by Danny Walls

    When I joined Flyfish@ there were about 300 members and the 
traffic flow was about 25 or so messages per day. Hardly a few 
hours worth today, yet I remember being annoyed whenever I saw 
a message from one member to another along the lines of " Hey 
Joe, lets get together next week and fish the Whosis River, meet 
me at the bridge." I thought it an awful waste of bandwidth for Joe 
and Elmo to plan their fishing trips on list. I always assumed that 
Joe and Elmo were already friends and just used the list as
as convenient way to set up their trips. It never occurred to me that 
Joe and Elmo may not have met before.  Shortly after I took over 
as list owner Flyfish@ got 'discovered' and was written about in 
several fishing and sporting mags and newspapers, the membership 
skyrocketed. Somewhere around this time the trips by Joe and Elmo 
were being joined by others and extended into camping trips of 
several days and someone dubbed them conclaves. I still tended to 
ignore them, probably because I wasn't able to attend any of them. 
Then there was NEC I, which from all accounts was a great success 
with many attendees, I read a few of the reports on it but again, 
through stubborness, mostly ignored it. However after NEC II I read 
most if not all the reports and began to see the light. I tried to se tup 
a Ky mini-clave with the Ky members of the list, with mixed success
as our schedules never quiet matched, but we finally got  three 'real' 
Kentuckians, Bob Spencer, my wife and myself, and one honorary
Kentuckian, L.J. DeCuir, together on Rock Creek. I'm delighted to 
say it was a real eye-opener, and I finally really understood
what this conclave thing was all about. I ended up with two new friends, 
with whom I correspond  with some regularity. Bob Spencer even lets 
us fish in his pet pond where he raises large bass, catfish and bluegill. 
We had a second Ky mini-clave and this time we had an even better 
turnout. Bob and Diane Miller, Brandon Nuttall and family, the Spencers,
L.J.,  and the Colonel, Ben Benoit made this one. Again I left with new 
friends. Later last year I accepted an invitation to attend what became  
the first Montana  clave, and the dream trip of a lifetime for me became 
even more enjoyable because of the list members I got to meet and the 
friendships fostered there. Pat Maxon, the host, Tim Burk the coordinator, 
Georgr Jacox, Frank Cada, John Allison, Lance "Ranger Bob" Taylor, all
made my trip extra special. The Colonel  hosted the first Tennessee 
clave last October and to say it was a success would be a gross 
understatement. Bill 'Sarge' ,and Cathy Sargent drove all the way from 
Vermont to make that one,  Creed Taylor, Rob Tucker, Bill Murphy, 
Wayne Clodfelter, and many others  were there, already many people 
are committed to come to the second one this year. Once again I, and 
many others, made new friendships. That is what the whole phenomenon of
conclaving is all about, meeting new people and making friends. Putting 
faces to names you have only seen on the list is exciting and a joy to 
experience. Of course no one looks like you think they will but that is part 
of the fun.  (Who would have thought that Bob Spencer looks like an 
elegant Gabby Hays :-)  ). I mention all these names not because these 
folks are *special* but rather because they are *typical* of the people you 
will meet from the list. People that you will enjoy fishing next to and sharing 
that bottle of single malt  with. The ostensible reason for having a 
conclave is to fish together and that is a wonderful experience in itself, 
but the real joy of claving is setting around the campfire and talking with 
the others. It is really FF@ come to life, an experience not to be missed 
and one you will cherish for a lifetime.   If you are a member of FF@ and 
you haven't been to a conclave, you are missing the very best part of 
your membership. Attend one, any one, anywhere. You won't regret it. 
I can say with complete honesty that I have never met a member of FF@ 
that I did not enjoy spending time with and would not like to see again, 
each one has been a joy and a privilege to meet. 
  Check out the conclave schedules here on the web page, attend one 
if you can. The two largest this year will be NEC III, and  TN  II, but 
there will be many others of various sizes and all will be worth your time. 
  Hope to see you at a clave!