New Fly Fishing Club sets sights on Maine nature

The Fly Fishing Club, organized by Gracie Baldwin ’16, is a new club dedicated to providing Colby students with opportunities to go fly fishing, a method of fishing in which the fly acts as a substitute for bait.  Without bait, a person must rely a lot more on their skill in order to bring in the fish,  “People call it an art form because it’s all about the movement of the fly in the water and your ability to cast it really well,” Baldwin said.

After her friends convinced her to take the Art of Fly Fishing JanPlan course in her sophomore year, Baldwin fell in love with the hobby.  She enjoys being able to practice a skill she has not yet mastered and see her improvement.  “Every time I go out I learn something new or I get better at something,” she said.  For her, fly fishing can also act as a relaxing break from the stressful college lifestyle.  “When I’m feeling stressed, I’ll feel so much better after a day out on the water,” she said.

This past September, Baldwin organized an event for disabled veterans through Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing Inc., an organization focused on using fly fishing as a means of therapy for veterans who suffer everything from physical ailments to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). At the event, veterans Colby faculty and students rejoiced together in a nice day out on the water.

Organizing the event earned Baldwin a call from Trout Unlimited, America’s leading trout and salmon conservation organization.  They soon allowed Colby to participate in its Five Rivers Program, which gives schools the chance to organize events and trips with Trout Unlimited as their sponsor.  With the help of Dylan Markey ’16, who has his own fly tying company, Baldwin has been able to help put together events.  The club already raised $200 for their sponsor last Wednesday during a “Flies, Films, and Foam” event where they showed fly fishing films below the pub.

If a student is looking to get active in this new club, there is no  shortage of opportunities.  The club already has a weekly fly tying event headed by organic chemistry lab professor Ed Klinkerch, who ties flies professionally.  In addition, the club hopes to have a more prominent presence on campus soon.  “We’re hoping to get more organized trips going this year,” Baldwin said.  She pointed out that Colby is in a prime location for fly fishing.  “I’ve caught most of my fish 30 minutes from campus,” she said. They also hope to participate in an upcoming brook trout conservation project in Maine.  “We’re going to go to remote rivers and streams in Maine to try to catch brook trout as a means of logging how many native brook trout there are in Maine,” Baldwin explained.

The club also hopes to organize a fly fishing trip during reunion weekend, as well as a fly tying clinic.  Baldwin said the Colby Fly Fishing Club will also have a station at this year’s Colby Cares about Kids event in May. Next month, the group  is organizing a trip to the Rangeley and Oquossoc Outdoor Heritage Museum with the help of Klinkerch.  The club hopes to make a day out of it with time spent fly fishing followed by a tour of the museum, which contains many fly fishing exhibits.  To top it all off: “We’re getting hats,” Baldwin said.

Though she will be graduating in May, Baldwin hopes the club will carry on.  “It’s what I want to leave behind when I graduate,” she said.  Baldwin is hoping to host another Project Healing Waters trip again later next fall.  She wants to organize this event to fall on homecoming weekend to allow the disabled veteran Colby alumni to participate in this event.

Like many clubs around campus, the Fly Fishing Club is looking to be a resource for many that share in the passion.  “I want to make it so that kids who enter into Colby or kids who do the Jan Plan have a resource to go to afterwards and a group of people they could go to,” Baldwin said.  For any students that want to learn more about the club contact her at gbaldwin@colby.edu.  When asked why students should join the club, Baldwin concluded, “Maine is one of the best places in New England to go fly fishing.  Fly fishing takes you to the most beautiful places. If you really want to see and experience Maine, there’s no better place to do it than on a beautiful stream.”

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