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> > Boy Scout Merit Badge in Fly Fishing

OldredbarnApril 19th, 2015, 2:01 pm
Novi, MI

Posts: 2608
Hey everyone. I had a great day yesterday teaching the entomology section for the local Boy Scouts merit badge program in fly fishing.

I had a group of 6 Scouts per hour and 6 groups for the whole day.

I had some displays and specimen jars set up inside on one picnic table and I had created a couple notebooks for the guys with all the bugs I thought we might find in the lake next to the building the class was in.

I had a display of the life cycle of a mayfly and explained to them the life cycles of the aquatic bugs we might run into.

I spoke for about 10-15 mins and then took them down to the lake.

I had them stand on a dock and I had waders on and I gave them little basters to suck up the specimens...I then scooped up a shovel full of muck and aquatic weeds and plopped in down on the dock at their feet. I then said, "If anything moves nab it!"

There is nothing like a small pile of mud, aquatic weeds, and crawling critters to get the attention of young boys! They were on a mission. Nothing was going to escape them...

One time I walked into the water and had a water snake swimming around...They got a kick out of that.

We found crayfish, dragonfly nymphs, damsel fly nymphs (I'm tying mine too fat! These things are slimmer than the diameter of a hook), a few cased caddis, a couple mayflies, and a zillion various midges that hatched from our tub throughout the day leaving little instructive shucks on the top of the water.

It was a blast for the 10 year old hiding out in this 61 year old angler!

The day was over at 3:30 and I decided to hike/bird some of the nature trails in this park where we held the classes...I was dead last night! My wife said I was snoring like crazy.

My fishing club, Michigan Fly Fishing Club, has been doing this for years. The Scouts have a merit badge booklet that they study before the day of the classes. We have a knot section, a conservation and equipment section, fly tying, fly casting, (the boys have to catch a fish on their fly to get the badge), they have to clean and cook a fish, and the entomology part.

It was very refreshing to see these eager young boys interested in a day of outdoor activity, sans cell phones and the internet.

Over the years I have tied here. We lost a good friend last year who ran the entomology section...He was adamant about the hands on part of the learning process. I was honored when they asked me to take his place...He had been the president of the club when I joined it in 1991.

Anyway! Thanks go out to Eric for sending me some tips to help me pull this off!

"Even when my best efforts fail it's a satisfying challenge, and that, after all, is the essence of fly fishing." -Chauncy Lively

"Envy not the man who lives beside the river, but the man the river flows through." Joseph T Heywood
MillcreekApril 19th, 2015, 2:44 pm
Healdsburg, CA

Posts: 356
Spence - I had a similar experience except mine was with 3rd graders. I'd go down to the creek and start to collect a few bugs. Then the teacher would bring the little monsters down. After oohing and awing at the bugs on display we gave each of them an aquarium net and a small plastic vial for putting what they caught in. They were pretty good at catching stuff. In a half hour we had we had mayfly, stonefly and caddisfly larvae as well as sculpin and steelhead fry. The little girls were the real champs at finding stuff and beat the boys pretty badly.
RMlytleApril 19th, 2015, 7:15 pm

Posts: 40
The day young kids stop enjoying catching creepy crawlies is a sad day. Some of my best memories are of rolling rocks for salamanders, dragon fly nymphs, frogs, cased caddis, and all sorts of other fauna in small PA creeks.
PaulRobertsApril 20th, 2015, 3:42 am

Posts: 1776
That's so important for kids to get a chance to do. And great that you get to lead it, Spence. I like that they have to clean and eat a fish too. Great thing for urbanized kids to get to do. As RMlytle said, it'll be a sad day -for all of us- when kids stop exploring the natural world.

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