Long Beach Casting Club was founded in 1925 by an artist from Chicago, David Linder. He was the World Champion in both Distance Fly and ¼ ounce Accuracy Plug Events when he moved to this area in 1923. While practicing his casting in a city park, David attracted the attention of those with similar interests and eventually a group of men formed the nucleus of Long Beach Casting Club.
Tournament casting was exceedingly popular in those early days, and much of the club’s activities had to do with competitive casting. Many of our members would distinguish themselves in regional, national and/or international tournaments. Ben Robinson broke all existing records for the Plug Distance Event in 1932, and won a gold medal in the 1932 Olympic Games, the last time casting was included. Thurman Whitson won the national Distance Salmon Fly and Dry Fly Events, also in 1932. Earl Osten was the national All Around Champion in 1944, and then, at the 1947 national tournament, won 5/8 oz. Plug Accuracy, while James Corbell won Dry Fly Accuracy. C.R. Thorn, Sr., President in 1934-35, and his son Carroll R. Thorn, Jr., President in 1948-49, were both national All-Accuracy Champions.
Dick Miller, who had just one eye, was the national Distance Fly Champion for four years from 1942-45, All-Distance Champion in 1944, and All-Around Champion in 1943. At the 1961 national tournament in Long Beach, Ed Thomas became Wet Fly Champion in a legendary cast-off that was ten consecutive perfect games, eventually winning by just one point – a world record that remains unequalled. Still going strong ten years later at the age of 68, he repeated as the 1971 National Dry Fly Accuracy Champion with another perfect score, but this time in a strong cross wind. Countless club members have been national champions.
Ed Thomas, Ron Robinson, Bobby Spear and Matt Rickerd are club members who have cast perfect scores of 100 in national competition. Our members have earned berths on the American Casting Association’s All American Team: Bobby Spear (8 years), Earl Osten (6), Jim Green (5), Matt Rickerd (5), Carroll Thorn, Jr., Jim Corbell, Ron Robinson, Allan Rohrer, John Napoli, and Ian Walker.
Although tournament casting has been an important part of our history, it has never overshadowed our club’s emphasis on teaching. We have offered free casting instruction to the public since 1936 when casting clinics were begun by then President Hal Sackett. The casting classes were always very popular; in the 1960’s and 70’s it wasn’t unusual to have 170-250 students in the casting classes! The casting instruction starts at the beginner level, and progresses, for those who want to pursue this avenue, to preparation for the FFF Casting Instructor Certification and Master Casting Instructor Certification.
President Mel Wilson and LeRoy Winters started the fly tying classes in 1940. Like the casting classes, the fly tying classes have always been free to the public and well attended. We also offer rod building classes, and some of our members have been quite well known for their rod building skills, particularly Claude Kreider.
Many of our members have contributed to the literature of our sport. Claude Kreider, President in 1937, famed outdoor writer and bamboo rod builder, wrote The Bamboo Rod and How to Build It (1951) and Steelhead (1948). Earl Osten authored Tournament Fly and Bait Casting. John McKim published Fly Tying: Adventures in Fur, Feathers and Fun (1982). His illustrated column “Fly Ideas” was been a regular feature from 1978 to 2006 in Western Outdoors Magazine, and his articles have appeared in numerous other magazines. Jim Eriser was the originator and editor of the FFF Bulletin “Tie Flyer” feature for its first two years, followed by John McKim, who served as editor four more years. Full of great information, Larry Stoner’s book Lake Flies for Southern California was sold all over Southern California. Jack Turner published Famous Flatfish Helin Tackle Co. in 1996. Sam Mihara wrote Fly Fishing Alaska in 1996, and Harold Beadle authored Fishing the Eastern Sierras in Snowy Waters in 1997.
Fly tier extraordinare, John Van Derhoof was featured in Judith Dunham’s The Atlantic Salmon Fly in 1991, and was a tying contributor to Stephen J. Meyers’ Streamside Reflections in 1990. His flies have been mentioned in books by Gary LaFontaine, Lefty Kreh, John Randolph and others, as well as in articles in Fly Fisherman and American Fly Tier magazines.
LBCC & The Federation of Fly Fishers
LBCC members were instrumental in the formation of the Federation of Fly Fishers in 1966, and have been very active in this organization since its inception. Club members Jim Eriser (president for two years), Jim Green, Duke “Best-in-the-West Steelhead Fisherman” Parkening, Frank Gray, Allan Rohrer, Alex Siemers and Bob Middo have served as board members. Joe Libeu, Barbara Rohrer-Hobson, John Van Derhoof and Bob Middo have recently served as members of the FFF Casting Certification Board of Governors. LBCC has more Master Certified Casting Instructors than every other state. Our eleven masters are Ray Bianco, Joe Libeu, Guy Manning, Mike McClay, Bob Middo, Jamie Murphy, Alex Siemers, John Van Derhoof, Barbara Rohrer-Hobson, Bill Heard and Stephen Lim.
In the fall of 1991, the FFF started a Women’s All Around Trophy for casting and named it the Barbara Rohrer Cup to acknowledge Barb’s work on behalf of the FFF in teaching and promoting casting. The first winner, fittingly, was our own Margaret Walker. A Master Certified Casting Instructor and FFF Casting Board of Governors member, Barbara was made an Honorary Life Member of LBCC in 1999 in recognition of her many contributions to the club and its casting program.
In 2007, four LBCC members received prestigious awards from the FFF. John Van Derhoof was awarded the Buz Buszek Memorial Award, which is given annually to the individual who has made significant contributions to the art of fly tying and which recognizes tying skill, innovation, and sharing knowledge by teaching or publication. Allan Rohrer and Barbara Rohrer-Hobson added Lifetime Achievement in Fly Casting Instruction Awards to their extensive collection of previous awards. Joe Libeu was honored with the Mel Krieger Fly Casting Instructor Award, given to someone who has dedicated his life to fly casting instruction, is known as a motivator of students, is known for sharing his knowledge of teaching with others and has made a significant, long-term contribution to the art of fly casting instruction.
Long Beach Women’s Casting Club
Long Beach Women’s Casting Club was formed on August 9,1940. This was only the second women’s casting club in the entire west, Golden Gate’s being the other. For more than 40 years, the men’s and women’s clubs operated side-by-side, sharing the facilities and co-hosting tournaments.
As in the men’s club, the Long Beach Women’s Casting Club was very strong in tournament casting. At the Little Grand National Registered Casting Tournament in Santa Monica in 1947, Geraldine Thorn won the 5/8 oz Accuracy Bait with a 97, topping both men and women contestants by 4 points. A few months later, Dorothy Hunt cast a perfect score of 100 – only one living man had ever done this to date.
The 64 members of Long Beach Women’s Casting Club co-hosted the 1947 National Tournament with Long Beach Casting Club. Our Dorothy Hunt was second in All Around Accuracy, Accuracy Baits and Accuracy Flies. At the 1954 National Tournament here in Long Beach, Mildred Wolfe was crowned All Accuracy Champion after winning five of the seven events she entered. She set new world records in 5/8 oz Accuracy and Combined Bait Events, and new national records in 3/8 oz. Accuracy and ¼ oz. Accuracy, the latter with a score of 99.
In 1958, Norma Collins won the Women’s Skish Spinning Event, and in 1959 won the 5/8 oz. Plug Accuracy with a score of 98 at the national tournament. During the 1960 Western Casting Tournament in San Francisco, Norma Collins won Skish Fly Accuracy with a score of 95, besting all the men, including ACA Hall of Fame Honoree Jon Tarantino. For the second consecutive year, Norma was the top woman caster of the tournament. At the 1961 Western Casting Tournament, Jenny Bishop was Fly Accuracy Champion, and Norma Collins was Bait Accuracy Champion.
Carol Green earned the title All Around Champion at the Western States Indoor Casting Championships in 1967, and then two years later at the same tournament won three plug events in just the first day. At 1971 nationals, Barbara Rohrer was Trout Fly Accuracy Champion and Ellie Turner was the Dry Fly Accuracy Champion. Eight-four year-old Jenny Bishop took second place in Dry Fly Accuracy. During the 1978 national tournament, Barbara Rohrer won the Accuracy Flies, Accuracy Plugs and All Accuracy Combined Events for Women, in addition to Bass Bug, 3/8 oz Bait Accuracy and 5/8 oz Plug.
In 1980, club members were persuaded that the admittance of women to LBCC would be beneficial and the first female member was admitted to Long Beach Casting Club.
LBCC & the American Casting Association
Many club members have served on the board of the American Casting Association, and Mark Lipe, elected in 2006, continues that tradition.
Two of 39 American Casting Association Hall of Fame honorees were LBCC members: Ed Thomas and Jim Green. In addition to being an international champion, Jimmy introduced the first graphite rods through Fenwick in 1973, and invented and patented the Feralite Ferrule, the first fiberglass ferrule. Jim invented tapered lead core shooting heads, and, he and his partner introduced nylon monofilament as a running line for shooting heads, much to the benefit of distance casting.
We have hosted eight ACA national tournaments and will host our ninth in August 2011.
- A tap dancer from New Jersey named Joan Salvato (Wulff) participated in the dedication ceremony of our casting pond prior to the 1947 tournament. She took home a teardrop camper/trailer raffle prize in addition to a world distance record.
- Eighteen-year-old Jon Tarantino won 13 first places and a new world record at our 1954 tournament.
- At the 1961 national tournament, our Ed Thomas became the Wet Fly Champion after a legendary cast-off that was ten consecutive perfect games, eventually winning by just one point over Steve Aleshi
- Fourteen-year-old Steve Rajeff attended our 1971 national tournament and won the Anglers All-Around Award, the All Fly Cup, and three world records.
- At the conclusion of the 1978 national, Long Beach’s Barbara Rohrer was the top finisher in Ladies’ Accuracy Flies, Accuracy Plugs and All Accuracy Combined Events. Brothers Steve and Tim Rajeff cast the exact same distance in 1 oz. Distance Plug and shared a new world record.
- During the 1984 tournament, Steve Rajeff continued to excel with the best score in eight events. Long Beach’s Matt Rickerd set a national record in All Accuracy for intermediates, and won the Robert Budd Memorial Award as the Intermediate All Accuracy Champion for the second year in a row.
- The 2000 tournament marked the 75th birthday of Long Beach Casting Club. Four casters cast perfect scores: Chris Korich, Steve Rajeff, Matt Rickerd and Andy Staff.
- During the 2006 tournament, Steve Rajeff won his 34th ACA National Championship. 13 national records were broken at the distance field and two perfect scores of 100 were posted by Chris Korich in Dry Fly and Steve Rajeff in Trout Fly. Richard Fujita participated in his 58th national tournament.
Our Casting Pond
There was no casting pool for the earliest club members, so they cast in a park, on the beach, and on the lawn in front of the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce on Sundays and holidays.
In the early 1930’s, Pete Morbocker, Long Beach Park Superintendent, offered the use of some city land to LBCC. At the time, it was overgrown with underbrush, and dead or burned trees. Pete wanted to clean up the eyesore, and the only way he could justify the work was to prepare it for a user-group. LBCC had a home – sort of.
LBCC members dug a hole in the ground and filled it with water to create the first casting pond, a 130 foot diameter circle. The $700 total cost was shared equally with the city and work was completed just in time for the 1932 Special Olympics Tournament. Unfortunately, it didn’t hold water. Next, someone had the idea to line the pond with asphalt, which worked just fine until the heat of summer. On warm days, the asphalt would let go of globs of crude oil, which would float to the top. It was likened to casting in the La Brea tar pits.
In 1933, the asphalt was removed, and the pond was lined with concrete. The casting walk was build around the pond in 1938, and a year later the first floodlights were installed for night casting. The club paid for all these things.
By 1946, the board realized that the pond would not be adequate for the American Casting Association Tournament to be held in Long Beach the following year. Having just spent $20,000 on the clubhouse, there were no funds for a new pond. The city manager commented that “Any club with faith enough to build a $20,000 clubhouse with the city holding the title deserved [his] support.” He pulled together enough city funds ($9,000) to build the 130 by 265 foot oval casting pond we know today. It was completed just days before the 1947 national tournament, with Joan Salvato (Wulff) featured in the dedication ceremonies.
The first clubhouse was a palm-thatched pergola, in which casters and their families had picnics after casting sessions. It also served as a storeroom for casting supplies. In 1933, President Carl Wiand negotiated exclusive use of a log cabin that stood near the pool for storage of target rings and other equipment. It is said that termites got the best of this structure.
The 1933 Long Beach Earthquake destroyed the headquarters of the city’s fire department, so a temporary building was erected as an office for the fire chief. Once permanent quarters were constructed for the chief in 1935, several of our members, many of whom were firemen, set their sights on the temporary building. Other organizations were covetous of the then surplus structure, so our representatives moved the building during the night to Recreation Park. Despite this chicanery, the City of Long Beach dedicated the clubhouse to the “exclusive use” of LBCC later in 1935. This building still stands; it and its porch face the casting pond.
From 1942 until 1944, the Army took over the park and appropriated our clubhouse as officers’ quarters. After the war ended in 1945, arrangements were made with the city to purchase one of the old Army barracks buildings in the park and move it to the club site. The city built the foundation, but members raised $30,000 to tear down the barracks, move it, and rebuild it – in two days. Today, this building is our classroom.
As with any structure, there has been much remodeling. The fireplace was built in 1939 with rocks brought home by members from hunting and fishing trips all over the country. The large trophy cases were built with the profits from the 1947 ACA Tournament. The cloakroom addition was built by the club in 1950. Seven years later, the paved roadway off 7th Street was installed, and the parking area behind the clubhouse was put in. The club replaced the pond lights with mercury vapor floodlights at each end of the pond in 1964. A final addition was begun in 1996 and completed in 1997 that included the library and two bathrooms at a cost in excess of $30,000 in addition to a lot of donated materials and labor.
And, then, there was the great fire of December 2, 2007, that nearly destroyed our clubhouse. Reconstruction of the clubhouse and the replacement of the building contents came to more than $300,000. With the support of the casting and fishing community, and donations from all over the country, the fundraising goals were met and our reconstructed clubhouse is better than ever. Come see!