach out and get more members involved in helping in  the areas of fly fishing education, fish-outs, and technology.    If you have suggestions to help grow the club, I would love to hear from you.

Now for a few notices:

  • There will be NO General Meeting in February.  The next meeting will be March 6th.
  • The Fly Fishing Film Tour will be at the RIO Theater in  Santa Cruz on February 10th.  This is the ONLY showing of the film near the Bay Area.  The next closest showing will be in Sacramento.
  • Please attend the Pleasanton Fly Show from February 23-25th.  There are not a lot of places that you can touch products or try a fly rod in the United States.  Without good attendance, the Bay Area may lose its last fly fishing show.
  • Thank you to those who are attending our Annual Fundraiser.  The team has been working very hard at it and know that you will have a good time.

Oh yeah, Happy Valentines,

Scott Kitayama, President of the Santa Cruz Fly Fishing Club

Posted on

January: Back to Basics

The week before Christmas, I attended Alex Ferber’s Spey casting class.  Quite a few members attended including, Mike DiCiano, Barry Burt, Mike White, Scott Anderson, Bob Garbarino, Fred Farias, Greg Finney, Ricardo Cortes,  and others.   What I learned at the class was that the basics are more important than learning a new fangled cast.  Spey casts are used on larger rivers where the fly line is directly below you in the river and you want to roll cast about 60 degrees upstream without smacking yourself in the head.   Therefore the “basics’ is to be able to roll cast and with some instruction and practice, I was able to extend my roll cast with little effort in the cast.   Still working on  the Spey cast, but the basic roll cast is where I am spending my time. 

Post-class, I went to lunch with Alex, Bob, Fred and Tom Hogye and the discussion shifted to the plans for the upcoming 2024 casting classes.  Surprisingly, despite the influx of new members, the monthly single-hand casting clinics wasn’t highly attended .  Reflecting on my own sporadic participation in 2023, I recognized the missed opportunities for improving my skills.  As fishing scenarios from the past year replayed in my mind, the potential for greater enjoyment became obvious:

  • Stream dry fly fishing would improve by tightening my loop and improved mending to make a drag free presentation.
  • In the surf or sitting in a float tube, a well-executed double haul ensures a faster sink, maximizing the time spent in the strike zone.
  • And casting the euro/mono rig? Ugh, a situation where all my bad habits get magnified and motivates me to do more than simply lob the rig into the water.   

Fortunately, we have  monthly clinics with fellow club members offering support and guidance for anglers at all levels.  I am going to make an effort to attend them and hope to see others out there.  

Another basic for 2024:

This one is hard to admit.  Another goal in 2024 is to eliminate lost rigs due to pigtails.  Retrieving rigs and seeing the telltale curls is really frustrating.  So I am practicing my clinch knots and loop knots using a forcep.  There are lots of videos on Youtube that show how to tie knots faster with a forcep and I like using the handle to cinch down on the knot to make sure it is secure.   

I hope you take a few minutes and think about your fishing goals for 2024 and what you can do during the winter to help achieve them.  

See you in the new year,

Scott Kitayama

Posted on

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

Posted on

Giving Thanks

Thankful that:

  • we live in a place where we can fly fish twelve months a year.
  • club members are willing to volunteer for local conservation projects.
  • we belong to a fishing club that is filled with friendly people.
  • club members have shared their fishing spots with me on local streams, the Firehole in Yellowstone NP, secret ponds in Wyoming, Fall River, and tarpon fishing in Florida.
  • we have a dynamic club board dedicated to making the experience better for all club members.
  • expert volunteers spend time teaching fly tying and fly casting every month.
  • fishout masters are willing to set up trips for club members.


  • I finally caught a striper off the beach.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Scott Kitayama

Posted on

Don’t wait to wade!

When I think of fly fishing, my mind often conjures up the iconic image from “A River Runs Through It”: the elegant overhead casting of a dry fly in the middle of a picturesque river. However, upon joining the Santa Cruz club about five years ago, I was surprised to discover that river fishouts had become a rarity. I was told that these outings used to be more common, but as time passed, the interest dwindled, and the club aged.  Recently, we’ve experienced an influx of new members, and with their arrival, several new river fishouts have been organized. I’ve just returned from one on the upper Sac, and I’m reminded of the beauty and serenity of wading in a river.

Wading is good for your soul if you have good soles

Imagine my shock when I found the rocks in the upper Sac to be exceptionally slippery. For the past three years, I’ve relied on Vibram-sole wading boots for my angling adventures on rivers like the Stanislaus, Truckee, Putah, Firehole, and San Lorenzo with little trouble. However, during our upper Sac fishout, seven club members, all wearing Vibram-soled boots, took unexpected dips into the river. The following day, I replaced my Vibram soles with felt, and the difference in traction was remarkable. I was taken aback by the discrepancy, especially since fishing gear advertisements and videos often promote rubber soles as the modern choice, portraying felt soles as outdated. While there are places that ban felt soles due to environmental concerns, California isn’t one of them, and we frequently encounter slippery algae and granite here. I strongly urge you to prioritize the best traction boots available when wading. Below is a chart I sourced from Korkers’ website, illustrating the types of soles and their effectiveness on various surfaces.

Remember, traction matters, as does balance

My earliest fly fishing experiences were on streams where I could quickly move along the banks of small mountain creeks. However, the upper Sac fishout was a stark reminder that stream fishing can be more challenging than I recall. It’s not merely a lapse in memory; walking on streams becomes increasingly challenging with age. I’ve attached a graph depicting a simple balance test and its correlation with “perceived age.” As you can see, there’s a notable decline after reaching 40 years of age.

Now, I’m no expert in wade fishing, so if you require detailed information about equipment, you can seek advice from the club via Google Groups or visit a fly fishing shop for proper gear setup. However, here are some safety items I personally use: a wading belt, a wading staff, a whistle, a walkie-talkie, a cell phone, and a fishing partner.

My ultimate advice: don’t wait

This is counsel I’m personally taking to heart. My plan is to embark on more river fishing trips and maintain my physical fitness. Hopefully, I’ll continue to enjoy fishing from a boat or float tube when wading becomes more challenging. And for our younger club members, I encourage you to seize your “River Runs Through It” experience as soon as possible.

Wishing you great fishing adventures this October,

Scott Kitayama President, Santa Cruz Fly Fishing Club

Posted on

Making Fall Season the Best Fishing Season

Since  my roles as a parent and at work have lightened, I welcome the upcoming fall season as a perfect time for fishing. With Sierra streams returning to their normal levels, cooler weather offering better conditions in local lakes, and a potentially lower risk of heat and fire hazards, the potential is high to turn this season into a wonderful opportunity for fly fishing. Now, how can we all maximize this experience?

Let’s Ignite the Enthusiasm!

We’ve all indulged in fly fishing videos on platforms like YouTube. While some are undeniably captivating, much like action films, they lack the immersive experience of sitting amidst an animated theater crowd, feeling the collective thrill and vitality. The memory may still linger of the Fly Fishing Film Tour’s past appearance at the Rio Theater in Santa Cruz. Regrettably, the tour skipped Santa Cruz in recent years and last year, its Bay Area screenings were a no-show. Yet, Justin Ice, a dedicated SCFF Board member, took it upon himself to resurrect the film’s presence in Santa Cruz. As a result, the 2023 film will grace our September and October fly fishing meetings. The decision was made to make the screening open and free for all attendees, fostering a packed house and igniting a sense of festivity and dynamism. Anticipate fantastic door prizes and an array of appealing raffle items.

Even the mere trailers of the film have me itching to head out fishing.

Following that, let’s plan our excursions

From September onwards, I’ve marked my calendar for seven out of eight consecutive weekends for fishing. Am I boasting? Well, guilty as charged. However, the noteworthy detail is that each of these trips is a part of SCFF fishouts, and among them, four are conveniently local (Beach, Beach, Kelly Lake, Forebay). A few years ago, a survey aimed at gauging the most valuable club activities for members—such as education, guest speakers, casting workshops, fly tying sessions, and fishouts—revealed that fishouts took the lead. This year, the club has significantly ramped up the number of fishouts on offer. If you haven’t yet taken part in a club fishout, I highly encourage you to do so. It’s the simplest path to acquainting yourself with fellow club members and discovering new territories or styles of fly fishing.

Share your escapades post-trip

Whether your fishing adventure yields a Personal Best or Personal Bust, your fellow club members would greatly appreciate hearing about it. If you’ve captured an impressive shot and wish to showcase it to the world, simply forward your photo to Jerry McKeon at Alternatively, if you’ve got an anecdote or an image to share exclusively with club members, you can submit it to to feature it in the newsletter. Alternatively, dispatch it to to ensure its delivery to all club members.

My sincere hope is that you leverage the meetings, the fishouts, and the insights, camaraderie, and feedback from your fellow club members to make this fall season your most memorable one yet.

Wishing you tight lines and looking forward to meeting you soon,

Scott Kitayama

Posted on

Summer notes

We are going to have the Annual BBQ and Swap meet at the Aptos Grange on Wednesday, August 2nd at 6:00 pm. I kind of think of this event as a gift from David South and Kevin Murdock to the club members. They do all of the purchase of the food, prep and cook it for us. All they want is that we show up, eat some food, and have a good time. Its that easy to make them happy.

Bucket-List Fishing 

In June, I joined club members, Elaine and John Cook, Kathy Powers and Michael Sherwood as we camped and fished our way through Yellowstone NP, Cody WY and Dutch John UT. With guides costing upwards of $700 a day, it was an honor to fish and learn from fellow club members who have been fishing these waters annually for upwards of 25 years. We had lots-of-fish days and no-fish days, sunny days and God-is-going-to-blow-our-camper-two-states-east days. After two and a half weeks, I was sated; I could have fished more, but I didn’t need to fish more. And that might be the best way to end a trip.

Goodbye and thank you Emily Marriott

Just last year, Emily Marriott joined the SCFF club and the Board by volunteering for the Secretary and the Marketing positions. Without any prior experience in fly fishing, Emily learned quickly and became a regular at the fly tying classes and the surf fishouts. In August, Emily and Adam are moving to central Illinois to help care for aging parents and be closer to their daughter and grandchild.  We are going to miss Emily’s smile, purple hair, and great work she did on behalf of the club. Thank you so much Emily!

Welcome Carly Blanchard to the SCFF Board

For the rest of the 2023, Carly Blanchard has stepped in to be the Secretary for the club. Carly has been helping behind the scenes with the monthly online raffle and she is going to be a real help with conservation issues as she is the Environmental Programs Manager for the San Lorenzo Valley Watershed District. You can read about one of her projects, “Fall Creek Fish Ladder”, in the conservations section of the newsletter. We are lucky to have her join the Board!

We still have an opening on the Board for Marketing and Merchandise position. If you have a creative flair, like designing and selling logo items, and want to help spread the Santa Cruz Fly Fishing brand than let’s talk!

Posted on

The Accidental Tyer

When I joined the Santa Cruz Fly Fishing club, I assumed that I was going to learn how to cast, where to go, how to read water, and land a fish.  One day, I asked Sam Bishop where I could buy surf perch flies and he looked at me with incredulity.  “You don’t buy them, you make ’em and if it takes longer than 3 minutes, than you did it wrong.”    So a bit chastened, I went to to a fly tying class which featured a surf perch fly.   On the left is a picture from the Feb. 2020 newsletter and on the right is the fly that I tied in the class.  Let’s just say that I wasn’t a natural.

With that experience and COVID shutting down all in-person activities, it should have been the end of my fly tying.   However by September, Tom Hogye (past-president) convinced Elaine to teach fly tying online using Zoom and I volunteered to help Elaine run the Zoom class which means I participated in the class.    Over the months, I started to look forward to spending an  evening a month in the Zoom class with other club members.  Now I watch YouTube videos on tying, go to club swap meets, and buy material  on-line.  Oh and I still go to the monthly tying classes to learn from others in the club.   I even think my tying has improved.

Over the summer months, we will have guest club instructors including Tom Eckert, Greg Foy, Jerry McKeon, and Michael Sherwood.  You should give it a try, you might accidentally become a tyer.

Have a wonderful 4th of July,

Scott Kitayama, President

P.S.  The fly that Sam was referring to is the “orange stick”.  Very effective, fast to tie, and only uses two materials.  I am not sure you can buy it.  You might just have to make ’em.

Posted on

To Promote, Educate and Enjoy the sport of fly fishing.

by Scott Kitayama

Happy June Everyone,  I thought I would use the club’s mission statement to provide a unifying theme around some disparate events that happened in May.    Usually, I like to discuss future events, but sometimes you just have to look back and appreciate what has been accomplished.

Promote: Did you hear about the Swap Meet that happened on May 20th?  If you weren’t one of the 150 or so who attended, it was a ‘shoulda been there’ event. I saw beautiful rods and reels that were sold for 10% of the original retail price going to happy fishermen from SF, East Bay, and other distant places.  Carly Blanchard created the Swap Meet poster and Jeff Goyert made sure that the event was well-promoted online and in print.   Due to generous product donations from club member estates, the Swap Meet raised quite a bit of money for the club and helps to ensure that next year we will be able to match and/or exceed our 2023 donations for conservation and education.

Educate: I am so proud to be part of a great organization that gives back to the community.  Below are the eight students that we gave scholarships in 2023.   The Scholarship program is headed up by David South and he has done a tremendous job this year; getting the club to double the scholarship amount per student, coordinating with the schools to select the students, and lining up club members to present the scholarships.  David South, Kathy Powers, Tom Hogye and I attended senior award nights and gave these students a chance to be recognized by their peers and parents for their past and future accomplishments. 

High SchoolRecipientMajorCollege
Aptos HSVivienne ChankaiEnvironmental Sci.UC Santa Barbara
Harbor HSMaya ManildiEnvironmental Sci.UC Berkeley
Pajaro Valley HSAlexa Falcon-VizcarraFood ScienceUC Davis
Santa Cruz HSJace GularteFire ScienceCal Poly Humboldt
San Lorenzo Valley HSMia HamiltonGreen EngineeringUC Davis
Scotts Valley HSPayton DufourEnvironmental Sci.UC Davis
Soquel HSJakob SporlederAg Bus. / Engineering.Cal Poly SLO
Watsonville HSAaron EscalanteEnvironmental Sci.Cabrillo College

Enjoy Fly Fishing: This spring, I have enjoyed the heck out of fly fishing. In late April, I caught my first ever sea trout, snook, and tarpon in Florida fishing with club member, Jeff Sloboden. Caught black bass locally and spent a fun day with some club members and local fishers in search of spawning white bass in the Nacimiento River (alas, too late). But for me, the biggest thrill was achieving my goal of the past five years by catching my first striper off the beach with a fly rod. What made it even better was that I was with two other club members, Bob Garbarino and Lance Boling. Bob was able to jump into the hole after me and land a striper, Lance had to wait a few extra days before he caught his. In all of these fishing adventures, what made them special? What’s that word again? Oh yeah “Fellowship“.

Posted on

Dipping your toe into Surf Fishing

by Scott Kitayama

What makes the Santa Cruz Fly Fishing club unique? Many of the members would say “the friendly members and the helpful culture”. This is certainly true, but not really unique since all the other clubs say the same thing. What makes us unique is the miles of public beaches that we have and the number of surf fly fishing outings. I agree with Sam Bishop when he says the Santa Cruz club has the largest number of surf fly fishers on the west coast, but even with that probably less than 10% of the club does it on a regular basis. I am hoping that some of the 90% of the club will become regulars on the beach this year.

On Saturday May 6th, the first beach fishout will take place on Rio Del Mar beach. If you are remotely interested in trying surf fly fishing, I have some suggested steps on how to get started.

  1. Read Sam’s excellent writeup on surf fishing on the club website.
  2. Go to a surf fishout and just watch from the beach. Talk to some of the members and decide if you really want to try it.
  3. Go to the monthly casting class at Jade Park and try out a heavier rod like a 7 or 8 wt. (ask a member to teach you how to haul).
  4. Borrow or purchase the necessary equipment . 8wt rod with full sink line and stripping basket.
  5. Find a friend or mentor to fish with you.
  6. Figure out the right beach and fishing conditions so that you feel safe

I am going to talk about the last three items because I want to encourage more of the club to try out surf fly fishing. Here are my thoughts:

4: Get the necessary equipment: I am making the assumption that you already have a trout rod and waders. The surf equipment is different and lately, I have seen some options that are relatively reasonable. Last summer, Emily M, showed up at a fish out with a combo from Redington called a ‘Coastal Cold Water field kit’ for just under $400. It came with a rod, reel, intermediate fly line and leader. An alternative is to come to the swap meet on May 20th and see if you can put your own equipment together. Getting an 8 wt rod not only opens up surf fishing, but it also opens up other local bass fishing and forebay striper fishing. My take is that if you are busy with family or work, fishing locally can easily double your number of fish days per year.

5: Find a friend or mentor: When learning to surf fish you should absolutely go with someone for safety, having someone there adds another layer of security. Also, I find it fun to fish the beach with others. Another line close by will not spook the fish and the biggest challenge on the beach is to find the fish and what flies they want. Having another person improves your odds of finding the successful combination. And don’t be afraid of asking another club member to be your mentor as you learn. If interested, you can talk to me at the club meeting , email or by phone/text 650 279 5871. If I can’t fish with you because of timing (I fish on weekdays), I’ll find someone to help you learn and fish with you.

6: Figure out the right conditions: I believe the luxury of local fishing is that you can fish when it is the right conditions, not when you have scheduled vacation. For someone new to surf fly fishing who is wary of big waves, there is a way to plan ahead and find conditions that are no more dangerous than wading a shallow river for trout. For me, I use the app, Windfinder, which is available on iOS and android. Here is a screen shot from the app that shows conditions on a local beach:

The image is an example of a forecast for Rio Del Mar. I have circled ideal conditions for learning to surf fish. In the image it shows the wind speeds less than 4 knot, the waves are less than 3 feet, the wave periods are about 13 seconds and it is a falling tide. If you wade into the flats and time your casts based on the level of the water, you will be able to fish the surf safely.

I will not be able to attend the May 6th outing, but there will be plenty of people there to answer questions. And please contact me if you have any questions.

Tight lines,

Scott Kitayama,

Posted on

Investing in our environmental future

If you are like me, I joined the Santa Cruz Fly Fishing club because I wanted to learn technique and find fishing friends. Joining the club (and joining the Board) really opened by eyes to the issues of conservation; I had limited knowledge of the environmental issues effecting our sport and unaware of the conservation activities to improve the habitat of our fisheries. Also, I had felt that our small club donations couldn’t  help that much.  I don’t believe that anymore.

I now believe that individuals and grassroot advocacy can make a big differences. I believe because I have seen it with my own eyes.  I have seen reduction in smog, recovery of sea otters, saving of wetlands, removal of dams and recycling.  All of these results started as grassroot movements with people banding together to enact change, whether that was change of people’s behavior (littering less, paying more for organic) or a change through local, state or national government (Watsonville Wetlands, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Clean Air Act).   It is easy to get depressed about our current environmental issues like rising oceans,  extreme weather,  and crashing salmon population, but I gain hope by looking back at successes against past environmental challenges.     And as club members, we have a way to try and help  create future environmental successes.

For the past several years, our club has been donating around $3,000 for conservation projects and $1,600 for high school to college scholarships for Santa Cruz county students focusing on Environmental Studies. At the last Board meeting, we decided that the club could increase our donations by having a clear funding plan. So for 2023, we are doubling the size or our scholarships to $400 per student and keeping the conservation donations the same. In future years, we will increase our conservation donations as well.

We are able to pay for our club because of our increased membership size and member generosity.  With over 200 members, we will be able to cover the cost of running the club from dues, online donations, and monthly raffles. That means we will be able to direct the net proceeds from our annual fundraiser towards conservation and scholarships. The fundraiser we had in February netted about $3,500 which would not have covered our donations, but as a post-Covid reboot, it was very successful and gives us confidence that we can increase the proceeds and make it better in years to come.

Like our club, the SCFF Board is continuing to grow and have recently added Kevin McClish to be our facilities  coordinator.  Kevin has been part of the club for several years and participated in outings, meetings and fly tying.  Thank you Kevin for volunteering.

Now on to fishing!  April and May are some of the best times to fish locally and you should take advantage of the time to try out surf fishing, crappie and black bass fishing.  If you haven’t done it before, put a note up on google groups asking for help.  I am sure you will get some bites.

See you on the water – Scott Kitayama

Posted on

Return of the Annual Fund Raiser

I am still amped up by the success of our Santa Cruz Fly Fishing’s Annual Fund Raiser on Saturday, February 18th. This is the first fund raiser we have had since Covid shutdown and we wanted to get our members back together. Last winter, the SCFF Board was worried that we were not going to be able to have an event since the rental cost for the church had gone up, all of the expenses for an evening sit down meal had gone up, and we didn’t have the donated wild salmon that is traditionally served. Instead of giving up, we decided to try something different: daytime event, catered lunch, utilize the Aptos Grange and give it a go. Blessed with the first sunny, warm Saturday in 2023 everyone had a great time.

We sold 105 admission / meal tickets and club members as well as guests enjoyed the meal both indoors and outside.

Annual awards were presented to club members who have volunteered their time to help the club and fellow members. Our most significant annual award has been renamed, the “John and Pat Steele Award” to recognize Pat’s decades of contribution to the club for the producing the club newsletter 30 years and hosting the Board of Directors meeting at their home.


The winner of the 2022 John Steele award was Mike White for leading the Pyramid Lake fishout and helping new members learn how to catch these great cutthroats. Mike was awarded a $400 gift certificate to The Fly Shop in Redding, CA.


Tom Hogye received a 13′ Beulah Spey rod and Echo reel as a thank you for his unprecedented 5 years as club president. And three long time club members, Kathy Powers, Barry Burt, and Tom Hogye were granted lifetime membership for their years of contribution to the club.

And finally to cap off the day, we had the annual raffle. A rapid fire reading of ticket numbers as winners went to the stage to select their prizes. Prizes this year included a FishCat 4 float tube, 10+ rods, 10+ reels, lots of tying material, apparel, accessories and on and on.

Fellowship is my focus for the club and the annual fund raiser happening during my first month as president was absolutely perfect. The entire Board of Directors volunteered, however I want to highlight those directly responsible for its success: David South (fund raiser lead), Elaine Cook (facility planning and volunteer coordinator), Emily Marriott (catering coordinator / swag seller), Kevin Murdock (raffle and silent auction coordinator), Bob Peterson (ticket sales), Kathy Powers (Program MC), and Jeff Goyert (Pyramid Kit Raffle).

Hope to see you at our next general meeting on March 1st with speaker Alvin Dedeaux! – Scott Kitayama, President SCFF

Posted on

Let’s get together in February and March

by Scott Kitayama

L -R: Tim Loomis, Bob Garbarino and Scott Kitayama fishing for steelhead in an undisclosed location

As the new president of the Santa Cruz Fly Fishing club, I am excited to have a chance to work with all of you to make this club, stronger and more valuable for all of us. First of all, I want to thank Tom Hogye, who encouraged me to join the board three years ago and promised that the more I put into the club, the more I would get out of it.  He was right.  Tom’s passion and emphasis while president was in the areas of conservation and education, and he will continue to champion those causes for us as well as the larger NCFFI organization.  Thank you, Tom.

My focus in the upcoming year is centered around fellowship.  A club like ours provides a great opportunity for us to make new friends, share experiences while teaching and learning from each other along the way.  As a part of the SCFF Board of Directors, we are committed to increasing the number of activities and the quality of the events per year. All we ask of you is … participate!

During February and March we have a lot of events for your participation.  In the newsletter, we have a new section in the Membership area called “Club Activities” which lists events such as fly casting, volunteer opportunities, dinners, and hang outs.   These are separate from the sections of the fly tying and fish outs which describe what is happening in future months.  If you want to see everything that is happening, click on EVENTS  on the website which has a calendar showing the dates of the events along with sections with detailed info about fishouts, fly tying and club activities.   

I want to highlight some of the changes that we are making to provide more opportunities to congregate and socialize.   These include:

Feb 18th, Annual Fund Raiser and Installation:   After a three-year hiatus, the event will feature a new venue, new hours, new food, a new ticket price, and with your help, more comradery, laughter and fun. The day will include a lunch catered by SAJJ Mediterranean, raffle of great prizes,  annual awards, and introduction of the new Board of Directors.

General Meetings (1st Wednesday of the Month):    Please attend our General Meetings in person at the Aptos Grange.   Doors will open at 6:00 pm and the meeting will start promptly at 6:45 pm.  This provides up to 45 minutes to help setup the room, swap fishing stories, buy raffle tickets, and  meet new members.  

March 8 @ 6:30 pm, Fly Tying Hangout:    We are trying out something new by providing a venue for members to come together and tie flies along side others.   Its a great excuse to get out of the house, so bring your vise, tools, materials and fish stories. 

I hope that you can attend some of these upcoming events and if you have any suggestions on other club activities, let me know: or mobile 650 279 5871.

See you on the water – Scott

Posted on

Don’t Miss Out – It’s Been a Treat!

by Thomas Hogye

Happy New Year!   I hope all of you had a beautiful Christmas with family and friends, AND there was something “fly-fishing” under the tree.   I love this time of year as some of my most favorite gear came either on my birthday or Christmas.   It’s also when I have a little extra time to get up in the morning, grab my coffee and binge watch Steelhead videos, swingin flies with a two-handed rod these days.

January Meeting

I’m looking forward to seeing all of you at the January meeting at the Grange.   You can arrive as early as 6:ish – if you want to hang out, help set up or get some last minute raffle tickets.


We have something new we’re going to be doing.   Instead of one speaker, we are going to have five club members who will be telling us their story of their favorite fly-fishing experience; sharing with us how you can do the same.    And plenty of time for questions, bring your notebooks for new places to go.


Annual Fun-draiser/Dinner/Raffle

For many of you, the Annual Dinner has been one of the most fun experiences we’ve had together these last 45 years.   This will be a lot of fun.  If you haven’t ever been to one, don’t miss it.   In fact, do what most of us will be doing, sign up to help, show up at 9 ish to have coffee and pastries with us, help set up, and then either stay, or come back for the fun and festivities.

Please make sure to buy your tickets On-Line, or at the January and February meetings.   It will be an early event – 1:00 to 5:30 with food being available between 1-3.    Installation of Board members, the John Steele Award, a few more “awards”, followed by the raffle.

Fly-Tying / Casting / Instagram and Fishouts

Keep a watchful eye on the Newsletter, website and the club email for all of the resources your membership comes with.   The fly-tying classes are growing and you can watch for additional fly-tying opportunities as we organize some more or less informal fly-tying get togethers.


Weather permitting we’ll be having a casting class on the 28th – and maybe we can actually do that casting down by the boardwalk on the San Lorenzo.  Stay tuned.


Jerry and company have been doing a great job growing SCFF coolness with the Instagram page that also publishes to the Newsletter.   If you have any photos you’d like to share, get them to Jerry and you’ll soon see them on Instagram and our Website.


Super grateful for all the new help we have but we still need more – Facilities, Vice President, and more.   If you’re interested in playing a greater role within the club, do seek out your committee chairs, me or anyone else – we’d love to have you.   Thank you, Justin Ice, for recently jumping on board for Fish-Outs.   There are going to be some fun new places to go together in 2023.


It’s Been a Treat

At this writing, we’re waiting or another portion of rain to fill the San Lorenzo and all her sister rivers in Central California so we can do a little steelhead fishing afterward.  It is also my last President’s Message.   I’m not the only one who has been leading the club for the last 5 years.  So, while being President for five years was unprecedented, I was not alone in that work.  I am beyond grateful for the rest of the Board and Committee chairs who also did not abandon the club when Covid forced us to do things considerably different.    While we’re still working out a few bugs in some of the changes we made to keep our combined efforts going, these changes were really fantastic.  Other clubs suffered, so we put together a President’s meeting every month to share ideas with the other NCFFI clubs so we could all survive and thrive.    I could not have done this without the sincere and committed efforts of the Board.  I would be writing a twenty-five-page book here, simply to cover my gratitude to everyone who helped SCFF over these last five years.    I could also not have done this without the kind support of you, our member ship.


I will continue to teach the casting class and stay on the board, because I just love seeing where this club is growing and what a terrific resource it is for you, our members – our family.    Today, thirty five dollars a year ($60 for a family – of which I’ve paid all these years), isn’t much considering the value of the friendships, family, fun, laughter, and more that comes with this club.   You can’t get that with a magazine subscription, or a membership at any other organization you might belong to.


When I first joined the club in 1992, I was a 30-year-old kid.   Elaine still calls me kid.   Back then, I jumped in and served as Conservation Chair, President, and Program Chair.   It was the most fun I’ve had doing anything.  We made a difference.    I left for a few years to raise my children, build a home, and do a little bike racing.    But you know nearly every month, Mona would always ask me who I heard from at the club, was there a meeting, …   When 2017 came around and the kids were now doing a lot on their own, the house was done and things were in a rhythm, I jumped right back and have enjoyed every bit of it.


Thank you all for being so kind to me, encouraging and downright uplifting.    I dare say any President of any country couldn’t wish for a better approval rating.


I’m excited about the next generation that is coming to the club.  That was the goal from the beginning – to take Santa Cruz Fly Fishing into the 21st Century and build it for the next forty years.     Your board is going to continue improving.   I am very excited at what Scott Kitayama has in store and I’ll be there to help or stay out of the way.   I plan to fish a bit more, too.


Thank you.  Thank you.    I would never have done this without your encouragement, your love for fly-fishing, the environment and all that lives and breaths in the outdoors we want to be so great again.


Happy New Year!    Tom

Posted on

Happy Holidays – Time for Rain and Steelhead!

Happy Holidays!   Know what that means?

Excuses to buy your friends and family, fly-fishing stuff and accidently order a few extras- for yourself!    Hide them in your stocking, under the tree – address them from yer significant other, your 3-year-old son or daughter, or someone from work.   Act really surprised!!

While I’ve been fly-fishing for some 30 years now, I’m always impressed by the new things I see out in the market that I just must have.   In fact, I’ve seen examples so many times during the year, I realize now that I actually need them.   Yes, need.

While you’re all reading this flush with Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, deserts you’ve waited all year to have, and an overdose of football games, some of us are watching the weather reports every night, looking for that next rain, the rainy season, steelhead.

Some of us will be down in the estuary come the 1st of December, if for no other reason than an opportunity to practice casting our Spey rods and lines on an actual body of water we don’t have to drive 3 hours to.

Did you ever wonder why the San Lorenzo was once known as the most famous steelhead river in all of norther California?    I did.   And while it isn’t really documented, where else can you fish over 11 miles of river, with virtually easy access, and where every three miles along a stretch of Steelhead water, there is a bar, or several, and a place to eat!

True – It is noted that anglers used to come from far and wide, with their partners, mistresses, …, and ply the waters of the San Lorenzo all weekend, fishing, drinking, eating, shopping.   And, back in the day when there were A LOT of anglers, and a lot of fish with which to angle.

Opening day on the San Lorenzo used to be covered every year for decades, in the Sentinel, and in the Mercury News, a number of those years with write-ups from our very own Jeff Goyert, who wrote that column in the Sentinel.

Anglers of all kinds rushed- and I do mean rushed, to their spots along the estuary and well into the canyons of the mountains, to ply for their wary catch.   All the fly-anglers on the boardwalk side of the river, almost elbow to elbow – just wide enough apart to give way to the necessary double haul while waste deep in a changing tide.   Most of them there well before first light.     Ed Marcillac and a few others must smart enough to use their dinghy’s – even guys like the infamous Hal Jansen, all comfy out of the water, with coffee thermos, casting classic Steelhead wooly buggers, Comet, Boss, Green Butt Skunks.   Hardware and bait anglers clinging to their spots along the cliffs and high banks on the other side.    You’d be hard pressed to be there for fifteen minutes before someone was hooking up and others were politely reeling in to give way.    It was magical, and it was chaotic.

I suppose I kind of like that most of us can head out to the river these days and find it busy if we spot three other anglers within 200 yards along the estuary.    But almost no one is walking along the bridge, or the cliffs, siting schools for those of us already in the water.   Oh, the fish are there, on occasion, but not like the old days.    I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m told the movie, Rivers of the Lost Coast, contains footage from the early San Lorenzo days.    There is one clip also on YouTube, sometime in the late 60’s I’d guess, where the river was covered with anglers.   But today?  While there may not be as many fish, I do like the peace one can find when plying the waters with whatever might be of our liking that morning, almost completely unencumbered by another angler – unless you invited them along.

Yes, I wish those big numbers of Steelhead, and Coho, were returning to the San Lorenzo again, but I also recognize that this might also bring forth the throngs of anglers, of which I’m not so sure the river could handle anymore.   Why with what people are posting on social media these days, anglers are having to doctor up background images and speak in tongues to keep people from finding where they caught the fish, and thereby descend in droves on that hallowed water you thought you owned.

I’m looking forward to the chance to fish the San Lorenzo this year.   Many of you have heard from me, that it’s also about raising awareness – yes, there are fish in this river, big ones, and it’s the reason we need to take care of it now more than ever.

It’s a rare gift to be able to fish a river so close to one’s home, not to mention several of them, that were once great Steelhead, Coho, and even Chinook, fisheries.    The fish are few and far between anymore.   The river, deprived of it’s nutrients and wholesomeness by a city that is destined to destroy the river because of it’s insatiable want for growth.   Who knows, maybe a mayor who serves a term of 4 years now, can perhaps, help us make a difference, stop the growth, and give more water back to the San Lorenzo in the critical times of the year.

Hopeless romantic.  That’s what I’ve been called.   Someone has to fight the good fight, raise awareness, love the river for the health it deserves, and be the bad guy for saying stop the growth.

The City would love to see us river stewards go away, move on, die.    But if we keep sharing and pressing for what is good and right, for the fish – for the river, for the health of the entire eco-system along all our Pacific Coast waters, there will be more river stewards and hopefully change, for the fish and everything that surrounds, lives amongst and thrives, with the fish.

Happy Holidays – It’s Black Friday on Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.   Started on Saturday and Sunday!

Get out there – go shopping!!   I mean – fishing.

Posted on

Don’t Be Afraid To Get Involved – It Will Change Your Life!

by Tom Hogye

This President’s line is a tough one. I’m writing like this because I’ve been sitting here at my desk wondering what to write, how to start, for over half an hour. I’ve been thinking about this all week and how do I write it down for you, for me, for anybody.

The Santa Cruz Fly Fishermen, now Santa Cruz Fly Fishing, has been around for 45 years. No one thinks of that when they join, not that anyone should join because of its age. I certainly didn’t. My wife had a client who told her about the club, who told me, and since I was new to fly fishing in 1992, and I really wanted to learn more, learn to tie flies, cast better, know where to go at any given time of the year, I went to a club meeting.

I remember what I loved right away was how everyone was talking to each other; how easy it was to talk to anyone and tell them where exactly I was as a beginner. There were no “airs” as we often see in other settings. I was not only welcome but introduced to other people at the meeting simply because I was new and they all wanted to help. I don’t even know who the speaker was, or the raffle. But I do remember meeting Kathy Powers, John Steele, Tom McMillan and George Peterson. Today I still see this happening at every club meeting. I’ll say, it is also the very reason it is so difficult to start the “official” meeting part on time. Everyone is literally talking to each other about everything related to fly fishing – for the most part and I feel bad interrupting genuinely good conversations. And as embarrassing as it might be for some, I love the introduction of guests, new members and who’s been fishing, where… I still remember when I first stood up as a new member and how welcome I felt.

Kathy Powers encouraged me to get involved with the club, and within a few months I was going to be the clubs Conservation Chair the following year. It has been 30 years.

At the time, when newsletters were printed and mailed, SCFF was known for having the best newsletter in all the northern CA clubs. I thought that was the coolest thing on the planet. Pat Steele, and Elaine Cook were responsible for collecting all the data putting it in print, getting it mailed. For 29 years Pat Steele edited and published the newsletter, and when the internet came along, figured out how to put the website together and publish the newsletter to the website where we all had a chance to read it. She was also my best editor. The best letter I’ve ever received from anyone was Pat’s letter as I completed my first stint as President.

I’d say, on the side-lines, but it was characteristically more of a stealthy quiet thing, John Steele was there. President of our club the year I arrived. I realize John was younger than I am now when I first met him. And to think some of you still call me “kid”.

It was probably natural for John to be the President at that time, because along with his wife, he was actively involved with many parts of fly-fishing, and his other love – duck hunting. At that time, still working as a pharmacist here in Santa Cruz, raising two young adult children. John ran the rod-building class, organized, and encouraged people to go on a number of fish-outs – most notably the Green River for 30 years and a pile of Alaska trips. When he wasn’t doing that, with all of George Peterson’s walnut gunstock scraps, John was busy making shadowbox frames for fly displays, Regal vise holders and tool holders, fly-tying tables. John would make this beautiful large trout windchimes, wood carvings, fish, quail, frames, and stained glass. He’d take ordinary Sage blanks and turn them into works of art, especially the scrimshaw carvings, one of which I am a treasured recipient. And for as many years, taking a full bedroom in their house to store all the fly-fishing gear we would amass every year for the Annual Dinner Fundraiser. Spending his own time, buying things you would want, finding the best prices and the very best products for the benefit of everyone in SCFF. The silent auction was likely the largest contributor of finances during the Annual Dinner, most of which had something hand-made by John Steele. And if you ever asked John about fly-fishing, fly-tying, where to go, how, when… if John didn’t know the answer, he would take you to the person you could talk to, introduce you and make sure you were well on your way.

The formerly known Dame Juliana-Berners award for the person making the biggest difference in your fly-fishing experiences every year, became appropriately the John Steele Award.

In retirement, John and Pat made a pact to travel somewhere (most often involving fly-fishing) as often as humanly possible. And they did. Alaska, the Green River, Montana, Wyoming, the North & South Atlantic, the South Pacific, the Gulf of Mexico – East and West. Salmon, Trout, Bonefish, Redfish, Snook, you name it – there is a photo of John and Pat – together usually with fish. And after all that, dove, pheasant, duck season.

More than 57 years, married to the love of his life, his “cat”, glued to the hip. They did everything together and loved it! Especially fishing.

John died, again, this past Sunday. Yes, again. Some 22 years ago, John suffered a heart-attack and died. He and Pat were home, John in his easy chair – gone. Pat was in the other room for several minutes before discovering why John didn’t answer. The ability for him to come back was in part because Pat and John live less than 2 minutes from the fire department. John had been gone for quite some time.

When John got better after the first incident, he jumped right back into fishing, hunting, crafting…, giving. He got healthy. Then he ran the club and became President – again! He and Pat traveled, hosted the Board Meetings at their house for years, chock full of goodies to eat, dogs and cats, until the C-word stopped it. And travel they did.

This last time, John didn’t come back. He passed peacefully. Selfishly, because we loved him so very much, we’re kind of upset, sad, heartbroken, and grateful for all he meant to us – a tiny portion mentioned here. A celebration of John’s life is planned for November13th, at 1:00 PM, at Chaminade.
30 years. Half of my life. More than two-thirds as long as the club has been around. How did that happen? It wasn’t until this week I thought of it this way, knowing so many of you half of my life and some of the best parts of it. You join this club and it’s like Hotel California – you can check out, but you can never leave!

Don’t be afraid to get involved. It will change your life. You will find introductions turn into friends, turn into family.

Posted on

Getting Through the Storm, Planning the Future

by Getting Through the Storm, Planning the Future!

Well at this writing, Mona and I are in Florida helping Emily batten down the hatches for Hurricane Ian which is set to bring heavy rains and winds to her community near Ocala.   It is practically a divine appointment, because this trip was a last-minute plan, no hurricane in the picture, just some time to get out to help our daughter with her place and visit.   Getting out may be equally as interesting since we’re supposed to leave right as it grazes Gainesville with heavy rain.

Planning.  How many times have we planned something and then it doesn’t happen, or something changes our plans – like COVID?!    Well, that’s what happened to our Annual Dinner / Fundraiser many of us have cherished and looked forward to for decades.   That event is so much fun, most of us who plan, volunteer, and participate, know it is a full day of fun together – and the very next best thing to fishing together.   All the prep beforehand, coffee and donuts in the morning – just like fishing together.   Covid really put a damper on this for the last couple of years, which seems like centuries – BUT – no more.   Hang on to your britches family – we are going to have the Annual Fundraiser again – on February 18th.   Mark your calendars.     More to follow, but plan for an event that starts early in the day, is full food, fun, the installation and acknowledgement of our members, board members and other fun stuff, AND the raffle!!    This has normally been our largest fundraising event for our facility, conservation funds, events, and our scholarship fund.    So stay tuned for more.

The fly-tying classes are back in full swing at the Grange, the second Wednesday of the month.  If you are interested in taking some wintertime to tie up some bugs – get to the basics and other good foundational techniques and tools to use for your own fly-tying.  I love tying flies on those shorter winter rainy days and evenings.  If you haven’t ever taken a class – great!  Reach out to Elaine Cook and you’re in.  We all started with ugly bugs that still caught fish!

We will have another casting class at Jade Street Park last Saturday in October, so please stay tuned.   We can work on single hand Spey techniques which are excellent for some of our local Steelhead waters when that time comes this fall and winter.   And for those of you wanting to work on anything else – we’re game – bring it!!

Fish-outs for the 2023 year are already getting on the calendar.  Check it out.   Make a plan ahead of time.    If you want to join us at Kennedy Meadows on Sonora Pass next year and you want to stay in a cabin – even a small one – get on the list with them now.    Most cabins book nearly a year in advance.  It’s a beautiful place to be in the summer.

I am super grateful for our board – your board, and all they have done to help you make the very best of your own fly-fishing dreams.   We are continuing to develop our “hybrid-meetings” and kudos needs to go out to Scott Kitayama and Tommy Polito for continuing to improve this experience, despite some of the pitfalls.    We are still working on getting speakers to physically come to the meetings, but some of them are just so good we will likely continue to have some of our speakers via zoom.

Thanks, Jeff Goyert, for making the best raffle in all the Northern California clubs.   The prizes are awesome and the opportunity for every member to participate is the best thing we can offer the membership.  Don’t forget – those raffle dollars go directly into the clubs scholarship and conservation funding, amongst other club necessities.

I’ve read a couple of good books lately.  Of course, they revolve around that which makes our fly-fishing enjoyable.   Both books are eye openers.  One more scientific; the other more passionate, deep, compelling, mysterious.  Both a very good read.  First one, “Salmon Without Rivers”, by Jim Lichatowich.   An easy-to-read scientific write about the history of salmon and steelhead and her delicate and vital habitat.   Thank you, Carly Blanchard, for allowing me this good read.  If you don’t know what we did to the rivers, habitat and other species just barely 150 years ago – you need to read this.    Another good one is “My Story as Told by Water”, David James Duncan.    A series of chapters around all forms of trout, steelhead, salmon, some deep passionate and activist revelations, some significant successes, and some interesting takes on Salmon from the perspective of how they were perceived long before we turned them into an industry.  Thank you Jeff Goyert for this one.  I highly recommend both books.   Would love to hear what you guys read as I’m needing a new one.   I suppose if you write to me with a suggestion, it means you read this President’s message!

Thank you to everyone who has been active in the club.   I love seeing all the enthusiasm, new ideas, new members.   I love getting to know you even if I only see you once or twice a month.   For me, the club is a respite from the storm I look forward to so often.    And as we are getting back to the Grange in person, it sure is fun seeing you now more often or even the very first time.

Spread the word – the plan is it keeps getting better and better because of you.    See you soon.


Posted on

A Time To Remember- September!

by Tom Hogye

Well, here we are entering September!    Wow!  What a year getting back to “normal”.

I don’t want to rub it in, but if you missed the August Club BBQ for any reason in excusable, we really missed you.   What fun it was to see more than sixty of you at the Sherriff’s Posse Hall and how fun it was.

Shout out to Kevin Murdock and David South for working their magic at the BBQ and for taking the time to go to the store, get all the food, condiments, utensils, set up, and tear down/clean up at the end.   If any of you enjoyed the squash, those were Tromboncino and Green Squash from my garden.   Yum. Yum.

To all of you who brought items for the swap portion, that was really awesome.   Those funds will be going toward our high school scholarships.   And thank you to Elaine Cook for carefully organizing all of Doug Severin’s fly-tying materials into specific categories of which I think each bag easily had a life-time of fly-tying materials for each.   To say that I have so much fun doing the raffle with Jeff Goyert – who is expert at orchestrating the raffle and who easily and willingly takes your money – understatement.   It’s a blast calling out the numbers messing with you guys.  Just glad you play along nicely.  Way to go Ester and Dar for triple winnings and coincidently being great fly-tiers who helped Elaine last month.    You couldn’t stage this better.

Ernie Kinzli, our founding father – so to speak – was present and I was grateful to introduce him to a number of you who weren’t around during the days when he ran his fly-shop in Santa Cruz, then in Soquel right at the bridge of Soquel Creek, Ernie’s favorite haunt for Steelhead and Coho, back in the day.  Ernie donated a classic mix between a float tube and a raft that breaks down into it’s own carrying pack.  Watch for it in upcoming events.   The proceeds for that will be going to the scholarship fund.  Thank you, Ernie!

Ernie Kinzli

I cannot begin to say thank you enough to everyone.  When they say distance makes the heart grow fonder, that could not be more true.   I was just happy to finally see so many of you after this war we’ve been waging for far too long.

As my second, and unprecedented, term as your President begins to wind down, I am going to be at a loss for words given all the emotion, memories, and support I have to be thankful for.   Okay – kidding about the ‘loss for words’ part!   But anyhow, I’m not going anywhere and will be around to continue supporting the club, you, and doing some other fun stuff – like teaching the casting classes!

I LOVE casting.   I’m probably a better “caster” than I am an angler – or one who catches fish.   I’ve just loved learning all the way back to 1992 when Mona and I saw a couple of guys fly-fishing on the Stanislaus, and when we went to the Fly Fishing Show, I tried out a Sage SP (which I still have), and got my first “lesson” from Randy Swisher, none other than the infamous Doug Swisher’s son.

I practiced in the grasses at Ed Levin Park in Milpitas during my lunch breaks practically till my arm fell off.   Then when we had the “Con-Fab” in February – which I’m hoping we’ll bring back – I just had to beat Kathy Powers at the distance casting.   Nothin doin.  Kathy is an amazing caster, and probably the best dressed of all of us – any day of the week.    But I loved casting.

Then Walt Robinson, who was a member of this club and the San Jose club, was a Master Casting Instructor and fly-tier, gave me some lessons and helped me rig my reel with backing, line, butt section with a nail knot, and blood know to tippet so my line would turn over as beautifully as it should, provided I did what I was supposed to.

Walt suggested I go for my Casting Certification – which I did at the following years Fly-Fishing Show.   I was so new back then, and I still wasn’t as good as I really needed to be.   Ironically, that morning when I was casting on the casting pond, it was frozen over.   Burrr.     You should have seen my roll cast – more like a whip and a splat.

But I digress.  I love casting and while I’m far from expert, I enjoy seeing you improve, get it, and how you start controlling line so you know exactly where you can put a fly no matter the conditions.   Sure distance is a part of casting as the good fish always seem to be on the other side, or just a little bit farther.    And you will get there, working your way from the closest water first, and the farthest water last.   Often stopping somewhere in between, hitting the honey hole.

So come join me and the rest at Jade Street Park for the rest of the summer, last Saturday of the month – 1:30.    When winter comes, and we get some good water on the San Lorenzo, we can do some spey casting in the estuary, or some “chuck n duck” in the gorge.  And when Spring comes again, we can pull out the shooting heads for Pyramid and Surf Perch Striper fishing.      Can you say double haul?

See you at the Grange for an informative gig with Trout Unlimited and what we’re all working to do to restore salmon and steelhead habitat in the most challenging of times.

Keep em wet people.    Peace out.   Tom