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Today was Scout Fly Fishing Merit Badge Qualification at the NCWRC Pechmann Fishing Education Center. We hosted 40 plus Boy and Girl Scouts along with their Troop Leaders. Despite what you might have heard about our youth being disheveled, out of touch and with a limited attention span, these kids were just the opposite. They were well groomed, very polite, well organized and determined to accomplish the task at hand which was to catch at least two species of fish with a fly rod. All were a delight to work with.

The Pechmann Center volunteers presented what has become known as our "Basic Fly Fishing Clinic". The only thing changed was the requirement to keep, clean, cook and eat two of the fish caught.

We started off with everyone receiving an overview of fly fishing.


They were then divided into four groups or troops which rotated through stations manned by NCWRC personnel or local volunteers who have become experts in specific aspects of the sport and are very proficient in sharing their knowledge. The group in the photo below are learning knots. (Note that we had a good mix of Girl Scouts - this speaks well for the future of the sport)


At the rod assembly / disassembly station one of our volunteers demonstrates how to separate a flyrod which refuses to come apart the normal way.


Marshal Ray, NCWRC fisheries technician, always shows off the infamous "driftwood tacklebox" which was found floating in nearby Lake Rim. This piece of driftwood contains about 100 yards of tangled monofilament line, 10-15 hooks, several sinkers, various spinner baits, 2-3 bobbers and a couple of crank baits. There is an obvious lesson learned here.


You can't go trout fishing without knowing the various rules and regulations peculiar to trout. Participants leave here scratching their heads wondering why things have to be so complicated. They also leave with an up to date NC Regulations Digest which keeps them on the right side of the law.


The "hands on" casting station is the most important and most difficult of the learning stations. What looks so easy in the hands of an experienced fly fisherman is not so easy when the rod is first gripped by a novice. Some develop the proper rhythm early on, others are still working on it. Everyone is urged to practice, practice, practice.


The highlight of any event at the Pechmann Center is the actual fishing itself. We had a full house today and only had one rod left in the rack by the time everyone was heading to the ponds. I knew it was going to be a good day when one young fellow came up as I was handing out the last of the rods and asked, "Sir, can you tell me if the fish cleaning station is open yet? I have my two fish and would like to clean them". We soon had him cleaning them with his own knife under the watchful eye of the JEPFEC Director, Kris Smith.


Here is a proud scout and his troop leader dad with a nice Hybrid Bass caught on a fly.


At the end of the clinic everyone brought their fish to the cleaning station where for awhile it looked like there was a feeding frenzy going on. I did not see any Band-Aids on fingers so must assume that the troop leaders had it under control.


The fish fryer manned by NCWRC staff made short work of today's catch. French Fries, Cole Slaw, and rolls rounded out the meal which was enjoyed by all participants.


Lots of smiles, hand shakes and thank you's today. That is what keeps us coming back. Here are two happy scouts heading to their family car and home. I bet they'll sleep well tonight.


We will do it all over again with a new group of scouts next Saturday, March 8, 2008
 

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Red X Angler
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Good work guys!
 

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This is the only thing I wish my parents would have gotten me into. The only thing I never liked was the uniforms. Only uniforms I ever wore were sports related.
 
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