Children in the Stream Youth Fly Fishing Program

  • Free for Kids 10 to 110 Years of Age
  • No Experience necessary
  • Classes Conducted at State University of NY at Fredonia

The Children in the Stream Youth Fly Fishing Program will be starting its eighteenth year of providing weekly free fly tying and fly fishing classes to youth and adults in the western New York region.  The classes will be presented every Tuesday starting August 29, 2017, from 7-8:30 pm at the Costello Community Room (P84) in the new addition to Rockefeller Arts Center at SUNY Fredonia, in Fredonia, NY.

No prior experience is needed and all classes are free. Classes are appropriate for anyone between 10 and 110.

In 1998, Alberto Rey and Mike Conley attended Sportfishing and Aquatic Resource Educational Programming (S.A.R.E.P.) through the Cornell Cooperative. The seminars provided training for teachers and future instructors who would provide educational conservation experiences to children. Shortly afterwards, S.A.R.E.P. Youth Fly Fishing Program was founded after a grant was received from Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency.  The program has continued to grow over the years as enrollment has steadily increased and as the program has provided new services to the community. In 2016, S.A.R.E.P. /4H Youth Fly Fishing Program’s name was changed to Children in the Stream/4H Program.

Children in the Stream is an educational program that provides children with information and experiences related to aquatic resources, conservation, ethics, and fly fishing. Fly fishing has a long history of integrating these elements into the core of the sport. The ethics of the program promotes “catch and release” as well as respect for fellow fisherman and the land on which one fishes. It is our goal to protect the species and the land for future generations. Our program closely ties together the importance of understanding nature with the rewarding act of fly fishing.

Children in the Stream is a volunteer organization that relies on the generosity of the fly fishing industry and of public and private donors. It provides programming to the Boys and Girls Club of Northern Chautauqua County and to middle and high schools in the area. Children in the Stream provides workshops to an average of 350 children a year.

Here are the elements of the program: Weekly Fly Tying and Rod Building Sessions Monthly Fly Fishing Field Trips Canadaway Creek Conservation Project Conservation Days Workshops  Brook Trout Restoration Project Children in the Stream Conference: An Interdisciplinary Fly Fishing Conference

For more information on our efforts you can look at this episode by a national television show, Aqua Kids, who documents the Children in the Stream’s Canadaway Creek Conservation Program and Brook Trout Restoration Program. Here’s are also some recent articles and blogs written about the program and the Children in the Stream Conference;

You can also see recent pictures, movies and information from our recent projects in the blog section of this site. For more information about our home waters, check out our our history of Canadaway Creek link.

If you would like more information on the program please contact me Alberto Rey here or at or by calling 716-410-7003.

DIY Dry Fly Floatant

Dry flies need to float – you can wear out flies with false casts to keep them dry and afloat, or you can use commercial or home-made floatant.

Float High and Dry in High Mountain Country or Anywhere Else

When my friend and coworker, Mark Van Patten, gifted me with a made-to-order fly rod in honor of my retirement a couple of years ago, I was honored and a little intimidated. Mark comes from a long line of fly-fishers and began throwing dry flies not long after taking his first steps. He had his own television show, The Tying Bench, for years. Fly-casting is so deeply etched in his muscle memory, I suspect he could cast in a coma.

Naturally, I feel obliged to “do right” by this special present. I got the perfect opportunity earlier this summer when a friend invited me on a backpack trip to catch golden trout in the Beartooth Mountains of southwestern Montana. The fish were biting when I got there, and we proceeded to wear them out on dry flies. Unfortunately, I also was wearing out my flies with the many false casts necessary to keep them dry. Watching me tie on a third fly, one of my companions considerately asked if I had any “floatant.”

“Any what?” I asked, like the fly-fishing novice that I am. Chris made his way over to me and produced a tiny plastic bottle from which he dispensed a drop of clear fluid onto my fly. The mysterious potion rendered my fly unsinkable for the next half hour.

For those of you who already are initiated in the ways of the Elk-Hair Caddis and Parachute Adams, please feel free to have a good laugh at the expense of the newbie. For the rest of you, here’s a helpful bit of information about floatant. It’s a compound of two petroleum products designed to keep dry flies from absorbing water, thus becoming wet flies. The compound typically includes a waxy substance that coats the fly and a lighter component that is liquid at air temperature and serves as a carrier for waxy stuff, sort of like paint thinner is a carrier for the oil and pigment in house paint. Like paint thinner, the light, fluid component of floatant quickly evaporates, depositing the waxy part on the fly. I made a mental note to buy some of this goop for future trips.

The biggest problem you are likely to face when making your own floatant is getting it into a tiny bottle for convenient use, this eye-dropper bottle worked perfect.

When I got home, I fired up my computer, fully intending to send a bit more of my hard-earned green in exchange for floatant. Then my inner Scrooge McDuck asserted himself. There’s a YouTube video for everything else under the sun. Surely someone had posted one about how to make your own fly floatant. I googled it, and came up with dozens of hits. Visiting several of these pages made it clear that anyone can make fly floatant if they have access to two ingredients – white gas and paraffin. Since I own a Coleman camp stove – the old kind with a refillable tank – and since my wife uses paraffin for canning jelly, I had everything needed, and I proceeded to mix up a batch.

Here’s how I did it. I thoroughly dried an aluminum water bottle with a tight-fitting stopper and poured in about half a cup of white gas. Next, I used a kitchen grater to shave very fine curls of paraffin onto a piece of paper. I made a LOT of shavings – more than enough loose shavings to fill a measuring cup. Using the paper as a funnel, I poured half the shavings into the water bottle, shook it up, put the bottle inside a clear plastic bag and put the whole thing on a piece of black plastic in full sun on my deck. After an hour or so the bottle was almost too hot to hold. I took it out, shook it again and peered down into the bottle to see if all the paraffin was dissolved. It was, so I dumped the rest of the paraffin shavings into the bottle and repeated the process. The next check revealed kind of a slushy mixture, so I added more white gas, let it warm up one more time and came up with a thick, clear fluid.

I was reasonably confident that this would do the trick, but I needed some means of dispensing it. I remembered a bottle of eye drops in the medicine cabinet. I hadn’t used the stuff in years, so I pulled out the stopper, drained and dried the inside with tissue paper and poured some of my home-made floatant into it. After letting it come to room temperature, I squeezed a little onto a fly, worked it in with my fingers and after a few seconds dropped it into a glass of water. It floated like a cork.

I have since used the stuff in the field and it works great. I added a little more white gas after an early-morning trip when it was cool enough to turn my home-made floatant slushy again. I can’t emphasize enough the approximate nature of the measurements given above. I didn’t measure anything. If you try this, keep adjusting the mixture until all the paraffin is dissolved, then test its fluidity by putting it in the refrigerator. If it gets too thick to squeeze out of your chosen dispenser, add more white gas.

The DIY sites I visited recommended heating the gas-paraffin mixture in a hot water bath. I’m sure that works, too. I shouldn’t need to say this, but if you use a water bath please heat the water and remove it from your kitchen range, hot plate or whatever before bringing the gas-paraffin mixture anywhere near it. We don’t want anyone setting themselves on fire just to save a few bucks on floatant.

My cost for the project was zero. I had everything I needed to make enough for 10 lifetimes. Not counting time waiting for the sun to heat the bottle, I’d say I spent half an hour on the project. Compare that with $5 to $12 for a little bottle from commercial suppliers.

Good fishing!

Adirondack Mountain Fishing Guides

Finding Help to Catch Ausable River Brown Trout

Veteran Adirondack fly-fishing guide, Ken Khalil, educated our group on how to fish muddy, fast-rising water in the Ausable under conditions when most anglers would have opted for extra coffee over a long, late breakfast.

A top priority of many baby boomer, wanna-be trout anglers is to keep up with that ever-aging bucket list as we age.  Among my priorities is to fish more with a fly rod and learn about what many fly rod anglers all seem to say and share, “fly fishing is so relaxing- once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back!” So when some fishing friends wanted to make a trip to the Adirondack Mountains to fish the infamous Ausable River for brown trout, I was all ears.

Amidst the majestic mountains and winding roads above the quaint Adirondack Olympic village of Lake Placid, site of the world famous 1980 USA-Russia hockey game known as the “Miracle On Ice”, we met up during an evening rainstorm. Over a few local microbrews, we discussed our hopeful plan to fish the morning.

Since we had never fished here before, hiring a guide was a logical choice for day one and that turned out to be a great decision.  We met with Ken Khalil, a local guide of over 20 years experience and this artist of the stream showed us how to catch brown trout in high muddy water conditions.  This was on a day that all of us thought we would be relishing a late breakfast due to the weather.  Guides that know what they are doing are a pleasure to fish with and learn from.

There were four of us and step one was to go over everyone’s gear and that included the rod, reel, line, leaders, knots, waders, wading staff and fly assortment.  I had brought along a rod that I had made myself some 40 years ago from a yellow-color fiberglass Fenwick FL90-6 blank (90 inches long made for a 6-weight line).  It has a soft action, is limber and is only gently loaded with level 5-weight line and an 8-foot leader.  While most of the world has switched to more modern materials, our guide saw my “different” rod and was immediately attracted to ask some questions about it.

With a humble, inquiring voice, he finally asked if he could try it out.  Of course, I agreed, he could show me how to use it!  We never stop learning.  After 15 minutes or so, explaining to all of us how we would start fishing, he directed us to take a spot on the stream then came over to me to say, “I am so impressed with your rod, I love the action, the delivery, the usability of the rod in general.” I felt like a million bucks!  He explained the difference between some of the very expensive graphite models sold in many stores today and the old action.  Special old-gear moments are priceless and never to be forgotten, especially when on a famous trout stream with a world class guide!

Ausable River brown trout are handsome and beautiful, notice the secret streamer-nymph style fly in the jaw of this fish that fooled so many trout on this day.

With the fast-flowing, muddy water, no one expected to catch anything.  We praised the courage of our guide for even attempting to bring our group to the stream.  Little did we know, Ken Khalil was an expert with fast-rising, off-color (muddy) water on the Ausable.  Between the four of us, we landed and released 11 trout in less than three hours!

When a guide expert shares his techniques and talents during extreme conditions, you tend to remember that fellow for all time.  Khalil is one of those who instructed us individually within our own capable performance, adjusting leaders and fly types and sizes until he fine-tuned all of us to be effective.  Go figure!  All this for less than $200 each.

The lighthearted Khalil provided my skill-set and aging, but never-used fly rod, with a custom-made Matuka fly that he ties up for his guests.  I dubbed it the ruby-throated Khalil Matuka and got him to give us all a very funny laugh in the light rain.  “It’s a pattern some others use too, I didn’t invent the name of the fly, but now you’ve made it unique Forrest!” He replied with a confident grin.

The design he offered allowed the fly to flutter and wiggle as we stripped it back after casting cross-current.  It looked alive and like something between a minnow or other bait fish, such as perhaps, a sculpin, but also, several terrestrial-looking critters too.  It worked well since the fish only got to see this for a quick moment, or there goes lunch!  The fish struck at the fly instinctively and with a ferocious wallop.  What fun we had!

I was instructed to cast about 10 feet upstream of a quickly forming eddy current area and then retrieve in stripping fashion, quickly, across the meddle of the reversing riff.  Wham!  Happened several times.

The secret fly to catching Ausable brown trout in muddy water when most anglers cannot see three inches under the surface and one would consider that the fish would not see it as well. The fish could find this fly!

While fishing on an evening trip, we were fortunate to see much wildlife also found in the area along Route 86.  This included three curious deer who watched me and my attempt at a fly casting demonstration, which admittedly, was not very good.  During the same trip, we were amazed by a large 30-pound beaver that worked on building his dam a bit higher.  We watched a beautiful Osprey soar from high overhead to latch onto a three-pound brown trout, then rise rapidly, screeching his usual call, an eerie sound amidst the gentle trickle sound of the river.  Several good reminders that the Adirondack’s are still a very rugged and wild area that now also enjoy moose and black bear populations on the rise.

For more information on fishing the Ausable River or Sarnac River area of the Adirondacks, contact one of the following folks that we met there:

  1. Jones Outfitters, located right in Lake Placid Village, 2419 Main Street, Lake Placid, NY, contact proprietor Chris Williamson, 518) 523-3468
  2. Expert guide, Ken Kalil, email:, phone (518) 524-2697 or website:

For the latest river conditions and fishing reported a frequently updated link can be found here:  The New York State inland trout fishing season opens April 1, but much of the Ausable is open all year long and is a catch and release stream, so be sure you know where you are.  Check the game syllabus. We released all of our fish.

Lastly, guess what?  They were right!  I’m officially hooked on the fun memory of learning new things about fishing with a fly rod in my hand and the peacefulness we enjoyed on this trip.  None of us can wait to get back there again!

Wishing tight lines to all.