Youngsville students go to school to catch a fish

Times Observer photo by Josh CottonAbove, Nathynn Rougeux cast during his Outdoor Adventures class on Thursday on the Brokenstraw Creek behind Youngsville High School.

Outdoor Adventures may just be a .5-credit elective course at Youngsville High School.

But, this semester, it has included the finest fly fishing instruction around.

And the instruction moved to the Brokenstraw Creek on Thursday morning.

The creek was fairly high and pretty muddy so the fishing was tough.

But getting on the water was just one of the elements of the instruction that Gary Kell — aka The Fly Fishing Coach — and the Cornplanter Chapter of Trout Unlimited brought the students.

Gary Kell helps Savannah Upton roll cast a black wooly bugger out into the Brokenstraw Creek on Thursday. The fishing was part of an Outdoor Adventures class at Youngsville High School.

“I teach YHS Outdoor Adventures class and last year several students expressed an interest in fishing,” Holly Burt said. “We have the Brokenstraw Creek in our backyard, but no fishing equipment to learn on.”

She also doesn’t fish.

So Burt began looking into who might be able to bring that kind of instruction.

Gary Kell happened to be at YHS for another science class.

“I happened to be in the gym, we met, connected and scheduled,” Burt said. “I found out he is a Master Certified Fly Fish Instructor who not only was willing to share his passion and demonstrate the basics but had fly fishing equipment to allow my students to actively learn and practice the skills needed to start fishing.”

So Kell and some other Trout Unlimited members taught the class but also helped Burt with instruction.

“The class learned and practiced several casts and knots, trout identification and their life cycle, trout habitat needs, where fish live or lie in a stream, aquatic insect identification, as well as imitation flies,” Burt said. “Each student made an imitation fly to take home, learned about personal safety, fishing equipment, fishing strategies, and fishing ethics.”

Kell said he and some other volunteers came into the classroom about six times to each.

That set the stage for Thursday when Kell and Gary Finger got the kids out on the water.

“This will be fun for them,” Kell said.

“My students and I are extremely grateful to Mr. Kell and several members of Trout Unlimited who graciously gave their time to share their expertise with us,” Burt said. “I plan to make YHS a Fish in the School Program which aligns fly fishing instruction with National and Pennsylvania Physical Education Standards.”

That will require some funding but Burt said the program would “provide all the necessary equipment, curriculum, and professional development for me to get students fly fishing. The plan is for me to start the students out. Mr. Kell and members of Trout Unlimited will then expand on student’s skill, and end the unit with a field day fishing on the water.”

“We would love to help her implement,” that program, Kell said.

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