The League's History

The Dame Juliana League Fly Fishers was formed in the winter of 1970-71 by seven dedicated fly fishermen living in and around Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, about 35 miles west of Philadelphia . The founding members who drew up the club's first by-laws included Dr. Ogden Frank, Jack Mickievicz, Ken Fulton, Tom Finkbinder, Richard Estler, Dick Allebach and Frank Wilson. American Angler author Jack Mickievicz was the first President and provided the "glue" in the early days that held everything together.

Our club takes its name from Dame Juliana Berners, a 15th century Benedictine nun who wrote one of the first essays on fly fishing entitled "A Treatyse of Fysshynge Wyth an Angle" published in 1496. We also adopted nearby French Creek, in northern Chester County, as our official home water. Our vest and logo was designed by Dick Esther using a drawing of the first wet fly tied and fished by Dame Juliana in England several hundred years ago.

Although member camaraderie was shared at our monthly meetings and fishing trips, the club initially established itself as a working club.

During those first ten years, stream improvement projects on French Creek took a lot of our members' time. In the late 70's, Ken Yustack took over as Chairman of our Stream Improvement Committee and did a fabulous job in organizing several projects.

His untimely death in an auto accident was a tragic loss. In his will, he left some money to the club to carry on stream improvement work. Ken was greatly missed and left a real void in the leadership of our stream improvement program for several years.

During this time period, the Dame Juliana League also worked with the Kimberton Fish & Game Association, the Chester Valley Sportsmen's Association, local landowners and Ray Bednarchik, the area's Waterways Conservation Officer for the PA Fish and Boat Commission, to establish the Delayed Harvest Fly Fishing Only area on French Creek (later renamed Catch and Release Fly Fishing Only).

The 0.9 mile stretch of Fly Fishing Only water has been float stocked by club members, in cooperation with the Commission, since it was established. It is a great piece of water with  good insect activity and diversity of runs, riffles and pools.

The late 1980's and early 1990's were not good to the club as membership declined and enthusiasm in many activities waned. A major oil spill in French Creek from an overturned tanker trailer also took its toll and fishing suffered greatly.

The League Today

The League was revitalized in 1994 by the leadership and efforts of  Bob Molzahn, Bob Moser Jr., Mel Walters, Joe Flather and Joe King.

Since the mid-1990’s, the club’s ranks have increased to more than 110 members and continues to grow, a quarterly newsletter is published, stream improvement projects have been initiated under the direction of Larry Heimes, an annual fly fishing course is taught, regular monthly meetings are held during the fall, winter and spring with noteworthy speakers such as Barry and Cathy Beck, Bob Clouser, Ed Koch, Charlie Meck, Don Douple and many others. Some of our best speakers have been club members. Fly Tying workshops are also held twice a year.

Outreach to build our membership through local fly fishing shows and fly tackle shops are ongoing events. Raffles, our annual fly fishing course and membership dues currently provide all our funding. Our sponsors, in providing raffle prizes and support include French Creek Outfitters, TCO FlyshopThe Sporting Gentleman, Virtual Farm Creative, Downingtown Bicycle Shop, Orvis Downingtown, and Phoenixville YMCA.

The League has also formed some important alliances with local and regional conservation groups including the French and Pickering Conservation Trust in Coventryville, PA, the Green Valleys Association in Pottstown, PA.