Since 1986, when the invitation from England for a Canadian fly fishing team to enter a world championship event in England in the Spring of 1987, there have been cries of No competition in fly fishing. The reaction to the invitation became so emotional there were suggestions of completely ignoring the invitation without the courtesy of a reply. Just imagine, fly fishers who had forgotten their manners.
On a telephone call to Tony Pawson, the International Organizer in England, in the first hour it became obvious that there was potentially more to the event than just a competition to catch fish. In the second hour he received a commitment to have some Canadians attend even if there was not a full team.
Canada was represented by a full team, along with wives, making it an excuse for a family visit to the historic Test, Ichen and Avon rivers. Fly Fishing Canada was incorporated as a not for profit corporation to facilitate the entry into the event.
The competition part of the FIPS-Ed World Fly Fishing Championships were as deplorable as we expected them to be. The event was based on catch and keep resulting in the demise of many fish, as the trout were kept in plastic bags until the end of each competition period for weigh in. On the other hand in the nightly social gatherings, the Fly Fishing Canada team found other countries interested in exchanging information on conservation and changing the competition to catch and release. By the end of the 1987 Championships, under pressure from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the Committee authorized Australia to hold a catch and release Fly Fishing World Championship in Tasmania in 1988. The following Championships from 1989 to 1992 were all based on catch and release. Each year the Competition Rules and the Statutes were improved to provide a level playing field for all members.
In 1993 the 13th FIPS-Mouche World Fly Fishing Championships were held in Kamloops, British Columbia. It was appropriate to complete the transition to fish friendly, catch and release Competition Rules, through the Modification Rules.
A full day Conservation Symposium was also introduced in the Kamloops event. There has been a Conservation Symposium in every Championship since 1993. The Conservation Symposium became a requirement for any country applying to host a Championship in FIPS-Mouche. This brought the annual World Championships full circle, with the competition being the vehicle to bring twenty or more countries together to learn about conservation activities in the Host country and discuss their own activities.
The Championships are still a very strong forum to exchange techniques and innovations in fly fishing. The advances in European fly fishing shows us how far and quickly North Americans are falling behind.
We have established an annual forum internationally for the exchange of fly fishing techniques and conservation. Why do we not establish an annual event to bring fly fishers together from across Canada? We can and the FFC National Fly Fishing Championship and Conservation Symposium is designed to provide that opportunity.