I think the healing powers of fly fishing and the one-on-one attention from a mentor will build self-confidence and be fun for the kids. 

Mentor

Grand Rapids, Michigan Project

Grand Rapids, Michigan Project

Lead Mentor: Bob Lett

Project location: West Michigan – Grand Rapids, MI

Year project founded: 2020

Mentors on this team: 14

Children mentored to date: 8

Children to be mentored in 2022: 10

Local foster care partners: Wellspring Lutheran Services, Bethany Christian, Arbor Circle, Samaritas. 

Local companies that support this project: Nomad Anglers, Orvis Grand Rapids, WACS Adventure.

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Grand Rapids, Michigan Project

“West Michigan has a culture of fishing and a culture of giving; this project marries the two perfectly. We cannot wait to teach this hobby to our local youth”. 

Caitlin Nelson

Mentor, Grand Rapids, Michigan Project

Project Mentors

BOB LETT, LEAD MENTOR

Rockford, Michigan

“A PA Native I was fortunate enough to grow up among many Class A trout streams. Although I did not start out fly fishing, I grew up on the water as a spin fisherman. It wasn’t until I was in college that I met some new fishing buddies who showed me the world renowned streams throughout Pennsylvania and expanded my horizons to larger fish in the Salmon River in NY. I moved to Michigan in 2017 and have been exploring the beautiful landscape, lakes, streams and rivers that this state has to offer. Growing up, I was a Boy Scout which started my journey into coaching and leadership. I was also a ski instructor and race coach in PA and NH. Outside of fishing and my long list of hobbies, I am a Husband and Father of 3 children that I enjoy exploring the outdoors with. I look forward to sharing my passion of fishing and the outdoors with The Mayfly Project.”

ANN MILLER, MENTOR

Benton Harbor, Michigan

Ann Miller has been fishing her entire life, and can now say that she has been exclusively fly fishing for more than half that time. A life member of Fly Fishers International and Trout Unlimited, she decided to become more active in the Great Lakes Council of the FFI over 20 years ago, becoming editor of the now defunct newsletter, The Leader. Editing quickly lead to writing, and before long she was penning essays for other publications.

While teaching beginning and intermediate fly fishing schools, she became frustrated with the lack of comprehensive Midwest information on insect hatches, taxonomy, behavior, and flies to match them. An aquatic biologist, she decided to tackle the world of bugs head on, and the result is the Hatch Guide for Upper Midwest Streams. The field guide was published in January, 2012 by Frank Amato Publications.

In addition to writing, Ann is a founder and current president of Flygirls, an organization whose purpose is to help women become involved in fly fishing. The club was founded in 1996 and continues in its purpose to teach women to fly fish as well as provide fly fishing and fly tying outings in Michigan and beyond. More information on Flygirls can be found at http://flygirls.ws.

LINDY IHRMAN, MENTOR

West Olive, Michigan

I have loved the outdoors and fishing my entire life. While I fist learned to fly fish earlier in my life I have recently come to feel very passionate about the sport. There is nothing like standing in a stream teaming with life and surrounded by natural beauty to feel you are a part of something bigger than yourself and to feel it’s healing properties my soul longs for.

Before joining The Mayfly Project I am an active member of Flygirls of Michigan who help women get more involved in fly fishing as well as volunteer as a casting instructor for Trout Unlimited’s Stream Girls which teaches young girls the benefits of fly fishing. I am truly excited to be a mentor for the West Michigan Chapter of the Mayfly Project and working with our local foster care kids on the healing powers of fly fishing.

MARCUS DEJA, MENTOR

Ada, Michigan

Marcus has always had a passion for the outdoors. As a child he grew up camping, backpacking and hiking with his family. These early experiences rooted in the outdoors have developed over time to include a recognition of the importance of conservation. By participating in an introductory fly-fishing course at a local fly shop in 2013, Marcus was able to find a channel for conservation. He later joined the Coldwater River Action Group (CRAG) to bring these ideas to life. He is still a member of CRAG where he and his colleagues actively look to improve the quality of the Coldwater River and bring community members closer to this resource. As an educator, Marcus has served students in Kent County since 2009. Through the Mayfly Project he is able to bring the joys of nature to children in foster care.

JAMIE VAUGHAN, MENTOR

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Jamie Vaughan is the Project Manager for Trout Unlimited’s Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative. Through her work, Jamie’s had great success using fly fishing as a tool for hands on environmental education. She is passionate about getting youth outdoors to explore Michigan’s cold-water streams through citizen science and recreation. Jamie strongly believes in the power of outdoor recreation to improve social health and wellness. She looks forward to mentoring foster children using her background as an environmental scientist and her passion for fly fishing and outdoor adventure. Through a love of fly fishing, Jamie believes that children develop a relationship with the natural world that helps them become empowered environmental stewards through adulthood.

KIM SEARS, MENTOR

Rockford, Michigan

As a Michigan native, I grew up on the Thornapple River fishing for panfish and bass.  I was handed down my first fly rod at the age of 10 and fell in love.  I got away from fly fishing in my 20s when I tried the bass tournament scene for a few years.  When the tournament fishing became work, I lost a lot of the interest that got me into it, so I went back to fly fishing and tying my flies. My fly-casting experience ranges from trout on delicate 4-weight and micro-spey trout rods to bass and steelhead on heavy 9-weight two-handed and full Spey rods, yes, even Tenkara.  I enjoy tying simple flies that only take a couple of materials and can be tied in just a few minutes. Losing them doesn’t hurt so bad. Sometimes when I’m fly fishing I will just stop to listen to the river and the birds, and just take in nature while I look for rising fish. I am one of the few male members of Fly girls of Michigan and as the father of three daughters, I am excited to see more women on the water enjoying this beautiful sport. Outside of fly fishing – I am a designer in the tool and die trade, a volunteer guide for West Michigan Kayaking and Paddle Club, and a member of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. I look forward to sharing my fly-casting and fly-tying knowledge with The Mayfly Project mentees.

TRENT JACKSON, MENTOR

Grand Rapids, Michigan

A Grand Rapids native, Trent has spent his life pursuing all things recreation. In his time spent earning a bachelor’s degree in Outdoor Recreation Leadership and Management, Trent developed his knowledge in wilderness first response, multi-week back-country trips, classroom management as well as resource management. Coupling this skill set with his knowledge of a variety of fisheries, Trent has developed the Fly-Fishing classes and trip offerings at Orvis Grand Rapids, where he works as the Fly Fishing Manager, creating a “funnel” of growth opportunities within the sport for his patrons. He is also involved with his local Trout Unlimited Chapter and the Rogue River Tree Army, encouraging others in the community to get involved with conserving and preserving our natural resources. Trent has a joy and passion for teaching that’s contagious, rarely will you see him without a smile on his face grinning from ear to ear. You can find him exploring new places with his wife, Morgan, and dog, Titus. When asked, Trent mentioned that “Faith, family, friends and fishing are his main pursuits.”

GARY LINDQUIST, MENTOR

Caledonia, Michigan

Retired Critical Care Paramedic and EMS Instructor/ Coordinator living in Caledonia MI just south of Grand Rapids. Started fishing brook trout as a kid in Michigan’s UP. Started tying my own flies in the 1990s and building fly rods around 2000. Member Schrems Trout Unlimited, Board of Directors for Great Lakes Council Fly Fishers International, President of the Grand Valley Fly Fishers charter club FFI, Member Custom Rod Builder’s Guild, Member Michigan Rod Builder’s.
Favorite fish – cold water Brook, Brown, and Rainbow Steelhead
Warm water Smallmouth Bass. Bluegill

CAITLIN NELSON, MENTOR

Augusta, Michigan

I was eleven when I started fly fishing and I haven’t been able to stop since. I started by joining my dad and some family friends on the Pere Marquette fishing for Kings. I have yet to miss a year for our annual trip. My passion for fly fishing was burning bright and when I graduated college, I decided I wanted to branch into more than just Kings – so I joined Fly Girls – a group of women in Michigan who all like to Fly Fish. It’s in this group that I learned of TMP and when there wasn’t a local branch, I worked with the National project to bring it to West Michigan! I have never been more surrounded by incredible people as I have sitting next to my fellow mentors. I learn something new every time we get together and am incredibly grateful.

SUSAN SEARS, MENTOR

Rockford, Michigan

Susan has fished most of her life; her earliest memories are worm fishing with her sisters in a canoe. Her introduction to Flyfishing was about ten years ago when she met her husband, Kim Sears. She is an active member of Fly girls of Michigan, an organization that teaches women to fly fish, and organizes an annual Steelhead fishing trip. She is also a Registered Nurse working in a Pediatric setting and has acquired her Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) certification. Additionally, she works part-time as a Freelance writer, writing on various topics. She has volunteered with Stream Girls as a casting and fly-tying instructor and now spends her time mentoring with the Mayfly Project.

NIC BITTING, MENTOR

Grand Rapids, Michigan

My love of fishing started when my grandpa took me to the local pond and taught me to catch sunfish with a bamboo rod and a bobber. These days my gear is a little bit better and (most days) the fish are a little bit bigger. I learned to fly fish during college when I worked as a white-water rafting guide on the Yellowstone River. After college I moved to Seattle and had a blast fishing the rivers, streams, and alpine lakes of the Northwest. I moved to Grand Rapids in 2018 and have enjoyed learning the rivers and lakes of West Michigan. I like to target brown trout and steelhead when fly fishing; I also kayak fish for bass and pike on the Grand River. For me, being on the water and observing nature is the best part of this passion we share.

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Grand Rapids, Michigan Project

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