The Origin of HCFF December 1989

By Cal Massey

Growing up in Corpus Christi, Texas, I fished with my dad and brothers using conventional fishing gear for sea trout, etc. In high school, I would occasionally read sporting magazines in the school library. Many of the articles I enjoyed were about fly fishing on the northwest rivers. I did not understand “fly fishing” or the equipment that they used. Many years later, flying for Western Airlines, I was introduced to fly fishing by an airline pilot crew who planned to go “fly fishing” in Idaho Falls on the next layover. I was invited to join them, but I didn’t have any “fly fishing equipment.” They gave me a briefing and I went to the base exchange at NAS Moffett and purchased a Fenwick 8.5’, for 7 Rod, reel, and line. I was really excited, to say the least!

The next week we arrived in Idaho Falls for our layover and visited “Bob’s Fly Shop” to buy some “local flies” and leaders, etc. While in Bob’s, we met Stan Yamamura, a local who, along with his family, tied local flies. Stan’s “day job” was an Engineer at the Arco site west of Idaho Falls. He supplied flies to fly shops from Blackfoot to Last Chance, Idaho. At this point, my captain and co-pilot asked Stan for some suggestions of flies to use on the Snake River behind our hotel. Stan said, “Are you really going fly fishing there?” Yes, they replied! “That is not a good place! Get your gear, I will pick you up at your hotel and we will go to a better place!” He did, and I just tagged along, not knowing that this would become a lifetime passion: fly fishing.

Stan and his family became my mentors for fly fishing and tying flies. As long as I could fly Idaho Falls layovers, I and other crew members fished the streams north of Idaho Falls in the summer afternoons.

That was my introduction and my beginning! As I gained seniority, I continued to fly the mountains and cities north of Salt Lake City, including Idaho Falls, Great Falls, Kalispell, and Anchorage, Alaska.

Meanwhile, at home in Pleasanton, California, I met several members of the Livermore Fly Fishing Club (LFFC) and joined. The LFFC had fish-outs, family camping, and fishing trips that we all enjoyed. The five years before the Delta/Western merger, I commuted to Salt Lake City to fly my trips. During this time, I became an officer and eventually President of LFFC. This event prepared me for what was to come. In August 1989, we moved to Park City, Utah. Tom Graue, a Western Airlines friend from Seattle had already moved to Park City. He attended a fundraiser in September 1989 and purchased a two-day Float Trip on the Green River from Jan’s Sports. Lucky for me, he invited me to join him. I was aware of the Green River, but that was about all. In early October, we were off to the Green River with Jan Peterson. It was a great trip…the A and B sections in Jan’s Lavor drift boat!

At some point, I asked Jan, “Is there a fly fishing club in Park City? I was shocked to hear him say, “There isn’t one! Everyone just does their own thing!”

I asked him if he would be interested in starting one. He said NO, he was too busy running Jan’s Sports, but he said if you want to start one, I’ll give you my mailing list! After some discussion with Nancy, we decided to give it a try!

We sent out mailers from Jan’s list and put a notice in the Park Record. The first meeting was held in December 1989, at the Treasure Mt. Middle School Library. Eight people attended and I discussed my ideas with the small group and showed a VHS tape by Lanni Waller, “Steelhead Fly Fishing in B.C.” Jan didn’t have any fly fishing tapes and suggested that we contact Steve Schmidt of Western Rivers of Salt Lake City. I also wanted to see a B.C. Steelhead Fly Fishing movie. Steve felt it might be of interest to others and it was! Lanni Waller was from the area north of San Francisco. He was then and still is a respected steelhead fly fisher and video producer.

The Park City Fly Fishing Club became High Country Fly Fishers so as not to leave out other local communities, Heber City, etc. During these early days, Nancy and I did everything including planning and building our new home. The format I followed was the same as the Livermore Fly Fishing Club. We organized programs, wrote the newsletter “The Prez Sez,” and other admin chores. The Green River trip with Jan Peterson and Tom Graue created such a strong interest for me, I wanted to take the family to the “Green” for a float!

The weather was still good in the early fall of 1989. With a few days off, we planned the “Green River Float.” We rented a raft at Dutch John to float the “A” Section. Laura used her fly rod, and I played “Guide”. Jan and Tom had told me “fish the scum line”. I kept telling Laura “cast to the scum line.” I did explain the back-eddy scum line idea! We survived the float trip, even with a few scares!

At the next meeting, I asked for name suggestions for the Newsletter. Just a few were suggested and recorded. No one name really won. I asked Nancy, Laura & Karen for suggestions. Laura said use “The Scum Line.” She insisted. The following club meeting I read the name suggestions and the votes. “The Scum Line” was hands down voted #1. For years the HCFF newsletter “The Scum Line” was published once a month and signed “Prez Sez.” It contained fishing reports, Club outings, class information (fly tying), and anything else to fill a page.

From 1990 and forward, HCFF continued to grow and many very talented fly fishers joined and contributed. Notably Squid Sedaris (designed the first patch), John and Suzie Schultz, Joe Young, Dave Collett, and many others. After several years, I started thinking I needed to hand the “fly rod” to a new Prez. Joe Young stepped up and accepted the Prez. I had started commuting to Dallas to fly Captain. Joe joined the club and played a very active role in the Lower Provo River Project. He was a low-key person, a great fly fisher, a former USAF pilot, and a POW at the Hanoi Hilton. Unfortunately, due to cancer, he passed away way too early. His memorial service was a real tear-jerker for those who attended. Karen Massey wrote the HCFF version of the 23rd Psalm. “He leads me beside still waters in heaven that would see Joe fly fishing in a beautiful clear stream”! ….. the current history and leadership to be continued.

Prez Sez, Cal Massey