CONCLAVING 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!