TU Costa 5 Rivers…

College students have an endless number of options when it comes to how they should spend their time. In this vast network of options, there exists a certain group who have decided to spend their free time exploring the outdoors.

College fly fishing clubs are full of these outdoorsy students and the Trout Unlimited (TU) Costa 5 Rivers program is their home. 5 Rivers is the national organization of all college fly fishing clubs. This program exists thanks to an incredible partnership between Costa Sunglasses and the Headwaters youth program of TU.

The program’s goal is to bring the TU mission to life on college campuses across the country through conservation, community and fly fishing. A few weekends ago, this mission was at the forefront of two events in Midwest and Southeastern states.

Rendezvous time

Throughout the year, 5 Rivers holds four nationwide events called rendezvous. Each event occurs in a different region, the Midwest, Southeast, Northeast and West. The idea is to bring together clubs from the region to take part in conservation work, community building and fly fishing.

In the Southeast, the group met near Robbinsville, North Carolina on the banks of Santeetlah Creek. In the Midwest, Viroqua, Wisconsin was the destination. While these events occur in vastly different regions and involve students from different backgrounds, 5 Rivers students are remarkably similar.

Similarities abound

One of the most unifying themes of these students is their fierce passion for the outdoors. Not only do they love fly fishing, but they are avid hunters, skiers, mountain bikers, kayakers and more. At both spring rendezvous events, it rained profusely, and the students couldn’t have cared less. They were so excited to be sleeping in tents and spending all day outside, that the rain did not even bother them. This passion for the outdoors is something that most young people do not identify with, however for this group of fly anglers, it runs deep in each of them.

In addition to loving the outdoors, the students view the river as much more than just a place to go catch fish. The river is the basis of life for birds, aquatic insects, salamanders, native plants and so much more. At the Southeast rendezvous, there were a few students who stayed up all night trying to find different species of native salamanders and then first thing in the morning they were on the river fishing again.

The understanding that the river contains much more than just fish to catch and is imperative to the ethos behind why these students also love conservation. Around the campfire, countless conversations occurred discussing why conservation was important and how conservation is an integral part of their identity. Many students describe themselves as conservationists before an angler.

These college fly fishing clubs are much more than places for anglers to get together and talk fishing; these clubs are the proving ground for a new generation of conservationists. Conservationists, who are not defined by what outdoor activity they enjoy but are defined by their unifying love for the outdoors.

5 Rivers offers value

5 Rivers began as a desire to engage college students with the TU mission, but it has morphed into a network of college clubs that truly exemplify the values of conservation and community. These students come together throughout the school year with a passion for taking care of the resources they love so much.

Fly fishing may have been the ice breaker, but a passion for the outdoors is what seals the deal.