Some 12 months ago and through Sharland Urquart, I was put in touch with legendary fly fishing icon, Joan Wulff. Through our discussions and introduction to James (Jim) Krull, MD of the Catskill Fly Fishing Centre and Museum (CFFCM), the idea of mounting an exhibition to showcase what SA has to offer the visiting flyfisher, was born. Historically considered to be the home of fly fishing in America the Catskill region is a mountainous area renowned for its rivers and streams, natural beauty and scenic landscapes; and for inspiring many of America’s earliest and most famous writers, artists, naturalists and trout fishermen. Catskill Rivers such as the Beaverkill, Willowemoc, Esopus and Neversink have been pivotal to the history and development of American fly fishing and visited by flyfishers from around the world.
At times it was frustrating and I was ready to throw in the towel, but perseverance and in the words of the Beatles, a little help from my friends, sufficient material was accumulated and the South African Fly Fishing Exhibition became a reality. From all reports the exhibition is receiving a lot of interest from local and visiting flyfishers from around the world. The CFFCM attracts thousands of visitors annually who come to see the museum displays, exhibitions like ours and to see the historical displays, visit the Hall of Fame, attend the many workshops held annually on many aspects of fly fishing. Apart from the static display of our exhibition of maps, profiles, books, magazines, HiFlies stamps, J Vice and more, the DVD being shown on a large screen television of images kindly supplied by a number of local flyfishers, has attracted a lot of interest. The display also advertises through many individual profiles, the likes of craftsmen, guides, artists, clubs, organizations and more that go towards making up our fly fishing community.
I would like to express my thanks to all who answered the call to participate, for the support and contributions. However, there are a handful in particular that were of great assistance in helping in put together and coordinating the various elements of the exhibition as well as making generous donations of items – Tim Rolston, Gordon van der Spuy, Sheena Carnie, Tom Sutcliffe, Warren Prior, Jay Smit, Barry Kent and our local fly fishing magazines. Special thanks go to Sydney Dwebe who helped considerably with facilitating KZN Tourisms funding of the not insignificant courier costs.
Thanks also go to Jim, Joan and others at the CFFCM who all played a role in one way or another in bringing the exhibition to fruition.
Despite the frustrations and difficulties and there were more than a few, it all feels worth it now and hopefully we will shine a little brighter on the map and more fly fishers will consider SA as a destination to visit in the future.