By Cali Hlavac, To Do in Destin
If you have interest in any type of fishing as a passion or a hobby, then you’ve probably been exposed to fly fishing on some level over the years. Fly fishing has been around for decades, but has recently expanded to include more anglers than ever as fishing gained popularity over the last 12 months. Here in Destin, we’ve recently learned of a local club dedicated to the love of the sport, which is open to anyone with a passion for fly fishing.
“Panhandle Fly Fishers is a club organized by volunteer individuals with a passion for the sport of fly fishing and our fisheries conservation,” says the current club President Cody Wells. “Our focus is on conservation, education and the promotion of fly fishing in the Florida Panhandle.”
The club was founded in the late 1990s by a group of men who split off from the Fort Walton Beach Club. What started around 10 members has now grown to around 70 members today, including several younger faces which bring new energy and life to the meetings. Members can range from very beginners, to charter Captains, to seasoned veterans – all skill levels are welcome.
The club meets to exchange information, techniques and local knowledge through monthly meetings, outings and get-togethers. They meet the first Monday of every month at 724 Legion Drive in Destin at 7 p.m. for a general membership meeting and on the 3rd Monday of every month for fly tying classes. Membership dues are $30 for the year and business sponsorships are welcome.
Outside of the monthly meetings, they also plan group fly fishing outings both locally and internationally. They’ve visited locations like the Florida Keys, Mexico, and more to share their passion across both saltwater and freshwater fishing.
Conservation and outreach are huge pieces of the club. “Through our membership fundraising efforts and generous donor contributions, we are able to provide educational and conservation efforts to the Panhandle of Florida,” Cody says. “Conservation efforts include supporting and participation with the Coastal Conservation Association and Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance in water quality management and shoreline restoration.”
Two of their most successful and supported activities are the Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Program and Eglin’s Hidden Wounds Center for our veterans. The club has also helped the Boy and Girl Scouts earn their Fly-Fishing Merit Badge and they’ve taught classes at Northwest Florida University.
If you or your business are interested in being involved in the Panhandle Fly Fishers Club, feel free to show up at the next meeting and introduce yourself. For additional information or if you have questions, contact the current President Cody Wells via email at email@example.com.