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February 01, 2008

Fly-fisher, conservationist Gary Graham named to California Outdoors Hall Of Fame

Fly-fisher, conservationist Gary Graham named to California Outdoors Hall Of Fame

Gary Graham, 67, who parlayed a lifetime love of fishing into a role as conservationist, writer, advocate and spokesman for the sport, was inducted into the California Outdoors Hall of Fame.

Others elected with Graham were Rick Copeland, founder of "Becoming an Outdoors Woman" and Francis Farquhar (1887-1974), a San Francisco Bay Area mountaineer, writer and longtime director of the Sierra Club.

Graham was cited to the Hall of Fame, ". . . For his willingness and ability to share his extensive knowledge of fishing and the ocean with thousands of others . . ."

His background in fishing spans more than 40 years in Southern California and the Baja Peninsula, beginning with the half-day boats fishing the local kelp beds off San Diego.  He acquired extensive knowledge about saltwater fishing in these areas. Graham began with conventional tackle, moved to ultra-light tackle and finally to fly tackle.

In 1977, Graham and his wife, Yvonne, founded Friends of Fishing, non-profit organizations to take disadvantaged children enrolled in Big Brothers and Big Sisters of San Diego County fishing and teach them about the ocean. Graham led Friends of Fishing for 12 years before handing the program over to Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

Graham has served as the International Game Fish Association's Baja California Representative since 1994 and is a member of the historic Avalon Tuna Club (and editor of its newsletter) and a Charter Life Member of the San Diego Marlin Club (with two terms as president). He has also served as Director of the Los Angeles Billfish Club, the Los Pescadores Fishing Club, Southwestern Yacht Club, and the National Coalition for Marine Conservation, as well as chairing national and international saltwater tournaments.

A skilled offshore and inshore angler with a penchant for striped marlin, Graham has garnered numerous fishing awards, including several IGFA fly-fishing world records and the prestigious Angler of the Year award from the Tuna Club. In his first year, he received more angling awards than any other first-year member in the Tuna Club's 109-year history.

A conservationist from the beginning, Graham found a way to put his expertise to use, donating proceeds from his paid marlin-fishing seminars in the late 1980s to the fledgling white seabass restoration project, which would become one of the great success stories in saltwater fishery rehabilitation.

Graham is also a writer and photographer. In addition to two books on saltwater fly-fishing, hundreds of his articles have appeared in publications including Big Game Fishing Journal, BlueWater, Destino, Fly Fishing in Salt Waters, Gringo Gazette, Marlin, Pacific Coast Sportfishing, Saltwater Fly-fishing, Salt Water Sportsman, Southwest Fly-fishing, Sport Fishing, The Drake, Western Outdoor News and Western Outdoors.

Since 1993, Gary and Yvonne have owned Baja on the Fly, a fly-fishing expedition company in Baja California, which has hosted more than 2,000 fly-fishing clients in several locations in Baja and mainland Mexico. Recognized as "a true pioneer of fly-fishing in Baja," Graham has been instrumental in finding new fisheries and developing new techniques - all of which he has shared both directly with his clients as well as through his speaking, photography and writing.

Founded in 2002, 28 Californians - some posthumously - have been elected to the Outdoors Hall of Fame.