Environmental Sciences 397T: The Art, Science, and Ethics of Flyfishing
Summer Quarter 2008 Morning (AM) Section: June 23—July 18 (4 weeks)
Summer Quarter 2008 Evening (PM) Section: June 23—July 20 (4 weeks)
Instructors: Leo Bodensteiner and Steve Meyer, Dept. of Environmental Sciences,
Offices: Environmental Studies 442
Purpose: The twofold purpose of this class is to: (1) learn how to fly
fish; and (2) use flyfishing as a window into environmental studies and, more
specifically, into the structure and function of river ecosystems and how
people interact with them. This course will combine lectures, discussions, and
laboratory and field exercises to gain insight into river structure and
function with flyfishing as a motivating activity. To accomplish this we
will integrate science, ethics, and environmental management. From a
scientific perspective, aspects of hydrology, water quality, taxonomy of stream
organisms (fish and macroinvertebrates), and ecological processes will be addressed.
Environmental ethics will be examined and discussed in historical, literary,
and aesthetic contexts. Environmental management will focus on
preservation, mitigation and restoration philosophies applied to streams.
Classroom activities to achieve these objectives will include identification of
stream organisms, fly tying, flycasting, and rod building. Selections
from related literature and film will expose students to applied and
philosophical elements of watershed management. Thus, in addition to
gaining an science-based understanding of stream
ecology, students will learn to flyfish, providing them with a new perspective
on conservation and a basis for rapport with a large segment of the population
This course was proposed by Northwest author and
flyfishing advocate David James Duncan and developed through a series of
discussions involving a number of community members: Wendy Scherrer
(former Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA) executive director), Dr. David
Hooper (WWU Biology Dept., NSEA Board), Bret Simmons (attorney,
flyfisher, NSEA Board), Leo Bodensteiner, (WWU Huxley College), Klaus Lohse
(Fourth Corner Fly Fishers), and Bruce Brabec and Marlene Robinson (parents of
Liam Wood). Other partners in this effort include
Audience: The intended target is students pursuing degrees in environmental studies, current secondary teachers interested in incorporating these themes in their classroom curricula, other environmental educators, and exceptional individuals with knowledge of ecology. Efforts will be focused on enrolling students that have had little exposure to recreational fishing.
Rationale: Angling often represents one of the most
significant early childhood experiences in which we interact with nature.
For many it becomes a lifelong pursuit, which involves not only catching fish,
but instills a desire to become more environmentally responsible. In
Class size: 16 students
Class meetings: to 12 and PM section from 5 to 8:30 Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in Environmental Studies 318; the last week concludes with a field trip to the Upper Skagit River in BC (AM 7/16-7/18; PM 7/18-7/20). Outside of class we will have fishing trips and video nights.
Office Hours: 12-1 MWF
Web site: Flyfishing Course Website
Grading for this class will be based on:
1) Attendance and participation (10%),
2) Quizzes and lab practical (15%)
3) Book report (15%)
4) Flyfisher's tour project (60%)
Attendance and Participation – Skipping chemistry class to go fishing is okay by us, but skipping fly-fishing class to mix up some acids and bases? If you have other commitments that might make it difficult to attend class, you should reconsider enrolling. This class will be a great learning experience. It’s also a great way to spend the first month of summer learning how to fool and respect our finned friends. However, the class will be exponentially more fun for everyone if you have a positive attitude and help make the class succeed. This will be reflected in your grade.
Quizzes & Lab practical – Basic fish identification is a critical tool to the conservation-minded angler. We will test you throughout the four weeks on fish and bug identification. If you pay attention, the big quiz in week four should be no problem.
The Book Report - To further immerse yourself in the world of flyfishing, you will select a book that is ostensibly about flyfishing to read. In week 4 you will give an oral report on the metaphorical and ecological implications of flyfishing to the story you have chosen. Check out the Paul and Mary Ann Ford Collection in Wilson Library for some ideas.
The Project – The project will be a short research paper describing a five day fishing trip you will plan to anywhere in the world. It will be due the last day of the quarter before we leave for the final field trip. You will hand in a hard copy and a copy on disk or CD so we can load it on the class website. Use pictures to make it look good. Creativity is one of the goals here.
What could be better than sitting at your computer
dreaming about standing ankle deep in the Bighorn casting a size 20 trico
spinner at a rising 20” brown, AND writing a term paper at the same time!
Here are the rules... you will plan a trip to a “region” (ex. western
describe the rivers, lakes, and streams you will be fishing,
tell us what kind of fish you will be pursuing,
list the equipment you will need and why (rods, lines, boats? helicopters?...),
indicate what time of year you will be going and why,
contact at least one local angler, fly shop, or local biologist to get information,
list the regulations on the water you will be fishing,
briefly describe the history of fishing in the area.
At the end of your paper you should list the sources you used. Since this is not a scientific paper you do not need to cite your sources in the paper itself. You should use at least five, and web sites are fine (author, date of access, and web address as follows <http://www.fishinghole.com>).
Grading - A:92+; A-:90-91; B+:88-90; B:83-88; B-:80-82; C+:78-80; C:73-78; C-:70-72; D:60-70
Students will be expected to have a valid Washington
Sport Fishing License (freshwater $21.90 or combination $41.61). Students
will also purchase be expected to purchase a license for fishing in
Materials needed for classroom exercises will be
provided. We recommend purchasing one of the second two texts, depending
on your interests, to further educate yourself about
Thomas, Greg. 1999. Flyfisher's Guide to
Wydoski, R. S., and R. R. Whitney. 2003. Inland Fishes of
Selected essays will be provided.