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Speakers

Fly Fishing VirginiaBeaver Creek

Beau Beasley has fished the waters of the Old Dominion since early childhood and knows them as only
a native can. His insider’s knowledge of Virginia ranges from the mountain brook trout streams of the
Shenandoah National Park to the salty windswept shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Although he’s pursued
trout on Montana’s Bighorn River, landed every species of salmon in Alaska, and successfully brought to hand five-pound brook trout in Labrador, his first love is still fishing poppers on a Virginia farm pond. Beau has garnered multiple awards for his articles covering conservation of such diverse species as menhaden and bonefish. He has distinguished himself as a thorough, impartial investigative journalist covering thorny issues like public sporting access to local waters and lands. His writing has appeared in numerous regional and national publications. Beau serves as the Director of the Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival and the Texas Fly Fishing & Brew Festival. Don’t miss his talk “Who Owns the River: Sorting Out What Is & Isn’t a Public Fishery”

Retired Marine Jim Bensinger, owner of Fiber Flies Dubbing, is obsessed with all things fly fishing—and especially with fly tying. Bensinger has developed a line of materials derived from Alpaca, which is perfect for dubbing and user-friendly enough that amateur fly tiers will love it. Bensinger also serves as the Marine Corps Base Quantico Program Lead for Project Healing Waters. He has led hundreds of fly-tying classes and has a gift for bringing novices into the fly-tying fold. Bensinger is on the national pro staff for Norvise and will teach a specialized “Beginner Fly Tying” class as well as a specialty class on tying wet flies. Interested in being notified when registration opens for either class? Shoot us an email: Fishutopia@comcast.net.

Mac Brown of Mac Brown Fly Fishing & Guide School was the first full-time fly fishing guide in Western North Carolina. Educating fly anglers is Brown’s burning passion; he fulfills that role as an Associate Professor at Western Carolina University. He is the author of Casting Angles, and in 2017 was inducted into the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians Hall of Fame. When not on campus or on the stream, Brown teaches specialty casting classes all over the country. He’s a certified Master Casting Instructor with Fly Fishers International, and has served as a coach for multiple fly casting competitive anglers. Brown is on the pro-staff of Regal Vice, Simms, and Ross Reels, among other national brands. This year we are delighted to offer Brown’s “Advanced Fly Casting for Instructors” class. This specialty class will be held at the festival hotel on Friday, the day before the festival. This day-long class has very limited seating and includes a weekend pass to the festival. Brown will also be speaking at the festival.  To check availability for Mac’s classes click here.

Pamela Dunlap, co-founder of International Women’s Fly Fishing Day, is the founder of West Virginia’s Women Wine & Waders, a diverse group of like-minded women that contributes to the physical and emotional well-being of women when, every spring, a woman facing a health crisis receives a complimentary weekend fly-fishing getaway. Dunlap hosts and guides unique fly-fishing adventures throughout West Virginia; her newest event, Cast & Blast, is a women-only  fly-fishing-and-skeet-shooting weekend. Dunlap is WV Living magazine’s 2021 West Virginia Wonder Woman award recipient and was featured in the state magazine, Wonderful West Virginia.  She strives to inspire, educate, and support women to be the best they can be, learn new skills, and develop lasting friendships through fly fishing. Meet Pamela Dunlap and other trailblazing women at the “Ask A Female Expert” class at the 2022 Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival.

Kiki Galvin, owner of Ms. Guided Fly Fishing Services, has been a fly-fishing guide since 2002. Galvin has volunteered with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing since 2007 and was recently recognized as Volunteer of the Year for the National Capital region. Galvin is an enthusiastic instructor and a longtime member of the International Women Fly Fishers. As in years past, she will be teaching our incredibly popular free walk-up casting classes again this year.

As a child Kaitlin Groundwater chased smallmouth bass on a fly rod in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in International Relations (and minors in French and Chemistry), Groundwater went to work for Orvis teaching fly-casting and fly-tying classes; she also taught several on-the-water fly-fishing schools on techniques for fishing for trout and bass. Heading West, Groundwater managed Madison Valley Ranch–an Orvis-endorsed fly fishing lodge in Ennis, Montana–and explored Southwest Montana’s finest trout fisheries including the Madison, Yellowstone, Big Hole, and Missouri rivers. Since then Groundwater has returned to her fly fishing roots: She founded Hook Set Fly Fishing, through which she offers everything from beginner casting classes to fly-tying classes to guided trips on rivers and streams throughout the DC-MD-VA region. She is eager to share her knowledge of fly fishing and Virginia streams with anglers of all skill levels.

For more than 30 years Mike Heck has fished Pennsylvania’s Cumberland Valley, learning the art of fly fishing on some of the hardest and most famous spring creeks in the country. With a degree in forestry from Penn State University, professional trout guide Heck understands the complex interaction of foliage, insect, and stream. He is the author of Spring Creek Strategies, the co-author of Tying Dry Flies and Keystone Fly Fishing, and has had articles published in Fly Fisherman, American Angler, and Fish and Fly magazines. Heck has also appeared on Road Trip USA, a Discovery channel television show that aired across Europe. He is an innovative fly tyer, with several patterns credited to his name. His signature fly patterns are used worldwide and when not tying    Heck guides on the Falling Springs, Big Spring, Letort, Yellow Breeches and other great trout streams in south central Pennsylvania.

Dr. Andrij Horodysky has been a Signature Fly Designer for Umpqua Feather Merchants since 2001, and holds BS, MS, and PhD degrees in Marine Science. His expertise is in studies of fish sensory ecology, behavior, and conservation. Presently an Faculty member at Hampton University, Andrij’s fisheries research career has ranged from chasing marlin around the Caribbean’s high seas with satellite tags, flashing lights at fish eyes and sounds at gamefish ears, and rigging security cameras, beauty mirrors, and yoga mats to measure fish temperature preferences. Andrij’s creative interdisciplinary research has resulted in 30 scientific publications as well as numerous awards and honors from scientific and angler organizations. Andrij approaches fly design like he approaches his career as a fisheries scientist – thinking intensely from the fish’s perspective. His patterns are born of scientific observations and experiments; his “Sci-fly” tying philosophy applies tenets of aquatic optics and fish sensory physiology – a unique voice in the industry. Combining light-bending synthetics to give impressions of movement with the breathability and silhouette of natural materials, he developed the Toadfish, Angora Shrimp, Epoxy Mudbug, Ripcord Caddis, Nitro Caddis Pupa, Brasstards, Mohawk Beetle, and Mopsicle series. His uniquely engineered patterns exploit vulnerabilities in fish sensory systems and have been effective worldwide in fresh and salt. Be sure to stop by Andrij’s booth and purchase a selection of his unique patterns. Want to learn how to time them yourself? Be sure to take in his demonstrations in the Featured Fly Tier’s area.

Captain Chris Karwacki, a pro-staffer for Sage, is a third-generation angler who has spent his entire life fishing the Chesapeake and the coastal bays of Maryland and Virginia. During the mid-1990s he began fishing Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds almost exclusively, to pursue the speckled trout and striped bass that thrive in the surrounding islands, marshes, and grass flats of the region. For Karwacki, nothing is more rewarding than providing a high-quality experience for his anglers. Whether it is a first-ever-caught fish or a trophy fish on the fly rod, anglers tend to fall in love with this beautiful and remote region of the Chesapeake Bay. Karwacki’s presentation titled “Fly Fishing the Chesapeake Backcountry” will cover the tackle and tactics you need to fish for striped bass and speckled trout in the flats and shallows of the Bay’s Tangier Sound region.

Swansboro, North Carolina-based fly-fishing guide and fly-rod builder Captain John Mauser has been fishing the fresh and salt waters of the Tar Heel State for more than 35 years. Since 2012 Mauser’s Tailing Tide Guide Service has run fresh and saltwater charters in pursuit of everything from shad and striped bass to redfish, speckled trout, flounder, mackerel, albacore, shark, and more. In 2013 Mauser helped establish the Crystal Coast Program for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, which rehabilitates disabled military veterans through fly fishing and fly tying. In 2014 Mauser helped re-form the Cape Lookout Albacore Festival and served as a board member for its first five years. All the funds raised from this festival are donated to Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. In 2017, marrying his attention to detail and commitment to excellence with his love for fly fishing and passion to bring new enthusiasts into the sport, Mauser launched Mauser Fly Fishing, which manufactures American-made high performance fly rods. Handcrafting the best fly rods is the greatest challenge he has ever undertaken, says Mauser—and he loves every second of it.

Wayne McGee‘s lifelong dream has been to run a world-class fishing operation on a prolific river system in Alaska’s Bristol Bay. Luckily for his many clients, McGee’s dream came true! For the past 18 years, McGee has fished across Alaska–including his “home water,” the Alagnak River, where you’ll find his Alaska Trophy Adventures Lodge. McGee doesn’t limit his fishing to Alaska, though: he has pursued everything from tigerfish and Nile perch in the Congo and Nile Rivers of Africa, to Atlantic salmon and sea trout in Norway and Scotland. In a former life McGee owned a charter boat company based in Senegal, West Africa, where he chased blue marlin, tuna, and sailfish. Today his heart is firmly fixed in Alaska’s Bristol Bay and the wild Alagnak River–and he’s eager to share the region’s beauty and bounty with you!

Captain Matt Miles, who grew up in Lynchburg and has been fishing since the early ’90s, is the owner of Lynchburg-based and Orvis-endorsed Matt Miles Fly Fishing, LLC. After high school Miles decided to live his dream, moving to Colorado and guiding with Blue Quill Angler in Evergreen. He’s been back guiding clients on his home waters since 2003, fishing for muskies, smallmouth bass, trout, and striped bass on the James, Smith, Jackson, Roanoke, and other local waterways. Miles, who loves guiding, teaching, being on the water, and tying his own flies, is also a Fly Designer for Umpqua Feather Merchants.

At eight years old, Braden Miller taught himself to tie flies by watching Youtube and Instagram videos. Now 14, Miller has traveled the country chasing fish with his TFO fly rods and hand-tied flies. Current fave prey: muskie! He has tied flies at the Fly Fishing Expo in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Lefty Kreh’s Tie Fest, and The International Fly Tyers Symposium. Miller was the youngest competitor in last summer’s iCast Iron Fly Competition in Orlando, and tied flies for the Project Healing Waters 2-Fly Tournament at Virginia’s Rose River Farms. This year he started a fishing club at his middle school, and with the support of his principal and science teacher, helped bring in Trout in the Classroom, which teaches students about fishing and conservation. Miller is TFO’s first Junior Ambassador, a Norvise team member, and an ambassador/pro-staff member for Fly Life Company, Flymen Fishing Co., District Angling, Fair Flies, and most recently, Catch Cam Nets. Follow Miller on Instagram at flyfisher0906, on Facebook as Braden.Miller.0906–and watch for his upcoming YouTube channel!

Karin Miller, whose big smile has earned her the nickname Colgate, is the owner of Zen Tenkara/Zen Fly Fishing Gear, a 100%-women-owned Colorado company that designs, manufactures, and sells a broad range of tenkara fly rods, lines, and accessories. Since 2012 Miller’s innovative, cutting-edge company has fused traditional fly fishing and traditional Japanese tenkara to target not only small fish species but also large, powerful fish not typically associated with the ancient method. Boundary-pushing Zen Tenkara, the first women-owned rod company in the world, is defining “American Tenkara” with its high-performance rods. Miller herself fishes around the globe and travels extensively to test rods, present, train guides, and give demos. Originally from South Florida, Miller has been in Colorado since 1999, where she resides with her family (both human and canine). Don’t miss Karin Miller’s tenkara casting demonstrations at this year’s festival.

John Morgan has been devoted to fly fishing with bamboo rods for as long as he can remember. At the Atlanta architectural firm he worked for, Morgan met coworker Jeff Purdy–and immediately recognized another avid fly angler. Over many years of friendship, Morgan and Purdy have fished all over North America: Yellowstone and the Northwest for western cutthroat trout; the Southeast intercoastal waters for reds and sea trout; the Florida Keys and Mexico for bonefish, permit, and baby tarpon; and Canada for smallmouth bass, pike, and muskie. Both Morgan and Purdy fish with the high-quality custom rods they themselves have built, crafted especially for the fish they’re seeking. Together they run ARC Fly Rods located in Roswell, Georgia.

Tim O’Neill, who began fly fishing at ten, is the founder and owner of O’Neill’s Fly Fishing, an online community dedicated to all aspects of fly fishing culture. For three decades his passion for the quiet sport has carried him through many parts of the industry including retail sales, commercial fly tying, lecturing, seminar teaching, and guiding. He recently became the owner of the Nor-vise fly tying system. O’Neill’s fly fishing exploits have been published in Out and About Delaware and Delaware Today, and he’s also been a guest on NPR. O’Neill considers himself an educator first: he loves nothing better than to help others learn more about this great sport. When asked what is his favorite fish to catch, his response is always the same: “The one on the end of my tippet.” Don’t miss Tim’s class on Tactic’s for Steelhead. Attendees can reach O’Neill to discuss all things fly fishing at tim@oneillsflyfishing.com.

Rod-building might have begun as a hobby for Jeff Purdy – but that hobby quickly became a passion. Purdy has been repairing and crafting bamboo rods since 1990. For 30 years he and business partner and friend John Morgan have applied an architect’s commitment to detail to craft their elegant, high-quality, durable split cane fly rods. Located in historic Roswell, Georgia, ARC Fly Rods, which opened its doors in late 2019, offers professional instruction, rod-building workshops, and custom bamboo rods for sale. Purdy and Morgan take every opportunity to share their rod-building and fly-fishing expertise and love of the quiet sport with their customers.

Matt Reilly is a full-time, independent fly fishing guide; freelance writer; and outdoor columnist based in southwest Virginia. He specializes in float trips for smallmouth bass, musky, and wild trout, utilizing the world-class waters of southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee. His writing has appeared in several national and regional publications like Eastern Fly Fishing, American Angler, Fly Tyer, Southern Trout, Hatch Magazine, and Virginia Wildlife, and in The Daily Progress in the form of his weekly outdoor column, Adventures Afield, which has seen more than 350 editions. He is also an ambassador, adviser, and team member for Reilly Rod Crafters, a family-owned rod company building premium, American-made fly rods.

Tom Rosenbauer has been a fly fisher for 50 years and was a commercial fly tier by age 14. He has fished extensively across North America, in England’s fabled chalk streams, on Christmas Island, and in the Bahamas, Belize, Kamchatka, and Chile. He is credited with bringing bead-head flies to North America and is the inventor of the Big Eye hook, Magnetic Net Retriever, and tungsten beads for fly tying. Rosenbauer has some 20 fly fishing books in print including The Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide; Reading Trout Streams; Prospecting for Trout; Casting Illusions; Fly Fishing in America; Approach and Presentation; Trout Foods and Their Imitations; Nymphing Techniques; Leaders, Knots, and Tippets; Dry-Fly Techniques; The Orvis Fly Fishing Encyclopedia; and The Orvis Fly-Tying Guide, which won a 2001 National Outdoor Book Award. Salt, Rosenbauer’s collaboration with photographer Andy Anderson, also won a National Outdoor Book Award in 2014. He has been published in Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, Catalog Age, Fly Fisherman, Gray’s Sporting Journal, Sporting Classics, Fly Rod & Reel, Audubon, Men’s Journal, and more. His latest book, Fly Fishing for Trout—The Next Level, was published in November 2016. Rosenbauer is the writer and narrator of “The Orvis Fly-Fishing Guide Podcast,” one of the top outdoor podcasts on iTunes. Rosenbauer has worked for the Orvis Company for 44 years in a variety of capacities. In 2022 he was awarded Fly Rod & Reel’s Angler of the Year Award for his many educational efforts in books, magazine articles, and his podcast. He lives with his wife and son in southern Vermont on the banks of his favorite trout stream. We are delighted to have Tom Rosenbauer join us this year to teach a variety of specialty classes with limited seating. Check back this fall to learn more about how you can register for his exciting classes. If you’d like us to notify you when Rosenbauer’s classes become available for registration, please send us an email at Fishutopia@comcast.net.

Allen Rupp has been tying flies for 30 years now. Growing up around the District of Columbia, his first fish on the fly were Potomac River smallies. Allen now owns and operates Fly On the Water  and while he lives in New York City, his flies have caught fish all over the world–from Belize, Chile, Canada, Mexico, the UK, and the Seychelles to Colorado, Montana, New York, Wisconsin, and beyond. Lately saltwater fish–and especially snook–have been taking up most of his time. This is Allen’s second appearance at the Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival. and we are pleased to have him. He’ll be tying flies and doing demos at his booth throughout the weekend.

Captain Pete Scafaru caught his first fish–a bluegill–at four years old on a worm with a cane pole in Ohio. Thanks, Grandpa! Though he grew up spin fishing and baitcasting, as soon as he got a car Capt. Pete began spending his weekends fly fishing the wild creeks of northern and eastern Arizona. He spent many summers as a trout bum fishing extensively in Arizona, Baja Mexico, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, California, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Montana, Washington, Florida–and now Louisiana. Capt. Pete is a Fly Fishers International-certified casting instructor and an Orvis-Endorsed guide; he has been guiding in southern Louisiana full-time since 2015. He is also an accomplished jazz musician and music instructor and is proud to call New Orleans–where both the music and the fishing is world-class–his home.

Wanda Taylor’s unparalleled casting skills are the reason she teaches casting classes; her Southern charm and affability are the reason we ask her back year after year. Taylor spent many years guiding in both fresh and saltwater and has been inducted into the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame at the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians. She was the first female Certified Master Casting Instructor recognized by the International Federation of Fly Fishers. Taylor is one of the best casters in the country and will be teaching a variety of classes at this year’s festival.

A lifelong fisherman, Robert Thomas began his obsession with fly fishing in 1960 with the purchase of a Shakespeare Wonder Rod and an automatic fly reel. Many days were spent pursuing Bass and Brim on a nearby mill pond. For the past 25 years he has been active in the fly fishing industry as a fly shop manager, lecturer, instructor, fly tyer, guest speaker, and is a trip host for fishing trips, both domestic and international. He has fished multiple states in the U.S. and traveled abroad to fish Canada (Labrador, Ontario, Manitoba), as well as Belize, The Bahamas, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Costa Rica. He is a member of Fly Fishers International and past president of the Fly Fishers of Virginia and is currently it’s director of communications. As a freelance photographer and writer, Rob is a member of the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association and is a past president and current chairman of the board of the Virginia Outdoor Writers Association.  He is a volunteer with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources and as a U.S. Air Force veteran, works with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing. A native Virginian, Rob was born and raised in Glen Allen with the Chickahominy River just a short walk through the woods. He now lives in Henrico County with his wife Joan, and their super spoiled dog, Liza. We’re delighted Rob is speaking this year about fishing for assorted game species in Canada on behalf of Gangler’s Lodge.  

The Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival is proud to have Matthew Tucker, Vice President of sales for Richmond’s Reservoir Distillery, share insights into the distillery’s bourbons and whiskies.  During Tucker’s class, you’ll learn the differences between bourbon and whiskey; he’ll touch on the evolution of bourbon in Virginia; and, best of all, you’ll enjoy an organized tasting of three bourbons and two whiskies that showcases their different mash bills and characteristics. Reservoir Distillery, the third outside of Kentucky to produce bourbon since Prohibition, distills spirits that reflect their place of origin, starting with Virginia farmers and forests. Their award-winning spirits, enjoyed on three continents, were recognized as one of “101 Craft and World Whiskies to Try Before You Die.” The festival is delighted to have Matthew co-teach our Bourbon & Bass Bug Class this year.

Tim Urtiaga discovered fly fishing at a very young age and quickly decided he wanted to share his love for the quiet sport with others. Over the years Urtiaga has successfully guided many clients to beautiful trout on New Mexico’s famed San Juan River. After catching a few monster Northern pike on the fly, Urtiaga was himself “hooked”—and began to offer the only guided fly-fishing trips for Northern pike off of a boat. Urtiaga, who has been featured in Field & Stream and American Fly Fishing, is trying to raise awareness of Northern pike, abolish the catch-and-kill rule, and increase conservation efforts to protect this species. Urtiaga opened Eagle Nest Fly Shack in Eagle Nest, New Mexico, to provide a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts with the gear and equipment they need to become independent anglers. The Fly Shack, which really did begin as a shack beside an old gas station, thrived and grew until Urtiaga expanded to include more space and even lodging. Today Eagle Nest Fly Shack and Lodge offers eight hotel-style accommodations as well as guided fishing with four different experienced fishing guides.

Captain Simón Valencia is the co-owner of Current Culture Fly, Richmond’s only independent fly shop. A native of Bogota, Colombia, Valencia emigrated  to Miami, where he learned to fish for largemouth bass, chain pickerel, striped bass, red drum, and speckled trout with his cousins. A recovering social worker, Valencia guides full-time on the James River, Chickahominy River and Lake, and the Chesapeake Bay. Capt. Valencia will co-teach our popular Bourbon & Bass Bugs class, in which he will reveal the bass patterns he uses with his own clients and how to fish them effectively. At the conclusion of this class, students will take home with them a selection of bass bugs to keep and use.

Michael Williams caught his first fish on a fly in Colorado’s famed Cheesman Canyon; 27 years later he is still just as obsessed. Williams became the head guide for Colorado’s oldest guide service and a lead instructor at the Orvis Rocky Mountain Fly Fishing School, eventually founding the destination travel company Nomadic Waters to fish all over the world with his favorite clients during Colorado’s off-season. He worked in marketing and product development for Patagonia before being recruited to run Orvis’ wholesale business for the Pacific Northwest, Western Canada, and Alaska. When in 2008 Williams volunteered with a relief and humanitarian aid group focused on small jungle communities of the Brazilian Amazon, he fell in love with the people and the jungle fisheries of Northern Brazil. Today he spends three months a year running trips in the Brazilian jungle, where he teaches jungle fly fishing strategies and has trained his Brazilian staff how to host and guide fly anglers as they pursue some of the most sought-after species in the world. Ten percent of Nomadic Waters’ profits are spent on infrastructure and clean water solutions for the families of the Uatumã Reserve in the Brazilian Amazon. During Brazil’s off-season, you’ll find Williams chasing largemouth bass in Mexico or stripers in his home waters of Georgia.

Jerry Yates, an FFI-certified casting instructor and North Carolina licensed fly-fishing guide, is the creator of Frog’s Fanny Fly Treatment, a dry fly powder sold by retailers across the country. Yates grew up fly fishing in the Rocky Mountains; now, after 27 years as a law enforcement officer, he’s living the fly-fishing dream: Yates retired to the Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina, where he built Stream Team Anglers, a professional guide service and fly-fishing school. With clients, Yates focuses on appropriate casting and setting techniques, the entomology of aquatic insects, and how to effectively read water conditions to find fish. He particularly enjoys teaching those who are new to the sport, hoping to inspire an appreciation of the quiet sport for generations to come.

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For more information, contact Beau Beasley at (703) 402-8338 or fishutopia@comcast.net