Boy Scouts Earn Fly-Fishing Merit Badge
3/11/2013 10:54 AM
by Al Kittredge
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission's John E. Pechmann Fishing Education Center,located on the west side of Fayetteville, hosted several Boy Scouts troops last weekend as they finalized their requirements for the Boy Scout Fly-Fishing Merit Badge.
We've held these Fishing Merit Badge events for the past several years. They are so popular that we’re always at capacity for these camping/fishing weekends reserved for Scout Troops. Most troops make a weekend of it by arriving Friday evening early enough to pitch tents, build afire pit and have a grand old time.
The troop leaders were provided teaching materials at the time of enrollment, which helps focus the scouts' attention to the requirements of the merit badge. Once they meet up with our cadre of volunteer instructors, we follow the same format as our Basic Fly-Fishing Clinics. While they warmed up from what proved to be a chilly night of sleeping in tents, they were asked to demonstrate their knowledge of knots.
Volunteers review the proper procedures for assembling a fly rod and provide an overview of the equipment required and the essentials of effective fly casting. It's then outside for another lecture on the essentials of fly casting, complete with demonstrations on both the right and wrong way to present your fly to the target area.
The kids liked the "power application" station, which utilizes a ball on a stick. It is a little more difficult to master than it appears. Too much power drops the ball right at your feet. Other stations are "parallel lines," "back cast / front cast" and "loop control." By the time they have made the rounds, most participant shave a grasp of the five essentials of effective fly casting.
The afternoons are reserved for fishing. We have two ponds filled with trout that test the skills and patience of our fly-fishing participants.
The weather was cool but, thankfully, not too windy. Best of all the fish were biting. Everyone caught several, which put smiles on lots of faces.
Our clinics are normally catch and release; however, one of the requirements of the Boy Scout Fly-Fishing Merit Badge is the harvesting of at least two fish. This works out just fine because our ponds are shallow, warm-water ponds that start to heat up about this time of year. We schedule fishing activities to harvest all of the fish prior to their succumbing to high-water temperatures.We have a mix of rainbow, brown and brook trout, with most exceeding the 12-inch mark.
Participants catch the fish and bring them to a cleaning station where a scout leader demonstrates proper cleaning techniques and keeps count of all fingers.
Grilled fish, coleslaw, French fries and a can of Mellow Yellow — what a way to end the day!
Our 2013 series of fly-fishing clinics is rapidly drawing to a close. We have one more Boy Scout event on March 16, which will end trout fishing in Fayetteville for the year.
The Pechmann Fishing Education Center also hosts Wounded Warriors, N.C. Handicapped Sportsmen and any military and their families on the 2nd Wednesday of each month from 1-5 pm. That's March 13th this month. We offer fly tying and basic fly-fishing instruction. At least half of the afternoon will be spent fishing. Participants from our fourth clinic who were short changed because of the weather are invited back for the fishing portion on March 13.