High Country Fly Fishers takes trout to local classrooms | ParkRecord.com

High Country Fly Fishers takes trout to local classrooms

Program teaches about local watersheds

For five years, High Country Fly Fishers facilitates a program for the youth called Trout in the Classroom.

The program, which was started by Trout Unlimited several years ago, connects children to local watersheds. Kids learn to do the following:

  • To raise trout from eggs to fingerlings
  • Monitor tank water quality
  • Engage in stream habitat study
  • Appreciate water resources
  • Foster a conservation ethic
  • Understand ecosystem connectivity

    Dave Allison, vice president of High Country Fly Fishers, said the club works closely with Utah's Division of Natural Resources on the program.

    "Mike Slater and Marni Lee are the agents that support our program," he said.

    This is the first year Allison is heading the program, which involves six schools located in the Wasatch Back.

    "We have Park City High School, McPolin Elementary, Weilenmann School of Discovery, Parleys Park Elementary and two in Heber — Old Mill Elementary and Wasatch High School — who have signed on," Allison said.

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    High Country Fly Fishers supplies each school with a 55-gallon tank with chillers, filters and a mesh basket.

    "On Jan. 4, we'll receive 250 trout eggs for each tank from the DNR," Allison said. "We'll set up the baskets in the tank and put the eggs in them."

    Allison said at this time, the eggs are usually ready to hatch, but not all of them will reach that stage.

    "The students have to inspect the eggs every day," he said. "If the eggs turn opaque, we need to remove them because they'll go bad and develop a white fuzz. So, they'll have to use a turkey baster to suck out the ones that aren't going to hatch."

    Just because an egg hatches, it doesn't mean the fish will survive.

    "Usually 200 eggs will hatch, but there is a high mortality rate," Allison said. "So, if we can get even 80 of the 250 to survive, then we'll get a gold star."

    Students will monitor the tanks until the first week of May.

    "That's when the DNR will let us know where they want us to release the trout," Allison said. "For the past couple of years it has been at the Deer Valley pond."

    In preparation for the release, Allison will assign a High Country Fly Fishers club member to each school.

    "Club members will assist the teachers to test the tanks' waters and scoop up the fish and put them in a cooler with an aerator," he said. "We'll transport the cooler to the release point."

    The students arrive at the site by school bus.

    "When they get there, we'll scoop a fish into a Dixie cup and give one to each student," Allison said. "The students will name the fishes and release them. It's really kind of fun."

    For more information about Trout Unlimited's Trout in the Classroom program, visit http://www.troutintheclassroom.org.