Sunday, February 20, 2011
-By Francois Blanchet
Have you ever thought about how awesome it would be if fly fishing was used as a way to educate our kids through schools, programs and summer season camps??
During the Summer of 2010, I decided I was going to do just that… help a small group of teenagers accomplish their lifetime dream of 10 days of Spey casting on the Skeena while fishing for summer-run steelies with me!!!!
The kids were based out of Montreal, from a rough area known as Verdun. One of the coolest youth centers I have ever seen, the main focus of this group is one sole purpose….to fly fish around the world.
The center is called “Point de Mire”. A Quebec based company, the face behind this longtime vision is writer and talented angler, Mario Viboux. Mario, who notably received the 2009 Roderick Haig Brown prize for introducing youth to fly fishing, started the organization in 1993.
Since this 1993 beginning, the youth center travels around the globe in search of different fly fishing destinations to experience.
Funding for these trips isn’t an easy ride….in fact, the kids work hard to pay their way! They have to raise money for the program by publishing and selling a book/DVD based around learning to fly fish. Made “by kids, for kids” their product sells at local events related to fishing.
Within no time, these ambitious teens had the respect of the Atlantic Salmon Federation and countless other fly fishing companies that offer them assistance of all sorts.
Their scheduled trip to BC was mildly overwhelming…most of these kids had never caught a fish heavier than a pound…now, they were on their way to some of the biggest steelhead in the world!
A Quebec native myself, I was ecstatic that I had the opportunity to take them all out on the water! Knowing they’d need to be well prepared for their week ahead, I made sure they were prepared, well prepared…
First thing was to show them how to Spey cast…
The second thing was to show them which flies to tie.
I stopped by the youth center and spent an evening tying and talking about how tricky steelhead fishing could be, but reassured how equally rewarding these very same tricky steelhead are.
Though it seemed like forever, the kids showed up around mid-August in the small town of Terrace. Fortunately, the 2010 steelhead season was the most productive year the Skeena river has seen in almost 40 years!
Fishing was epic!
These kids had the raddest trip, got to try a little of everything: rafts, jet boats, intense hikes, bush walks… but the real fun was watching them talk about their day at the campsite while tying flies until 3 in the morning…5:00 am and they were up, excited, and ready to do it again!
So the next time you have the opportunity of giving back to the world of fishing….it’s not about the money to be made, rather the assurance of future to our sport found in the hearts of our children. If they fall in love with it, you may just have made a new fishing buddy for life…I know that I did.
Posted by April Vokey on February 20, 2011