I belong to a local chapter of FFF in Iowa. I think it's a pretty good chapter ran by good people. Some of them are elderly and I anticipate I will participate in a leadership level someday. I have been in leadership positions in other clubs and I completely understand the challenges in that endeavor. All clubs will hit an interpersonal speed bump at some point. The purpose of this thread is not a poll on why you hate your club. I am hopeful that is not the direction this thread will head. For starters, an answer to any of the following questions would be appreciated. Feel free to add a category.
1. What is the general agenda for a meeting, and what do you do for entertainment? If it isn't fun, membership will suffer.
2. What charitable activities do you participate in? I am of the impression that most all support PHW and CRC. Does your club support other charitable events?
3. What community events do you participate in if any? i.e. what do you do to encourage recruitment to your organization?
4. Is your club active in preserving your local water? If so, in what manner?
5. Does your club have a relationship with other local clubs and/or local officials such as DNR, Soil and Water Commissioners etc?
I believe my club has #2-5 figured out but there is always room for improvement.
Since you're already comfortable with the others, let me just tell you what my club does at a meeting that keeps me enthused.
Fishing reports, pretty obvious, huh. Tells me what's going on where.
Speaker presentation. Here's the make or break of a meeting. We've had Denny Rickards do stillwater (outstanding!), a Tenkara presentation (don't remember his name but it was very interesting), a guide on the Truckee R named Gilligan (also very good), and the local Orvis manager on fishing in the Sacramento delta. But we have had some strikeouts too.
For me, the chance to import some expertise (emphasis on the expert part) and outside ideas specific to actual fly fishing is the thing. Those come with some expense to the club, and that can be a problem. Someone who's just there to make a sales pitch, or talk on something that has very little to do fairly directly with fly fishing itself is discouraging.
Good luck. Can be a lot of work, but can be very rewarding.
I won't go into it, but it's amazing how political the club leadership can be.
I don't attend the monthly meeting too often, but they go like this;
Announcements, new business, fishing reports...general business meeting stuff
Then there's a raffle. Money goes to the insurance fund
Program. The program is often a seminar given by someone knowledgeable in regional fisheries. Sometimes a nationally recognized figure.
Lefty was almost a regular at one point.
Once a year it's a "fly tying round table" with a dozen or so expert tyers. And once a year, it's pizza and a movie
One of our members is a state legislator, and the club is has always been "front line" in local environmental and fisheries issues.
We offer beginners fly tying classes that take place at the local Cabelas (rent free) as well beginners fly fishing, advanced fly tying and beginners rod building (some years)
I'm usually a mentor with the fly fishing class. I think that I get more out of that than my student does
We have a stretch of C&R water that we sponsor. I do the trail maintenance but I rarely even fish there.
I've been in this club since the '70s but the meetings are an hour away and I'm afraid I'm not the most enthusiastic member at this time.
There's still plenty to like about it so they get my dues and my help with activities that I enjoy
The annual banquet and expo is coming up soon.
That's big deal and much fun. I spend the whole day.
This year the "featured guest" is author Ed Mitchell
In the past we’ve had Lefty, Dave Whitlock, Dr.Schwiebert, Bob Clouser, Bob Pop, Jack Gartside,... more than I can remember
Last year it was George Daniels... really interesting.
As president (and founder) of our local TU chapter (the only chapter in South Dakota, for that matter) I have basically asked myself those same questions. Our chapter has been in existence for a little over 3 years so, starting from scratch we had to deal with those same things.
1. We meet monthly. We try to keep the "business meeting" at no more than 40 minutes. This is followed by some sort of "program". Fly tying sessions are always popular as are member "fishing reports". We all enjoy hearing about and seeing pictures from members fishing adventures.
2. We support PHWFF and are just starting to become involved with CfR. Though not "charitable" we have also started a Trout in the Classroom project.
3. We take part in several community events, mostly through our state Game & Fish department. There is an "Outdoor University" event, a "Women's Try-It Day" and fly tying classes (the first one for this year is tonight as a matter of fact). We also have a booth and do seminars at a local Wild Game Feed & Expo.
4. Local water is a tough one for us. We meet on the eastern side of the state and the cold-water streams are in the western part of the state. We have a good working relationship with the FFF chapter in that area and are trying to partner with them. There is one cold-water stream in the eastern part of the state. It is in serious need of rehabilitation and we are working with the Game & Fish to get that going. They are fully on board but these wheels turn SLOWLY.
5. As I said, we have a good relationship with the FFF chapter in our state but they are 350 miles away from us. Not easy to cultivate that relationship. Our state Game & Fish department does good work and we have a nice relationship with them. This is also not easy because, in South Dakota, it's all about pheasants and walleye. We work hard to keep cold-water fisheries on their radar. We have also been in touch with the American Fisheries Society chapter in our state. Until about a year ago I didn't even know there was such a thing.
In our chapter it's all about MEMBER ENGAGEMENT. If we have lots of things on our plate, it's easy for our members to find something they are passionate about and we get pretty good attendance at our meetings.
I haven't attended a meeting of any of the Chicago clubs, but when I lived in Vancouver, Washington, I was a member of the Clark-Skamania Fly Fishers. I really enjoyed it; if a veteran member saw a new face, he or she would immediately start chatting about what the newbie liked to fish for, what kind of rod, reel, etc., he or she had, did he tie flies, etc.
They have monthly fishing trips, attended by a dozen to 3 dozen members, and again, newbies and non-members were encouraged. On those trips, a newbie always had a veteran show him spots to fish, techniques, etc. Very inclusive.
They have a twice-annual casting clinic at a nearby park (alongside a salmon/steelhead river), well-publicized in the local papers. Again, a stranger was always made to feel welcome.
They always have some program, whether a local celebrity fly fisher or tyer, or one of the members who'd a slide show of an epic trip.
There is a raffle, and I won some cool stuff - a nice 10-weight fiberglass rod previously owned by one of the founding members with extremely good mojo, and fly line on a couple occasions.
Somebody is always tying flies during the "wet-fly" hour preceding the meeting.
An important part: They do their best to publicize the meetings and events in local papers and online. I think this is important, and in this day and age, sometimes difficult to find a good method to get the word out. I am sometimes surprised that local fly clubs don't post their meetings on this or other FF forums, but maybe that's not considered polite?
The only real problem that I found with CSFF was that, when I started attending in my mid-40's, I was nearly the youngest member. I suspect that clubs generally are not, generally, a young person's thing. Maybe this forum is a club, of sorts. It's not the same as being eyeball-to-eyeball to other FF'ers, though.
I recently attended an opening-weekend get-together for folks on another, more geographically-specific forum, and it was pretty well attended, a couple dozen folks, with a wide range of ages, I was happy to see. I did note a little segregation of the locals vs. the folks from out of the area, but nothing egregious.
My local fly club doesn't have a clue, went to a few meetings and heard them ***** how they couldn't get new younger members (average age in room has probably 65), and not 1 member introduced themselves to me or made an effort to make me feel welcome, I would have been about 30 at the time. Other than not feeling welcome, the meeting was more about executive club business than fly fishing related, and what seemed like the high point to all the members was how much money the club had in the bank. As you can guess I haven't been back.
I dunno the last trout unlimited meeting was at the Able seedhouse and brewery, chatting with craft brew and fly tying, knocked a few back with the pres and the vice pres, met a bunch of new people. I'd go back. Lots of people there, turnout was large.
It was way better than a formal meeting, it was more like these are guys and gals I like to hang out and work with.
I appreciate the feedback guys. To be clear I am not planning on taking over a club leadership position anytime soon. The older gentleman enjoy their roles so I will just volunteer to help with things for now. Average age of my chapter has to be 60+. It's clearly a social gathering. Half of them rarely fish anymore, and that's OK. Trout water is not nearby so fly fishing and trout fishing in general is not a normal local activity.
Our meetings are a little stale and I have skipped some lately. About a 45 minute tying and coffee drinking session. Business meetings runs a little long and frequently there is no featured speaker or activity. Meetings end with a raffle. The raffle prizes are typically worth a couple bucks and it is nothing more than a replacement for dues as everyone drops about two bucks on tickets. We do have a relationship with the St Croix rep. He holds an annual casting clinic nearby.
The good news is we attend local outdoor shows and always tie there. Classes held at local libraries occasionally. Annual cleanup session on the new local lake. Fishing themed charity events are supported The leadership stays in touch with DNR and appropriate officials. The relationship seems excellent and several times funding cuts were restored when we volunteered to assist them in drawing attention to the need. I'm confident the chapter makes a difference.