The first ever Maine Fly Fishing Summer Showcase is a wrap! What an amazing time it was checking out the 20+ vendors that made their way from all over Maine and beyond! It was amazing to see so many influential people from one of the greatest fly fishing states in the country all in one place. I had a blast, and I’m sure all in attendance did as well.
From 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, the expo was held at Thomas Point Beach in Brunswick, which was both scenic and convinient, being a little more than a two-hour drive from my house in northeastern Massachusetts, as well as other fly fishing hubs in Maine like Rangeley and Greenville.
Upon entrance, my dad and I were charged a meager $4 fee at the beach’s gate, and were pleased to see the large line of vendor tents just down the dirt road. The crowd of fly fishing enthusiasts was a welcome sight as we stepped out of the car, and I couldn’t wait to share some thoughts on my favorite pastime with countless like-minded individuals. No doubt the beautiful weather was partly to thank for the large turnout. On our way up, we encountered some elephant tears pouring from the sky in Kittery, but once we got to Portland and beyond it was clear skies and open roads.
My first stop was at the Sebago TU booth, where I learned about the amazing work being done to reconnect Sebago Lake’s native landlocked salmon population to its historic spawning grounds by way of dam removal. In addition, for just a $5 donation, I recieved a copy of Why I Fly Fish by Chris Santella, an intriguing work that I’m already really enjoying.
Next, I met one of fly tying’s biggest up-and-comers, Sabin Piatek. He had some monstrous saltwater flies adorning his exhibit, a few as large as my forearm that dwarfed the 8/0 hooks they were tied on. Even though this kid is just my age, I can already tell that he’s going places in the industry.
After Sabin’s booth, I headed over to H&H’s tent, where I chatted with the likes of Nate Wight of N.W. Fly Co. and Edward Muzeroll, or Muzzy, a well known Atlantic Salmon tier. Both had great insights on improving my tying game, which I truly appreciated coming from some of the best tiers in the country.
At the Old Town display, I met Jesse Rochester, the man behind Mainely Outdoors. It was cool to hear his thoughts on one of Maine’s most well-known L.L. salmon fisheries, that being Grand Lake Stream. I’ve enjoyed watching his videos for many years now, so it was cool to finally meet him in-person.
I just had to take a trip over to my good friends at Native Fish Coalition, where we discussed some of the work they’re doing up there in Maine, as well as the projects we have going on down here in Massachusetts. Maine chair Tom Johnson convinced me to pick up a copy of his book after telling some incredible stories about angling in Nova Scotia.
Before heading over to my final stop of the day, I talked with Greg LaBonte from Maine Fly Guys about my dream of becoming a college professor of fisheries biology in the future. Greg is a professor of biology at UNE, so it was super helpful to hear his tips on creating a successful career path for myself.
Finally, I wanted to make one final stop at Maine Fly Company, the premier fly rod company in Maine. Jeff Davis, the owner of the company, was the one who worked with Greg to put this whole shabang together. But I wasn’t just over there to talk-I had plans to test cast a small-stream brookie stick, and I knew they made some pretty sweet ones. I’ve always thought it would be cool to hike into a mountain stream with a locally-made glass three-weight and a little Batenkill reel, but I have plenty of more responsible purchases to make before I’ll likely get my hands on that puppy. In the meantime, I just wanted to know what it would feel like to cast a short, light rod made for the kind of backcountry fishing I love. The answer? Buttery smooth. Their 6′ 6″ Little River 2 wt. cast exceptionally easily for its petite nature and moderate action. I look forward to working with MFC more in the future as I get closer to purchasing my long-sought-for setup, but I fear I still have a while longer to wait.
As I headed back to the car, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for all the amazing people that made this event possible. A huge thanks to Maine Fly Guys and Maine Fly Company for making this possible, as well as all the amazing vendors and donors who really got the show on the road. At the end of the afternoon, all $4,500 of the proceeds went to Project Healing Waters, a group dedicated to giving wounded veterans restorative outlet. All I can say is I can’t wait for next year (winky face).