The Global FlyFisher
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Ten Year Reunion
It's been ten years since the first Global FlyFisher Summit, and Paul Kalbrener who has participated in all of them looks back.
September 2006 is the year it all started! Being new to fly fishing on the Danish coast for seatrout, I and many others were big followers of the GFF website. With lots of insight, tips, tricks, tactics, flies, etc... anything that could give me a chance of hooking, what at the time seemed like the mysterious seatrout.
The first Summit
It was a call put out by a fellow fly fisher, much like myself, looking for a chance to get together with fellow GFF readers for a weekend of fishing, and a get to know one another meet. Martin got right to it, and made a plan for the the first GFF Summit. The plan was, that we would meet in September on the island of Fyn, “Seatrout Eldorado” of the Baltic sea.
For a €100 or about 10 US$ you got a weekend in a Danish hostel, breakfast, a shore lunch, and a fantastic evening meal. People from all over Europe showed up the first summit, if I remember Denmark, Germany, Island, England, Slovakia... And as luck would have it, one of the participants, had access to an area that had limited public access, and the fishing was fantastic. I believe that everybody caught a seatrout that weekend, some their very first ever.
In the evening we gathered in a common room where a couple guys tied some flies, a slide show was set up to watch, and over a beer or two, stories were told, and we got to know one another. Basically it was a fantastic weekend. That was the launch, of the GFF Summits.
At least once every year
Since that weekend, the Summit has taken place at least once every year. The original group of 17 the first year, up to around 40 the second, and third year
Since then it has changed significantly. A small group of us who were there from the beginning have been carrying on the spirit of the first summit. Over the last 7 years it has been 8 to 16 fishermen and women who have met and fished in Denmark.
A great group of people coming together for:
- at times good fishing (not always)
- great food, and drink (always)
- fly tying in the evenings
- maybe telling a few tales
But the most important part of the summits is the great people who have taken part in these events, some of which are now very good friends.
Lots of preparation
As much fun as these summits are, it has not been easy keeping them going over the years. It takes lots work and lots of effort to get a group of people from different countries and cultures organized in one place for a week of fishing and all that goes with it, but we get it done year after year.
We start early with the planning, always setting the date and place for the next summit as the actual summit is coming to an end.
Then comes the hardest part: getting a commitment from anyone who is interested in attending. E-mails, letters, smoke signals, are sent out to friends, family, and people who have shown at the very least an interest in attending. These are not publicly announced events, but people are gathered through the network, and we are always open to new faces.
Booking a house
Once we know how many people are coming and for which days of the week they will be staying, a house is the next step
It has to be large enough, with beds for everyone and maybe an extra room for fly tying or relaxing over a good drink and a fishing video. And of course close to the water we want to fish. We have rented houses, and then at the last minute someone has to cancel, or people make last minute decisions to attend. So as a general rule one or two extra beds is a good idea. We have had houses for 12 people and the first couple of days we have been only 3 or 4 people, until the rest of the group shows up, and then houses where people have had to sleep on couches.
A good kitchen is essential, and two bathrooms very essential.
Luckily houses can be found and booked online these days, and entering the required number of beds, a general area and other wishes will soon reveal what's available. Since we typically meet in April and September we are outside the high season and can get some fair prices.
A couple weeks before we all get together many e-mails are sent among the group with last minute organization, about who is bringing food, drinks, etc. Nothing is worse than everyone showing up with a case of beer and not a single slice of bread... actually on second thought that might not be so bad, but you know what I mean!
It suffices to say that quite a bit of logistic coordination can go into these trips.
Over the years certain traditions and oddities have developed, some good, others well... also good, but somewhat odd. But they are there most every year, and helps us having a successful and enjoyable summit:
- Steak night. Martin cooks one hell of a steak, and I can tell you that no one stays out late fishing on steak night.
- Hot Dog night. Usually my night to cook, stay out late if you want, it's just hot dogs, but still a tradition. (Martin: and there's icecream for dessert!)
- Red Wine Flies. After a couple of glasses of the good stuff, someone always ties a fly that just shouldn't have been invented.
- HJ's Sauce Bearnaise. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. It's the one time it didn't that we all talk about.
- Hafensinger. It's the guy who has always caught more and bigger fish, the problem being that he doesn't have a picture, and no one else has seen the fish.
- Single malt whiskey. A couple of empty bottles can always be found at the end of the week.
- Kai's (Isabel's) Cake. Kai always brings a cake or two that his wife has baked. Perfect since we always get together on the first day for coffee and cake, either on the beach or in the house. It's always nice to catch up on everyone's life since the last meet.
- New equipment. It's always fun to see what has been purchased, built or inherited since the last time. There is always new rods, reels, cameras, new flies invented and they all have to be tested by the other members of the group.
- Cleaning. We had always cleaned the house ourselves at the end of the week, but we started to notice that the day before the summit came to an end, coincidentally had obligations and had to make their way home. So nowadays we pay for cleaning service. Much less stress and no hard feelings from the people that stay till the bitter end.
- Snoring Room. The first couple of summits we stayed in a Danish Hostel, and we had a designated Snoring Room. We only had to replace 3 windows from that room, which isn't bad, considering the decibels that where recorded 3 miles away. On a side note I stayed in the “non snoring room”, and all was quiet, although they said the the top left bunk bed was fairly loud, but that can't be, because that is where I slept.
- Photography. Just as important as the fishing are photos. Lots of cameras are present, from big DSLRs to little waterproof cameras. And thousands of photos are shot during the week.
The GFF summit had a great impact on my coastal fly fishing, and I'm really looking forward toward the next ones.
Martin's 2 cents... and the some
Setting up a Summit – public or private – involves money. Things cost money, people have to pay and someone typically has to shell out money for house, food and drink up front, and that money has to be recouped and divided by those who paid initially.
We have tried many different models, but have settled on certain schemes:
- All participants pay in advance when signing up. Typically a fixed amount per day they plan to stay, slightly less than the expected price, but enough to give some “seed capital” mainly for renting the house, which is the single largest expense and typically has to be paid well in advance.
- Single, kindhearted individuals do the shopping or bring food and drink from home, and they place receipts in the receipt pile with the amounts they paid and their name.
- When the week is over, it's all summed up and divided by the number of "person nights". Each person pays for the number of nights he or she staid, and we transfer money through PayPal or similar channels to even out things between payers and receivers.
- You pay your own way to the Summit: tickets, gas, ferries, bridge toll and whatnot. There's a lot of people driving together of course, and others are picked up when arriving by public transport. That's all settled among those traveling together and not a part of the common expenses.
The odd number problem
This might sound pretty straightforward, but can actually require quite a bit of math, because typically a number of the participant won't stay the full week. That means that payment isn't simply expenses divided by participants, but has to be done on a per day basis. We usually sum up the number of nights all persons stay and get an amount per night. So a person sleeping two nights pay two times the day fee and people staying a full week pay 7 times the day fee.
Our expenses typically wind up a little more than 30 US$ or a little less than 30 Euros per day, which is very fair considering the quality and amount of food, cake, snacks, candy and beverages.
In the end I typically add a little to cover the unexpected, which might be extra payment for power, water and heat in the house, things broken or other unexpected expenses.