Brad Elfers has been fly fishing long enough to know there’s something special about the fly fishing community in Juneau.
“It’s funny how some sports that can appear to be complicated can become a little cliquish and Juneau’s never really been like that with fly fishing,” Elfers, the owner of Alaska Fly Fishing Goods, said. “Which is fun — it’s very welcoming. Hence, the community always seems like it’s growing, people want to get involved because everybody’s welcomed.”
That accommodating spirit was alive and well during the annual Fly Casting Night on a warm Wednesday evening at Twin Lakes. Over 100 fishermen — some with personal rods and others with loaned rods — lined the grassy shores to practice their casts. Alaska Fly Fishing Goods partners with local organizations Rain Country Fly Fishers and Tongass Trout Unlimited Chapter to put on the lessons every spring.
“All we want to do is share our passion for the sport,” said Jon Heifetz, the local chapter president for Trout Unlimited. “Some communities, there might be a little elitist thing, but here, it’s fun to do and beginners can catch fish with no problem.”
Chaz Niemi, 24, and Raylynn Griffiths, 22, were two of the anglers getting tips as they repeatedly cast into the water. Niemi said he rekindled his passion for the sport after moving to town three years ago.
“I went commercial fishing a couple summers ago and I didn’t work for almost a whole year and I was just fishing every day,” Niemi said.
Griffiths, meanwhile, is just learning the ropes. Niemi showed his girlfriend some of the fundamentals of casting, but admits he still doesn’t know everything.
“I would always follow my tip down to the water but they say you don’t; I learned a few tips,” Niemi said. “Even as an experienced fisherman, I learned a few things.”
Casting down the shore from the young adult couple was 16-year-old Alan Soltys-Gray. The Thunder Mountain High School teenager was introduced to fly fishing at a young age and spends up to five days a week fishing during his summer getaways to Connecticut.
“I really like catching fish and it’s really fun to be able to get out in the boat in the morning,” Soltys-Gray said. “See the sunrise and see the different types of wildlife. It’s not all about the fish.”
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.