A fly fishing club in college is such a cool idea. Lenny Tamule and his fellow students are making that idea happen at the University of Massachusetts. Lenny is the club president and fills us in about the club.
What is the UMass Fly Fishing Club?
The UMass Fly Fishing Club was started two or three years ago. The club has mainly been a buddy system where members would hit the water with each other, but this year it’s going to be much more than just that.
How did the club get started?
Chris Roller founded the club, but a year or so ago he broke his wrist and the club kind of went inactive. Lena Fletcher who was a teacher of mine last semester found out I fly fished and told me she knew of a fly fishing club. Once I contacted Chris he found out there were more people interested in the club than he had initially thought, and the club began to get active again.
What has been the interest level in the club?
The level of interest in the club surprised me in all honesty, dating back to last year. Last semester I met quite a few students who fly fished, or knew someone who did. The other day I made an announcement before one of my classes giving a brief overview of the club. I was expecting about give or take 5 people to sign up. To my surprise we had about 15!
Another thing is that there are a lot of girls who are interested in the sport, which is great to see. Close to half of the people who came to sign up were girls. Both our secretary Amelia Midgley, and treasurer Erica Palmerson are girls and they’re very passionate about the club and the sport. So I’d say the interest level is pretty good, and I think it’s only going to get better from here.
Other than fishing outings, what type of events and activities do you do?
We’re going to be having a river cleanup at some point and one may not be all we stop at. When the club was active shortly after it was established, the club hosted a fly fishing film festival. We would like to try and host another one this year. We also have a fly tying night once a month…I think that’s how often it occurs…at the Element Brewery.
Now let’s talk about the fishing, where are some of the club’s favorite fly fishing waters?
Most of the time our angling is focused on the Deerfield River, Swift River, Millers River, and East Branch Westfield River. All of these rivers hold a special meaning to all anglers who fish them, everyone with their own reasons. The Deerfield, Millers, and especially the EB Westfield offer great solitude. A local guide who I’m friends with has guided people from Colorado on the EB and they told him it felt like they were still in Colorado, and that’s on a stream in Massachusetts. We’re extremely lucky to have such a place where you know you can get away from everything, not see another soul the whole day, and still be able to catch a few trout along the way.
The Deerfield is the only place in the state that offers the chance to hit a wild triple, brookie, rainbow, and brown. The Swift offers some of the best wild brook trout fishing in New England aside from Maine. People who have been out west always tell me that what’s out here is peanuts compared to it. Now I’m not saying I won’t find it breath taking, I most certainly will. All I’m saying is that these streams we fish will always hold a level of significance to me that can’t be duplicated, and I believe a few other people feel the same way.
Do you keep club fishing records?
No, we don’t keep records. I don’t really care for them for two reasons. The first being fly fishing is not about the numbers- it’s far from it. It’s about enjoying the surrounding you’re in, and/or the people you’re fishing with that make it special. The second reason is to keep records, you’re going to need to handle the fish to measure it and that results in extra unnecessary handling time of the fish. A quick photo of the fish is all you need.
How do you see the club growing and expanding over the next few years?
I absolutely believe the club will be expanding in the future. As I mentioned before, I couldn’t believe we had so many people interested. Once the club begins to make more of a name for itself, I firmly believe that it’s going to see even more of an uptick in interest.
Lenny, you are doing a great job! I kind of wish I could go back to school just to be part of the club. But since I can’t, I will follow your club’s anglers on your Instagram page. Keep up the great work and great catches!