The Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers Cliff Frazier Memorial youth fly fishing program has been around for 14 years. It's a special event for all of us volunteers as we get to watch our students rapidly progress in their fly fishing prowess in three short days. The concept came about when long time member of TTFF Cliff Frazier passed away and his wife donated all of his equipment, tying materials, and other fly fishing related items back to the club. Those items were sold and raised enough funds to start the youth program. since then it has grown tremendously with the help of fellow club members. Though I have only been involved for a few years, it is by far one of my highlights of the summer season.
Day one starts out of the historical property of the San Francisco Fly Casting Club. It is such a cool facility, and TTFF is so thankful for them to let us use the area. It means so much to the kids because quite frankly it is a very special place. There are some classic photos and nostalgia lining the halls and rooms like Jack Horner fishing the Truckee River. I could spend hours in there. After a warm welcome to the SFFCC clubhouse, the aspiring students learn the fundamental skills of casting, tying knots, understanding trout, and a solid concept of the mechanics of fly fishing, explained in a easy to understand format. Day 2 is where the real fun begins as the program is focused on the actual fishing, and with plenty of stocked fat rainbows it is almost a sure thing they will get a hook up.
After our fearless leader of the program, Mike Brugh, does the introduction of the day's activities, then he hands the reins to me as I cover the entomology class. This year I created a new short and easy to understand Powerpoint presentation, it was well received by the students and they were more than excited to get on the river and collect some live specimens. The kids collected many different bugs ranging from Golden stones, Yellow Sallies, October caddis, March Browns, aquatic worms, free living caddis, Baetis mayfly nymphs, and their favorite - Crayfish! We then matched the bugs to the flies that were in our boxes, thus providing an example of "Match the Hatch".
After a delicious lunch of BBQ burgers, potato salad, and watermelon each student was paired up with a guide for the afternoon. More than just teaching them how to catch fish, we also shared the importance of safety, stream etiquette, reading water, safe handling of trout once caught, and river stewardship.
This is the most fun for everyone who donates their time and knowledge, to see a student's face light up after making the presentation, hooking the fish, fighting it to the net, and lastly holding their prize is priceless. These kids were really into it with enough energy to wear each and everyone of us down.
I like to teach streamer techniques because the students get to feel the take, and once hooked, especially in fast water, they must put in every muscle with a plan on landing the fish the best they can. It really tests them!
Day three and we split the students up, one group goes fishing, and the others learn how to tie flies. Each student tied a San Juan worm, and a midge pattern. Some of the students even caught fish using their own flies. Now that is as awesome as it gets!
Another great lunch was provided, but the kids were eager to get back out on the water and wear us guides out. I guide nearly everyday but when you're dealing with energy like our students had it's a whole other ball game. The total fish netted was 152 trout, that's netted! Three times more in hook ups were felt and witnessed, and of course huge smiles everywhere. It was very satisfying for all of us to see.
Meet your 2017 Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers Cliff Frazier Memorial graduates. Specials thanks again to Mike Brugh, SFFCC, TTFF Board of Directors, members, guides, and all the volunteers who make this event so successful. You folks are awesome!!!
If you like to join Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers, volunteer, donate, or have your own child attend next year's youth fly fishing program, go to TTFF's website to learn more - Tahoe Truckee Fly Fishers