Capital City Fly Fishers divide time between water and at-risk youth, vets

Last updated: August 18. 2014 3:56PM - 803 Views
By Pat Pratt ppratt@civitasmedia.com

Pat Pratt | DemocratFrom left, James, Brad and Phil Pierce learn the art of tying a fly from Wayne Simpson of the Capital City Fly Fishers.
Pat Pratt | DemocratFrom left, James, Brad and Phil Pierce learn the art of tying a fly from Wayne Simpson of the Capital City Fly Fishers.
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The Capital City Fly Fishers (CCFF), a central Missouri nonprofit organization that does much more for the community than just catching trophy Trout, visited the Missouri State Fair on Friday offering fly tying and casting demonstrations to the public.

For 19 years the organization, based in Jefferson City, has promoted fly fishing and assisted children, the elderly and military veterans interested in the sport by educating them on the history, ethics and philosophy of the sport. They also strive to conserve and protect the fisheries of our state.

“We try to promote fly fishing and get people in the great outdoors,” said John Walthers, club president. “We really encourage kids to fish, and then we don’t forget about the old people. We try to get a hold of some old guys that can’t get out, because they took us fishing when we were young. So the whole idea of our club is promoting all species of fish and having a good time.”

CCFF utilizes the sport of fly fishing to help the youth of Missouri focus on fishing as an alternative to drugs and juvenile delinquency.

“We’ve had several classes over the years at different schools,” Walther said. “We have helped the Boy Scouts with the fly-fishing merit badge. We go to the at-risk class over at Jefferson City High School. At that school we have a spring class and a fall class, half of the time is fly tying and half is fly casting and on the last day they get to fish.”

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), teaching kids to fish teaches patience and focus and also relieves stress. The MDC says this is usually touted as a benefit for adults, but grown-ups aren’t the only ones experiencing increased tension these days. Busy routines coupled with full school schedules can lead to high stress levels in kids.

“We have had some really neat success stories. One mother we talked to said her son’s grades have gone up since he can’t wait to tie flies after school and she wouldn’t let him until he finished his homework,” Walthers said.

“We go over to the VA hospital twice a month. We take all the tools and materials and within an hour each one of the vets gets to take two flies with them. When a vet comes up to you upon starting the class and he’s nervous and doesn’t want to be there, then at the end of the hour wants to know where he can buy a fly tying kit you almost have a tear in your eye,” Walther said.

Fly fishing itself is the art of fishing by mimicking an insect (fly) landing on the water to fool a fish. While it is rumored to be expensive — top of the line antique rods and hand tied flies can cost several thousand dollars — and difficult, the club aims to dispel both of those myths.

“Some people think ‘I can’t afford that, it’s kind of an uppity sport.’ We promote the idea of not having expensive equipment and fancy rods and reels. Go out and have a good time,” Walther said. “Today, your less expensive rods are getting to be very good. Back in the old days they were bamboo and all hand made and $800 to $1,000. I can find you a rod for $69 that works just as good.”

As far as the sport being difficult, as with many things practice makes perfect. The art of casting an almost weightless lure across a body of water certainly does present challenges.

“Instead of spending a whole lot of money on an expensive rod and reel, buy a better quality line and spend some money on a fly-casting lesson. That is worth more than anything. Then if you really like the hobby, you can always upgrade,” Walther said.

The CCFF meets the second Tuesday of each month at the First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall on Monroe Street in Jefferson City. Regular meetings start at 7 p.m. Each regular meeting includes a fly raffle and a program with a guest speaker associated with fly fishing. CCFF dues are $15 per year and covers the entire family. For more information visit capitalcityflyfishers.org.

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