Casting classroom: Pasadena students ditch the pencils for fly-fishing rods

·3 min read
Terry Byrne of outfitting company Tight Loops Tight Lines teaches Pasadena Elementary students a knot to connect a line to a hook or fly. (Troy Turner/CBC - image credit)
Terry Byrne of outfitting company Tight Loops Tight Lines teaches Pasadena Elementary students a knot to connect a line to a hook or fly. (Troy Turner/CBC - image credit)
Troy Turner/CBC
Troy Turner/CBC

The anglers were positioned, casting rods with precision and grace.

They dropped their lines in the desired targets, and were patient.

But there were no salmon on the grounds of Pasadena Elementary School, in western Newfoundland, this week. Instead the anglers, all young children, were learning the skills needed for one of Newfoundland and Labrador's favourite summer pastimes.

Kastine Coleman and Terry Byrne of Newfoundland fly-fishing outfitter Tight Loops Tight Lines spent two days with the students going through the basics.

"We were practising fishing and how to hold fish and seeing different kinds of flies that you can catch fish with," said Micah Ball, a Grade 1 student.

Troy Turner/CBC
Troy Turner/CBC

"If you've got one of those rods, you get a bit of line out and you hold it up by your ear, like it's a telephone, and you go, 'hello,' then you go 'it's for you' and you hold onto the fishing rod and you cast it out."

While it wasn't Micah's first time holding a rod, he said he did learn a lot about proper technique and how to hold a fish, and some skills he's taking with him to the next river or pond.

"I'd say it's going to work good," he said. "I just like fishing because sometimes it's quiet and it's fun."

Troy Turner/CBC
Troy Turner/CBC

Classmate Charlotte Foley was impressed by the lessons learned. She said looking forward to trying out her new skills the next time she goes out fishing.

"I was on my pop's boat and we were fishing and it was my turn to fish and I casted it and I felt a pull and I reeled it in and it was a really big fish," she said.

The idea for the outdoor learning came after Grade 1 student Evelyn Wight won a youth fly-tying contest. Principal Jim Pink saw a post about the win on social media, and noticed that Tight Loops Tight Lines had reacted to it. He decided to give them a call.

"Any time we have an opportunity for our kids to learn outside of the school curriculum, outside the classroom, whether it's in our back field, in our trails, building things, and doing stuff like snowshoeing and getting an opportunity like this, where we get to learn about the ecosystem and the rivers and the salmon and how important it is to protect them and be responsible, it goes way beyond the curriculum," he said.

Troy Turner/CBC
Troy Turner/CBC

"They're loving it. They're very well behaved and they're very excited, especially to use the fly rods and see if they can cast a line and so forth, but they're really enjoying it and  having a great time. It's an excellent success."

Pink is an avid angler himself, having been taught by his father when he was young, so helped out with the lessons.

Troy Turner/CBC
Troy Turner/CBC

"When you come to Pasadena and you see it's a very outdoor community and we're surrounded by all these beautiful rivers, and we've got lots of outfitters around, so it's just an opportunity to spread it to our kids and just keep it going," he said

"A lot of them will go home and talk about it with their parents and I know a lot of them already fish anyway, so it's just to expand on it a little bit more what they've done."

In addition to outfitting and education, Tight Loops Tight Lines is also the focus of a television program on Sportsman Canada. They start shooting their second season next month.

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