Grand Lake teen hooked by fly fishing camp
July 9, 2008
A Grand Lake teenager recently got the fishing experience of his life through a camp sponsored by Colorado Trout Unlimited (CTU).
Sixteen-year-old Adam Benson, a junior at Middle Park High School, took part in the CTU River Conservation and Fly Fishing Youth Camp at the Peace Ranch near Basalt from June 8-13. The camp was conducted on the Roaring Fork River.
Benson was among the 23 high school students, ages 14-18, chosen to participate in the camp.
“It was tons of fun and I learned a lot, much more than just sitting in a classroom,” Benson said. “I understand much more about what it takes for fish to survive in our streams and rivers, and the impact humans can have on their habitat. And I also learned how to be a much better fly-fisherman.”
Taught by experts from CTU, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Forest Service, the camp’s classes covered a full gamut of subjects including: principles of ecology, hydrogeology, aquatic vertebrate and invertebrate sampling, hydrology, trout behavior, trout stream entomology, the biology of pollution, acid deposition, and the politics of conservation in the Rocky Mountains.
To more fully understand the scientific side of these topics, the students literally dove into their study of river ecology by going snorkeling in a tributary stream of the Roaring Fork River.
“We snorkeled to see the fish swimming in the river and the bugs they eat to survive,” Benson said. “It was really cool seeing the trout and the stoneflies and mayflies in their natural environment. I’ve got a better sense on what’s needed for a healthy trout habitat.”
The students also participated in “electro-fishing” by using nine-volt devices to temporarily stun fish in a stream as part of a scientific study of fish populations. In addition, they visited the Crystal River Fish Hatchery, where Whirling Disease-resistant fish are being developed.
While the academic side of the CTU camp was stressed, the campers also got to do what many of them, including Benson, love to do ” go fishing.
The camp offered hands-on classes such as fly tying, fly casting, streamside ethics, angling literature, streamside botany, wader safety and survival, and the evolution of an angler.
“I’d always fished a lot, but my fly-fishing ability was lacking,” Benson said. “This camp really helped me a lot. Since I’ve been back, fly-fishing is all that my fishing buddy Collin Papuga and I do, except when we go deep-water fishing.”
Papuga, who went to the CTU camp last year, is the one who got Benson interested and encouraged him to write the essay that is part of the selection process for the camp. His essay also earned him a scholarship to the camp.
“Collin told me ‘You’ve got to go to this camp. It’s great.’ And he was right,” Benson said.
Benson also expressed his thanks to Scott Linn, president of the Grand County chapter of Colorado Trout Unlimited, for the chapter’s support.