Last week I joined Wally Nowak and several members of the Comox Fly Fishers who were spending their mornings at the BCWF Vancouver Island Zone Kids Camp at the Courtenay and District Fish and Game Protective Association (CDFGPA) where they were teaching the skills of fly tying and casting to children.
Wally is an internationally known fly fisher and fly tier who lives in the Valley and donates much of his time to helping children learn the skills of fly fishing. It was gratifying to see these young people quickly learn the skills needed to tie this pattern. During the morning the children were also taught the rudimentary skills of fly casting and then fishing in the pond.
Each combined session was three hours and at the end of the session it was a push to get them away from their newly acquired fly tying skill to break for lunch. Throughout the week the camp also gives skill developing programs in archery, skeet shooting, survival, how to start a fire with a flint and other outdoor skills.
A special Tip of the hat and thank-you to all members of the Comox Valley Fly Fishers Club and fish and game clubs from throughout the Island that made this program an outstanding success. (The Ladysmith club had eight members manning the kitchen and chaperoning). The only concerns I heard expressed were that it should last longer and that it would be nice if more children could take part in the experience.
John Shepherd of the CDFGPA and Ted Brookman of the Island Zone can be proud of this program that has great potential for expansion. It is a classic case of the passage of skills from older generations to the new.
The 25th annual Nautical Days Bullhead Derby takes place tomorrow starting at 8:30 a.m. at the Comox Government Wharf. I find this derby one of the most exciting children’s fishing events that I have observed over the years.
Hundreds of little people will be swarming over the wharf, being guided by parents, grandparents and family friends. Life jackets are recommended to be worn by all children taking part in this event for safety when moving around a crowded wharf. The objectives are simple – try to catch a bullhead, preferably a big one that may win a prize. One of the strengths of the derby is the generous distribution of small prizes to virtually all of the children that catch a bullhead or other qualifying species.
It is important to fill out the registration form at the First Insurance booth starting at 8:30 a.m. Fill out the the pre-registration forms in the Record and avoid a lineup by simply passing the completed form to the people at the booth. There are many prizes to be awarded based on the luck of the draw as well as the various category winners.
It is a catch-and-release event where all of the fish caught are released into a holding pond after being measured at the official recording booth which is manned by Comox Valley Record staff. All a child needs to participate in the derby is the simplest of rods, small bait hooks, small weights, worms or other suitable bait.
I believe it is paramount to emphasize this is a children’s festival and there are many things to do, of which the derby is one. Participation in the derby must be a fun event for the children, not a contest about who can catch the most or biggest. A special thank-you to the sponsors of the derby, your support is special.
Many life-long fishing journeys have began at this derby and I am certain this year will contribute to the launching of many more recreational fishing careers. I am coming up on close to 80 years in my own fishing journey and aside from a few small changes it is still an exciting passion.
In the spirit of nurturing and creating recreational fishing careers there are two days left in the holiday weekend and all the month of August to advance the fishing careers of these budding anglers. Out of the events of the past two weeks we could create a Recreational Fishing Renaissance of lifelong journeys.
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In last week’s column Constitution Hill was incorrectly called Centennial Hill. Thanks to an alert reader for noticing.
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.