Participants get to sample fly fishing at Ballinger Park event

Fly Fishers International welcomed guests of all ages at Ballinger Park and the Mickey Corso Community Club House.

Fly Fishers International Washington State Council gave an all-ages fly casting and tying lesson at Lake Ballinger Park and the Mickey Corso Community Club House Saturday, May 4.

Fourteen certified professional fly-fishing teachers gathered under gray skies on May 4 to share their love and knowledge of the sport while nimble-fingered master class fly tyers gave lessons in the clubhouse.

Jim Anderson and Ron Olsen of Fly Fishers International were only two of the expert fly fishermen at Ballinger Park who passed their knowledge on to guests.

As the students practice their casts, the neon-colored fishing line shows the shapes and paths of different casting techniques. Rather than flies with hooks, yarn that mimics the weight is attached to the end of their lines. However, you still don’t want to get hit by the whip-like filament.

Instructor Ron Olsen said you should always wear glasses and a brimmed hat when fishing to protect yourself from an airborne hook.

Marks on the ground serve as targets to land the fly.

Olsen and fellow instructor Jim Anderson explained some differences between bait and fly fishing.

With bait fishing, you use weights that help the bait sink where fish can find it and help cast the line out into the water. However, fly fishing only uses the weight of the fishing line for momentum, making the caster more dependent on skill than simple physics.

“Once you start fly fishing, you won’t go back to bait,” Anderson said.

Master class fly tyers Vern Jeremica, Jim Beck and Chuck Ballard show off their skills at the Mickey Corso Community Club House.
Vern Jeremica uses a lighted magnifying glass to get precise windings on this fly.

Inside the clubhouse, Jim Maus and Jim Goedhat helped guests get set up for fly-making classes with master class fly tyers Vern Jeremica, Jim Beck and Chuck Ballard.

Maus explained that entomology is very important for fly fishing, as hooks are made to emulate the fish’s preferred food. That’s why entomology is  taught at the Northwest Youth Conservation Fly Fishing Academy.

Jim Beck forgoes magnifying glasses for his fly tying and uses only a jig.
Jim Maus and Jim Goedhat present information on the Northwest Youth Conservation and Fly Fishing Academy.

Maus and Goedhat explained that the academy is a summer camp that teaches – in addition to entomology – conservation and proper fishing techniques. The operational cost is about $2,000 per camper. However, donations help keep costs to $500 per student.

“Don’t let the price scare you away,” Maus said. “We have scholarships to help with costs.”

The campers get to keep not only  their fly-fishing education but also a pole, reel, and sling bag with tools and extra flies.

Fly Fishers International Washington State Council is a nonprofit organization established in 1965. To find out more, click here.

— Story and photos by Rick Sinnett

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