North Bay Trout Unlimited First Cast Day 2013
NBTU’s 12th annual First Cast outing was held at the Marin Civic Center Lagoon in San Rafael on September 29th. The First Cast program represents one of the most successful youth introductory fly fishing programs in the nation. This year’s event had 112 participants, including 50 youths between 8-15 years of age. The young participants were divided into six groups and rotated through six stations.
Reading the Water: Small trout cutouts were distributed and participants were asked to place their fish on a 10’ X 14’ tarp painted to resemble a creek, complete with riffles, tailouts, runs and holes. The placement of each fish was discussed, emphasizing where trout tend to congregate and why 5% of the water holds 95% of the fish.
Knot Tying: Participants were taught the intricacies of the double surgeon’s loop used to attach tippet material to the leader and the improve clinch knot used to attach the fly to the tippet. These two knots represent over 99% of the knots used in fly fishing.
Fly Tying: Basic fly tying materials and techniques were explained culminating in each student tying a black Wooly Bugger.
Gear and Rigging: The difference between rigs for dry fly fishing and nymphing were discussed as well as the use of waders and boots and how to put them on.
Fly Casting: Basic fly casting techniques were introduced, focusing on the overhead and roll casts. Two former participants served as excellent casting instructors.
Spin Casting: Participants learned the use of spinning gear and how spin casting differed with the loading of the rod dependent on the weight of the lure or bait rather than the weight of the fly line in fly casting.
The adult chaperones learned how to fly cast and, more importantly, how to coach and serve as casting instructors. A couple of young siblings of the participants spent the morning in a fishing ‘arts and craft’ center with projects designed to evoke an interest in fish and fishing. The day concluded with a fabulous BBQ picnic and a drawing for fly fishing gear.
Two follow-up sessions were offered for participants to reinforce their fly fishing skills. On October 6th, six coaches worked with 25 participants, including 14 youths, at the Cheese Factory pond to practice fly casting and knot tying. The youths were also treated to some willing fish that they were able to hook, play, and land.
The second follow-up was on October 13th at Putah Creek where a coach/guide met with five enthusiastic 10-15 year olds to reinforce their reading the water and knot tying skills and to learn nymphing techniques. First Cast was co-sponsored by Fish First Fly Shop in Albany and the French Cheese Factory in Petaluma.
North Bay Trout Unlimited First Cast Day 2011
This year’s First Cast Day, NBTU’s 10th annual , took place in a new venue; the Marin County Civic Center Lagoon Picnic Area. This turned out to be a far better location than previous years, with lots of grassy area, restrooms available, shade trees and many picnic benches. Cosponsored by Western Sportshop, this year’s First Cast event had 125 participants, including 64 youth between 3-16 years of age, and represents one of the most successful youth introductory fly fishing programs in the nation.
The day began, after registering with John Crawford and Chuck Schultz, with introductions and an overview. Then participants were divided into 6 groups and assigned to begin at one of the 6 stations. They then rotating every 30 minutes to the next station, country-fair style. The stations included Reading the Waters, where participants, taught by Trish Shirtz, were given small trout cutouts and following input, were asked to place their fish on a small feltboard picturing a creek, with riffles, tailouts, runs, holes, etc. in locations where they thought trout might be located. A discussion followed the placement of each fish, reinforcing the concepts which result in 5% of the water containing 95% of the fish. They also observed actual specimens of trout food; mayfly and stonefly nymphs and caddis larvae, and compared them to imitative artificial flies. From there, participants moved to the Gear and Rigging station where, under the guidance of Bill Walker and Alan Dunham, they learned the differences between rigs for dry fly fishing and nymphing, as well as how to wear waders and boots, attach tools to their vests, the importance and use of wading staffs, etc. The next station was Knot Tying, where Brian Stompe and Bob Dimond taught the intricacies of knots to attach tippet material to the leader, and the fly to the tippet, which two knots represent over 99% of the knots in use in fly fishing. From there, participants moved to the Fly Tying station, where they were guided by Rick Pimental, Zach Sovereign, Frank Minoia, John Anderson, and Al DeLuca in the tying of a black Wooly Bugger and if they finished that within the half hour, a San Juan Worm. Next, participants moved to the Fly Casting station where, led by Andy Basnight, Lee Leardini, Bill Wellover, Jim Brock, and Fred Bellero, they gained expertise in overhead and roll casts. The last station in the rotation was Spin Casting, where Dan Liberatore, Ralph Alexander, Mike Scimeca, and Al DeLuca helped participants master the use of spinning gear, with an emphasis on the fact that spinning rods use the weight of the lure, bait, etc. to load the rod, as opposed to fly fishing in which it’s the weight of the line that loads the rod.
Of some significance again is the fact that one of the key instructors, Zach Sovereign, a 13 year old tying and casting phenom, is a product of past First Cast Days. During the three plus hours of country fair style instruction, the younger siblings, 4-7 years of age, were hosted in a Fishing Art session run by Kathleen Lack, Izzy Starn, and 11 year old Alia Sovereign, creating willow rods with yarn line and painted foam fish, fish prints on canvas(a big hit) and fish headbands.
Beginning two years ago, in an effort to provide a built-in support system for the youth, all the parents, grandparents, Scout Leaders, etc. were encouraged to spend about 2 hours with NBTU President, George Starn, learning not only how to become expert fly casters, but more importantly, how to coach and monitor their youth while acting as casting instructors.
The day concluded with a fabulous BBQ hamburger/hot dog lunch prepared by Mike Cronin and Linda Perone. After a group photo, State Assemblyman Jared Huffman pulled the winning raffle tickets for a drawing for youth participants, with several rod/reel/line/leader combo packs and a FF chest pack as prizes.
Realizing that a single day “orientation” to fly fishing isn’t sufficient to garner much change, this year also for the third time, follow up opportunities were offered for all participants to reinforce their fly fishing skills. On Sunday, September 25, we’ll have 5 TU coaches at the Cheese Factory Pond about 10 miles west of Novato, working with First Cast participants allowing them not only to gain more practice in casting and knot tying, but also in hooking, playing, and landing fish (very willing Bluegill). On the weekend of Oct 15 and 16 we will offer the services of TU Coach/Guides who will meet with interested participants on the streams in the Burney area to reinforce and gain skill in reading the water, knot tying and casting, wading, hooking and landing trout. In this stream environment, they will also learn a great deal about the nymphing techniques of High Sticking, Long Line Indicator Nymphing, and Czech Nymphing. All publicity preceding and following this event was in the capable hands of TU’s own professional videographer, Ed Dudkowski.
Submitted by: Larry Lack, First Cast Coordinator, NBTU