The weather last Wednesday morning was perfect for fly-fishing: slightly overcast, a slight nip in the air with calm winds — and it was a perfect day for a group of Evergreen Middle School sixth-graders to try the sport.
Thirty students in the Recreation Sports class, with the help of several teachers and a few Evergreen Trout Unlimited volunteers, gathered around the Buchanan ponds to fish for rainbow trout. In 2½ hours, the students caught and released about a half-dozen fish.
This is the first year that physical education teacher Lisa Deal has taught fly-fishing. During the Recreation Sports class, students also participated in rock climbing, badminton, kickball and Ultimate Frisbee.
“I was looking for a new unit to introduce to the kids,” Deal said. She applied to a nonprofit called Fishing in Schools, received training on how to teach fly-fishing, and received a $1,500 grant to buy equipment. The EMS PTA matched the grant, and she bought eight rods, casting targets so students could practice in the gymnasium, and other equipment.
A few students had fly-fished before and brought their own rods; for others, this was a new experience. All seemed excited to try fly-fishing.
“It’s good to try a new experience,” sixth-grader Jenna Landrum said.
Student Hannah Mason added: “I’m excited to try to catch a fish.” And catch a fish she did. About five minutes after she started casting, she brought in a 17-inch rainbow trout.
“I held it on the ground and got slime all over my hands,” Hannah said. She held the fish while eighth-grade science teacher and avid fly-fisherman Jeff McCarthy removed the hook, so it could be released back into the water.
Student Connor Murphy brought his own fly-fishing rod, which he had for about a year but hadn’t used.
“I haven’t gone fly-fishing before, but I’ve been waiting for a chance,” Connor said.
Student Wilson Schultz hooked what was estimated to be a 20-inch trout, but it ripped the line.
“It was so great. It was really fun and scary at the same time,” Wilson said. “(The fish) was strong.”
Trout Unlimited volunteer George Pollack said that while fishing teaches students patience, “it’s more fun for them when they’re catching fish, not just fishing.” He said he was impressed with the students’ knowledge of the sport.
“We’re out here fishing,” EMS computer applications teacher and fisherman Cole Bielak said. “What could be better?”