Learning on the Fly

Mike Moore photo
Father Forrest Keizer assists son Zane Keizer with the early stages of tying a fly pattern during at the first of eight weekly courses that teach local anglers how to successfully create flies for fishing Wyoming waters at the Rec Center Feb. 7.

Mike Moore mike@glenrockind.com

For Randy Stalker, it’s therapeutic. Wading in a pristine mountain stream and casting his fly rod in slow-moving pools of water to pods of opportunistic trout lurking below has been a hobby for more than 30 years.
“I use it as therapy to keep me grounded,” he said. “People pay big bucks for water therapy and we’ve got a river that offers it for free.”
It’s hard to explain how heading outdoors and leaving the comforts of electronic devices behind can ease the mind while trout fishing in a remote corner of the Laramie Range or right at the edge of town in the North Platte River, which Stalker noted is a national treasure that boasts big fish. Regardless, Stalker says most out-of-state anglers go straight to world-renowned blue ribbon streams such as the Madison River in Southwest Montana, or Yellowstone National Park.
In those areas, streams are packed all summer long with more than enough anglers. As for streams around Converse County, things are much quieter, to Stalker’s relief.
“I’m after the solitude,” he said. “I don’t like combat fishing. . . my real favorite is mountain streams.”
His experiences and passion stemming from the sport prompted him to take what he has learned over the years and educate others after reaching out to Glenrock Community Education Coordinator Lisa Shadrick about the possibility of holding seven weeks of fly tying followed by one week of fly casting lessons.
“She was terrific,” Stalker noted in regard to getting his idea up and running. It wasn’t long until Shadrick purchased numerous introductory fly tying kits and set up a schedule.
Last Thursday, five members of the community ranging in a variety of ages came out to the introductory course led by Stalker where he teaches them how to tie fly patterns that are successful in Wyoming waters.
“It went pretty well,” Stalker said, hinting that it would be even better if more folks turned out. “The more students, the better. I want to introduce more kids and women to the sport. The target is young kids. Without them, the sport will die.”
While out fishing area waters, Stalker says when he does see other anglers out fishing they are typically older men.
Luckily, those interested in joining for the second or third meeting won’t be too far behind and can finish out the eight-week course.
“For the first three weeks anybody could come and we could get them up to speed pretty fast,” he said.
Stalker started the introductory class off with a basic San Juan Worm pattern, a common and successful fly that is almost a guarantee to catch fish or two - before the flimsy fly constructed of a simple strand of chenille and yarn starts to deteriorate under the pressure of fish thinking it’s their next meal.
Fly tying often takes repetition to master, and by showing students how to tie each fly, he encouraged them to go home and practice the patterns until it became second nature.
Student Katie Mosier mentioned how she had tried tying flies in the past, and wanted to give it another shot with some in-person assistance.
“It takes great patience and forgiveness,” she said before letting out a laugh. “But, it’s fun and it's very tactile. You get to make something with your hands and you get to see if it looks like something when you’re done.”
Across the room, Bob Nunn was pleased with learning the San Juan Worm, and eager to go home and make a few more on his own. He and Stalker have known each other for years, and Nunn looks forward to learning anything and everything Stalker has to offer in the class.
“He’s good. . . really good,” Nunn said of Stalker’s fly tying expertise.
Over the course of 30 years, the self-taught teacher never crossed over to make his hobby his profession and just wants to get more individuals involved in the sport he is so passionate about.
“I’m not a guide, I’m just a guy who likes to fish,” Stalker said. “I want to introduce more people to the sport.”
That’s not to say the sport isn’t growing in general. Nowadays, folks are willing to fork over hundreds of dollars for a single day float trip down the river and Stalker says five to six guiding outfitters based in Casper are booked up year-round.
As for his introductory class, his hope is to attract younger generations to the sport and enjoy themselves with their newfound abilities.
“I would be happy to invite any and all of them on a trip in my boat,” he said.
The class costs a flat $10, which covers the seven remaining weeks of the course. Stalker says there are plenty of supplies to go around, and encourages folks who are interested to come by and give fly tying a shot.
“Anybody who wants to come look is welcome, too,” he said for those who may be on the fence but are still curious about creating flies for fly fishing.
The next class is slated to begin at 7 p.m. at the Glenrock Rec Center.


Glenrock Independent

Physical Address:506 W. Birch, Glenrock, WY 82637 Mailing Address: PO Box 109, Douglas, WY 82633 Phone: (307) 436-2211

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