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Matt Markey

Fly fishing comes to St. John’s

Academy to offer basic enrichment course for class credit

In Jan­u­ary, stu­dents at St. John’s Acad­emy will have the op­tion of add­ing fly fish­ing to a cur­ric­u­lum that in­cludes world stud­ies, the­ol­ogy, and Latin.

St. John’s Acad­emy is the first school in Ohio to take part in the "Na­tional Fish­ing in Schools Pro­gram" that teaches fly fish­ing as a reg­u­lar for-credit class. It will be of­fered as an “en­rich­ment” course at St. John’s, like band and choir.

“I saw this as an op­por­tu­nity to bring in some­thing new, and some­thing I see as hav­ing a lot of value,” said prin­ci­pal Bryon Borgelt, who will teach the fish­ing class next se­mes­ter. “We love do­ing cre­ative things, and this cer­tainly fits that de­scrip­tion.”

Borgelt re­ceived for­mal train­ing to be­come a cer­ti­fied in­struc­tor with the course on Mon­day from NFSP vol­un­teer Jeff Recker, who also gave about a dozen St. John’s Acad­emy stu­dents hands-on les­sons in some of the ba­sics of fly fish­ing in the aux­il­iary gym.

“It is great that they are giv­ing these stu­dents the op­por­tu­nity to learn the cor­rect method of fly cast­ing when they are young,” Recker said. “Adults are tougher to teach, be­cause they’ve usu­ally de­vel­oped bad hab­its. This pro­gram teaches a stan­dard­ized, step-by-step method that you can con­tin­u­ally re­in­force.”

Borgelt, who runs the fly fish­ing club at St. John’s High School and also di­rects a sum­mer fish­ing pro­gram for about 50 mid­dle school-aged stu­dents, said he plans to of­fer the course for sev­enth and eighth grad­ers next se­mes­ter, and has al­ready had about 15 stu­dents ex­press in­ter­est in tak­ing the fly fish­ing class.

“I learned on my own, and I spent years try­ing to fig­ure it out. I’ve been fly fish­ing for about 20 years, and I’m pretty im­pressed with what this course in­volves,” said Borgelt, who added that the fly fish­ing class could be added at the high school level in the fu­ture, if the in­ter­est level is pres­ent.

The cur­ric­u­lum is de­signed to pro­vide 10 classes of 50 min­utes in length, and the course kit and ma­teri­als St. John’s will pur­chase from NFSP in­cludes 10 com­plete fly rod and reel out­fits, cast­ing tar­gets, vi­sual aids, flies, lead­ers, fly-ty­ing ma­teri­als, and a large ban­ner that dis­plays the proper cast­ing tech­nique.

Borgelt said St. John’s will cover the ap­prox­i­mate $3,200 cost of the course, which in­cludes the in­struc­tor train­ing ses­sion and ac­cess to ad­di­tional ed­u­ca­tional ma­teri­als. St. John’s also has do­nated fly fish­ing equip­ment on hand, he said.

Recker said that in other states where the pro­gram has been in place lon­ger, such as Ten­nes­see and Vir­ginia, the state de­part­ment of nat­u­ral re­sources or the U.S. Fish & Wild­life Ser­vice has pro­vided grant money to cover the cost of the in­struc­tional kits.

“In Ohio, we don’t have the grant sup­port from ODNR yet, but I think they are just wait­ing to see how it works out,” he said. “We think the fund­ing will come along, and we hope to see the pro­gram grow dra­mat­i­cally here.”

The Univer­sity of Ala­bama held a train­ing ses­sion for course in­struc­tors re­cently and will add fly fish­ing as a re­quired class for all stu­dents ma­jor­ing in an out­doors-re­lated cur­ric­u­lum, Recker said.

“There’s a lot of in­ter­est be­cause we’re not just teach­ing kids to fish. They are learn­ing stew­ard­ship, con­ser­va­tion, ecol­ogy, and a re­spect for the out­doors at the same time,” he said.

The Na­tional Fish­ing in Schools Pro­gram is a Ne­braska-based non­profit that re­ceives fund­ing from the Recre­ational Boat­ing & Fish­ing Foun­da­tion and from pri­vate do­na­tions, ac­cord­ing to Recker, who is a tele­com­mu­ni­ca­tions worker from Ten­nes­see.

The Recre­ational Boat­ing & Fish­ing Foun­da­tion, a con­sor­tium of state and fed­eral nat­u­ral re­sources agen­cies, the fish­ing and boat­ing in­dus­try, and pub­lic in­ter­est groups, is funded by the Sport Fish Res­tora­tion Pro­gram cre­ated by the Din­g­ell-John­son Act of 1950. That leg­is­la­tion pro­vides grant money through the col­lec­tion of ex­cise taxes on fish­ing equip­ment, im­port du­ties on fish­ing tackle, yachts and plea­sure boats, and a por­tion of the gas­o­line tax at­trib­ut­able to mo­tor­boats and small en­gines.

Borgelt said he plans to take the stu­dents en­rolled in the St. John’s fly fish­ing course to area ponds to work on their skills, with out­ings to riv­ers in Ohio and Mich­i­gan also a pos­si­bil­ity.

“Once they have the ba­sics, ide­ally you want to get them out on a stream and let them have the full ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said.

His fly fish­ing club mem­bers from the high school have trav­eled to the Musk­egon and Au Sable riv­ers in Mich­i­gan on sum­mer trips, and re­cently vis­ited the Sun­ny­brook Trout Club near San­dusky. The school also has a drift boat for fish­ing out­ings.

“This is a great op­por­tu­nity for these younger guys to learn a sport they will be able to en­joy for a life­time,” said James Ste­phens, a St. John’s soph­o­more from Hol­land and a mem­ber of the school’s fly fish­ing club.

“You re­ally con­nect with na­ture when you’re fly fish­ing. You see that trout rise to take the fly, and then you feel its en­ergy and see the beauty of the fish in your hands. Fly fish­ing is an art, so why not teach it at school.”

Con­tact Blade out­doors ed­i­tor

Matt Mar­key at:


or 419-724-6068 .


SLUG: SPT fishingschool20p Date: 11/19//2012 Toledo Blade/ Amy E. Voigt Toledo, Ohio CAPTION: Jeff Recker, with the National Fishing in Schools Program, shows St. John's Jesuit student Keyaunte Jones, right, while Justin Skelding, left, watches during an introduction training session in the gym on November 19, 2012.

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