In a strengthened partnership this year with the Atlantic Salmon Museum out of Doaktown, MSA is happy to report that this year’s 9th Annual First Cast program on June 29th thru the 30th was exceptional! What made this two-day, free-to-the-public, event so much fun was having the attendance of such an inquisitive group of young people with equally interested mentors. It made our Saturday at the Museum, and actual fly fishing at a private camp on Sunday in Blackville, great fun.
Big shout-out goes to the Miramichi Big Brothers-Big Sisters/Boys & Girls Club for sending us such an outstanding group of 11 attendees, which included 2 truly exceptional, ever so capable young adult staff. It made our program ever so rewarding! Thank you to the mother from Fredericton with her son & daughter, and the grandfather from Moncton with his ever eager-to-learn grandson.
We acknowledge our mission all these years has been to introduce attendees to the wonders of the Miramichi River. We frame that mission by breaking down a simplistic approach to fly fish, based on MSA’s passion to conserve Atlantic salmon. This year, in addition to our presentation on conservation, river fishing etiquette, touring the fabulous Atlantic Salmon Museum and receiving personal one-on-one instruction on fly casting, we took a slightly different, yet vital approach with our kids. We took the time, personally, to engage each apprentice to discover “What makes our kids tick?” when they come to the river.
Responses ranged from wanting to learn how to fly fish for salmon, yes, but more commonly, it was how much they enjoyed collecting rocks, swimming in the river, bird watching, collecting wild flowers, star gazing, and, happily, how much they despised seeing litter along the river. This, for us long-time volunteers with First Cast MSA, marks a breakthrough for our program. It proves that ALL OF US, have a sure-fire way to actuate drawing kids to fly fish. It is so simple! Give our time as often as possible, by genuinely engaging with our youth to discover what they feel gives them joy or curiosity to be on the river, any river, when they accompany us to fly fish. Utilize that critical “hook”, and spend time with the kids to do what they enjoy, while at the same time introducing them to fly fish in the company of us mentors. We fly fish, we collect rocks, we gaze at stars, we identify wild flowers, we watch birds, we study clouds. In essence, we weld happy bonds. It is the winning way that motivates multiple return visits to the river, so mentors and apprentices are motivated to repeat the fun.
Our First Cast kids always seem to come to us with something special inside them that makes them inquisitive to be part of the Miramichi River experience. It then becomes essential for us mentors to identify “the hooks” so we can better access and experience our world on the river with and through the joyful minds of childhood. Honestly, it invigorates the whole experience of fly fishing Atlantic salmon. In addition, the joy truly is felt by all of us MSA mentors while we spend time on the river, any river, with our kids. In fact, it is the kids who may well end up opening our eyes to what matters most on the river!
Thank you to the Atlantic Salmon Museum for providing all attendees an outstanding lunch and ice cream cones on Saturday. How great is it too that the Museum has agreed to house our program fishing equipment, which makes it more centrally available, in the future, for graduates of First Cast, and local fishing clubs to borrow in a responsible manner. Thank you to all our stalwart volunteers: Hilary Howes, Vin Swazey, Roger Earle, Andy Dumaine, and the irrepressible Constable Dewey Gillespie, who arranged for our use of his neighbor’s camp. Its oversized screened porch served us well on Sunday to enjoy lunch prepared by Denise Valeri.
Program Moderator, Paul Valeri, promises to repeat “the expedition” to collect rocks along the river bank during our 10th Annual First Cast MSA program, tentatively scheduled for June 27th –28th, 2020.