Learning the ropes

First Posted: 5/12/2015

NORTH ABINGTON TWP. — Mark Follmer, Benton, was one of the participants at a free Fly Fishing Introduction Course offered to the community by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission at Lackawanna State Park on May 9.

This course was designed to teach families the basics of fly fishing equipment, casting techniques and water skills.

Follmer has been fly fishing for two to three years and has taken other classes presented by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, including one last year with Allan Schreffler, Northeast Regional Education Specialist at Rickett’s Glen State Park.

“Sitting here to go through the knots again and again doesn’t hurt a bit,” he said. “Fly fishing (for me) is more of a challenge.”

Schreffler has been with the fish and boat commission for three years. His position covers 10 counties and he coordinates and facilitates educational programs involving fishing and boating.

Schreffler said he really enjoyed teaching this class.

“I think the participants get a lot of information and good instruction for free, which no one else will give you. This course is a great way to get a start on your way to becoming a fly angler,” he said.

He began the class at the park’s environmental education center where he offered tips on selecting a fly rod, reel, line and flies.

Afterwards, Schreffler taught folks how to properly grip the fly rod, the parts of an overhead cast and then worked with everyone individually to help them cast properly.

“After 20 minutes of work on casting, I had them tie on their flies and take their first cast on Lackawanna Lake. The bluegills were more than willing to bite on small black poppers and everyone had hits and hooked a fish,” he said. “When a fish was landed I showed how to properly handle a fish and release it unharmed.

After taking the course, Schreffler recommends folks go to a local fly shop for assistance in selecting a beginner’s rod and reel combo and a small selection of flies.

The introductory class is one of the programs offered through the fish and boat commission. A Family Fishing Festival is planned from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 27 at Frances Slocum State Park in Wyoming. Pre-registration is required and more information can be found online at gonefishingpa.com.

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