Sportsmen’s Club commemorates public access

Apr 30, 2024 | News

Author Bio

June Williams, Reporter

Shelton-Mason County Journal & Belfair Herald

The Bremerton’s Sportsmen’s Club is finally getting recognition for a good deed done in 1948. That’s when the club donated waterfront properties on Wooten, Devereaux and Haven lakes in Mason County and Mission and Wildcat lakes in Kitsap County to the Department of Game, now the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The club wanted to preserve public access to the lakes at a time when shoreline property was being bought and developed for private use.

Local fishers, canoers and kayakers now know who to thank after WDFW installed signs commemorating the donations Monday near the lakes’ boat ramps.

“The club has never received recognition for donating these lakes’ public access,” member Carl Peterson told the Herald at a sign installation at Mission Lake.

Mission Lake is on the Tahuya Peninsula, north of Belfair, just over the border of Mason County in Kitsap County.

The Bremerton Sportsmen’s Club is the oldest sportsmen’s organization in Washington, according to President Ron Flerx, and was established in 1919 by local outdoorsmen and women.

The club believes in “conservation and preserving the heritage of hunting and fishing,” the group’s website states.

“Public access is what we believe in,” Flerx told the Herald.

“In 1948, a profound vision by pioneering club members was to provide access for the public to a few local lakes not accessible due to private ownership,” according to a history of the club.

“Today they are open to the public with small boat launching ramps. Some offer fishing from the shore as well. The public also enjoys canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, bird watching and other watersport activities. These lakes would likely only have private access today, but for over the past seven decades, countless thousands of people have enjoyed recreating on these lakes only because BSC donated these properties to the state,” the club’s document states.

Flerx said he got involved with the club in 2012 because he “was getting bored.”

He was elected president in 2017.

Club members are currently helping plant fish into beaver ponds in Mason and Kitsap counties, constructing and installing wood duck nesting boxes and have adopted several camping and fishing access sites in Mason and Kitsap counties to help clean up litter.

Flerx said some members of the club are getting older and they want to make sure the outdoor traditions continue.

“We’re trying to grow again,” he said.

Meetings are on the fourth Tuesday of every month except October at the Bremerton Trap & Skeet Club, 4956 state Route 3 SW, and dues for the nonprofit are $7.50 for 16 and under, $15 for individuals and $20 for a family.

Members of the group waiting at Mission Lake for the first sign installation were treated to an unexpected fish-stocking operation.

A WDFW truck brought 1,355 pounds of rainbow trout, or about 3,200 fish, from the Eells State Trout Hatchery in Shelton to stock the lake, according to WDFW employee Alexis Leonard.

Club members watched as the year-old-trout clustered around the shallow shore before being flushed into the lake’s center by another WDFW employee with a broom. An osprey and bald eagle flew low over the water, causing one member to shout, “Lunch!”

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