LCPF Press Release
In the first two weeks of April, eight area youth ages 12-15 participated in the expanded second annual Lyon County Pheasants Forever (LCPF) youth fishing program, learning how to tie flies, make lures, cast a fly rod, fish with light tackle and learn about the conservation that goes hand in hand with great fishing.
LCPF President, Nick Simonson, an avid angler and lure maker, led the group on a whirlwind journey through the basics of fly tying in the first week. After an introduction to the tools and techniques of the trade, the group created basic nymphs, dry flies and streamers that they could use in search of panfish and trout on area waters. The students took quickly to the recipes and methods of fly tying and were quick to modify, enhance and make the fly patterns their own through free-tying periods after they had attempted the basic instructions.
“From the very start, I was amazed at how quickly this group grasped the concepts,” said Simonson, “even on the first night, they produced flies I’d be proud to put on the water,” he concluded.
The fly patterns the group tied up included the EZ Nymph, a pheasant-based pattern and the Swept Hackle Wing All Purpose Fly (“SHWAPF”) on the first night and the Griffith’s Gnat, Foam Beetle and Woolly Bugger on the second night.
“Mine came out looking just like a real beetle,” said Cody Kesteloot enthusiastically, as he participated in the dry fly portion of the program.
The first fishing day, Saturday, April 8, was a tough one, as the group met at a private farm pond. While the fish were on the bite, the wind was biting even more as gales of up to 45 miles per hour battered the group on the shoreline of the old gravel pit.
“I don’t see whitecaps on the pond very often,” said LCPF Member Matt Debruyckere, who had generously allowed access to his private eight-acre water.
Despite the conditions, the group managed two hours of fishing and learned the sweet science of slip float presentation along with light tackle casting. A few panfish were caught, but the weather was enough to send the class home early.
The second week of the course was devoted to the crafting of standard tackle. On the first night, the group tied up trout, crappie and walleye jigs. The first pattern was Simonson’s standard for the Redwood River – a buzz cut jig version of the woolly bugger which he calls the “Camden Crunch.”
“I caught 27 trout in three hours one day, using just three of these jigs – and the first one I retired after my first fish,” said Simonson, as he laid out the history of the pattern and his success with it.
The group tied up several versions of the Camden Crunch in preparation for the trout opener at the end of the week. Simonson further explained that the little jig gave the trout everything they wanted: a compact, buggy-looking lure that could be easily crafted to “match the hatch” or tied up in bright colors to trigger a reaction strike and could be used on light tackle or the fly rod. Following the Camden Crunch, the group crafted flashabou jigs to use at a later time for crappies, walleyes and other gamefish.
On the final night of the course, the group had a calm evening to practice fly casting in back of the Marshall Senior Center. They quickly picked up the 10-to-2 motion of the fly rod and learned to send the line out through the guides, getting the feel for the finesse of the sport. Following the outdoor exercises, they headed back in for a tutorial on trout spinners.
After dressing treble hooks with flashabou, marabou or deer hair, the group assembled the bodies, blades and beads along their spinner shafts and were quickly cranking out commercial-quality lures. At the completion of the evening, participants had anywhere from two to five new baits to add to their tackle boxes for Saturday’s trout fishing adventures.
In between frontal passages, the stream trout opener on Saturday, April 14 started warm and still as the anglers met in the main parking lot at Camden State Park south of Marshall. From the main bridge, the students observed the circles of fish rising upstream on the Redwood River, and it wasn’t long before the surface of the water was rippled further by the flies, jigs and spinners the class had crafted over the previous two weeks. Fifteen minutes into the morning, Sawyer Stevens of Marshall, landed the first fish of the day – a 12-inch brown trout.
“I could see the fish following when I moved the jig slowly,” he said, “so I started to move it faster and that’s what got this guy to bite,” he concluded, stressing the importance of keying in on what the fish are looking for.
With that bit of information and the first fish released back into the flow, the anglers adapted their presentations and began catching fish up and down the shoreline. Adrian Bentz of Marshall landed a large trout and his sister, Nyssa, who had joined him for the fishing day did as well.
Nick Klein found himself in the thick of it as three fish came to hand in a matter of moments, and he totaled five trout for the day. Eukariah Tabaka also found success of the multi-species variety.
“I landed a trout and a sucker,” he said with a smile from his adventures downstream from the main lot bridge.
Along with the fifteen fish the group tallied up – many on their hand-crafted jigs and spinners – came the opportunity to see what was going on in the water around them and adapt their efforts toward better fishing. Those involved in local Boy Scout troops took the time to hone their fly casting skills in an effort to complete the various requirements necessary for the fly fishing badge.
“What a great program, I wish I had something like this when I was learning,” said parent Dan Stevens of Marshall.
Thanks to the Angler and Hunter Retention and Recruitment Grant awarded to the chapter in 2011 and generous donations from LCPF Sponsors at the 2012 spring banquet, the youth fishing program was expanded to include the lure making portion with a set of 10 vises and fly tying tools along with brand new light tackle and fly fishing combos and equipment to create a sustainable program year-in-and-year-out.
“The members of the chapter, on behalf of this year’s participants, extend our deepest thanks to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, our chapter sponsors, the staff at Camden State Park, the parents and our volunteers for making this program so successful,” said Simonson.
This year’s participants included Nick Klein, Carter Johnson, Cody Kesteloot, Sawyer Stevens, Eukariah Tabaka, Sam Prorok, Adrian Bentz, and Christian Johnson; volunteers assisting with the classroom and on-the-water portions of the program were Debruyckere, Simonson, Kelly Novotny, Ron Prorok and Harvey Noyes of LCPF. Patterns tied by the group, along with others, will be available for reference under the “PF Patterns” tab at www.lyoncountypf.org.
The registration for each year’s course will open up on the Monday following the LCPF spring banquet, so check the chapter website in February of each year for more information. The course is free of charge and can accommodate 10 participants, ages 12-15.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 April 2012 18:49 )