Last weekend, Chichester in West Sussex played host to the first-ever Orvis Saltwater Fly Fishing Festival. Sixty anglers took part in the inaugural event ably supported by the team at Orvis UK, you can read how it went and what was caught below.
The fishing marks were located in Chichester, and the nearby town of Hayling and Thorney Island. The weather was perfect weather and offered excellent fishing for the 60+ anglers.
There were plenty of wide grins on the faces of the angler’s with bass, mackerel, garfish and even a Dover sole landed on the fly. The winning species ranged from a 53cm thick-lipped mullet to a whopping 66cm Garfish.
Masterclasses were held on the beaches for beginners and veteran anglers alike with a group of four expert festival guides, covering a range of different saltwater fly fishing tactics. Colin Macleod’s Mullet Masterclasses took place both in-store and on the beaches and were well attended by those looking to catch their first mullet on the fly.
Neville Broad and Philip Spratt met beginners on the beaches to assist with advice on marks, casting and tactics. Michael Rescorle held some small-guided sessions with non-competitors who pre-booked to introduce new people to the joys of saltwater fly fishing.
Brian Campbell-Kearsey, Orvis UK’s head of marketing said; “We are delighted to have hosted what turned out to be a magical weekend for 60 angler’s who attended our inaugural Orvis Saltwater Fly Fishing Festival.”
He added, “After what has been a difficult year for everyone, our team are happy to have successfully hosted a safe and social event for anglers who attended to practice, learn more and make new friends in the fly fishing community. We ensured the festival was COVID compliant and all made to feel safe with the policies put in place in the store. We are looking forward to building on this next year and hope to see many more new faces.”
The Orvis Saltwater Fly Fishing Festival had Andy Ford from BT Sport’s ‘On The Bank‘ in attendance, and he filmed a show covering the whole weekend. This is set to be aired on Monday 21st September 2020 via the BT Sport channel.
For those who’ve yet to experience fishing from the coast, south of Chichester, let me tell you it is an amazing experience. I recall heading down to the pebbled beaches with my good friend and beach-distance-casting champion Julian. We’d pitch up a tent, bait the hooks and cast out over the surf. The great thing about beach fishing is it’s available to all irrespective of experience levels.
On one occasion, Julian and I were packing up to go home at around 5:00 am and he started mumbling that he’d hooked a load of seaweed while reeling-in. It wasn’t seaweed; it was, in fact, the largest beach caught bass in the UK at that point in time and weighed in at nigh on 20lbs!
Admittedly, we weren’t fishing with a fly like the anglers at the Fly Fishing Festival, but it does give you some idea of what is possible and should whet keen anglers appetites for next year’s event!
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Photography courtesy of Tom Young and Orvis UK.