Last year it was sort of a pilot project to see if it would gain enough interest to make it into a full program.
But with 10 of the students in the Carihi Fly Fishing program headed to the National Fly Fishing Championship in Maple Ridge, B.C. next month, it’s safe to say things are going well.
“It has grown from one class offered as a local elective, into two courses now,” says Carihi teacher and program coordinator Nic Pisterzi. “Each targets a different species of fish on Vancouver Island, including salmon and trout. Within this is the development of skills – casting, knots, flies – and deep learning, along with the importance of conservation and resource management.”
Many members of the community have come to share their knowledge with the group, Pisterzi says, ranging from professional fishing guides to conservation officers, to biologists, to community members and more, which he feels goes a long way in showing the kids the community is supportive in what they’re trying to do.
And now they’ve been recognized nationally, as well.
When Todd Oishi – who organizes the national competition and found out about the club through Pisterzi’s dedication to Facebook and Instagram to spread the word about the kids’ endeavours – reached out to Pisterzi by email asking if he’d be interested in sending a team to the event, he couldn’t wait to tell the students.
The competition is a three day event where students will catch and release as many fish as they can in the time they’re permitted at two river venues and two lake venues. The competition is based on a point system determining the total amount – as well as the size – of fish caught. The top ten fishers from the nationals will then be invited to attend the 2019 World Fly Fishing Championships in Tasmania.
But Pisterzi is just hoping the kids have some fun and keep learning along the way.
“I’m hoping that since it’s the first year we’ve done this, and it’s the first year Carihi has formed a competitive team, that we simply do our best and continue learning how to catch fish on a fly,” he says, but adds they are taking the opportunity seriously, going so far as to bring in a former Canadian National Champion from Nanaimo to train with and learn the rules of the competition.
While the rules of the competition are designed to ensure a level playing field for all of those who participate, the two teams heading to the event do need to fundraise to purchase the competitive gear and equipment needed, Pisterzi says.
As such, they are are hosting a fundraising event on April 4, in partnership with the International Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4).
This is a special cinema event of short vignettes of pro fly fishers, which is shown around the world. Tickets are being sold for $20 each and can be purchased online at flyfilmfest.com, at Carihi, Tyee Marine, or River Sportsman.
“We also plan on giving away prizes and hosting raffles to help raise money for the gear, as well as the travel costs and lodging for the championship,” Pisterzi says.
If anyone is interested in donating or sponsoring this unique youth fly fishing team, Pisterzi says, they can contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the school at 250-286-6282. You can also reach out to the club through their Facebook page (@carihiflyfishing) or Instagram feed (@carihi_fly–fishing).
“These youth are so passionate that they’re in the process of fundraising thousands of dollars through events, bottle drives, and corporate sponsors,” Pisterzi says. “It costs thousands to purchase the proper competitive gear which ties to the competition standards.
“If there are members in the community that are willing to help donate to the cause, we welcome it.”