Looking for a way to get your middle-schooler to put down the Xbox controller and pick up a fly rod? If you’re in Tennessee, the answer may be as close as their P.E. class…

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There’s a compelling reason why middle school students should learn to fly fish, educators and wildlife officers say. “We’re trying to get them off the computers and cell phones and go outside,” says Paul Boyce, a volunteer with the National Fishing in Schools program. Jefferson Middle School physical education teachers and others took the eight-hour course Monday so they can pass what they’ve learned about fly casting, knot-tying and landing lunkers on to students. The educators say they’re angling to include fly fishing in their lineup of physical education activities next school year. “Fly fishing is kind of a lost art that they’re not really teaching anymore,” said Oak Ridge High School Athletic Director



Mike Mullins, who is proficient in the skill. “It’s great if we can get kids outside and active.” Yellow fishing lines floated gracefully behind the row of educators Monday and were then snapped forward, Velcro flies were aimed toward fish dolls placed as targets on the school’s gymnasium floor. “It’s not that simple, but it’s not that hard, either,” PE teacher Barry Haile said of the training provided by Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officers. “Some kids can’t get interested in team sports,” he said. “This is a lifetime activity, something they can do as individuals.” “Just about anybody can pick this up,” TWRA Officer Bill Moulton said. There’s more than just fishing on this curriculum, Moulton said. Students learn about streams and lakes and the life cycles of various fish and the insects they eat, he said. Some of it, he said, “is information kids normally wouldn’t be able to access” in conventional classes.

Is this program unique to Tennessee or, like the wildly popular archery in schools programs, is it being tried in other states as well?