TU Teen Essay Contest | Second Runner Up | Alex D. from Michigan

Each year, TU Camp and Academy graduates are invited to enter the TU Teen Essay Contest in which they share their camp experiences. This year we had four finalists, and Alex’s essay is the second to be posted in this series as the second runner up! Alex is from Michigan and attended the Michigan Trout Camp in Roscommon. Please read on for Alex’s humourous memior and reflection of his time at camp.

Do you know a teen that’s ready to attend a TU Camp, visit the TU Camps Page to see if there’s one near you! Already been to a camp, you say?? Then that teen may be ready to attend the TU National Teen Summit, an annual conference for young leaders in TU. Watch for 2018 applications in February.

My Camp: MichgianTrout Camp

My TU Chapter: Schrems West Michigan #021

My favorite thing about being outside: I love nature and being outside. I started fishing just a few years ago and it is one of my favorite things to do. Making flies is so fun.

TU camp is … the experience of a lifetime! by Alex D.

I have to admit, I was a little anxious about going to a overnight camp where I did not know anyone, not to mention I am 4’11 and the only waders that sort of fit me were from the women’s department. I hoped no one would know and at least they were brown! Soon I made friends with a lot of kids with the same interest in fishing. The counselors were funny, fun and very helpful even though I was new to tying flies.

I have always been interested in spinning reel fishing, but I was new to fly fishing. At camp, I loved learning about individual flies and how to make and use them. Two of my favorites are the Elk Hair Caddis and The Parachute. I have practiced and practiced what I learned at Trout Unlimited camp all summer. I enjoyed it so much I bought several fly tying vices, so when my friends come over I can teach them what I learned. My mom tells me I need to find a job soon because I have spent all my allowance and more at the Muskegon River Fly Shop.

I started tying flies with the basics but now I explore different materials and have fun creating some of my own flies and really enjoy naming them! One of my favorites that I created is called “The Nightmare” and I caught a smallmouth and rock bass with it!

When I first got to camp we took a pretest and some activities. At the start, I was not good with distance and accuracy. Before I left camp, I was able to get my yarn in the hula hoop bullseye target almost every time! At camp we also played a game called Lawn Trout Fishing. When I got home I talked my grandma into helping me make our own lawn trout game out of felt with a sewing needle.

More than anything, I want to be a DNR officer when I grow up. I feel like going to Trout Unlimited camp was a good experience in learning about conservation and keeping the river clean and healthy. I make sure to throw my trout back and clean my waders when I go from stream to stream. I learned that I needed to make sure I used the correct net when fishing for trout because some nets can be too rough on their skin. I also learned that if I want to take a photo with my trout I have to leave it in the water until the camera person is ready because they are more delicate than other fish species. Now I know what a hatch is and how it relates to what flies I should be using.

After coming home and practicing tying flies all the time, I started a Youtube channel for fun. It is called Michigan Flying. I love making streamers and dry flies and my family enjoys the video clips. Even if I have only 11 subscribers I still love making fly tying videos! Here is the link!

My time at Trout Unlimited camp went by really fast. Before I knew it, my mom was there to pick me up and I was excited to tell her about my amazing experiences. I had so much fun, that I will apply (when I am older) to help out as a counselor and by then hopefully I will have a pair of men’s waders that fit me, either way I am now hooked on fly fishing for life!

By Tara Granke.