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The club recognizes, through awards, individuals making significant contributions to the club and to the broader fly fishing community.  Below are descriptions of the awards, criteria, and nomination and selection processes.

Gil Nyerges Award

This Award shall be made in honor of Gil Nyerges, founding president of the Whidbey Island Fly Fishing Club, to recognize individuals in Western Washington State who have followed Gil’s example in making outstanding contributions to the knowledge, art, philosophy and techniques of fly-fishing.  The purpose of the Award is to recognize such individuals and encourage similar achievements by others, while simultaneously honoring the many contributions made by Gil.


The Award is to be presented only when, in the judgment of the Selection Committee, there is a nominee who has made original, significant and lasting contributions to fly fishing in one or more of the following categories:


  • Long and distinguished service in teaching the arts of fly fishing, especially casting and fly tying, without a profit motive.

  • Exceptional achievement in fly tying, including authorship of original fly patterns that have achieved widespread popular acceptance, pioneering use of new materials, etc..

  • Leadership in establishing and sustaining organizations dedicated to fly fishing and conservation, such as fly-fishing clubs, councils, etc.

  • Preserving the art and artifacts of fly fishing through painting, construction of fly plates, or other means of display.

  • Exceptional achievements in the art of building fly-fishing rods.

  • Significant contributions to angling literature, including authorship of books, magazine or newspaper articles, poetry, comment or criticism, or editing, etc.

  • Advances in the science of entomology, including discovery or identification of new insect species, original research into the habitats and/or behavior of aquatic insects, efforts to improve insect habitats, outstanding achievement in educating others in angling entomology, etc. 

  • Significant achievements in angling art, photography, wood carving, sculpture, etc.

  • Innovations in fly-fishing tackle, or establishing new uses for common items.

  • Outstanding achievements in conservation.

  • Any other significant, original contributions to the general art, knowledge, and welfare of fly-fishing.


The Award shall consist of a plaque.


The President of the Whidbey Island Fly Fishing Club shall annually appoint a committee of at least three members in good standing which shall be known as the Selection Committee.  It shall be the duty of this Committee to communicate with all fly-fishing clubs within the area west of the Cascade Range, south of the Canadian border, east of the Pacific Ocean, and north of the city of Chehalis, inviting each to submit possible nominations for the Gil Nyerges Award.  Each nomination must be submitted in writing (or by e-mail) to the Whidbey Island Fly Fishing Club no later than October 31 of the current year and include the following information:

  • The name of the person being nominated for the Award.

  • The name(s) of the individual(s) and/or organization(s) submitting the nomination.

  • The mailing address, e-mail address and telephone number of the person being nominated.

  • The mailing address, e-mail address and telephone number of the individual(s) and/or organization(s) submitting the nomination.

  • A detailed written narrative describing the achievements of the nominee (with specific reference to the appropriate categories listed above), including supporting documentation, photos, or examples of work.

  • A timeline of the period during which such achievements took place.

  • A final statement of reasons the nominee’s sponsor(s) believe he or she should receive the Award. 


Once these written nominations have been received, the Selection Committee will consider each with careful reference to the criteria listed above and decide by vote which, if any, nominee it believes should receive the Award.  If no nominations are received, the Committee shall have discretion to choose a deserving individual to receive the Award on its own authority.  However, in choosing any recipient of the Award, the Committee will be guided by the principle that great consideration should be given to nominees whose contributions were not made for profit (i.e, they were not part of a person’s means of making a living).  The Committee will be further guided by its collective answer to the following question:  Are the qualifications of each nominee equivalent to or greater than the contributions made by Gil Nyerges to the knowledge, art, philosophy and techniques of fly fishing?  If a majority of the Committee answers “No,” then the nominee is disqualified.


The Committee also shall keep in mind that it is not necessary to make this Award every year, but only when a well-qualified recipient is nominated.


If a nominee is selected for the Award, the Award shall be presented at the annual Christmas Party of the Whidbey Island Fly Fishing Club.  The winner will be invited to attend the Christmas Party at the expense of the club, and the Awards Committee shall be responsible for welcoming the winner and making him or her feel comfortable at the party.

The Irish Awards

The two Irish awards have their origin in visits (c. 2000) to Whidbey Island by two Irish fly fisherwomen.  Wanting to fish when they arrived, they made contact with one of the island newspapers, which put them in touch with our club.  Several of our members took them under their wings, including taking them fishing at Lone Lake and Ala Spit. On their first visit they attended one of our club meetings and presented us with a collection of flies used in their home waters.  Gil Nyerges mounted them in a display frame to become the Old Irish Fly Dressing Award.  The following year one of our members, Baert Simmons, and his wife visited the women in Ireland, sustaining the relationship.  On a second visit by the women, they presented the club with the casting that now sits atop the Irish Trophy.  The trophy base was made by, then, club member Neil Simonson.  The casting, of three people and a swan, evidently was associated with an Irish myth that the women related upon its presentation.  The story seems to have been lost to club memory, but, in the tradition of fishers telling tall tails, let me present one possibility found on the Internet.

Irish Legend tells of the Clann Lir, a magical people who came to Ireland from the north.  Lir was said to be the father of a daughter Fionnula and three sons Aed, Fiachra and Conn.  Lir's wife and mother of his four children, Aiobh, died. Lir then married her sister Aiofe. In time she grew jealous of the children’s love for Lir and their mother and cast a spell upon them which changed them into swans. The spell was to last 900 years. It would only be lifted when they heard the bell of the new God.

After 900 years the children heard the sound of a church bell, the spell was lifted, and the children turned back into human form but aged rapidly and died.

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Irish Trophy

The revolving Irish Trophy is given to honor the WIFFC member(s) whose outstanding work and dedication to the club over the past year has contributed notably towards the overall success of the club.  First given in Dec 2007.

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Old Irish Fly Dressing Award (Fly Plate)

The revolving Old Irish Fly Dressing Award is given to honor the WIFFC member(s) whose outstanding contributions to the club over the past year has raised the quality of fly fishing and enhanced the enjoyment of fly fishing anglers everywhere.  First given in Dec 2008.

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