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Democrat Photo by Ted Waddell

KENNY RHODES, A 15-year-old Sullivan West sophomore closely examines a tye.

Fly-Casting School
Comes to SW High

By Ted Waddell
LAKE HUNTINGTON — June 7, 2005 – Summer is a great time to go fishing.
So at the end of the 2004-2005 school year, a couple of Sullivan West Central School physical education teachers teamed up to teach about 100 students in grades 9-12 all about fly casting, fly tying and a bit about the spirit of ‘catch and release’ fishing.
Last year, SW instructor Dr. Lynda Bracken attended an annual national phys. ed. teacher conference and came back fired up with ideas to add new things to the high school’s phys. ed. program.
“I like to do different things with my students, because not everybody is interested in team sports,” she said.
While at the conference, Bracken attended several teacher workshops, including: “Spincasting & Conservation” with Doug Darr, aquatic education coordinator, Alabama Division of Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries and Mark Stephens, Project FISH of Michigan State University; “Fly Fishing” by Matt Wilhelm, education coordinator of the Federation of Fly Fishers from Boseman, Montana; and “Fly Tying” by Charlie Mann of Winthrop, Maine.
Armed with a $4,500 grant from the Future Fisherman Foundation (FFF), the SW district purchased rods, reels and fly tying equipment. Students started the first week of their fly fishing program by learning how to tie knots needed to lure fish onto a hook or strike a fly, load fly reels and a bit about casting. During the second week, they learned how to tie their own flies.
“This is a very big area for flyfishing,” Bracken said of the Catskill waters, known as the birthplace of American flyfishing.
“While learning about the art of fly fishing, the students also learned about fish habitat and behavior, thus learning about issues that affect fish and the environment,” she added. “It will help make them aware of the impact mankind has on the environment and learn to become custodians of the world around them.”
Although Bracken doesn’t count herself among the ranks of serious anglers, she said fellow SW phys. ed. instructor Joe Ebeling is “an avid fisherman… he’s fishing all the time.”
“But now I’m to get a pole and go fishing,” Bracken said.

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