On a Saturday in March of 2016 the Little Bighorn Chapter of Trout Unlimited was offering a beginning fly-tying course. The club was only expecting six to eight participants, but was surprised by an influx of 10 young women from the Wyoming Girls' School. While the club members scrambled to accommodate the extra students, the episode planted an idea in my mind.
I thought, “Why not teach a fly-tying and fly-fishing course at the Girls School?" After checking with the powers that be at the Wyoming Girls' School and TU, the course was approved and set to start on March 29. The instruction team consisted of Paul Dubas, Gordon and June Rose and me.
The students in Nikki Collins' horticulture class were selected as the appropriate group to try the fly-fishing and tying course. Collins was ecstatic, “This has been a fabulous opportunity for the students to try something that many of them have never had an opportunity to experience. The teachers enjoy it, too, since it enables them to be hands-on with the students.”
The young women caught on to fly tying quite well and soon were tying fish-catching creations such as Woolly Buggers, Marabou Leeches, Brown Hackle Peacocks and Hornbergs.
The Hornberg pattern was presented by Gordon Rose. He tied the old standby fly on a jig hook and had all the materials organized in a packet for the students to tie their flies. It turned out that the fly would be the best producer when the students fished on May 23.
The young women were excited to try fly casting. It so happened that the Rotary Club had presented the school with a check to cover the cost of 10 L.L. Bean beginning fly fishing outfits: 8 ½ foot, 5 weight rods matched with weight forward floating lines on single-action fly reels.
Under the expert instruction of Paul Dubas and June Rose, the students were soon able to cast 20 to 30 feet of line quite ably. It was heartening to all of the instructors to see how easily the young women picked up the timing and powering of the casts. The students were very attentive and eager to learn. They had to be one of the best groups I have ever worked with.
The culmination of all the instruction came on May 23 when the students were able to journey to a nearby private pond to test their angling skills. To say that the young women were enthusiastic would be an understatement. It was to their credit that they allowed us to do some demonstration casting and fishing.
As soon as the demonstrations were over the students spread out around the pond. Dubas, June Rose, Tina Krueger, and I accompanied groups of two. Collins and another teacher fished, as well.
When the first shout went out, “I got one!” I hurriedly ran to the angler who was holding up a large, hybrid sunfish measuring 9 to 10 inches long. It could have easily covered a standard dinner plate. Needless to say, the angler was one happy camper. After a couple of quick photos she released the fish and went back to casting.
The day was one happy affair with the pleasant weather and good fishing action making for a memory-filled day. I believe that each student caught at least one fish with several students catching three or four. They caught the hybrid sunfish, crappies, and yellow perch — all fish were nice and healthy, no stunted ones around.
Reflecting on the course I am fairly confident that the young women have found a constructive outlet for their free time. In the book "Pavlov's Trout," Paul Quinnett writes, “A young angler will think about fishing when he/she has time on his/her hands. Where to go, what to use, how to get that big one will occupy their thoughts.”
Judging by how hard it was to get the girls to stop fishing and how happy they were to catch a fish, I would say that the Wyoming Girls' School students will be fishing for the rest of their lives.