On Saturday August 5, 2006, twenty-five concerned fly anglers from four states, representing a dozen clubs, gathered at the Southwest Fishing Club in Lake Charles for the first organizational meeting of a proposed new Gulf Coast Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers. The reasons behind the move to start a new council, were to have a council that was more geocentric to those clubs located along the Gulf Coast; to be able to better meet the needs of and address the interest specific to Fedrators along the Gulf Coast; and to further the IFFF's motto of "All Fish, All Waters".
Those present voted to incorporate and file for 501(3)c status a new council of the Federation of Fly Fishers that would represent members and clubs from south Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and coastal Alabama. Articles of Incorporation were discussed, as well as bylaws. Officers were then elected for the purpose of fulfilling incorporation. It was agreed that the new Council would also be proposed to the Southern and Southeastern Councils as part of the requirement for recognition.
Ron Begnaud then made a presentation to the group proposing the first-ever GCC Conclave in 2007 to be held at the Civic Center in Lake Charles. The conclave would serve as a showcase for fly fishing on the Gulf Coast, to bring together members from across the new council, and to raise monies for council activities. Approval was given to begin planning for May, 2007.
The concern over funding for filing legal documents, preparing for a conclave, etc. was resolved when Marc Pinsel offered a challenge to those present to make personal donations to fund the new council. By the end of the meeting, about $4,000 had been donated out of the pockets of those present.
Representatives of clubs were asked to return to their respective clubs with the information so the clubs could then consider whether or not to become affiliated with the Gulf Coast Council of the Federation Of Fly Fishers. The majority of the clubs within the area of the Gulf Coast Council were either in the Southern Council or Southeastern Council, with a few unaffiliated.
In October, 2006, GCC board members led by Glen Cormier, Larry Offner, and Buzzy Burns made a presentation to the board of the FFF Southern Council stating the intent of the new Gulf Coast Council, and submitting it's bylaws for review. It was proposed by the Southern Council that the new GCC exist as a sub-council of either Southern or Southeastern for a period of 2 years to prove it's viability.
Shortly after, the president of the Southeastern Council was contacted. Since a large majority of clubs affected would be carved from the Southern Council, his recommendation was to align as a sub-council of Southern, and make a presentation to the Southeastern board at their 2007 conclave.
In November, 2006, a second organizational meeting was held during the Southern Fly Fishers Rendezvous at North Toledo Bend State Park. Most of the attendees present were FFF members or members of FFF clubs that resided in the proposed GCC boundaries. Many of them were informed about the new Council and the proposed conclave for the first time. Also a vote was taken by those FFF members present to approve Southern Council recommendations to exist as a sub-council of Southern until full council status was approved by the FFF board. Marc Pinsel once again offered the financial challenge to Rendezvous attendees to contribute to the GCC.
The Gulf Coast Council was on it's way!
Those who donated so graciously to fund the formation of our council have been designated as members of the "Founders Club". Likewise, those clubs who voted to affiliate with the new council have been recognized. With support from both, the Gulf Coast Council would not exist!
To help raise funds for conservation and education, the GCC held it's first "FFF Gulf Coast Expo" in May 2007 at the Lake Charles Civic Center on the lakefront in Lake Charles, LA. An array of speakers, headlined by Lefty Kreh and Nick Curcione, joined with dozens of outstanding fly tiers from across the region and the nation. There were programs, tying demos, kayak demos, exhibitors, youth activities and much more, including great fishing for reds and specks and great food (boiled crawfish Friday evening and a Saturday night Cajun Feast). The event was a success and greatly enjoyed by all.
Over the next two years, two more GCC Expos would be held in Lake Charles before the GCC Board of Directors voted to venture west to New Braunfels, TX. The 2010 New Braunfels Gulf Coast Council Expo proved to be the best ever, both in attendance and approval. This prompted a return to central Texas the following year, in downtown San Antonio, where the most financially successful show of all was held. These two GCC Texas Expos proved to be the catalyst in growth of Federation membership across Texas that would eventually result in the division of the Gulf Coast Council.
In 2012, in association with members of Texas clubs affiliated with Gulf Coast Council, the GCC began discussions with five (5) northern Texas clubs affiliated with Southern Council. In late November 2012, all formalities for a new Texas Council had been established in the then newly renamed "International Federation of Fy Fishers" (IFFF), and the two "new" councils were approved by the IFFF's Board of Directors. The Board of Directors of the "old" GCC then evenly split the council's treasury between the two "new" councils, thus insuring that both "new" councils were financially stable.
Currently, the geographically more concise, and much down-sized Gulf Coast Council consists of eleven (11) IFFF Charter (4) and Affiliated clubs (7) - (See "Clubs" Link on Home Page), as well as individual members, from Louisiana, Mississippi and coastal Alabama. By greatly reducing the distances across this new or "revised" Gulf Coast Council and reducing down to a core of clubs and members with a long history of fly fishing, "conclaving", "rendezvousing", conserving, and working together, the "revised" Gulf Coast Council is steadily growing in both clubs and members and looks forward to many more years of "Conserving, Restoring and Educating - Through Fly Fishing".
In Sept. 2014, the "revised" GCC held its first Fly Fair (i.e conclave/EXPO) in Ocean Springs, MS. The show was a huge success and has enabled the GCC to again fund our partipation in the BSA Swamp Base High Adventure Program, match the IFFF Small Grant of $1,500 to the Eastern Shore Fly Fishers, and donate $2,000 to the University of Southern Mississppi - Gulf Coast Research Laboratory for fisheries research.(See Links on "Home Page")
Currently the council is working to found new IFFF clubs within the territory of the GCC, support our member clubs, produce the next issue of The Gulf Stream and plan the 2015 GCC Fly Fair.