Always prepared… the Fly Fishing Merit Badge

I was a Scout. I was not a good one, but I was a Scout. I don’t recall what I was interested in back then, but it was probably keeping other kids from knowing I was a Scout. I’m not sure why I thought it was so un-cool, especially since I was pretty un-cool anyway, so how would I have even known?

Some serious first aid merit being done there by my brother.

Some serious first aid merit being done there by my brother.

Today, you lucky kids, there actually is a Fly Fishing Merit Badge. I’m not sure why the first thing the kids have to do is go through all the various ways you could get hurt fly fishing and all the ways you have to treat said maladies, but that happens to be the first step in the process.

1. Explain to his counselor the injuries that could occur while fly-fishing and the proper treatment, including cuts, scratches, puncture wounds, insect bites, hypothermia, dehydration, and heat reactions.(How about barracuda or shark bits? Rattle snake bites? Drowning? Allergic reaction to native plants? Getting abducted by narco-terrorists?)  Explain how to remove a hook that has lodged in your arm. (Your ARM? How about your ear? The back of your head? Your eye-lid? Your friend’s eye-lid?) Name and explain five safety practices you should always follow while fly-fishing. (Um… there are safety practices? The best I can think of would be, 1. Use a wading staff in swift rivers. 2. Use a wading belt any time you are wearing waders. 3. Don’t bite your tippet, unless you want to break a tooth at some point. 4. Wear a lot of sun screen and generally cover yourself to reduce sun exposure. and 5. Make sure you carry a bottle opener in your pack so you don’t break the beer bottle while trying to get at your refreshingly cold beer.)


> 9. Explain what good outdoor sportsmanlike behavior is and how it relates to fishermen. (More than a few folks could re-learn this bit.) Tell how the Outdoor Code of the Boy Scouts of America relates to a fishing enthusiast, including the aspects of littering, trespassing, courteous behavior, and obeying fishing regulations. (Yes kids. Never trespass… but sometimes… well… as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone…)

> 10. Using the fly-fishing techniques he has learned, catch two different kinds of fish and identify them. Release at least one of them unharmed. Clean and cook another fish. (So… no dice for the pure C&R kid. You NEED to kill and eat the fish to be a real angler?)


All said, it seems like a fine program and I hope they have luck getting a few more kids into the sport. I also hope, one day, they let people like my brother back into the Scouts. He is currently barred from taking an active role in the Scouts, while they would take me willingly. He was an Eagle Scout and I was a Disinterested Scout. Go figure.

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1 comment

  1. The Scout’s motto is Be Prepared. I think that knowing (and demonstrating that you know) how to clean, cook and eat a fish is one of those outdoor skills that everyone should have.

    BTW, my last Scoutmaster was a Sargeant in the Army who, when deployed to Vietnam, was a forward air controller. He was known by some of the Scout’s Dads for being, “a little light in the sheets,” but he was highly respected. I’m guessing these Dads, all career military guys, knew numerous gay soldiers and had learned that it wasn’t the most important part of their character. Us kids all knew he was gay–don’t ask me how because he was a big, bruiser kind of guy who didn’t look the part–though he occasionally had a funny laugh. But he was also a heck of a guy, with lots of skills that he passed on to us.

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