In celebration of the 4CFF 50th Anniversary, the Club decided it was time to interview and recognize some of the Club’s most accomplished fly fishers. When reviewing which Club members should be profiled, Ralph Lloyd received unanimous support. Ralph has spent over sixty years flyfishing in the Pacific Northwest and it is not uncommon to see his cedar strip dinghy on some of the interior lakes of British Columbia. Ralph has extensive knowledge of the art of stillwater flyfishing and is an accomplished fly tyer. Ralph is always willing to discuss his knowledge of stillwater flyfishing; in fact, he provided an excellent flyfishing stillwater presentation at an Annual 4CFF Fishinar.
Ralph is a conservation leader within the Club and was the first President of Washington Trout, an organization that he, Hugh Lewis and Marc Hulbert helped establish. Washington Trout has since evolved into Wild Fish Conservancy Northwest.
Ralph has many talents and skills, and it was a pleasure interviewing him and to learn more about him. -By Bill Rodgers, 4CFF Member
(4CFF) Ralph, when and where did you start fly fishing?
(Ralph) I started flyfishing sixty-four years ago at the age of ten. I was raised in Moses Lake and was fortunate to be able to fish the pothole lakes south of Sullivan Dam.
(4CFF) What drew you to fly fishing?
(Ralph) I started fishing with my older brother for bass and blue gill using bait at the age of four or five. Like most people flyfishing was a natural progression for me. By the age of ten and eleven I was committed to flyfishing and tying flies for the local Moses lake fly shop.
(4CFF) Why has fly fishing become important to you?
(Ralph) Good question. I find the aspects of the aquatic entomology life cycles interesting and enjoy the research required for locating fish. I also enjoy the outdoors and surrounding scenery nature provides.
(4CFF) What is your favorite type of water and type of flyfishing?
(Ralph) I have enjoyed many forms of flyfishing. When I was a kid it was catching trout in small lakes. In my thirties it was flyfishing for steelhead in our local rivers. I have also caught Coho out in the salt utilizing a floating line on a spey rod behind a power boat and swinging a bucktail bait imitation into the boat’s wake.
However, now due to the massive decline in steelhead runs, my favorite form of flyfishing would be pursuing large trout in the lakes of the BC interior. In the two years before Covid 19 and the border closure, I caught a couple of Pennask rainbows, while Chironomid fishing, that went 28 inches and about ten pounds! It is not uncommon on these trips to catch several trout in the 20-to-24-inch range.
(4CFF) What year did you join the 4CFF and why did you become interested in the Club?
(Ralph) I joined the 4CFF in 1979. Like most people, I joined to become a better fly fisher, and I was especially interested in catching steelhead on the fly. Shortly after I joined the club Dick VanDemark took me on my first steelhead flyfishing trip. It was a December day on the Skagit River and we each caught a hatchery steelhead in a spot just downstream from the Dalles Bridge.
Witnessing the decline of our local fisheries has changed my Club interests from wanting to learn how to catch fish to the conservation and protection of our native fish. We have learned a lot over the years. Science has now proved that the introduction of hatchery fish has compromised the survival of our native steelhead.
(4CFF) What roles of service have you held or fulfilled with in the Club?
(Ralph) I served a couple of years as Club Treasurer and I have served on the Board as well. I would have to say I am most proud of working with Hugh Lewis and Marc Hulbert in establishing Washington Trout which evolved into Wild Fish Conservancy Northwest. I did serve as the first President after we formed Washington Trout.
(4CFF) How has being a member of the Club helped you grow as a fly fisher, conservationist, educator…our core values/mission/purpose?
(Ralph) As I mentioned earlier, my focus has shifted as a Club member. It is no longer about learning to catch fish - it is about protecting them. That is why I became involved in Washington Trout and am now an advocate against hatcheries that contribute to the decline of our native fish. I now elect to leave our native steelhead alone, and target the large land locked steelhead that are planted in our neighboring BC interior lakes.
(4CFF) Describe your most memorable flyfishing adventure (where, when, companions, weather conditions, lesson learned if any…)
(Ralph) I recall a day shortly after I started flyfishing for steelhead. It was a February day on the Nooksack River in a pool just downstream of Racehorse Creek. That day I landed five steelhead; all but probably one was a native fish. That day I also landed numerous Dolly Varden.
Unfortunately, it was not long after that day logging took its toll on the Racehorse Creek watershed and the floods that followed filled the spawning beds with silt. To my knowledge this pristine area has never recovered.
(4CFF) What other hobbies do you enjoy within and outside the sport of flyfishing?
(Ralph) Within the sport I would have to say that I still enjoy fly tying. Outside the sport I have many interests such as:
(4CFF) Are there any honors or recognition you have earned within or outside the club?
(Ralph) I would say being first President of Washington Trout and a President of the Whatcom Pharmacy Association.
(4CFF) What is your favorite fly?
(Ralph) Chromie with fiber gills, brown bead thorax, black rib, with or without a red butt, in size #16. However, early in the season a blood worm on the bottom is a good choice.
(4CFF) What water safety advice would you like to pass on to our Club members?
(Ralph) Wear a life preserver do not sit on it. I recall a trip I took to Roche Lake. I was in my dinghy fishing two rods, one being graphite and the other a bamboo. While playing a fish on my graphite rod my bamboo rod was laying across my lap. A fish hit and jerked my bamboo rod into the water. As I reached for the rod my dinghy rolled and dumped me into the water. When I surfaced, I found myself under my dinghy. I was thankful that the boat was wooden and allowed me something to hang on to. Within minutes other fishermen arrived to assist me. I would recommend either a self-inflating or a kayak style life preserver even if wading in a river. I have found that wearing one under a jacket also helps keep you warm on those cold days.
(4CFF) You are being profiled due to the Club recognizing your expertise as a skilled fly-fisher. With that said what would you consider your most embarrassing moment while flyfishing?
(Ralph) The day I rolled my dinghy to save my bamboo rod.