CWRU Vies in International Fly-Fishing Competition
On world stage, casts Cleveland outside industrial mold
In a city remembered for a burning river, students in John Orlock’s SAGES seminar at Case Western Reserve University not only study the centuries of literature devoted to the sport of fly fishing, but pick up a rod and learn to fly cast.
“The course explores a human activity that connects with nature, an activity whose introspective aspects help the individual also connect with their self, with their soul,” says Orlock, a professor of English and longtime angler. “Ideally, the seminar provides students with the impetus to be involved with fly fishing not just for a semester, but for a lifetime.”
Orlock’s seminar, Fly Fishing: the Sport, the Metaphysics, & the Literature, caught the attention of two professors from the Limerick Institute of Technology. They invited this city school to compete in an international fly-fishing competition on Aug. 28 and 29.
A teacher and student from Case Western Reserve will go up against pairs of anglers from the University of Montana, the state synonymous with the sport, and about a dozen universities from Europe. They will meet at the first Lough Corrib World Varsities Trout Fly Fishing Competition, in Cong, Ireland this weekend.
Orlock will travel with the team but stay in the background.
Chemistry Professor John Protasiewicz will take the faculty spot. Evan Maynard, a sophomore from San Jose, Calif., who took Orlock’s course last fall, is his teammate.
“John is a much better fisherman than I am. And lucky,” Orlock said. “We’re going into a situation that’s very much unknown… Luck is important.”
Protasiewicz is among a number of faculty and staff at Case Western Reserve who fish for steelhead in rivers that feed Lake Erie.
Maynard, who is studying aerospace and mechanical engineering, has been fishing since he was 4 and began fly fishing two years ago.
Students who sought a place on the team wrote brief essays and were interviewed by Orlock and Protasiewicz. Finalists were put through a test that required them to cast while standing and while seated on an exercise ball.
In Ireland, the competitors will cast while seated in boats in Lough Corrib, one of the country’s largest lakes, instead of standing in waders in a stream. There, the fishing technique involves casting three or four flies on a line, a much trickier maneuver than casting a single fly.
The Orvis Corporation is sponsoring Maynard, paying his competition fees and lodging, meals, boats and guides.
“Orvis is thrilled to be able to participate in this event and help Case Western Reserve University take part in the competition,” said Blair Cameron, manager of Orvis Cleveland.
The catch-and-release competition will award points based on the length of each trout caught. Prizes will be awarded to the top angler each day and to the top three teams for their overall catch.