Promoting fly fishing in the Hampton Roads area
Legends of the Fly, was conceived in 2013, as a way to raise awareness about fly fishing in Virginia, to increase participation in the sport, celebrate our fly fishing culture, and motivate our tribe to have fun while making a lasting and positive impact on the fishery. We strive to strengthen the catch and release ethic to support fishery conservation. In addition Legends of the Fly (LOF) is designed to raise funds for charities that have real social and environmental value.
The first LOF event hosted the FT3 Fly Fishing Film tour - the original and preeminent exhibition of fly fishing cinema. This was the first ever showing in SE Virginia. Fortuitously, the FT3 included the movie “BloodKnot” filmed by the owners of VA’s Mossy Creek Fly Fishing Brian and Colby Trow. In addition, LOF 2014 featured Legend Stu Apte who provided stories from his past experiences and historic perspectives on saltwater fly fishing and interacted with the audience during a forum Q&A session. With the largest concentration of military in the US, the Virginia Beach LOF event admission fees from 175 participants, raffle proceeds, and donations helped raise $7,500 for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. - an organization dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings.
LOF expanded to a two-day event. The FT3 Film Festival was held Saturday night, May 8th. Chico Fernandez held court in the Legend’s forum and highlighted his early red drum fishing accomplishments and related how fly fishing had affected and enriched his life. As the event grew, fees from 235 attendees, raffle proceeds, and donations helped raise $10,000 for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. On Sunday, LOF volunteers provided a casting clinic exclusively for PHW veterans, time on the water with local kayak fishing legend Cory "Ruthless" Routh and offered fly tying classes that focused on youth and bringing new anglers into the sport of fly fishing. The event provided volunteer services to 60 participants at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s newly constructed VA headquarters - the Brock Environmental Center. $1,000 was also donated to the Virginia Coastal Fly Anglers (VCFA) to recognize and support their efforts at building the community of fly anglers by offering free monthly fly tying and casting instruction and other free training and education about fly fishing.
The LOF returned to a one day format, but expanded the event to a full day schedule to accommodate free fly casting instruction, fly tying, and environmental and fly fishing club booth exhibits in addition to it’s signature Legends Forum and the FT3 Film Tour. Looking to expand the reach of our sport and engage a diverse audience, LOF 2016’s featured Legends were the Able Women. The Able Women spoke of their passion for fly fishing, overcoming personal and public challenges and impress all that it’s cool to “cast like a girl”. Several of the Able Women were also vets and PHW ambassadors which provided cross promotion of these two worthy organizations. In 2016 LOF focused its fundraising on environmental NGOs that were active locally and statewide to protect and restore fishery habitat and educate students about the role of clean water on fishery resources.
Besting previous years’ fundraising, 255 attendees’ raffle proceeds, and donations helped raise $15,000 for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), Lynnhaven River Now!, and Trout Unlimited’s local school program Trout in the Classroom. Donations were also made to support the education and outreach efforts of the Able Women. Having a strong commitment to Project Healing Waters, LOF expanded its fundraising in 2016 to include a fall charity fishing tournament on October 1, 2016. Designed as a no kill, slam style tournament, teams of two anglers competed to catch the largest slam combination of speckled trout, red drum, and summer flounder with striped bass as a wild card species. Several teams “slammed” and lots of quality fish were caught and released. With the strong support of Mossy Creek Fly Fishing, VCFA and TU volunteers, and others, proceeds from 17 team registrations and raffle items raised $2,700 for PHW. On 10/2/16, tournament participants joined LOF volunteers in a river cleanup and removed over 600lbs. of trash and floatable debris from the Lynnhaven River.
In 2017, LOF, with its presenting sponsor Tail Fly Fishing Magazine, was honored to host SE Virginia’s only showing of the Fly Fishing Film Tour. World famous skier and tarpon angler, Andy Mill was our guest speaker and gave a wonderful presentation on the mechanics for efficiently fighting monster fish. Attendees took advantage of free casting instruction, some by Andy himself (!), and expert fly tying instruction from our local partners - the Virginia Coastal Fly Anglers, Trout Unlimited, and Project Healing Waters. We’re thankful for our many sponsors and the items they donated for the silent auction and bucket raffles. Because of our sponsors’ many gifts, participants received killer goodie bags and we were able to raise over $5,000 for local environmental organizations that work tirelessly to support water quality and fishery habitatrestoration. We’re grateful for the work of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Lynnhaven River Now!, the Bill Wills SE Virginia Chapter of TU, and the Elizabeth River Project!