The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 16 No. 2 - November 11, 2015

reel time

Teach-a-kid fishing clinic a big success

Reel time

rusty chinnis | sun

Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers Past President Evan Jones demonstrates
the basics of fly casting during Saturday’s Clinic



On Saturday, November 8, over 120 children, parents, friends and family attended Mote’s Teach-A-Kid Fishing Clinic held at the Mote Aquaculture Park. Kids from 5-16 attended and were treated to an introduction to many facets of the fishing experience including different fishing techniques, sun and water safety, and advanced fishing techniques including ethical angling which taught them proper handling and release techniques. At different stations the participants were broken up into groups where they had approximately twenty minutes of instruction. Stations also included spin casting and fly casting, fly-tying, and kayaking instruction. One of the highlights as usual was an opportunity to fish in Mote’s stocked lake. Captain Scott Moore, Captain Jonnie Walker and Captain Justin Moore assisted and reported that the fishing was a huge success.

I had the pleasure of working with the Mangrove Coast Fly Fishing Club, teaching the basics of fly casting. President Ken Babineau organized a group of members to assist and provided rods and practice flies for the participants. Many of the kids were much younger than the members had ever instructed and a few had never fished at all.

Surprisingly many of the youth picked up the rods and were making respectable casts in the short time allotted. We started by getting the kids together and explaining the principles of fly casting and how it was different than spin casting and other techniques. Past President Evan Jones asked participants what they thought might be the advantages and reasons to fly fish. Answers ranged from getting the fly close to a fish without spooking it to being able to catch a guppy.

Before they were paired with members to try casting we let them hold the practice fly and notice the difference in weight from the practice plugs they had been using at the spin casting booth. We then explained how it was the weight of the line that propelled the fly rather than the weight of a lure. Most importantly we demonstrated how the action of the rod was slow and fluid. Jones emphasized that it was not a “buggy whip” while showing them how it wasn’t done!

Individual instruction included demonstrating holding the rod, making the casting stroke with a smooth and fluid motion and moving the rod to make the most efficient cast. The club had provided a number of different size rods which we paired to the size and age of the students. We then let them practice, giving tips when we thought it was appropriate. Often, with the parent’s permission we would hold the rod with the child to let them experience the ease with which a cast could be made. It was a great experience giving some of the kids their first taste of fly casting while a few were accomplished casters who benefited from some advanced tips.

Participants were given a tour of Marine Culture and Aquaponics at the Research Park. They also received a rod and reel, tackle kit, and a T-shirt courtesy of Bark and Company Realty. Parents, volunteers, and children enjoyed a barbeque lunch at the end of the clinic which was provided by the Sarasota Sportsmen’s Association and an original snook print by artist Steve Whitlock. This is one of many wonderful opportunities Mote Marine provides the public. This event was a prelude to next week’s Snook Shindig. To learn about this event and all the other projects the Laboratory is involved in visit their web site at To learn about the Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers go to

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper