Fly fishing hobbyist to share passion at free event

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By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer

Armand Courchaine demonstrates fly tying during an event last year sponsored by International Federation of Fly Fishers North Eastern Council at the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife in Westborough. (Photo/Sheila Courchaine)

Marlborough/Sudbury – Armand Courchaine of Marlborough discovered a love for fishing and the art of fly tying as a child. Now a retired electrician, he’s committed to continue sharing his longtime passion with others.

Courchaine is once again serving as event chair for the 11th annual Fly Tying and Bamboo Rod Building Demonstration to take place Sunday, March 18, from 10.a.m. to 4 p.m., in the second-floor ballroom at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, 72 Wayside Inn Rd. in Sudbury.

Originally from Fall River, Courchaine cherishes memories of fishing with his father.

“My father got into fishing later in his life,” he explained. “I vividly remember fishing with him the first time I caught a freshwater bass when I was 8 years old.”

Soon after getting hooked on fishing he learned about fly tying, a process of creating an artificial fly to catch fish. A 9-year-old Courchaine got hired as a fly tyer at a sporting goods store and worked there until age 13.

“My friends had newspaper routes and here I am, working as a fly tyer,” he said with a laugh.

At age 15, Courchaine asked a neighbor to drive him to Boston for meetings of the United Fly Tyers (UFT). After serving in the Navy from 1962 to ‘67, beginning with a deployment during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Courchaine returned to meetings and was elected club president in 1973. During his absence, he stayed informed on club happenings via monthly newsletters sent to him overseas.

Also a member of the saltwater fly fishing club Rhody Fly Rodders based in Riverside, R.I, he served multiple terms as its president and now as advisor. In 1994, he founded the Crossroads Anglers, a fly fishing club that meets monthly in South Foxborough.

In 2006, another UFT member told Courchaine about big fish stocked in Josephine’s Pond at Wayside Inn. Courchaine noted that the inn’s beverage manager, Doug Bugley of Southborough, bought $500 worth of 16- to 18-inch brown and rainbow trout for the pond to give children a place to learn how to fish. Bugley passed away in 2008 of brain cancer.

“Doug told me that I was his best friend and asked me to do him a favor,” Courchaine relayed. “He said, ‘Keep this pond going.’ He wanted children and adults to continue enjoying fishing there.”

A group known as Friends of Josephine’s Pond was established by Courchaine and Bugley to educate the public about fly fishing. Courchaine annually volunteers to stock the pond with trout.

“The fly tying event means so much to me,” he said. “You only need four things in your life: God, your family, your business and a hobby. If one is missing it’s like driving down the road with a flat tire – you won’t go very far.”

The free event will feature demonstrations by 15 fly tyers. Fred Kretchman will return for his third year to demonstrate how to make bamboo fly rods. For more information, contact Courchaine at 508-982-1931 or [email protected], or Wayside Inn at 978-443-1776.