Emergence of the Dubuque Fly 

Fishers' Club

The  life cycle of the insect of the stream is a good metaphor to  describe  how the Dubuque Fly Fishers club came into existence.  The egg  was laid  at a fly fishing class in 1990 which evolved into a nymph at a  first  gathering a year later.  This nymph group in turn evolved into the  pupa  stage until its emergence as fully mature adult body with by-laws  in  1994.  Instead of a year cycle this was a four-year growth period.

Some  eggs were settled in the stream bottom when Frank Potter of  Dubuque  offered an Introduction to Fly Tying and Fly Fishing class as an  adult  education course held at Senior High School on January 29, 1990.  Frank  was a member of the Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association.  After the  class  ended people heard about it and requested individual instruction  from  Frank.  This gave him the idea to use the momentum from the class  to  gather a group who would meet regularly to offer instruction to new   comers plus enjoy the camaraderie in the sport.

The  first meeting of people interested in fly fishing in the Dubuque  area  was held one year later on January 28, 1991 at the First National  Bank,  Asbury Road, in Asbury. Seven of the eleven "eggs" or students who  had  been in Frank's class attended that meeting: Dwayne Fudge, Joe  Healy,  Carl Hentges, Kent Hillery, John Kemps, Gary Kruse, and Jim  Petersen.   Others who attended that evening and continued with the group  were:  Frank Ciccarelli, Mike Johnsrud, Harry Muntz, Rick Nelson, Ivan   Shaffer, Mark Stone, and Dave Unsen.  Mike Jacobs of Monticello was  also  present. (Mike continues to share his professional expertise in  fly  tying with the club.)  Frank Potter assumed the role of acting   president.  Frank also acted as secretary, treasurer, and newsletter   editor from 1991 to 1993.

A  survey taken that evening showed the fly fishing and fly tying   experience of those attending.  The tally for experience in fly  fishing:  never fly fished 4, beginner 6, intermediate 4, and advanced  3.  As for  fly tying: never 5, beginner 10, intermediate 0, and  advanced 2.    Also, from the survey, the second Monday of the month was  selected for  the meeting time.  By the end of the meeting these "eggs"  had turned  into nymphs, which were squirming with interest in the  future of the  movement.

After  another meeting at the bank Jack Kemp secured the basement at  the UAW  Hall for future meetings.   This 1991-1992 year saw the Club  benefiting  from many generous fly fishers from Iowa and Wisconsin who  came to  Dubuque to present programs.  Mike Jacobs, of the Hawkeye Fly  Fishing  Association, gave a tying presentation in February.  The  following  month, Walt Coaty, from the LaCrosse area, demonstrated making  bamboo  rods. These numbers of the nymphs increased.  They molted and  enlarged  as their knowledge of the sport grew from fishing experiences  and club  activities.

After  recessing from June through August the group returned in  September  when a member of the Badger Fly Fishers, Paul Mauer,  demonstrated tying  smallmouth flies.  Some new faces seen during this  year included Byron  Bohnen, Don Cox, Tom Jirsa, Brian Larson, John Carl  Miller and Steve  Wood.

In  February 1993 the Club progressed to the pupa stage when it hosted  a  first public fly tying event at the library where Mike Jacobs once   again was the featured tier. By this time other members felt   accomplished enough to assist in the instruction.  Activities for the   Club in the summer were in support of the Hawkeye Fly Fishers' work   projects at Spring Branch and the Maquoketa River.  In August Frank   Potter led a public presentation on entomology of the streams at Swiss   Valley.  In October Don Cox secured a new meeting place at the State   Farm office at 3490 Hillcrest Road.  Dave Kemp and Dick Saylor were new   faces this winter.  Gary Kruse assumed the role of acting president  and  newsletter editor in the spring of 1993.

Late  in 1993 the pupa began to rise to the surface of the stream when  it  was realized that a greater commitment to the future success of the   group could be made by becoming formally organized.  A committee was   formed and a first draft of by-laws was worked out at Gary Kruse's  home.   Then, on January 17, 1994, at a regular meeting at the State  Farm  Claim's office, the bylaws were accepted and officers elected. The   officers elected at the meeting were Gary Kruse, president, Don Cox,   secretary/treasurer and John Carl Miller, newsletter editor. Attending   the meeting were: D. Cox, R. Fuller, P. Hird, G. Kruse, J.C. Miller, F.   Potter, V. Schrunk, D. Unsen, and S. Wood. The by laws were revised   again the following month with a separation of the secretary/ treasurer   position and adding a director.  Phil Hird was elected treasurer and   Charlie Cunliffe, director.  At the meeting two new projects were   proposed: a youth fishing clinic for April and a bluegill outing for   June.  The size of the membership then was 18 and dues were $3 per  year.  By this time the club had emerged from its pupa stage and spread  its  wings.

The  club had reached the adult stage of the life cycle.  Now, it was   officially the Dubuque Fly Fishers.  Its purpose was to protect the   natural environment, conserve natural resources, work with the DNR and   Conservation Commission in fisheries management, to increase knowledge   of fly tying and fly fishing, and encourage fellowship among members.    It held a future of promise for men, women and youth in the Dubuque  area  who wanted to be in a fellowship whose goal was to respect and  enjoy  the natural environment though the sport of fly fishing.

Frank Potter

9 January, 2000

Copyright 2014 by Dick Sisco for Dubuque Fly Fishers.