“Amazing” is truly an understatement to describe my week-long experience at Rivercourse.
The main reason I wanted to go to Rivercourse was to learn more about fly fishing and hone my current skills. I was absolutely shocked at just how much I learned about conservation education, entomology, falconry, Hellbenders and so much more.
The day that I arrived, I was one of the volunteers to help stock the river. Seeing the fish go into the river made me anticipate catching them even more. That was so much fun, but I did end up smelling like fish at the end of the day which was to be expected.
During the week, we campers were doing an entomology presentation. Part of the presentation was to gather bugs from the river in groups of three. One person held the net in the water while my partner and I turned over rocks and brushed the small creatures into the net. We then dumped out the net and collected the bugs in a container for microscopic examination. I found that absolutely fascinating.
While at camp we took a tour of the Pisgah Center Fish Hatchery. We got to see different stages of fish growth and had the opportunity to feed them. That day, we also took a tour of the Pisagh Ranger Station and watched a short film on Hellbenders and their home in The Davidson River. I learned how detrimental moving rocks in rivers can be and destructive it is to their habitat. It really made me more aware of what to do and not to do while enjoying time in rivers. We also learned about silt, pollution, and how not being conscientious of your local rivers can kill future fish generations and life in rivers.
Coming back to camp that day we had an hour of free time. Most kids played Frisbee or just hung around. But I'm not most kids. I wanted to fish all I could while I was there, and since the camp was on a lake and I heard someone saying that a big Largemouth bass hangs around the dock, I wasn't going to miss an opportunity to hook a bucketmouth. My friend loaned me his 4 weight rod, I tied on a sparkle minnow fly and cast near the dock.
A few casts and strips later, my fly disappeared. I set the hook and within seconds my reel was screaming! All of the sudden my fish just stopped swimming. I realized the bass wrapped me around a fallen tree in the lake. I could feel the line rubbing on the tree and knew it was fraying. I told my friend that was with me of the situation I was in and he instantly started taking off his shoes, hat and sunglasses, willing to dive in after this fish. But before he took a swim, I miraculously untangled the line and reeled in this fish. Boy was he ever huge, my biggest bass to date. That was probably my favorite thing that happened at camp.
The last day of camp we had a tournament, testing all that we learned during the week. We were paired into groups of two and could only use flies we tied with the materials provided by the camp. Once my partner and I, Connor tied our flies we ran down to the field for our casting qualification. We both passed and then began fishing. In order for our points to count, we each had to catch a fish. Even though weren't getting any bites, I still managed to catch a rainbow trout the last ten minutes of fishing. Unfortunately, Connor didn't catch anything, but it wasn't about winning. The purpose of this was to test knowledge, partner communication, and personal fishing skills.
Some of the most educational things I've ever learned were taught by the wonderful people that came in and shared their knowledge with us. With everything I've said, I would like to give a big thank you to Trout Unlimited and every person that helped my Rivercourse possible. I genuinely thank you from the bottom of my heart, and this experience has changed my life.