“Not So” Fly for a White Guy

Playing off of my limited knowledge of 90’s rock music, I can assure you, that after my trip to Missoula, I am Pretty Not So Fly for a White Guy!. Although I didn’t catch my 18″ trout, I had hoped for, I did find myself stacking up some numbers when it came to counting my catch!

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As you may have read in my earlier blog, WKU Fly Fishing: A Visit to Missoula, MT, I recently participated in an experiential learning excursion with the WKU Fly Fishing group, led by Professor Raymond Poff, from WKU’s Recreation Administration program. This was the fifth trip to Montana that Poff has led at WKU, and let me say, what a remarkable time we had on the river!

WKU Fly Fishing Group at the Missoulian Angler Fly Shop in Missoula, MT.
WKU Fly Fishing Group at the Missoulian Angler Fly Shop in Missoula, MT.

I have been off of the beautiful Big Blackfoot River now for a little over a week and I am starting to get back into the rigor of my everyday schedule that I left behind when I headed out on this five-day trip to Missoula, MT. With our cell phones tucked away for 12 hours a day, the only schedule we followed was that of our anglers from the Missoulian Angler Fly Shop, who guided our time on the waters. Their skill, patience and direction created a better-than-textbook instruction for the sport.

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There is something to say about the stillness of the waters and the prowess to the sport of fly fishing. The landscape of the Big Blackfoot River created a beautiful backdrop to the lesson plan for the day. As author Norman Maclean wrote in the book, “A River Runs Through It”;

‘One great thing about fly fishing, is that after a while nothing exists of the world but thoughts about fly fishing.’

And that was entirely true on this trip. The environment created an opportunity for precision focus on the subject matter. I remember back to the tutorials I read, the videos I watched, and the instruction I received from Poff on South Lawn, about the techniques of fly fishing, just prior to this trip. This trip allowed for the summation of those parts, to put all of that into practice.

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I have been a huge proponent for promoting experiential learning opportunities for our students, as I strongly feel that this method of instruction results in enhanced student learning and seamless transition into the workforce. This trip provided an excellent hands-on experience where the classroom instruction came to life on the water. It was a great opportunity to see the students thrive on the waters after weeks of instruction on dry land.

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After a long day on the river, we would all gather for dinner and reminisce of our day on the waters. I loved hearing the students sharing of their challenges and their catches. To hear their stories of practice on dry land and the difference it made once on the water. We compared flies, rods, fish species, anglers, temperatures, wildlife and knowledge.

Although I did not hit my goal of luring in a beautiful trout over 18 inches in length, I did find success in the many trout I did catch. With each fish, a victory was made and a new goal set. As with life, and as a visionary, this experience gave me a holistic sight of how this one, small experiential learning opportunity is paving the future for CHHS.

Until next time,

neale