Iron-Oaks Fly Fishing Club open to all residents

George Abernathy

Jim Nulty, fighting one of many trout he caught and released on the trip to Lee’s Ferry.

Jim Nulty, fighting one of many trout he caught and released on the trip to Lee’s Ferry.

I’ve been fishing different fisheries off and on in Arizona since 1966 and switched over to fly fishing several years ago. I’m George Abernathy, the founding member of the Iron-Oaks Fly Fishing Club. I recently moved back to Arizona from Colorado with my wife and purchased a home in Oakwood. After nearly a year of asking fellow golfers and residents if they fly fish, I heard a variety of answers and yes wasn’t one of them. You can actually fish in this state? Isn’t Arizona 114,000 square miles of kitty litter? These were two of my favorite replies.

The state of Arizona offers some excellent fisheries for bass, varieties of trout, pan fish, northern pike, walleye, carp and others. We also have one of the top trout river fisheries in the USA. Lee’s Ferry, which is on the Colorado River in Marble Canyon, offers spectacular canyon views and is estimated at having 10 to 12,000 trout per mile.

In my quest to find fellow fly fishermen, I approached Clark Champion, Iron-Oaks General Manager and Ron Kitnic, Facilities Manager in February for their support to initially allow the Orvis Fly Fishing Store to hold their free 101 and 201 fly fishing classes on our premises. After learning the basics of knot tying, gear and casting techniques in the 101 class, the group met again for the 201 class which was held at the Fingerling Lake in Ironwood. This was an actual “hands on fly fishing” and thanks to the guidance from Jack Houck of the Orvis Fly Store, I was constantly yelling out, “Fish On! Fish On!” because almost everyone caught multiple bass within a couple of hours.

From the enthusiastic response and inquires I received from residents and with the blessing from Oakwood’s general manager Clark Champion, I opted to move forward with the Iron Oaks Fly Fishing Club. My philosophy of the club is to bring people together that want to fly fish and work with inexperienced members as well; catch and release, no red tape, no politics, just wet your lines and go hunting.

Since the inception of the club other members and I have been on several trips. The best trip so far was up to Lee’s Ferry and the fishing was incredible! Two days fishing up river yielded us 20 to 25 trout per day, per person. In the forthcoming months we have several trips lined out, including one to the lower Black River where catching 20 to 50 one to two pound small bass from shore, per day isn’t uncommon.

The club was originally formed and approved for Iron-Oaks residents only. As of now, the club welcomes residents from all Sun Lakes residents. With the participation of the other areas, I expect our core group to grow and become diversified.

If you are interested in our club, please contact me at [email protected] or call me at 480-521-1060.