Columbia River Sport Fishing guide Bruce Kruk helped out #DozenForDownUnder, a fly-tying project that raises funds for the survivors of the Australian wild fires that raged through the continent earlier this year, by auctioning off a day of fishing on the mighty Columbia. Jim Bailey photo.

Columbia River guide raises funds for Australian wildfire relief

Dozen for Down Under has raised over $30,000 US in aid for Australia’s brushfire relief effort

Trail resident Bruce Kruk is well known in the sport-fishing ecosystem.

He is an avid Spey caster, who competes in world competitions and eagerly shares his knowledge with local anglers. Chances are if you see someone Spey casting on the Columbia River in Kootenay country and ask how they got started, you will probably hear Bruce’s name.

When Kruk heard his friend, Josh Mills from Spokane, Wash. was once again raising disaster relief funds he knew he had to help.

When Hurricane Dorian, the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever recorded, devastated the Bahamas on Sept. 1, 2019, Josh started the Instagram hashtag #DozenForDorian. The premise was anglers would tie a dozen flies, auction them on social media, then donate the funds to relief efforts. They raised $42,100 US.

Related read: West Kootenay fishing report: the bite is on for bull trout on Arrow Lakes

When severe drought, record breaking temperatures, and massive bushfires ravaged Australia, the hashtag #DozenForDownUnder went out.

Kruk desperately wanted to help his friend’s disaster relief efforts. As a guide for Columbia River Fly Fishing he spoke with owner Matt Guiguet, and both agreed it was a great idea to up the stakes by offering a full day guided fishing excursion for auction. The winning bid was from Jake Hood of Spokane who is also a guide on the Spokane River in Washington.

Bruce took the auction winner out for two days last month. Hood had a half-dozen good grabs, and landed one rainbow, however, Jake’s real goal was to improve his Spey casting to reach 100 feet or more. When he left, his casts had improved to about 130 feet.

“It’s staggering how much we crammed into two days,” Hood said. “My head will be swimming for weeks!”

Hood was surprised and impressed at the difference between the US and Canadian side of the Columbia. The biggest surprise was to fish a free-flowing river, and see how green and healthy the landscapes are with the many eagles, osprey and other wildlife that fish the river.

When asked why the Australian fire fund was so important to him, Hood replied, “Because it was an unprecedented need. It’s well beyond the scale we’ve ever had in North America. Well over 14 million acres burned and it was an ecological disaster.”

“Fly fishermen and women are helpers, and based on the success of the Dozen for Dorian campaign, the band of good people got back together via Instagram and our fly-tying benches and guided trips to raise funds.”

The funds were directed to the Yellowdog Community and Conservation Fund,an accredited international 501C3 that in turn could direct it to on the ground campaigns in Australia with the most possible impact, and the rural fire relief fund of New South Wales.

Josh also lived in Australia in 2003, and added, “The people and the country are amazing”.

Not everyone knows how much anglers respect and help protect our waterways and habitat, even when it is in another country. So far, Dozen for Down Under has raised over $30,000 US in aid for Australia.

To see more on the fundraiser and story go to is the only website that focuses exclusively on fishing the tailwater of the Columbia River from Castlegar to Trail, and promotes local businesses and accomodators.

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