August 1st, 2005

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Eagle Village Fish-In
June 25th, 2005
Jack Hise, Evart, MI

I first learned of Glen Weavers flyfishing program at Eagle Village last winter when reading an issue of the Pine River Chapter of TU newsletter. Glen was teaching fly-casting to a large group of teenage girls with equipment donated by Scientific Anglers.

Eagle village was founded in 1968. Located on 683 acres in Hersey, MI., it has gained a national reputation for its leadership in Family-Centered Residential Treatment and Foster Care. It pioneered the use of Alternative Placement for young adult non-violent first offenders. The Village provides growth, love, support and treatment opportunities for young adults that had to be removed from their homes and communities due to behavior problems.

Glen has been a counselor at Eagle Village for several years. He is a member of the Pine River Chapter of TU and an ardent fly fisher.

Ironically and good friend of mine had just offered his farm pond for some sort of event this summer. 2 & 1/2 acres, spring fed, loaded with Blue Gills and nice size Bass with 3 acres of lawn to practice on.

Needless to say the light came on! I contacted Glen via e-mail and things were set in motion to take his students on a flyfishing outing in June. The Evart Moose Lodge #2452 would cover the expenses for a picnic lunch and help out with the supervision of the girls.

Glen and I visited the pond in late May and he loved it! Plenty of room for 24 new fly fishers, shade trees and picnic area. He even liked the narrow border of tall weeds surrounding the pond, as they would increase the degree of difficulty! The Date was set for June 25th beginning at 10 am. until the girls got tired .

I've served as a Junior Achievement advisor, to the top 10% of the class. I've also worked with the local 4H club, another group of goal oriented young people. Now I was dealing with a somewhat lost group of young people!

The weather forecast for Saturday was Hot, Humid and Hazy, the dreaded 3 "H's"! Four of us got there at 9 am. And began setting things up. We had laid in a good supply of bottled water, juices, ice, hot dogs, potato salad, etc.

Promptly at 10 am. The Big Blue Bus from Eagle Village arrived and unloaded 24 young ladies ages 12 to 17, 6 counselors, rods, reels, and more juice and water.

Glen had them rig up and do some casting practice on the lawn. For a couple of the new arrivals it was the very first time fishing much less using a fly rod. It was also the first time for some of the counselors so they joined in.

Glen came over and told me the kids really wanted to start fishing and if I thought it would be okay. "Turn 'em loose" was all I could say. You could tell by the way they kept looking at the pond that lawn practice was not getting it!

Fortunately Glen had divided them into teams of 3 rotating the rod after 2 fish. This made it a lot easier for us to work with the girls, as we would have been spread a little thin if they all fished at one time.

Glen had had them tie spiders in the days prior to the outing so each team tied one on and found a spot to start fishing.

That's when the fun began! Everyone began catching fish as well as weeds, themselves, and the owner's dog! All you could hear were squeals of delight and calls for help! "Mr. Hise, help, I've got a knot in my line"! "Mr. Weaver I'm caught in the weeds"! They had wind knots that brought tears to my eyes! They'd have themselves, the rod and the weeds included.

This was a very determined bunch and by noon, when we broke for lunch things had pretty much settled down to catching fish.

They hit the picnic lunch like a swarm of locusts. Al Eastman, from the Lodge had grilled 6 doz. Hotdogs for them and along with 10 lbs. of potato salad, chips and pickles they ate well. Ate well? There was not one hotdog left and only a spoonful of potato salad. Fortunately everyone was full including the adults. I think the dog did ok too!

After lunch it was apparent that some of the girls would rather sit in the shade and relax and there was no pressure on them to fish. This was an outing they had earned and the counselors wanted them to do just that relax. The dog joined them, he'd also learned the dangers abounding around the pond!

The rest spread out around the pond and continued fishing. By now the squeals of delight were more "I've got another one!" These girls were now seasoned Blue Gill fishermen. The counselors where getting into the action also and one of them caught her first fish ever and on a fly to boot!

I'd had my float tube out before lunch to show a different way to fly fish. After lunch one of the girls (about 12 or 13) asked if she could put on my waders and have her picture taken. She had not been very active and appeared somewhat disinterested in the whole thing. So of course I said yes. After she got my size 10 boot foots on I told her to get a rod and wade out from the small beach for a picture.

She did this with such ease that I told her to go ahead and catch some fish, which she did immediately! She had a great deal of trouble "catching" the reeds behind her but soon learned what it means to "Keep Thy Back Cast Upeth"! She was progressing so well that I called her ashore and gave her my 7' 3 wgt. To try out. (They were using 9' 6 wgt' s.) I'd rigged a hopper and she started slamming Gill's again!

When she tired and came in another 12 or 13 year old asked if she could try my waders. She also seemed to want no part of fishing and had just been hanging out at the beach watching. So, again, "Yes of course" (Ol' Softie). She waded out and you could tell she'd been watching because she started off well. She had quite a few strikes but no hookups so I told her to just wiggle the fly to make it look alive and sure enough she caught one!

By now it was 3:30 in the afternoon. I was worn out and burnt to a crisp, in our quest to see that everyone used sunscreen I forgot to use it! It was time to call it a day. The girls policed the area better that a squad of Army recruits! Broke down the rods and loaded everything into the "Big Blue Bus."

Amid a thousand "Thank you For everything" and hand shakes, Glen formed them into a circle and asked questions, "Did everyone have fun"? 100%. "Did everyone catch a fish"? 80%. "How many fish did you catch"? Some had lost track. "Anyone have any comments about today"?

My first wader (AKA "Stanley") stepped out and stated that she came because she had to and was not all that interested in flyfishing. But, Mr. Hise let me use his waders and helped me catch a lot of fish, then he let me use his rod and I caught more fish. I had a good time and learned a lot, I want to come back!

Glen then asked, "Did everyone have a good time?" Everyone but my second wader raised her hand. Glen then asked, "Who absolutely detested being here today"? My second wader was the only one to raise her hand! Glen asked her "WHY"?

She emphatically answered "I hate the outdoors, when I leave Eagle Village I'll never go outside unless I have to!" {Eagle Village encourages the kids to open up and speak their mind so this response was ok.}

Glen then asked, "Who wants to come back"? All hands went up even "I hate the outdoors!" Glen and I were both take aback by this and Glen asked her "I thought you hated it here?"

Her response, "I'll come back to see Mr. Jack."

Glen turned to me with a grin and said, "How does it feel to have that much power?"

Her response had pretty much left me speechless, so all I could do was grin back; I had this thing in my throat! They all loaded up in the Big Blue Bus, waving and shouting "Thank You" as they headed back to Eagle Village.

I was the last one to leave the pond. As I sat on the picnic table with a cold bottle of water (yes, water) reviewing the greatest day of flyfishing I've ever had it suddenly struck me! The pond had changed too! Not just the additional memories it now holds. But it was too darn quiet!

I think a second outing this fall would be in order. These young ladies are going to be the next 10%. ~ Jack


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