The Pemigewassett Chapter of Trout Unlimited (in New Hampshire) started the First Cast program with Boy Scoutmaster Paul Piscitelli and about eight boys from the Campton/Thornton, NH Boy Scout Troop #58, and Scoutmaster Mark Decoteau and five scouts from Waterville Valley’s Troop #56.
TU members provided sponsorship and direct instructional support to the program. Steve Hackett organized and led a group of counselors in instructing the scouts, including Angel Carrillo, Todd Baldwin, Richie Bernard (a licensed Orvis guide & certified merit badge examiner), Boni Gross, Joyce Hackett, Carl Lehner, Mike Maxwell, Dick Secord (a certified fly casting instructor), Allen Tailby and myself, a certified merit badge examiner.
The fly fishing equipment was provided by the TU membership and the Waterville Valley Recreation Department, additional gear was generously donated by LL Bean and Cabelas.
The First Cast curriculum included hands-on instruction in fly-tying, fly-casting, knots, reading the water, aquatic and terrestrial insect life, sportsmanship, ethics, safety, conservation and other related topics. Field trips to a river and a pond provided the scouts an opportunity to apply the skills they learned in the class room.
Several boys went on to earn a fly-fishing Merit badge. The scouts easily filled the first nine items of their certifying Blue Card; 1-first aid, 2-build a matched fly-rod outfit, 3-knots, 4-types of flies, 5-fly casting, 6-observe insect life, 7-conservation, 8-fishing rules and regulations, and 9-sportsmanship. A few went on to earn their merit badge by actually catching, cleaning and cooking a trout on a fly, completing item 10 on the Blue Card.
I enjoyed working with the scoutmasters, parents and a group of interested, enthusiastic and well-behaved Boy Scouts. I especially enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity (and I am sure I speak for all the other mentors) to pass on my love of the outdoors, that just happen to include fly-fishing, to the next generation.
If you have a youth group or any other group in New Hampshire that would like to learn to fly fish, contact Steve Hackett at 603-726-4797.