Conservation camp teaches teens fishing skills, etiquette


Beck Chickillo, of Dalton, practices casting his fly line.

Kevin Conrad, of Scranton, works on his fly tying at the Trout Unlimited Teens Conservation Camp at Keystone College.

Veteran fly tier Ron Kozlowski, owner of Ron’s Flies in Nicholson, demonstrates fly tying.

Veteran fly tier Ron Kozlowski, owner of Ron’s Flies in Nicholson, demonstrates fly tying.

Beau Huey of Muir, of Schuylkill County, practices fly tying.

LA PLUME — Aspiring fishermen learned more than how to reel in a big catch during the Keystone College/Trout Unlimited Teens Conservation Camp June 14-20 on the Keystone College campus.

Teenagers, ranging in age from 14-17, were schooled in a variety of topics, including ichthyology, the study of fish, and stormwater runoff.

“There is a two-pronged approach to the camp,” said Charles Charlesworth, president of the Lackawanna Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited. “The first is the art of fly fishing itself, but secondly, and probably even more important, is the science- based information that comes with fly fishing. The campers are coming out of here with an appreciation that if they want to continue fishing, they better do something about the environment. They had classes in water quality, entomology, aquatic insect life and macro-invertebrate studies. There is a lot of science involved with fly fishing.”

Mike Kashuba, of Trout Unlimited, who helped the teens learn proper casting techniques, was proud of their development throughout the week.

“Some of them are more enthusiastic than others, but they’re catching onto it,” he said. “Most of them would be component enough to go out into a small stream. Some of them have caught fish this week in the Tunkhannock Creek.”

According to Kashuba, the camp taught lessons the teens can utilize for many years to come.

“They developed an interest in fly casting, which I think is one of the nicest ways to fish,” he said. “It’s a lifetime sport. It’s not like baseball, football or hockey where you get too old to play. I’m 73 and I’m still doing it. My father was still doing it into his late 80s. They’re also getting an appreciation for the ecology of the stream, conservation and entomology.”

Julian Koch, 14, of Clarks Summit, enjoyed learning about invertebrates.

“It taught us what types of flies to use to catch trout and where to catch them in the streams,” Koch said. “I like trying to find the pools where the fish are (laying) in the streams.”

Kento Matsui, 15, of Ransom Township, developed a knack for fly tying.

“So far, I’ve enjoyed fly tying the most,” he said. “It’s fun to do and it’s probably the thing I’m best at here. I think I might get a tying kit because I enjoy that a lot.”

Matsui also enjoyed making new friends from near and far.

“I met people from all around,” he said. “There are kids from Virginia, Maryland and Sweden. I’ve just met a lot of new people coming here.”

Brady Brust, 13, of Clarks Summit was thankful for the opportunity to participate in the camp and learn from experts on the topics. He gained a better understanding of the effect littering has on the water supply.

“I didn’t know how much this area has polluted the Lackawanna River from all the coal mining,” he said. “Also, before the sewage treatment plants, we dumped our waste in the water and it almost died because of it. Luckily, we brought it back and now it’s Class A trout water.”

Charlesworth brought in professors from Marywood University, Keystone College and East Stroudsburg University as well as representatives from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and Trout Unlimited to serve as instructors.

“One professor, Dr. (Jerry) Skinner, of Keystone College, who was teaching the ichthyology class, mentioned the answers the teens gave to his questions were better than (those of) some of the college students.”

Campers also received a real-life look at how the professionals got their start in the field.

“We asked every instructor to take 10 minutes at the end of the class to explain how they got their job and to explain their career path,” Charlesworth said.

The camp organizers stressed the important of protecting the habitat.

“We did a conservation project on the river and they cleaned up refuse that’s been there for some time,” Charlesworth said.

According to Charlesworth, four members of the Keystone College Fly Fishing Club helped out throughout the week as house parents for the campers.

“Thank goodness for Keystone College,” Charlesworth said. “They are behind us 100 percent. We already signed an agreement to do the camp again next year.”

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