One of 4CFF’s longtime members, Jack Salstrom, was selected to be interviewed for the Club’s 50th Anniversary project. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jack for this project. Jack is an absolute wealth of information on local history, fly fishing and fly tying, and is always ready to share his knowledge and a good story. It was my pleasure and honor to interview Jack: most definitely time very well spent, as it would be for anyone who can get him in a conversation.
(4CFF) So, where were you born and raised?
(Jack) I was born and raised here in Bellingham, in fact just down the street from where I currently live.
(4CFF) What got you interested in Fly Fishing?
(Jack) I started fishing back when I was young. At that time, I was a bait fisherman. My brother and I used to fish Whatcom Creek for bass that came out of Lake Whatcom. A favorite spot was the “whirlpool” where we used craw(fish) tails for the bass. By the time I was around 15-16, I became interested in Trout.
(4CFF) What is your favorite fish to pursue?
(Jack) Trout, (4CFF: though he has pursued steelhead and many other fish throughout his life, including those bass).
(4CFF) Tell me about your interest in fly tying. When did you start?
(Jack) About the same time I became interested in trout and fly fishing. I asked my dad about getting me a tying kit. So, he took me downtown to the H&H fly shop. At the time, H&H was located down where the current parking garage is today. The person who waited on us asked what I was wanting to do, and instead of a kit he offered to get me set up right. A pair of scissors, a Thompson Model A vise (4CFF: wonder how many of us got our start using one of these?) some thread, hooks, some furs and feathers. I soon began tying some flies for customers, which allowed me to buy more materials, and so on.
(4CFF) What is your favorite fly to tie/fish?
(Jack) The Dragon Fly. I began tying them around 1967. This last year I developed a buoyant Dragon pattern. It floats just in or just under the surface.
(4CFF) Jack ties all forms of patterns, from Atlantic Salmon down to caddis worms and pupae, and chironomids. He told me that when he goes to Canada to fish, he usually carries about 144 DOZEN chironomids, Leeches, about 4-5 dozen Dry flies and, of course, his beloved Dragons. He is missing his trips to Canada both last year and this, due to the Covid-induced travel bans. Jack has fished numerous lakes in Canada including Sheridan Lake, Dragon Lake, Big Bar, Beaver, Roche, Black, Forest and many others.
(4CFF) When did you join the Fly Club?
(Jack) I joined in either late 1972 or early 1973.
(4CFF) How did you get interested in joining?
(Jack) About that time I was doing some tying demonstrations down at H&H, and had a couple of friends from there that I fished with ask me about joining. The Club formed in 1972. Some of the early members included Wayne McLemore, Jim Darden, Dick Martin, Larry Brook were all founders/early members. We had about 35 members. At that time, things were more informal that today. We would gather at someone’s home and tie flies; trips were simply a couple of guys just getting together and going. Errol McWhirk came along, and he and I just clicked. (4CFF: Errol and Jack became best friends and they tied and fished together for years.)
(4CFF) In what positions have you served the Club?
(Jack) I have been a Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. The Club has become more complex, more highly organized. This as opposed to “just getting together.”
(4CFF) What have you gotten out of the Club?
(Jack) Meeting interesting people of various fields. Shared experiences. I met Marion Hiller’s father when he approached me about doing a repair project for him, and had a chance to fish with him.
(4CFF) Any other hobbies or interests?
(Jack) I used to hunt. Not any more. I draw once in a while, mainly patterns.
(4CFF) Any honors or memorable highlights of your fishing years.
(Jack) Yes. Several years ago, an article about me (4CFF: written by Scott Willison) was published in Northwest Fly Fishing. That was the highlight of my life.
(4CFF) Anything else you would like to contribute to this interview?
(Jack) I love to bring and share my love and passion for Fly Fishing. And I am always open to helping anyone with tying issues.
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