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Fly-fishing class will teach students the basics of the activity

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Even when it’s cold outside, the Community Learning Center at San Juan College offers opportunities for outdoor learning.

A new schedule of community classes, the Spring I Continuum, is now available, and registration began Wednesday.

“Throughout the year, our mission is to provide lifelong learning opportunities to enhance the mind, body and spirit,” said Community Learning Center director Liesl Dees. “Part of that involves getting outside through field trips, exploring world-class opportunities in our region and restoring our souls through nature.”

Outdoor classes in the spring schedule include three Encore cultural field trips, “Rio Grande Pueblos: San Ildefonso,” “Along the Rio Grande: Spanish Colonial New Mexico” and “The Civil War in New Mexico,” all with instructor Mike Lawson.

In a more active class, Linda Wheelbarger, who has taught at San Juan College since 1999, will take students to explore the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness south of Farmington to learn how to use GPS technology and maps.

For students who want to get outside on the river, TJ Jimerson will teach “Learn to Fly Fish,” as he has done at San Juan College for more than 20 years.

“Fishing in the wintertime is just as good, if not better, as the summertime,” said Jimerson, who has been a guide on the San Juan River for more than 35 years.

In the spring, riverflow on the San Juan River can reach 5,000 cubic feet per second, but that’s never the case in winter, he said. He finds fewer people fishing on the San Juan in winter months, and aspiring anglers often have more time in their schedules to take the class.

“In the summertime, people would rather be out fishing than in a classroom,” he said.

The fishing class includes four classroom sessions from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday nights at San Juan College East in Aztec. Students will learn about safety, gear and entomology while inside, and then they will go outside on three field trips to practice casting and fish on the San Juan River.

“If we know it’s going to be a bad day, we’ll change the schedule, but we’ve had fabulous days in the snow,” Jimerson said.

With more than two dozen wintertime classes behind him, Jimerson has experienced many days that have been chilly but not freezing.

“We learn how to dress and be prepared,” he said.

“Learn to Fly Fish” is appropriate for ages 14 and up, and past students have included parents and children, as well as couples. Jimerson enjoys the variety of students who enroll in the class.

“I’ve noticed that a lot of women feel intimidated, even though they’d like to learn the sport,” he said, recalling a husband-and-wife team who recently took the class in which “the wife outfished everyone in the class.”

By taking the class, Jimerson added, “You get to meet a lot of new friends and potential fishing partners.”

Plus, there’s another advantage to fishing in the winter.

“You don’t have to worry about the mosquitoes,” he said.

Enrollment for “Learn to Fly Fish” began Wednesday through the Community Learning Center at San Juan College. The first day of class is Jan. 11, and the entire class costs $79 for 26 hours of class time.

For more information and to enroll, visit sanjuancollege.edu/clc or call the Community Learning Center at 505-566-3214.

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