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Fanshawe fishing for diversity in new Gen Ed

Ivana Pelisek | Interrobang | News | November 24th, 2008



Fanshawe College will be the first post secondary facility in Canada to tackle a new fly-fishing course this winter.

The 15-week program is a general education course that is open to all Fanshawe College students interested in trying something new and exciting.

“The course will be offered along with other Gen Ed. Courses and students can register in it as a Gen Ed. Elective when registration opens,” said Rod Cameron, the Dean of Faculty Technology at Fanshawe College.

Classes begin in January with registration beginning the week of December 14.

The course will be taught by Ian Colin James, a renowned fly-fishing expert, who is recognized worldwide.


James admitted he is ecstatic about being a part of this great opportunity.

“I am thrilled to bits,” James said. “It's something I have always wanted to do, so it's a perfect fit for me. I love teaching folk about fly-fishing and this opportunity is spot on… The students will have a blast in the course, as I like to teach in a friendly environment, but they will need to do the work in order to get the three credits. By the end of the course they will know more about fly-fishing than their parents, or most of the fly fishermen in Ontario.”

At the end of the term in April, the class will end the year off with a field trip to fish the Thames River.

“The field trip will likely take place on the Thames or one of its tributaries in or near London. I suspect there will be some insect gathering and observation and some casting practice on the water,” Cameron said. “The Thames is a great local resource that has many species of resident and non-resident fish. The details will be announced at the course start.”

The Thames River is known for its many species of fish.

“The Thames River holds more species of fish than any other river in Ontario,” said James. “The only river in Canada, which holds more species of fish, is the Fraser River out in B.C. The Thames has wonderful bio diversity and that's what the students in the course will discover.”

Students will not only gain knowledge in the sport of fly-fishing, but also gain perspective surrounding our natural resources.

“We hope for two main outcomes — first that students will gain an appreciation of the importance and sensitivity of our fresh water resources. When you are on the water observing and fishing, you see the impact of urban growth, garbage, climate change and how we as citizens change the landscape so dramatically…

“Secondly, fly fishing is a pastime or sport that one can practice well into their senior years,” admitted Cameron.

Students will learn more than just how to fish.

“They will learn how fish work, what they eat, where they like to hang out and why they do what they do…and they (the students) will have a better understanding of how a river works and why we need to be environmentally conscious,” James said.

As far as who exactly is to sign up for this new course leaves staff optimistic.

“We are hoping that there will be a good number of women who take this opportunity,” said Cameron. “Fly-fishing requires finesse and careful study of the water-not strength and endurance. There have been a number of very well known women fly fishers who have made great contributions to the sport.”

Fly-fishing is a sport that requires patience and dedication.

According to Cameron, like anything else that is new, you need to be motivated to learn. This is a very rewarding thing to do, especially if you can do it well. It can also be very frustrating if you haven't had the benefit of good instruction.

James is an internationally known expert who has appeared on many TV shows, radio interviews and has published books on the subject. Having James teach this course would be like having Mario Andretti teaching a driver education course. You won't get better knowledge or skills in a teacher.

Fanshawe College will be the first to teach a course of this nature; Pennsylvania State University in the U.S. has been teaching fly-fishing since 1947.
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