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Coldwater Conservation News

The Lollapalooza of Fly Fishing

by Jacqueline Law   |  September 22nd, 2016 0
Lollapalooza of Fly Fishing

Eddie Bauer guide Michael Pepi shows hipcampsters the subtle art of fly tying.

The story of a fly-fishing Hipcamp at Clear Creek, California

I’m  a senior majoring in biology at Millersville University, in Pennsylvania, and fishing probably is a big part of the reason I’m so interested in ecology and especially freshwater ecosystems. I live along the Yellow Breeches creek which is a historic and fertile trout stream and as soon as I could hold a rod in my hand, my dad had me out  fishing. As long as I can remember, I’ve always loved fishing; as long as I’m on the water, one with nature, enjoying the outdoors, I’m content.

I love it so much in fact, that it’s concerning for me to see that where I usually fish, there aren’t that many other twenty-somethings out on the water. I like Netflix and cell phones as much as any college-age female, but fishing (and especially fly fishing) is my little piece of heaven, and I always thought it’d be cool to convince my peers to at least give it a try.

It seems as though the people at Eddie Bauer feel exactly the same way I do, and this summer helped open doors to the fly-fishing world through a weekend fly-fishing “Hipcamp”  at Clear Creek Ranch, California. (Part of the HipCamp/Eddie Bauer CampOut Series.)

Yes, we got to fish in sparkling clear waters (and swim when our fishing session was over), learn to cast from Eddie Bauer pro Michael Pepi, learn ecology and ethics from naturalist Charles Post, but most importantly we got to hang out with other like-minded young people who are also learning to  love and to share in this all-encompassing outdoor experience. What I took away from this outing will travel with me throughout my life with everlasting memories I’ll treasure forever. Like a fish you release and watch swim away, these are new friends I’ll probably never see again but always remember.

Charles Post was the local ecologist and resident expert in fly fishing; he jumpstarted our weekend by addressing issues specifically relating to the environment and ecology. Lots of people can help you catch fish, but this philosopher took us deeper and helped us answer why and how we could do it ethically, and how it could help us be better stewards of our environment. He showed us that every fly fisher from the fledging neophytes  to experts, they must all pay close attention to what they observe  in nature nature and embrace it by leaving it in better condition than we found it. it was eye-opening from many of the hipcampers to discover that we’re all on the same learning curve, and catching trout is just a part of the journey.

Lollapalooza of Fly Fishing

Naturalist Charles Post was on hand to teach ecology and the ethics of responsible angling.

After philosophy came the actual mechanics of casting a line with a fly. This pedagogy was imparted to us by a man associated with Eddie Bauer guide Michael Pepi, who schooled us in tying flies and the clandestine, cloak-and-dagger art of the ever elusive perfect cast. He made it look to effortless and easy but that is the art of a true educator.

I did pretty well with it because I wasn’t starting from scratch, but it was a judgement free atmosphere and the group setting made learning easy. Watching some of the other campers get tips on a proper backcast or on how to hold the rod helped us all, and Pepi was a fountain of knowledge.

What I took away:

  • Enjoy the environment leaving it better than you found it
  • Resources are finite; catch-and-release for the next person to experience
  • Be a friend, bring a friend into this sport
  • Treat others on the water as youwish to be treated
  • Don’t be afraid to always learn as much as you possibly can
  • Relax, enjoy and go with the flow

There is an old saying that, “It’s a wise man who knows he’s not.” I came away from Eddie Bauer’s Hipcamp with the knowledge that I will never  know everything about trout or fly fishing; but that is the absolute beauty of it. These waters are deep and beautiful.  I will always be trying to digest, master and ascertain the never-ending pursuit of tying the perfect fly or by trying to land the perfect catch.


Lollapalooza of Fly Fishing

After the fishing sessions, campers took advantage of the cool, clean waters of Clear Creek.

Jacqueline Law was an intern for Fly Fisherman magazine in the summer of 2016.



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