As I walk into the Mississippi Coast Fly Fishers meeting on Thursday night, I hear the fish tales already going full speed. Where did you fish? What fly did you use? “You didn’t catch anything because you didn’t use the fly correctly” (to which a quick “no way” response was given). Honestly, my curiosity was piqued hearing the wealth of knowledge shared in the parking lot before I even made it in the doors.
This group of fly-fishing enthusiasts meets twice a month to discuss all things fly fishing. This mixed group of men and women have been meeting since the 1970s, building both flies and friendships. Each meeting, the group reviews old business, new business, future fishing trips and tournaments, charitable activities, and a member demonstrates tying a different fly.
During these demonstrations, that week’s volunteer shows how to tie a fly. The fly might be of their own creation or maybe one they saw featured somewhere. Whether an original creation or not, the demonstrations are a time to share knowledge. At this particular meeting, member Roger Apperley showcases a design of his own making he calls the “Crapperley,” a mesh of his last name and the fish the tie is meant to target, the crappie (Mr. Apperley and his Crapperley fly pictured below).
Several of the members have been fly fishing for over 20 years and have created some incredibly unique and effective flies. One long-time member, with a larger-than-life personality, who may or may not have been telling me “fish tales,” was Harry Lamey. Mr. Lamey has created some beautifully captivating flies, but most importantly some effective flies. Mr. Lamey is especially proud of a popping bug of his own design, a fly he dubbed the Whistle Britches Minnow (pictured below).
What struck me the most about this group is the overall generational mindset of the members. This group of fishermen wants to impart their knowledge to the next generation. They want people to know that fly fishing is alive and well in Mississippi. They want to serve our community and grow a love of the outdoors in the residents in our great state. They want people to ask them where the best fishing spots are, what flies to use, how to use the fly properly, and how to cast. They want to discuss ways we can make the fishery better for future generations, such as fish stocking programs for the Biloxi and the Tchoutacabouffa. Most importantly they want to see us all enjoying the outdoors with our family and spending the day catching some fish.
Spring is in the air. I encourage you to take the advice of my friends from the Mississippi Coast Fly Fishers and go fishing. Maybe you can give Mr. Lamey a run for his money and bring a “fish tale” of your own to the next Thursday night meeting. The meetings, which are open to everyone, are on the first and third Thursday of each month at New Hope Baptist Church in Gulfport.
For more information about the Mississippi Coast Fly Fishers please visit their website at http://www.mississippicoastflyfishers.com/