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Michigan State Student Anglers Embrace Fly-Fishing

Cole Hazeltine (Vice President of MSU Fly-Fishing Club)

Student Club enjoys success on and off the river, gaining the support of local fishing community. 

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Fly-fishing is a form of casting that has been around just as long as conventional fishing. The sport is increasing in popularity, including a student group fly-fishing Spartan students.

The Michigan State Fly-Fishing Club is self-funded and self-run group, but they receive a lot of help with gear from Nomad Anglers and Costa.

Cole Hazeltine, the MSU Fly-Fishing Club’s vice-president and a fisheries and wildlife junior said the main difference between and conventional fishing.

According to him, in fly fishing, the majority of the “weight” resides in the line, while in conventional fishing, this weight is in the bait. The fly-fisher is casting the line rather than casting a lure.

On Nov.11, the anglers went to Pere Marquette for a club trip, which is a prime destination for many avid anglers.

“We had a great turn out and caught brown trout, steelhead and Coho salmon on the Pere Marquette. It was not a tournament, so no scores were kept. We just went to have fun,” said Hazeltine.

Jeremiah Knudsen, the Club’s president and an environment studies and sustainability sophomore described the trip as a success. And despite the bitter cold, they caught some “beauts” of fish.

Sponsorship has not been much of a problem, despite being a relatively new club.

“We have a great relationship with Brian Bielecki from Nomad Anglers here in East Lansing, so that is very helpful. We are also a part of the Trout Unlimited/Costa del Mar 5 Rivers Program, so sponsorship is actually going pretty well,” said Hazeltine.

Fly-fishing can be as inexpensive – or expensive – of a hobby as the fisher makes it, accoding to Hazeltine and Knudsen. Being successful is more about the fisher’s casting skill, than buying the latest tackle.

“Fly fishing came about as another form of tricking a fish at its own game. It’s a very pure and traditional form of fishing,” said Knudsen.

Both Hazeltine and Knudsen developed a strong interest in casting at a young age, watching their fathers on the water and getting to fish too.

Knudsen compares fly-fishing to skiing and hiking, in the sense as being more hobby-oriented sports.

“There isn’t any competitive drive around the sport its more for relaxation. Similar to hiking or skiing. The rules and regulations that surround fly fishing are based on local government regulations. These are put in place by local biologist that base these rules and regulations on fish and stream health,” said Knudsen.

Most fly fishing though is all catch in release, catch and release is releasing all fish after catching them. Truthfully any fish can be targeted and caught on fly as long their main food source is successfully replicated by the fly itself and suitable gear is used.

The Department of Natural Resources releases periodic regulations for streams and lakes in Michigan regarding catch and release ordinances, catch and keep ordinances, flies-only regulations and other similar regulations.

“Fly fishing is getting back to nature. The true draw to fly fishing is not just catching fish, it’s being in touch and seeing nature in its purest form. Almost all fly fishing destinations are in beautiful places,” said Knudsen.

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