Looking for something to get your fly fishing season off on the right foot? Mark your calendars now to attend the 8th Annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival on April 19-20, 2008.
Held on the banks of the South River in Waynesboro, the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival is the largest fly fishing event in the mid-Atlantic and draws anglers from across the east coast. Here’s where you can learn all the latest techniques and gear and then walk right over to the river and try them for yourself. The event began in 1999 by the Waynesboro Downtown Development Incorporated wanted to draw business to the town of Waynesboro, and by all measures that goal has been met. Last year attendees drove from as far as New Jersey and North Carolina to get in on the action.
Festival sponsor Orvis returns this year with their “Orvis Instructional Tent” complete with gear for attendees to try out streamside. Other festival sponsors include Dominion, St. Croix, Water Skeeter, The City of Waynesboro, SunTrust Bank, Brookside Flies, Virginia Sportsman, Augusta County, Virginia Living, WDDI, Alaska Trophy Adventures, Red Fish Roy, Appomattox River Company, Hog Island Boat Works, By the Side of the Road B&B,Garden and Gun and the Speckled Trout B&B.
Virginia’s Fly Angler of the Year
The highlight of the weekend is the Festival VIP Dinner, where event organizers will announce this year’s recipient of the Virginia Fly Angler of the Year Award. Tickets for the dinner are $35 apiece and sell out well in advance of the festival. Last year’s Virginia Fly Angler of the Year Award went to John Ross, author of Trout Unlimited’s 100 Best Trout Streams. Ross was selected because of his unwavering efforts at helping restore the cold water fisheries of Virginia.
Although conservation is a big part of the festival, there is certainly plenty of fun to be had as well. Many would be and experienced fly anglers, took casting classes with Bob Clouser last year. Bob’s classes are back so don’t miss out! You should bring your own rod, but if you can’t, don’t let that stop you. Orvis will be happy to let you use one of their new rods in this great class which begins at 8:30 on Saturday and Sunday and concludes at 11:00.The $75 fee includes admission to the festival.
Meet the Experts
Noted fly anglers from across the Mid-Atlantic will speak on a variety of topics and this is where you can meet and greet all those folks that you read about in the pages of publications like The Chesapeake Angler. King Montgomery, Dusty Wissmath, Capt. Brian Shumaker, Capt. Gary DuBiel, and a host of other speakers will dish out the information on what you’ll need to get your season off to a good start.
Learn new patterns by saddling up to the Fly Tyer’s Row sponsored by Brookside Flies. Here’s your chance to meet legendary popping bug maker Walt Cary and a variety of other tyers. I’ll also be on hand to sign copies of my new book Fly Fishing Virginia: A No Nonsense Guide to Top Waters which gives you all the low down on 39 locations to fish in Virginia. If you’re reading this column, I’d like to meet you in person and see what you’d like to read about in the upcoming season.
If you’re up on how to cast and where to go, but you’re looking for a new way to get there, stop by the very popular “On the Water Instructional Tent.” Captain Cory Routh, a noted expert of kayaking will offer classes on how to manage and outfit your kayak for fly fishing. Also take a spin down the South River on one of Hog Islands Boat Works latest water crafts or check out the latest kayaks with Appomattox River Outfitters. If you think that kayaks and drift boats just aren’t your cup of tea, no problem, test drive one of WaterSkeeters new float tubes. You can also see their new one and two angler pontoon boats.
Between demonstrations and lectures, sample fine wines from a number of noted Virginia wineries—tastings are included with festival admission—while you listen to live riverside music. If you’d rather pull up a good magazine while you sitting riverside you’re in luck. Get the latest copy of Virginia Living, Virginia Sportsman or new comer Garden and Gun and see what’s new in the world of hunting, fishing, gardening or just enjoying the finer things in life. You can find all this and much more in the latest issues of these fine magazines.
Last but not least be sure to try your hand at wining over $10,000 worth of raffle prizes. This year’s Grand Prize is a week’s fishing at Alaska Trophy Adventures Lodge, which includes round trip airfare from Dulles International Airport. Go fish in the wilds of Alaska and catch trophy rainbows and salmon till your arms hurt, or check out the majestic scenery with eagles and grizzlies galore. Tickets are just $20 each, and only 350 Grand Prize tickets will be sold. Alternate Grand Prizes include a Water Skeeter pontoon boat or a fully outfitted kayak. There will also be groups of raffle prizes that run in the $300-$500 range like rod and reel packages and weekend get a ways at local B&B’s. Hey if you can win weekends worth of fishing and have a new rod and reel thrown in, why not go for it? The Virginia Fly Fishing Festival is truly a one-of-a-kind event—monies received from sponsors, vendors, ticket sales, and raffles are used to cover the cost of next year’s festival with the remainder going to fund conservation efforts across Virginia.
The Virginia Fly Fishing Festival is proud to receive the support of the Virginia Council of Trout Unlimited and the Federation of Fly Fishers. Daily admission to the festival is $12 per person, and the festival runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For more information about the festival, visit www.vaflyfishingfestival.org.