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Sophomore Matteo Moretti shows a brown trout he caught and released last summer on a river in central Pennsylvania.

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Student Filmmaker/Blogger Finds His Inspiration in Fly Fishing

September 26, 2018

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – A Middlebury sophomore from New Jersey who leads the College’s fly-fishing club participated in a select three-week Brook Trout Odyssey sponsored by Trout Unlimited during the summer of 2018.

During the trip, Matteo Moretti ’21, three other undergraduates, and a PhD student fished for brook trout across the state of Pennsylvania, interviewing scientists and conservationists to learn how the native trout were coping with climate change, pollution, overdevelopment, and other pressures. Moretti, who combines a love for fishing with his interest in film production and writing, produced a short video and a longer documentary film, posted an essay on the Orvis website, and now writes for a popular fly-fishing blog called The Wade.

Moretti is a catch-and-release fisherman who is more interested in connecting with nature than in catching a trophy fish and mounting it on the wall.

“Being a fisherman is about being an environmentalist,” he says. “And without practicing catch and release, I cannot give the fish the respect it deserves. It’s thrilling to let a fish slide out of your grasp and back into the water knowing all along that it will live another day to give another fisherman the same experience you just had.”

The Cranford, N.J., resident started fishing when he was six years old. He competed in the youth division of bass fishing events, and his high school fishing team (which he and a friend started) won the New Jersey state championship in 2016.

“Fishing for me is as much about the fish as it is about the places it can bring you, the things you can see and experience, the people you will meet, and the memories you make along the way,” he said. “It’s about being a steward to your environment out of respect for nature, respect for the fish, and respect for their future existence.”

Moretti prefers fly fishing over other forms of fishing “because it is an art form in itself. Whether it’s tying your own flies or the rhythmic nature of casting or simply watching others fly fish, I always feel so much more connected to nature when I fly fish. And the places it has taken me have been incredible—from glacial alpine lakes in the Rockies fishing for cutthroat trout to finding new populations of brook trout underneath a highway overpass in Pennsylvania.

“Regardless of where I am, I always find something beautiful in nature when I am fishing. It can be a three-inch long brookie (brook trout) or an 18-inch-long rainbow trout,” he explained. “As any fisherman will tell you, it’s about connecting with nature and not the size of the fish.”

Matteo Moreti, left, uses the "bow and arrow" method of casting a fly in tight quarters during the Trout Unlimited excusion last summer. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Moretti was elected president of the Middlebury College fly-fishing club, or MiddFly, as a first-year student in 2017, and the organization is now thriving with members who text each other on a moment’s notice to say, “Hey, let’s go out and fish.” They also plan outings in Vermont, conduct fly-tying clinics on campus, and teach newcomers how to cast a fly rod on dry land. Last year they collaborated with a mountaineering shop to raise money for the local preservationist organization called the New Haven River Anglers Association.

As a sophomore, Moretti will be declaring a major soon. And after his summer of fishing for brook trout in the East and working as a fly-fishing guide in Colorado, he has decided to double major in environmental studies in combination with film and media culture.

“I am passionate about storytelling, fishing, and conservation, so this double major will be perfect for me. I love to be outdoors and to tell stories, and I have seen how fishing can be a way to bring about positive change to people. It can bring hope to people. It can teach you to breathe, to relax, and that everything is okay, and I really do believe that.”

1 Comment

I was an fairly avid fly fisherman a few years ago but I got away from it. I think I'm getting the bug again pun. North Georgia has some fairly good streams to fish in and I've got three kids that I need to introduce to all of the outdoor sports I can. Saul T. Jake

by Saul T. Jake (not verified)

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