Carihi teacher Nicolas Pisterzi wears many hats.
He teaches English, he has an Aboriginal student support block and now, thanks to the support of the Campbell River School District and various members of the community, he gets to teach his “free-time” passion to kids, as well.
As of next school year, Pisterzi will have one official block of teaching kids fly fishing, stemming from a club he started up at the school that garnered amazing results.
“When I started up this little club at the school, people just started coming out of the woodwork giving us their stuff,” Pisterzi says. “They were giving us materials to tie flies, donating rods, reels, waders, you name it. And that, I guess, gave me the encouragement to keep going. I couldn’t have done this on my own, that’s for sure.”
So he approached his principal, and said, “the club is going pretty well, what would you think about a fly fishing course?”
He was encouraged to put it in the course book and see what happened. If he got enough interest, they could take it to the school district and ask for it to be approved.
“Long story short, I got like 30 or 40 kids sign up for one class of it next year. We’re more than maxed out.”
But despite the course’s name, it’s not about how to catch fish – though he’s hoping they do some of that.
Amongst the study of fly-tying and casting techniques, the kids will also be learning about salmon spawning cycles, their anatomy, the ecology of the environments in which they live, conservation practices and behaving ethically in their interactions with nature.
“I’d like to approach it in a holistic sense,” Pisterzi says. “Yes, the kids are learning casting and you have to learn to tie a fly or you’re going to spend a fortune at the store when it costs pennies to make your own. But I think it’s also important to talk about conservation and the respect for nature aspect. If we don’t take care of it, it won’t take care of us, after all.”
More than anything, though, Pisterzi just wants to help foster an appreciation for the natural world in the next generation.
“It’s majestic. It’s hard to explain how it feels to be out in a river with fish swimming by you, maybe an eagle soaring overhead, maybe a bear over there eating a fish it caught. It’s not about catching fish. Some of the best days out on the water are days you don’t catch anything at all. It’s about being out there and experiencing what nature has to offer.
“I think that’s paramount these days with technology taking over these kids’ lives,” he continues. “I see it every day. They have an addiction to their phones, so if I can in some way facilitate or cultivate something for them to do that’s away from technology and get them back to their roots, or whatever, then I think I’ve done my job, even if I haven’t taught them how to be amazing fishers.”
For more on the Carihi Fly Fishing Club, the upcoming course, ways to get involved – they’re always looking for more gear, experts to speak on various topics, that kind of thing – email Pisterzi at Nicolas.Pisterzi@sd72.bc.ca