Monday, June 13, 2016

Stepping up

Me sporting my Engel gear and Salt Armour face shield.

This past Saturday I put my new found Boy Scout training to the test. A few weeks back I was blessed enough to attend a BSA Certified Angling Instructor course. As part of the course BSA encourages their instructors to teach fishing, fly-fishing and fish and wildlife management merit badges as a way for Scouts to earn their Complete Angler Award.

On Saturday I headed up to a local farm pond to teach my first leg of the award, fishing merit badge. I was accompanied by our former Scoutmaster, Colonel Billy Noland, who was teaching fly-fishing merit badge. While Colonel Noland taught those fine young men how to roll-cast and deliver a fly I set about occupying my time by fishing my way around the pond.
Me with the only catfish of the day.
It was mid-day and even using nightcrawlers I was finding it hard to get a bite. I was first able to land a rather large size bluegill which promptly got returned to the pond. I managed to hook into what I thought was a nice largemouth, only to have it break off my leader after wrapping itself around a downed tree. I kept at it and managed to hook a decent size flathead catfish, which upon further inspection was the fish I assumed was the largemouth that broke me off.  Needless to say the catfish went into the cooler as the farmer wants them removed from the pond.

We broke for lunch and shortly thereafter I set about instructing the young men on the finer points of the fishing merit badge. We talked tackle, rod and reels, knots and even demonstrated proper hook removal (from an orange). After a while of tutelage we embarked on fishing the pond again. This time we decided to use some artificial bait. The boys used some salamanders crayfish plastics while I used a suspending jerkbait. It turns out the suspending jerkbait was the lure of the day, quickly pulling in three nice bass that were between two and three pounds and about half a dozen more dinks. The boys had some luck on their plastics as well. We finished up the session by discussion Leave No Trace and conservation.

It was a great experience, being out there and teaching these young men how to fish. Especially given most of them had no exposure to fishing at all. But that is what Scouts is supposed to be about; exposing young men to vocations and hobbies which they would ordinarily not be exposed to, in a safe learning environment. I look forward to teaching my next merit badge, whether it be fishing, fly-fishing or fish and wildlife management. Until then keep taking your kids outdoors…

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