Waynesboro to celebrate river, fishing with annual festival

Fly anglers from across the country will celebrate the 11th annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival on April 16-17. Held on the banks of the South River in Waynesboro, the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival is the largest outdoor fly fishing event in the country that offers on-stream instruction. Only here can you learn all the latest techniques from the experts and then walk right over to the river and try them for yourself.

This year, our festival sponsors include Temple Fork Outfitters, Dominion, Subaru, Orvis, Hanover Fly Fishers, Augusta Health, DuPont Community Credit Union, Eastern Fly Fishing, the City of Waynesboro, Montana Fly Company, Blue Ridge Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Virginia Sportsman, Appomattox River Company, The Georgetowner, Mid-Valley Press, Tidal Potomac Fly Rodders, and Waynesboro Downtown Development Inc.

The highlight of the weekend is the Festival Foundation Dinner sponsored by Dominion, at which the festival committee presents the 2011 Virginia Fly Angler of the Year Award. Tickets for the all-you-can-eat prime rib buffet are $50 apiece and sell out well in advance of the festival.

Last year many attendees enjoyed small-group casting classes with fly fishing and fly tying expert Bob Clouser. Bob’s classes are back—don’t miss out! A new set of casting classes with master casting instructors Ed Jaworowski and Wanda Taylor will also be offered for $75.

The 2011 festival will feature noted fly anglers from across the Mid-Atlantic, including fly fishing icon Lefty Kreh, Ed Jaworowski, Bob Clouser, Wanda Taylor, King Montgomery, Dusty Wissmath, Capt. Brian Shumaker, Mike Smith, Eric Stroup, Gordon English, Colby Trow, Tom Brtalik, Bryan Kelly, Paul Rouse, and festival artist Maurice Mahler. Several expert fly tyers will also be on hand, including Captain Tommy Mattioli and Walt Cary. Kayak expert Captain Cory Routh will autograph copies of his book, Kayak Fishing: The Complete Guide, and provide riverside kayak demonstrations. Festival director and author Beau Beasley will also be autographing copies of his new book Fly Fishing the Mid-Atlantic: A No Nonsense Guide to Top Waters.

Between lectures, classes, and lunch, sample fine wines from a number of noted Virginia wineries (tastings included with festival admission). Attendees can wash down their wine with live riverside music.

Members of the Federation of Fly Fishers will help children catch native brook trout from an on-site Children’s Catch and Release Tout Pool and then release them into the South River (with the help of their parents). Members of the Tidal Potomac Fly Rodders Club, the largest FFF Club in Virginia, will also provide paid spey casting classes and offer basic fly tying tips to beginners.

Feeling lucky? Try your hand at winning over $10,000 worth of raffle prizes. This year’s Grand Prize is a week’s fishing at Alaska’s Alagnak Lodge, compliments of Hanover Fly Fishers. One lucky winner will get to fish in the wilds of Alaska for multiple species of salmon, beefy rainbow trout, and grayling. Other prizes include kayaks, high-end rod-and-reel outfits, artwork, and guided trips.

If walking around the festival grounds sounds tiring, consider taking a break in a 2011 Subaru: The conservation-minded company will be showcasing some of their newest models at the festival. Interested anglers will be happy to learn Subaru will be giving away custom-made popping bugs tied in Subaru colors by Walt Cary, the best known popping bug maker in the Mid-Atlantic. We’ll also hold a private drawing for one lucky angler to spend a weekend in the City of Hampton with a day’s fishing on the Chesapeake Bay with Captain Tommy Mattioli.

The Virginia Fly Fishing Festival is 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 the Virginia Fly Fishing Festival Foundation, which promotes conservation and stream restoration projects. Daily admission to the festival is $15 per person, and the festival runs from 9 AM-5 PM on Saturday and Sunday. For more information about the festival, visit www.vaflyfishingfestival.org.