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Once a year when Fish and Wildlife is taught at Winona Senior High I make it a point to arrange a class regarding trout in the Driftless Area. It’s a bit disappointing to speak with so many kids that have no idea where they live or what kind of resource is available to them, that is a big reason why I speak with these kids. Those in Fish and Wildlife have already shown an interest in the outdoors and all that comes with it, I hope to maybe get one or two to become anglers and better yet life-long anglers that know the value of the resource and become advocates for its future. Kind of idealistic but I’m only trying to “hook” one or two.

In previous years I presented a lecture on trout in the Driftless Area of S.E. Minnesota, covering the Driftless Area, its geology which creates the conditions that produce abundant clean clear water that wild trout thrive in. Moving to the history of trout here and the specie we have today then to biology and finally a brief discussion on angling with an emphasis on fly angling because that’s what I know. I demonstrated tying flies, I brought in live macro-invertebrates [singlepic id=2384 w=320 h=240 float=left]to give some perspective to how the fly angler relates his fly selection to what nature has to offer. Anyways, I’ve made you bored and most of the kids by this point. Although they did wake up a bit when we moved away from the power point and more to tying.

This year I tried something a bit different. I contacted Sershen and asked for his assistance and a bunch of fly rods. I changed the class from Driftless Area Trout to Driftless Area Fly Fishing, again because that is what I know. I never was much for a spinning rod or frankly fishing before I touched a 9ft stick with a trout on the other end. The power point was kept to a minimum of 10 minutes explaining the basics. We watched a handful of 3-5minute videos to show what it is like out on our streams and to further help explain how fly angling is approached on a Driftless Area stream. The last portion of the class was dedicated to explaining the gear we use, flies, net, tippet, fly rod, reel and so on. We rushed through most of this so the kids that were interested could have an opportunity to let out a bit of line on the auditorium floor (we took turns after a demonstration was completed). The thought here was that maybe by presenting the fun side, the hands on side of this lifestyle (to me that’s what it is) that maybe one or two would take hold and maybe want to go fishing. So what did I learn? I’m still learning and have a long ways to go, that and I should bring the live bugs back, I love the bugs.

Thanks to Heath Sershen for his time, support and rods. Thanks to Brian Sather for allowing me the opportunity to speak with the class.

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  1. Dude, that is very cool. I wish I would have had someone come talk to me in school about fly fishing. When I look back I have lost prob 15 yrs of fly fishing I could have been doing. Kudos to you for doing this! These guys dont know how lucky there are to have you come speak!

    avatar Tony Reid
  2. Awesome! Its always good to get kids involved, especially with all the distractions likes video games these days. I’ve been involved with the local 7th and 8th grade middle school helping out with fly tying classes every other Tuesday. We have about 10 kids that participate and a few are getting good and becoming very addicted. Down with Donkey Kong and support something that actually creates caracture. Good job WFF!

    avatar John

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