College Offers Class in How to Catch Fish

Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula College is offering a course on fly fishing.

College Offers Class in How to Catch Fish (AP)

Curt Muse stood on the cobbled shore of a creek, casting a 3-weight fly rod upstream as a dozen students — all middle-aged or older — watched. Muse was the day’s guest lecturer for the Kenai Fishing Academy, a weeklong class offered four times a summer by Kenai Peninsula College, a branch of the University of Alaska Anchorage.


Now in its third year, the noncredit course is aimed at fishing novices or anglers new to Alaska who want to avoid learning by reading how-to books or trolling for tips from salesmen at sporting goods stores. The academy was the brainchild of Gary Turner, the college’s director and an avid fisherman who helps teach classes. “I thought, we need to educate people and teach them how to fish,” Turner said. “It just seemed natural.”

The college in Kenai, a town of about 7,000 about 155 miles southwest of Anchorage, takes up 900 feet of riverbank on the Kenai River, known for its world-class rainbow trout and king, sockeye and silver salmon. “We’re trying to push our education mission to meet the avocations of people, or their external interests,” Turner said.


For about $1,100 — $300 more with food and housing — the college offers 20 hours of classroom time and field trips that include flying to a remote lake, an excursion to the ocean or a float trip down the Kenai River. The tuition is in the same price range as that of booking individual day trips, said Atcheson, who also worked for the state as a fish and game technician.

“The idea is to teach people how to fish, but also to teach them all that goes along with being a good steward of the land and resources,” Atcheson said.

I found the headline amusing when I saw it on YahooNews. Actually, though, it’s not unusual for colleges to offer non-credit courses to “adults” on non-academic matters. And, frankly, this class is a lot more useful than a lot of for-credit courses offered by universities–indeed, whole degree programs. This is certainly more rigorous than, say, Women’s Studies.

Further, to the extent a college education is supposed to prepare students for life, what could be better than this. After all, if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for life.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ICallMasICM says:

    Finally a reason to go back to college!

  2. Mark says:

    I could see colleges offer fishing as a P.E. credit. Hell, my P.E. credit consisted of a bowling class – complete with classmates chugging brews in between turns.

    I, of course, passed, having breaking 100 only twice during the ten week class. I wonder how many fish one would be required to catch to pass…

  3. Robert says:

    Cornell has had a fly fishing course for years, according to a friend of mine.

  4. Roger says:

    I’m not a big fishing fan but if we can have courses in such things as Japanese tea service or the history of Rock n Roll, why the heck not?