TVFF began as the Livermore Fly Fishermen in 1965 under President Joe Sparks, who was a scientist at Lawrence Livermore, and has been serving the Tri-Valley community for over 50 years. Initially the Club was a small group that had no established meeting place, so at various times used public schools facilities, a basement room in Carnegie Building, and a local transit company meeting room. As time went on the name evolved from Livermore Fly Fishermen to the Livermore Fly Fishers, and then with further expansion, to the Tri-Valley Fly Fishers. Many of the early members were dentists. Trent Pridemore was interviewed by an Independent newspaper reporter when he was Club President who wanted to know why we had so many dentists in the membership. His answer coincided with a UCSF profile study that showed most dentists had hobbies involving the use of their hands. And what better way to exercise them?
Early members were Trent Pridemore, Hal Wilson, author, editor, and LFF President Jim Cramer, Harry Levin, Don Ainsworth, Jim Houle, Carol Kennedy, Russ Krueger, Al Lewis, and Doug Huntze. Along the way Sam Takemoto, Chuck Creevan, Paul Kennedy, Jon Stromer, Steve Oakely, and Norm Emric also joined as early members. The Club always strove to enhance member’s education with Russ and Carol teaching early classes in fly tying in Russ’s garage. Russ was a contemporary machinist with Jack Horner who came up with the “Horner Deer Hair,” a fly that evolved into the “Humpy.” We were fortunate that both he and Carol were experts with deer hair and we learned the art of spinning hair into trout flies and bass bugs. We were further fortunate to have Joe Sparks generously offer his time and skills in teaching fly casting. As others came to the club we expanded the education offerings with entomology when there were few resources at the time, which cemented one of the Club’s fundamental goals in enhancing member education that is still true today.
All was not just a focus on education, but also how to apply it in becoming better fly fishing anglers. Early popular outings included Spring-time bass tournaments at foothill lakes (such as Berryessa, Amador, Comanche, New Hogan, Collins, and Camp Far West). Other well-attended events were striper, shad, steelhead and trout outings where founders were generous with their knowledge in expanding our skill and growing experiences with fly fishing. Timber Cove with its fish fry and Potluck remain a legendary Club event, as does Norm Emric winning another outing with a 12 pound Striper from Lake Del Valle!
The tournaments started at first light on Saturday and ran until 2:00 or 3:00 when the weigh-in occurred, followed by a potluck dinner with a club-supplied steak BBQ. This was before “catch and release” initiatives became popular for bass, so the fish were kept for a superb breakfast feast the next morning. A perpetual trophy was awarded for the ensuing year to the angler with the biggest fish, as well as a similar award for the junior event in the under-16 group.
Though our membership was about thirty in the early years, sixty family members would often turn out for camping, socializing and fly fishing for bass. A Davis Lake outing soon evolved as a popular destination, and we also frequented the Carson River and Heenan Lake near Markleeville each year. Some will remember shenanigans at the Cutthroat Bar and Saloon after-fishing sessions, the hot springs, bear visits, and bass fishing at K-Arrow and Robinson Ranch.
As well as a Club commitment to Education and Recreation, the Club became engaged in conservation work to ensure the sustainability of the sport and fisheries for the future that still endures today. We were successful in having the Livermore Fly Fishers join with Trent Pridemore in major support of Northern California Council of Fly Fishing LTR Work Day conservation projects. Many LFF (now TVFF) members participated with over 150 Nor-Cal members on a frigid October day in 1975 for habitat improvement work day on the Little Truckee. That project led to a broader expansion of catch-and-release, reduced take, and slot limitations as fishery management tools throughout California.
That very successful project evolved into additional local projects such as Lake Del Valle habitat restoration. Though other clubs participated, this was primarily a Livermore Fly Fishers (now TVFF) effort. We also had early and current engagement on an Alameda Creek restoration plan, which is still supported by the club.
It is from these early gracious efforts and devotion of time by all members that the Club has flourished, expanded its membership, taken on new responsibilities, and doggedly supported those three early goals of the club: to improve member education, to become deeply involved in fisheries conservation issues, and to enjoy the recreation and health benefits of fly fishing in this remarkable environment. As a club we continue to recognize those early key leaders and benefactors of our history with Lifetime Memberships. We are pleased to recognize the following for their outstanding contributions over long and meritorious service histories to the club.
Tri-Valley Fly Fishers Lifetime Members Recognition