Hooked on Fly-Fishing

Will Zimdar, left, and Sawyer Allchin prepare to make flies

Abby Bell remembers her first fish: a rainbow trout she caught (and released) out of a pond in Montana, while staying with family at a relative’s cabin. She was 4 or 5.

“I remember the smile on my dad’s face, and what it was like to have it on my line,” Abby recalled.

The incoming East Grand Rapids High freshman said carrying a pole has been a part her life ever since.

Fritz Duncan caught (and released) a bluegill within moments of casting

Abby was one of more than a dozen students from her district, as well as Forest Hills Public Schools and an area charter school, who took part last week in a fly-fishing camp hosted by EGR Public Schools.

Camp leaders Pete Miller and Steven Brinks, middle school social studies and Spanish teachers, respectively, also are avid fly fishermen.

“There wasn’t any opportunity like this when I was in middle school,” Miller said.

Added Brinks: “There’s certain realities that frame my life: family, work and fly-fishing. We’re both involved in organizations that try to protect and restore this cold-water resource, and to do that, you need to have kids involved.”

Brinks pointed out that fly-fishing has numerous benefits, including fresh air, relaxation, learning about conservation — and art. “There’s the art of tying flies, the art of casting, and of developing communication with others who love it too. There’s also the joy of catching a big ol’ fish.”

The group of young anglers-in-training also got to spend time fishing the Rogue and Muskegon rivers, as well as Reeds Lake, where Fritz Duncan snagged a bluegill within minutes of his first cast.

♥”With fishing, you never stop learning,” Abby said. “I like the idea of teaching us science and bugs. I don’t really want to be in school right now, but I do like this.”

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Fly-tying for Beginners (video)

Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio

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