Reel Lines - Summer 2015

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Kids looking at fish chart

In This Issue:


Monofilament Recovery and Recycling in Texas

monofillament recycling tube, on jetty

By Caleb Harris – TPWD Aquatic Education Specialist – Central Texas

Have you seen those big white PVC tubes at your favorite jetty, pier, or lake?  You know the ones where anglers can recycle their used fishing line so that it doesn’t litter the environment or harm wildlife.  How do they get there? Who’s in charge of them?  Who empties them?

We did some fishing to answer these questions when the Ascarate Fishing club in El Paso asked us about placing one at Ascarate Lake.

The Monofilament Recovery and Recycling (MRR) program is coordinated by Texas Sea Grant. However, Texas Sea Grant does not make or maintain the bins. The work is all done by an awesome corps of volunteers.  

If you or your group would like to adopt a site that is often littered with fishing line, follow these steps to get started:

  1. Contact Texas Sea Grant  to obtain and complete a volunteer agreement form, list the site, and to get all the “official” stickers.
  2. Purchase the materials and construct a bin. The average cost is just under $15/bin. (Note: Exact specification and directions to construct the bin can be obtained through the MRR Program; the BoatUS website also has a great tutorial.)
  3. Set up a schedule to clean it out and take the monofilament to a local recycler.  Many tackle shops have receptacles for monofilament recycling.  
  4. Report your data to Texas Sea Grant. There is even a MRR Facebook page to report how much you collect!

According to their website, a total of 782 pounds of monofilament line, equaling 1,060 miles of 12-pound test (the most common line used for coastal fishing), has been collected since 2008. To get involved in the MRR program, contact  John Connell at Texas Sea Grant at  or by phone: 979-864-1558 ext. 116.


Miniature recycled fishing line tube made of pvc

On a side note, Angler Ed Area Chief Michael Scherer made some miniature bins (using 1/2 inch PVC) to use with the AED habitat mats to teach about stewardship in his fishing classes.

TPWD Angler Education staff are eager to help volunteers get involved with this program, so feel free to send questions to us too.  


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Adapting Angler Education

drawing of palomar fishing knot

By Kent Conner – Angler Education Volunteer Instructor – Georgetown, TX

Recently I attended an Angler Educator Instructor class taught by Caleb Harris as a re-training and re-certification. I am a substitute teacher at the Wilco Juvenile Justice Center and thanks to Caleb, I got motivated to teach these kids how to fly fish.

The students do not get to do very many “special” things. Learning how to fly fish would be something different from their usual schedule of attending class and reading in their room. I talked to the principal and a couple of teachers to try out my idea. The word was “GO”. We scheduled the class on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon. Fly casting was taught as physical education class, and fly tying was taught as art.

Teaching in this facility has some unique challenges. Sharp objects are not allowed.  Every item is handed out by the resource officers and accounted for at the end of class.  The kits that TPWD supplied for fly tying had to be modified. Sharp pointed scissors are not allowed, so round nosed scissors from the art class were used instead.   Bodkins had to be removed from the kits along with whip finishers.

Hooks presented a real challenge. Do I use plastic covered paper clips? Do I get plastic tubing and put over the hooks? Nope, I cut off the hooks behind the barb.  The flies would not catch fish, but they looked nice and the kids got the experience.

Simple knot tying was taught at the beginning of class. I used key chain split rings as the eyes of the hooks and twine for the fishing line. Practice flies were made from small split rings and yarn.  Having mastered the Palomar knot, they went to casting. No surprises, some naturals, and some who casted like most of us the first time we tried a fly rod.

On Friday afternoon the final test was casting for a cup full of “gold fish” snacks. The rules were simple - within two minutes, land the fly on the 2 square foot target, and get it to stay there. The range was approximately 30'. All of the kids earned “gold fish” but the champion had 18 scores in the two minutes!

The fly tying classes got a great deal of attention. The staff, teachers, and guards were particularly observant due to the tools and modified hooks. The classes were even observed by the Director of the facility and the Principal of the Juvenile Justice Education Program.

The kids tied a different fly each day of class – a modified wooly worm, a foam spider, and a Clouser minnow. It was great seeing these kids get involved in something and get their minds off their troubles. The art teacher saved all of the flies to return to the kids upon their release.

There were so many positives that came from this experience! Lots of the students were interested in continuing fly fishing when they got out. Both of the teachers remarked about how the students “got into” what they were doing.  It was great seeing the kids cooperating and having a good time.

Special thanks need to go to TPWD for providing the equipment and the motivation. It was appreciated by the Wilco staff, me and most importantly – the kids!

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Program Updates

13 year old girl holding fishing rod and sunfish

By Karen Marks - Aquatic Education Manager

Did you hear or read the recent NPR story, "From Fishing With Mom To Becoming A Top Fisheries Official"? Dr. Mamie Parker, former USFWS Assistant Director of Fisheries and Habitat Conservation stated that her mom who was an avid angler inspired her to pursue her career. How cool is that? So by teaching fishing you may be inspiring someone to pursue a wildlife or fisheries career too!

Our Aquatic Education website has a new look, with three main sections: Learn Fishing, Go Fishing and Teach Fishing. Be sure to check out the New Instructors and Accomplishments, and the In Memoriam sections too.

New Resources:

Certified instructors will soon be able to order Invasive Species fish rulers (mounted on foam core) and laminated info cards so you can help spread the message to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species. We are also developing a new Sunfish ID/Checklist card too!

Report Essentials:

This spring and summer many of our lakes across the state saw record rainfall, this is good news for fishing. As summer continues to heat up, it also means that it’s time to start closing out our grant and fiscal year in August.

With each new grant cycle and audit, new policies and guidelines typically evolve to ensure efficient use our our resources. We will be meeting with the USFWS auditors in the fall and will let you know of any changes.

As I was running preliminary reports, I was so delighted to see all the wonderful classes and events that YOU, our volunteers, have been doing. The second exciting discovery was that 53% of you are now submitting your reports online! Remember that online reports must be submitted within 45 days.

To learn how to report online, check out the short video on the Instructors Resource web page (see page VII-17 in your Instructor Guide notebook if you need help accessing this web page.) All reports whether submitted electronically or by paper, are crucial to the success of our program. Please keep sending them in!

More good news… our federal aid grant match for volunteer hours has been increased from $16/hr to $24/hr making your service even more valuable. Of course, how can you put a price on the joy of a child catching their first fish!

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A Better Way to Teach Fly Tying

2 men and a woman learning to tie a fly

By Walter McLendon, TPWD Area Chief – Lufkin, TX

The secret to teaching beginners is to use the simplest fly possible. The Woolley Bugger that most of us first learned is about a level 3 of difficulty on a scale of 0 to 5 (easy to difficult). In our beginners fly tying classes, most of us concentrate on having our students produce a fly, and tend to overlook the most important steps. So, I devised a chart of 23 flies that begins with the “Stick Bug.”

Proper hook position in the vise, how to hold a bobbin, starting the thread, providing thread tension, control, twist, wrapping the thread, the tie in, loose wraps, pinch wraps, the tie off, half hitches and whip finishes are some of the most important skills for beginners to master.

Fly proportion, tying tools, materials, threads, colors, weighting the fly, wrapping wire, tails, wings, beards, wrapping hackle, shell back and more make up the individual fly patterns we fish with.

The “Stick Bug” consists of 4 strands of peacock herl, wrapped into a rope with the thread and wound up the hook shank to the eye. It is very effective for trout fishing. 

The student uses the “Stick Bug” as their base and applies new techniques to produce a new fly. Using this method, they can complete 3 to 5 flies in the first class!

By the time your students complete the 23 flies in the progressive chart, you have the opportunity to introduce and monitor what I call “Perfect Practice” as they re-tie the same first steps over and over. Once completed, you have introduced new materials and techniques for just about any fly possible.

The trick is ensuring your students progress together, and let them master each new step before moving on. The ultimate goal is to teach the student to look at a fly and tie it without a step-by-step instruction guide. 

Please feel free to contact me for more information or a copy of the progression chart at

Image: New Angler Ed Area Chiefs, Kitty, Slim and Juan learn the art of fly tying at the El Paso Area Chief meeting.

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New Instructors and Accomplishments

El Paso Area Chief awards

Welcome New Instructors and congratulations to our Area Chiefs who earned their Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum awards!


Image: Toni Van de Putte and Clint Paterson receive their Area Chief awards at the El Paso Area Chief meeting held in May 2015.

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Angler Education Program  | Texas Angler Educators Facebook
Learn to Fish Videos | Texas Aquatic Science | TPWD Fishing Information
Volunteer Portal | In MemoriamStaff Contacts

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Angler Education Instructor Workshops, Fishing Events, Fly Fishing Events, Texas Freshwater Fisheries CenterSea Center Texas

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