Stream Explorers is offered in partnership by Collegiate Peaks Anglers and Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA).

Today was the last session of this four-week program, and fly fishing was the main topic. We met at the Scout Hut at 9am and proceeded to assemble their casting outfits.

For starters, we used wooden 3/8″ dowels of varying lengths, with various lengths of string attached to them, and a colorful chunk of yarn at the end. We cast over the grass and the sand in Riverside Park, trying to land the yarn inside round targets. It felt very different than fly rods of course, but the idea was to get the general movement and timing. We talked about how different lengths of rod and rope, and maybe even dowel flex, would affect the results.

Once the students started losing focus, we got on the bikes and rode down Sackett Ave and on the new trail along the river to Sand Lake. Once there, we started with learning the clinch knot. The students started with a green paracord, then graduated to 3X monofilament. Once everybody knew how to tie the fly on, it was time to…

…get their new fly fishing rod outfits! Though a grant secured by GARNA, we were able to outfit each student with a Redington Path 5wt 9′ rod, reel, line, leader, and tube. It’s a really a pretty sweet outfit. We discussed the parts of the rod, how to put it together, how to string it up. From that point on, the students tied on their own flies and headed out to fish around the lake.

The conditions were challenging — cold 10-15mph headwind does not make for great casting lessons. Some students were underdressed and complained of cold fingers. Some persevered, others moved down the lake to more protected areas, and some took refuge in the back of a car :) But over the hour and a half that we were there, all got out and fished.

No fish were caught — but we did have three hookups!

After fishing we had a pizza lunch, and then rode back to the Scout Hut.

A big thanks to today’s volunteers: John Doughty, Keith Krebs, Dominique Naccarato, Alihah Trujillo, and Wendell Winger!

by Nick Jurney, The Mountain Mail Staff Writer

Reprinted from the The Mountain Mail, May 5, 2014.

Around 230 people turned out Saturday for the 29th annual Caddis Festival pre- sented by the Collegiate Peaks Anglers chapter of Trout Unlimited at Chaffee County Fairgrounds.

Jim Impara, host for the event and board of direc- tors member, said the event brought in over $15,000 from ticket sales and sponsor- ships and featured more than $30,000 in goods and servic- es donated for both live and silent auctions, though it will be unknown for several weeks how much the auctions brought in.

“The event was very good; it went smoothly, we had a good crowd, and we’re very satisfied with our community support,” Impara said. “We’re not one of the bigger chapters, but we are one of the more active chap- ters.”

Barbara Plake, another of the chapter’s directors, echoed that sentiment and said around 50 of the chapter’s esti- mated 280 members contrib- uted to putting on the event.

“We had a lot of people involved, and a lot of local businesses were very gener- ous,” Plake said. “We really feel supported by our commu- nity and feel very fortunate.”

The event featured a special presentation from Bob Gomez on behalf of Georgianna Ruth- erford, whose husband, Vern, was an original founding mem- ber of the Collegiate Peaks chapter and died in December 2012.
Georgianna donated $6,000 in her family’s honor to the chapter’s local scholarship fund to benefit the education of a qualifying local commu- nity member.
“Georgianna knows how much TU meant to Vern, so after further discussion, she has decided to pay it forward and contribute $6,000 to the local TU scholarship fund,” Gomez said during the pre- sentation. “You can say that TU and its members were like Vern’s family, and that’s what brings us here today.
“Vern would be proud that this contribution will assist our chapter in sponsoring the education of a qualifying local community member to pro- mote fisheries in our great state.”

The chapter then recognized four recipients of the scholar- ship in recent years, includ- ing Ellen Bauder, Kato Dee, Corbin Bennetts and Dan Piquette.

Bennetts and Piquette, who both attend Western State Colorado University in Gunni- son, both attended the festival.

“With the costs of college increasing every year, this scholarship helps me a lot,” Bennetts, a biology major and chemistry minor, said. “Being a wrestler, it really affords me the opportunity to not have to worry about finances as much, which allows me to focus on my studies and wrestling.”

Impara then spoke about some of the chapter’s upcom- ing projects, which include a U.S. 285 cleanup this month, willow tree planting at Hayden Meadows and youth fishing derbies at Frantz Lake.

“We’ve done a lot, we do a lot, and we’re going to continue to do a lot,” Impara said.

The event also featured a silent auction and catered buffet and was capped by a live auction featuring Roger Williams from High Country Antiques and Auctions.

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The Stream Explorers program is offered in partnership with Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA). Big thanks go to ArkAnglers fly shop for helping us out with scissors, threaders, fly boxes, and hooks!

Today’s session was the third in the cycle, and fly tying was the focus. Most fly tying classes revolve around learning particular patterns (recipes), and we did not want to follow that model. The students are too creative to follow the same set of instructions all the time. Instead, we wanted to teach the students the basic techniques, how to tie in a tail, abdomen, thorax, legs. To do that we did follow a general recipe, the one for a wooly booger fly.

But first we set up a bunch of round tables, with three vises at each. Along with each vise we laid out the tools: a bobbin, scissors, threaders, and hackle pliers. We had piles of materials, a big box of thread/tinsel/etc, and lots of hooks. We had enough volunteers/instructors today so that there were more than one adult to each table.

Each student started by tying three wooly buggers, all in #8-12 size range. After that, we let them tie whatever they wanted. We tied a few red zebra midges and a pheasant tail, and related those to the aquatic insects we found in session 1. It was a bit chaotic, but mostly controlled and the students seemed to have a great time.

At the end, each student took a vise + tools + whatever materials they wanted — they are to tie some flies during the week, and we’ll fish with them at session 4!

Thank you to today’s volunteers: Keith Krebs, Dominique Naccarato, Mike Perry, Fred Rasmussen, Wendell Winger, and Alihah Trujillo.

Note to parents: ArkAnglers stocks very nice fly tying kits for beginners, with all the basic tools and materials.