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Fly Fishing Season Wouldn’t be as Robust Without the Hemingway Guys
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Maria Jose Gonzalez poses with some of the Hemingway Chapter-Trout Unlimited members who awarded her a scholarship in honor of longtime fly fisherman Dave Spaulding
   
Saturday, May 28, 2022
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Memorial Day weekend marks the kickoff to the summer fishing season in Idaho.

Idaho Fish and Game stocked nearly a half-million trout in May (see where at https://idfg.idaho.gov/fish/stocking). And the Hemingway Chapter of Trout Unlimited got the flyfishing fingers twitching with its International Fly Fishing Film Festival this past week.

Young and old turned out for the event, all flush with excitement as they watched such films as “Out West,” which followed a fish bum flyfishing eastern Oregon’s high desert streams. And they oogled beautifully crafted hand-tied flies lovingly tied by artists all over the Wood River Valley as libations and other goodies were served.

“The event went great! There were so many diverse ages and energies present lighting up the room so enthusiastic about fishing in the river,” said Patti Lousen. “I had one woman say that she was realizing she was ready to join the board or become a Chapter member because she’s taking a three-year break in her life and—boy!--was she inspired by the event. “

The Hemingway Chapter keeps flyfishing passions stoked for some 600 members during winter with slide shows on flyfishing adventures in the likes of Patagonia. Come summer it transitions to clinics and in-the-field activities, such as flyfishing clinics, fly-tying clinics and events introducing fishing to youth and veterans.

Members give back, as well, cleaning up public access trails and taking part in fish rescues when streamflow becomes too low to support healthy fish. This past year members put in 405 hours rescuing 23,000 fish stranded in the lowest water flows on the Big Wood and its tributaries in a century and relocating them back into the Main Big Wood River

Club members also work on public policy at the local, state and federal levels.

“Public policy is not as glamorous or, honestly, as fun,” said Lousen. “Yet, it is where we can advance regulations, ordinances, processes and standards with on-the-ground changes that can advance our fisheries and watersheds for generations. We are a busy group as many of our board members are also local flyfishing guides.”

Currently, the group is working on the relicensing of Magic Dam hydropower plant, which is the fishery below the dam; stream alteration permits in the valley and maintaining public access at Flying Heart Ranch. They’re also serving as part of a statewide education team for a proposed copper mine in the Mackay area, which is home to the coveted fishing in the Lost River Range.

“In 2023 we plan to again focus on our kids’, veterans and school programs, which have been in operation since 2005,” Lousen said. “These have been on a break due to the pandemic.”

As the school year drew to an end, the Hemingway Chapter of Trout Unlimited awarded a $1,000 Dave Spaulding College Scholarship to Maria Gonzalez as part of an effort to champion conservation in the future. The Wood River High School graduate will be the first in her family to attend college. She has accepted an offer from Middlebury College in Vermont, where she plans to major in neuroscience in hopes of becoming a psychiatrist.

“In addition to fulfilling the requirements of the scholarship, Maria also shares some of Dave’s personality characteristics,” said Lousen. “She is relentlessly optimistic, curious, caring and shows spark as a lifelong learner.”

WANT TO LEARN MORE?

Check out https://hemingwaytu.org

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