YOUNGSTERS LEARN TO tie flies at the Courtenay and District Fish & Game Protective Association clubhouse.

YOUNGSTERS LEARN TO tie flies at the Courtenay and District Fish & Game Protective Association clubhouse.

Building foundations for the future

Lots of young fishers will be out for Aug. 2 Bullhead Derby in Comox

We frequently hear how the future depends on the coming generation. In the case of most human endeavours we refer to the importance of children in carrying on the work and customs of the present generation.

This is especially true when carrying on family traditions of farming, fishing, logging, business, professions and the wide variety of things we do to earn a living. It is also true of many sporting activities such as golf, hockey, football, soccer, tennis, skiing, swimming that we participate in our free time.

The lifelong pursuits of fishing, hunting, bird watching, nature study and gardening are everyday examples of conscious efforts on the part of successful adults to pass on to younger generations the skills they have acquired throughout a lifetime of participating in their chosen outdoor recreation and leisure time activity.

A classic example of the pass-it-on philosophy,has just been completed at the Courtenay and District Fish and Game Protective Association (CDFGPA). Every summer for the past six years the Vancouver Island Region of the British Columbia Wildlife Federation (BCWF) has joined forces with the CDFGPA and the Comox Valley Fly Fishers Club to put on a week-long Kids Camp for boys and girls between the age of 11 and 14 where they learn basic skills in archery, shooting and fly fishing.

The skills sections are enhanced with conservation lessons as in the trip to observe marmots on Mount Washington, life jacket skills, visit with a Conservation officer, an illustrated presentation from 442 Squadron on search and rescue and fun as in Cowboy Action. It is an action-filled week made possible by the donation of time from members of the above groups to help in making the busy schedule work.

The program is sponsored by individual fish and game associations picking up the costs of children who participate from throughout  the Island. It is worth noting that the instructors, cooks, chaperones and helpers are giving up prime fishing time to make the program work during this busy time of the year. It also has the support of business and manufacturing companies in the outdoor field.

The picture with the column is of the fly tying session: next year I will take time out from the fly tying to get pictures of the archery and shooting. This column would like to express appreciation and a special “Thank you” to the men and women members of the fish and game fraternity that make the program possible.

This weekend is the August long weekend that we celebrate locally with Comox Nautical Days in Comox. Of special interest to several hundred little people is the 28th annual Bullhead  Derby, which takes place at the Comox Government Wharf on Saturday, Aug. 2 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Check the participation rules for fishing and entry times. There are prizes galore and to save time I suggest you fill out the registration form from the Comox Valley Record in advance to register and save time in crowded lineups.

The Bullhead Derby is a catch-and-release derby with barbless hooks and every effort is made to keep the fish alive and well until they are released back into the harbour after the derby. For first-timers I suggest you use simple baits such as Berkley Power Baits, garden worms, pieces of raw bacon, muscles or clams if you can gather them. Lures will also work.

Most children use simple spinning outfits, but a small pole with a hook and line will work as indeed so will a simple hand-line with small weights to get the baited hook down to the bottom where the bullheads live.

On an average year there are usually about 500 anxious little anglers swarming over the wharf under the careful eye of grandparents, parents and family friends. It is a good idea to have the children wear a suitable life jacket. It is no small thing that literally thousands of recreational fishing careers have had their start at this derby over the past 28 years.

The theme running throughout this column is the idea of passing life skills from one generation to the next. Over the years I have watched many grandparents pass on the early skills of angling to enthusiastic young fishers. The children are our future – help them learn the life long recreation of fishing.

Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.


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