Carihi’s fly fishing program has had a successful first semester as a full-fledged course.
The program, previously an after school club guided by Carihi teacher Nicholas Pisterzi, took off in September as an elective course occurring within the timetable.
“[This program] is growing and has grown since it started,” says Pisterzi. “I feel very lucky to teach it and like it’s something very unique that [Carihi] has offered.”
The course has been offered to students of all ages and levels of experience, and is designed to teach students to form a connection with their environment through fly fishing while being safe and respectful.
“I think a lot of people enjoyed it [because] they didn’t have to be in a brick-and-mortar all the time,” says Pisterzi. “We go out, visit the rivers, catch fish, [and] have a good time. I would teach some techniques along the way, or [we would have] people come in [to the class] or go out with us, we really built a community.”
Fly fishing is a skill-based course, and students learn a variety of fishing skills, such as fly tying, casting techniques, knot tying and fish identification.
“I knew nothing [about fly fishing] at all,” says Fiona Nobles, a Grade 9 student and enthusiastic fly fisher. “I didn’t even know it was a thing! But I’ve gone from that to being able to actually cast and tie my own flies.”
One of the major focuses of last semester’s fly fishing course was environmental conservation, and the class spent one afternoon picking up 20 bags worth of garbage.
“My favourite part of the course was learning about how our waste makes its way to the ocean, how it comes back to us,” says Nobles.
The fly fishing program at Carihi has formed many partnerships in Campbell River with organizations including Greenways Land Trust, the City of Campbell River, and, of course, School District 72.
“We partnered up with [Greenways] and did things like streamkeeping. We borrowed gear from the City of Campbell River the school district kicked in money for gear and equipment,’ says Pisterzi. “We’ve been very fortunate with our sponsors and are really grateful for their help.”
One of the biggest challenges that the course has had in getting off the ground is accessing enough gear for all students.
“What you would fish with for salmon, you wouldn’t [use for] different species,” says Pisterzi. “[We’re] fortunate to have sponsors, [but] there is still a gap between the student need and what we have.”
Pisterzi hopes that future fly fishing courses will run twice a year, with the first semester (autumn) focusing on salmon fishing and the second semester (spring) on trout fishing.
“It’s [evolving] and progressing,” says Pisterzi. “It has been a real pleasure to teach.”