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A gym class for bass

Anthony was small for his age and although he was a good athlete, by the time he got to high school he couldn't run as fast, jump as high, or throw as hard as his classmates.

After he transferred to a local prep school, he played varsity soccer for his fall sport but was unsure of what he would do in the spring. He didn't have many alternatives, it was either golf or tennis.

His father was a guest of mine and we had fished together for many years. Anthony had always accompanied him on the journeys north and by the time he was a teenager, Anthony was a proficient flyfisherman.

As the spring semester approached, Anthony sought an alternative to the usual team sports. He looked into paddled sports, biking and trail running. I offered to help in any way I could. Finally, after consulting with the school's athletic director, I agreed to serve as Anthony's angling coach.

Rather than play varsity golf or tennis, Anthony decided to take up flyfishing as his spring sport. He was the only athlete in the school to approach the playing field without wearing spikes or tennis whites. Anthony's preparation involved tying flies, prepping his leaders and patching his waders before game day.

The spring semester was consumed with outings on the Ausable, Boquet, Saranac and numerous local small streams. His opponents knew the playing field well, and they were wily, cunning and strong. Like a true sportsman, Anthony battled them in the spirit of fair play and always released his finned foes to fight another day.

He kept exacting records of fish taken, insect hatches, water temperatures and water levels. His fishing log looked like a baseball scout's tabulations. He left little to chance.

With a wealth of natural resources available throughout the Adirondack region it's a wonder that local schools don't offer similar opportunities for non-traditional athletes. The trend has already started elsewhere in the country.

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