“Many go fishing all their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.” – Henry David Thoreau
May 20th of 2012 once again found members of the Joan Wulff Fly Fishers Club casting into the waters of the Ramapo River. Their last outing to the Ramapo took place in the autumn of 2011 as multi-colored leaves still clung to the trees, and their return visit took place in the fullness of spring.
The Joan Wulff Fly Fishers club originates out of Ridgewood, NJ, with outings that cover NJ, NY, CT, PA and MA; and, according to club president Kelly Buchta, “Members have gone to Montana, Mexico, Florida, and other areas.”
The club was founded with the intent to promote women’s knowledge and experience in the sport of fly fishing, hence the club bears the name of the sport’s most famous female participant Joan Wulff. Her father, Jimmy Salvato, owned the Paterson Rod and Gun Store, but back then fly fishing was not a sport for women or girls. She convinced her father that girls could fish as well as boys, and in 1937 ten year old Joan entered her first tournament competition as a caster; she eventually went on to be considered the First Lady of Fly Fishing.
Today, the local club bearing her name is proud to have both women and men who are eager and interested to share and build knowledge of the sport. The club’s activities include numerous outings to fish, but also involve guest speakers who come to speak to members on the sport of fishing. Recent speakers include Lee Hartmann who spoke on the infamous Delaware Rainbows, and an annual casting clinic with instructors Sam Decker and Marina Swartz who provided members with the chance to hone their casting skills.
The club also sponsors events where fishing may often be discussed, but the emphasis is more on comaraderie. The 2011 annual holiday dinner was this year held at the High Mountain Golf Club in Franklin Lakes
The Journal conducted a short Q&A with club representatives Kelly E. Buchta and Rich Malizia
What is the greatest appeal of fly fishing to you?
Kelly: The calm and serenity that being in the river offers as well as the opportunity to bring a lovely trout to hand
Rich: The greatest appeal is the intellectual challenge. One needs to understand the fish, what they eat and where they live. Because you have to think and focus to be successful, fly fishing becomes the ultimate distraction from all the things that otherwise clutter your mind.
What are some of the other elements that attract people to fly fishing?
Kelly: A quietude and adventure of the sport. All rivers have a natural beauty and tranquility to them, where the daily stresses cease to exist. No two fishing days and rivers are the same.
Rich: Fly fishing is a social and economic equalizer. We all have common avocation which transcends who you are and what you do. The surgeon and the laborer are equals once they pull on their waders.
If persons were interested in trying fly fishing without investing in the gear, are rentals available or does your organization provide gear?
Kelly: Rentals are available from the full service fly shops. If a beginner wants to attend one of our outings, most of our members would offer to lend them the necessary equipment.
What’s your opinion on the condition of NJ rivers as they relate to fishing?
Rich: Most of the rivers in NJ have great potential, if properly managed. Water quantity and quality are always a concern. Many people who are in a position to influence the quality and quantity of the water do not have a thorough understanding of what is needed to maintain quality fishing waters. For example, releases of water which are significantly warmer than the temperature needed to maintain a healthy river not only can kill the fish but also disrupt the biomass on which the fish feed. Similarly, fluctuations in water levels from dams used to generate electricity, control flooding or to provide “white water” for recreational boating are similarly damaging. If the Delaware River were managed to maintain the temperature and water level most advantageous to the fish, it would become a world class river and bring in millions of dollars of economic benefits to the communities along the river, and you would not have to build one casino.
Do you have any opinion on the recent proposal to pump more water out of the Ramapo and Passaic Rivers to serve the Wanaque Reserve?
Rich: Pumping more water will be a negative to everything that lives in the river, unless it is done very judiciously. If surplus waters are pumped off it would be OK, however there is not enough storage capacity to retain water during those events. The best solution is to stop all development in all areas with water deficits.
If parents were interested in introducing their children to the sport of fly fishing, what’s the earliest average age?
Kelly: Depeding on the child, we have worked with children as young as six or seven.
Rich: Children must have the desire to learn and the “instructor” must understand the child and how to teach so it is an enjoyable experience.
Women or men interested in learning more about the Joan Wulff Fly Fishers Club can find additional information using the links below.
2011 Fly Fishing Trip
This collection of images is from the club’s 2011 November outing to the Ramapo River
Ramapo River May 20th 2012
Members of the Joan Wulff Fly Fishers Club can be seen at various points in this video which is of a kayak trip down the portion of the Ramapo River that runs through Oakland, from Glen Grey Road to Doty Road.