Concrete fisherman has gone from student to instructor
Tim Cooley was a student in the Fidalgo Fly Fishers’ Introduction to Fly Fishing course in 2012.
“Taking the class was an eye-opening experience,” he said. “I never knew much about the life of a bug. This class did a great job with the basics, teaching you about the fly rod and reel, casting techniques and then tying your own flies. It’s good because you tie flies that work in this area.”
Now, Cooley is president of the Fidalgo Fly Fishers and will be an instructor when the club hosts its next class Jan. 2 through March 13 at Skagit Valley College.
Classes are 6:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays with a cost of $120. Registration is being taken at skagit.edu.
Cooley served 20 years in the Navy and is now a civilian project manager with a Navy contractor. He has lived in Concrete for 18 years.
“I am originally from Mississippi,” he said. “I spent some time on the East Coast and then came out here. I was not going back.”
He grew up fishing for species prevalent in the South, such as bass and bluegill.
“I was a hook-and-bobber fisherman,” Cooley said. “Then I came west.”
When Cooley took the fly-fishing class, he enjoyed meeting other fishermen and learning from those with years of experience.
“The instructors are members of the Fidalgo Fly Fishers and they are a wealth of knowledge,” he said. “You meet a lot of people who have years and years of experience. I learned so much. Now when a bug comes off a lake, or up from underneath, I know what bug it is.”
This year, Cooley will be involved with the fly-tying portion of the class.
It’s a skill he enjoys.
“I’ve learned it doesn’t have to be pretty,” he said. “It just has to catch fish.”
Cooley has fly boxes full of his efforts. It’s an impressive menagerie of chrominids, woolley buggers, blood worms and top water poppers.
He has also built his own vessels, including a 16-foot Jon boat.
Cooley bought his first fly-fishing setup at Walmart. He’s come a long way since.
He and his wife of 20 years, Sharon, now enjoy spay casting, a style of fly-fishing that allows for longer casts without the overhead backcast.
“I taught her to fly fish,” Cooley said. “Then she picked up spay casting really quickly.”
His favorite lake to fish is one in his own backyard, Grandy Lake. As an added bonus, it’s open year-round.
“That lake has it all, including my favorite fish — bass and trout,” he said. “There’s a good mix of fish there. I like to fish it in winter because there is no one else around.”
Yes, bass is probably his favorite fish to catch on a fly rod. And bluegill on a light-weight rod fight hard.
“I’m not ashamed to cast out and catch a bluegill,” he said. “To me, it’s just as much fun as catching a salmon in the river.”
Cooley wouldn’t be having the same experience had he never signed up for that Fidalgo Fly Fishers class.
“Without the class, I would have got frustrated with (fly fishing) and went back to gear fishing. No doubt about it,” he said.