Back in June, when for some reason I couldn’t get out to fly fish, I was channel surfing and found the Outdoor channel. As fate would have it, a show about the life of Joe Brooks was just beginning.
Joe Brooks was one of the pioneers of modern-day fly fishing, and the hour and a half program seemed to be a good way to kill some time. If you fly fish, and don’t know anything about Joe Brooks, get a copy of his book “The Complete Book of Fly Fishing.” It’s a great read.
Anyway, during the special, a mention was made of The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock, what a great organization it was and, further, what a great job it was doing in working with youth through fly fishing. I was hooked; I needed to know more about the brotherhood.
I should mention that the organization’s name was derived from the waxed neck feathers of a jungle fowl that were used in tying flies. The bird is native to eastern and southern India and is now on the endangered species list.
To learn more, I went to the internet and typed in The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock (BOJC) and found it to be a real organization. To learn more than I’m going to tell you, you should also look it up.
It was founded in April of 1939 by a group of men that were snowed-in during the opening weekend of fly fishing season in Maryland. BOJC was set up to bring boys to fly fishing at an annual event called the Camp Fire and then work with them over a five-year period. Maryland is the parent chapter, with chapters now in Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. These men understood the importance of getting boys into fly fishing and pledged, “...we individually undertake annually to take at least one boy a-fishing, instructing him, as best we know, in the responsibilities that are soon to be wholly his.” The Maryland chapter started as all-male and still maintains that rule. The other chapters have girls in the program.
As I understand the history of BOJC, the first 30 years was the start-up stage. The organizers, and other interested men, did everything they could to keep the young participants interested in the program.
In 1967, while once again dealing with stinking fly fishing weather, an idea was put forth to grow the program from knot and fly tying and some fly fishing to a more formal education setting. The program maintained the five-year timeframe but now included beginning angling, advanced fishing techniques, insect studies, conservation, knife building, rod building and net making. These classes were conducted both in and out-of-doors.
In 1999, BOJC – I don’t know what the weather was – again saw a need to further enhance its program. It created a masters program for its youth. As the young people became more proficient with the earlier skills that they were taught, an outing with seasoned guides was introduced. This gave the young fly fishers an opportunity to fly fish for larger trout with the help of professional guides and very experienced fly fishers. I sure wish this program had been in Texas when I was growing up.
I believe all good nonprofit programs have a great motto. When I was growing up I participated in a YMCA program called Indian Guides; its motto for fathers and sons was “Pals Forever.” On every page I read about BOJC was a saying that reads like a motto, “We Guard Tomorrow Today.”
Knowing of this program gives me even more hope for the young people of today and tomorrow and the future of the sport I love.
Reach Don Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org.