4-H and Lake Champlain TU Team Up for Kids Demo Day
Five of Trout Unlimited’s Lake Champlain Chapter members, including myself, donated their time to help pass down the magic of fly fishing and fly tying to a young generation of 4H students this past Saturday at the Cooperative Extension building in Westport NY. The 4H class expressed an interest in learning about fly fishing and Trout Unlimited answered the call.
TU’s Chapter president Derrick Miller opened the show, explaining the philosophy of Trout Unlimited, which is to protect and conserve coldwater fisheries. Derrick discussed native species such as Brook trout and Atlantic salmon and their coldwater habitats. He also explained some stream ecology and the past threats to the fishery like dams and how they stop the movement or passage of aquatic species. Derrick, dressed in fly fishing attire, with waders, rod and reel in hand, kept things interesting to the young crowd. He also kept the kids smiling, especially after donning his self proclaimed, nerdy, white, wide brimmed fishing hat he wears.
The Kids Guide to Fly Fishing movie was then shown. The star of the movie was a young man named Tyler Befus who explained the ins and outs of vests, waders, fly rods and reels and other equipment. He then showed how to tie a San Juan worm fly, this lead to an on stream discussion of pools, riffles, and pocket water. Tyler then finished the presentation with a demonstration of how to fly fish on a western trout stream.
Jan Opal, TU’s local regional representative, had a slide show of women fly fishers and various streams throughout the country where they fish. Jan explained that one goal of Trout Unlimited was to encourage more women to take up the art of fly fishing and to promote them to get more involved with coldwater conservation efforts.
Another hit of the day was John Spissinger's fly tying demonstration. John started tying when he was 14 and has been learning every day for the last 50 plus years. His goal is to pass his wealth of fly tying information on to the next generation, such as the one gathered around the tying bench that day. John’s enthusiasm and knowledge during the presentation had the young fly fishing crowd all bugged eyed watching him tie an underwater version of a stream bug, called a nymph.
John showed how to use local materials such as fox fur, pheasant tails, and grouse and chicken feathers to duplicate stream insects. Along with tying flies, John explained the size of hooks, and materials needed to make the variety of trout catching flies, along with some stream bug ecology.
Derrick Miller, Jan Opal and Brandon Trombly concluded the program with a casting presentation outside in the parking lot. There the future fly fishing aficionados could do some hands on fly rod casting of their own. It didn’t take long. After a few casts, the kids where right into it and casting like semi-pros.
The program was sponsored by the Cooperative Extension’s 4H program along with Trout Unlimited.
by Rich Redman