This past fall, ten CC students donned chest-high waders and were given the chance to learn and perfect their fly-fishing casts amidst clear waters and aspen trees on the backside of Pikes Peak.
Last Tuesday evening, ten different students gathered in the WES Room amid hooks and bits of thread to perfect their “elk hair caddis” flies under the watchful eye of fly-tying experts.
Both of these opportunities – the Outdoor Recreation Club supported trip and the third meeting of the four-segment fly-tying class – were brought to CC by the Fly Fishing Club, a group founded about a year and a half ago by current junior Brooks Pinnick.
“As an avid angler, I wanted a fly fishing club to be present on campus to give others the opportunity to learn about the sport,” Pinnick said. “With CC located so close to some of the best fly fishing rivers in the country, establishing a club seemed like a no-brainer.”
Since its beginnings, the group has expanded immensely. The club now works closely with the ORC, the local Trout Unlimited chapter, and Angler’s Covey to provide the resources and teachers necessary for trips and clinics that were not previously possible. The group has received funding from the CCSGA for more equipment, and other donors are helping outfit the new anglers.
More importantly, the Fly Fishing Club has played a large role in developing the sense of community between those who already fly-fish and those who wish to learn. Regardless of experience level, it is easier and cheaper to become involved in the sport now, and a space has been created where all levels of fly-fishermen can foster their skills.
“The Fly Fishing Club has filled an important niche in Outdoor Ed, [a niche] that has been missing for some time. . . It has now provided the opportunity for anyone to get involved, as well as an avenue for experts to share their passion with others,” said Neal Smeltzer, Outdoor Education Specialist and Faculty Advisor to the Club.
One of the aims of the club is to send out more trips in the coming semester through the ORC while continuing to lead fly-tying clinics and continue other education aspects of the program.
The clinics have been particularly valuable.
“The Trout Unlimited folks [who teach the fly-tying classes] really enjoy getting the younger generations excited and involved as well as encouraging and teaching some of the values of the TU,” said Sawyer Connelly, a senior and a leader of the club.
Another aim of the Fly Fishing Club, Smeltzer said, is to “broaden and diversify its audience, specifically regarding gender and experience level.”
The club is also trying to spread the word that fly fishing is as much a practice in nature as it is about catching trout.
“It can be difficult to teach people that fly fishing is way more than just about the fish,” Pinnick said. “It’s the adventure, mental and physical challenge, fascination, art, and eventual payoff that we want to teach.”
The club has plans to expand even beyond the CC community. This branching out may include further work with Colorado Trout Unlimited to provide summer internship opportunities, developing a relationship with other Colorado university and college fly fishing clubs, and participating in a fishing tournament this April.
With a strong base of support from the ORC and the local fly fishing community, the outlook for the fly fishing club seems bright.
For more information or to get involved, email Sawyer Connelly at Sawyer.Connelly@coloradocollege.edu.