Like a warm summer breeze, each year the Fly Fishing Film Tour comes drifting in, giving us a brief respite from winter’s grip.
It’s a taste of summer that is always savored in February, as it often showcases warm waters and exotic locales, or swift running rivers backdropped by jagged peaks.
The short feature films may showcase fly fishing grails in New Zealand, South America, Europe and the West, but they have certainly found a home and loyal following right here in Maine. You will want to mark your calendars for Feb. 28 and March 1 this year.
The Fly Fishing Film Tour, brought to you annually by Fly Fishing In Maine, is now in its sixth year, and annually it delivers to the hundreds who come to watch the sold-out shows.
Fly Fishing in Maine is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting, protecting and preserving Maine’s fisheries. It does this in a variety of ways, primarily sharing its passion with others, introducing new people to the sport, and conducting and funding conservation projects through the state.
The group was started by Maine native Dan Tarkinson as a college project in 1995. At its simplest, it’s a web-oriented fly-fishing forum. However, its core and its reach is much broader. It’s an army of anglers dedicated to making Maine a better and more enjoyable place to fish.
The Fly Fishing Film Tour is an entity unto itself, a series of short, action–packed films whose main characters include tarpon and brook trout with winding rivers, Caribbean flats and other locales supporting the main cast. Always entertaining for both plot and action, the tour is a different entity each year, varying in film destinations and film subjects.
Once again the screening locale will be Frontier in Brunswick. The cafe and cinema is perched along the banks of the Androscoggin, and offers fine food and a selection of craft brews. What makes Frontier ideal for this event is the small cinema on the side, featuring a large screen and theater seating.
This year there will an additional film showing, bringing a total of four film times to Brunswick. Every year each screening has sold out, so another show has been added to the slate. The fun starts with two screenings on Friday at 5 and 8:30 p.m., and two shows on Saturday, also at 5 and 8:30.
Seeing the growing demand, Tarkinson’s tour also will stop at The Rack at Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley on March 8.
Perhaps as fun as the films itself is the atmosphere at Frontier. The shows attract anglers from all over, and stories are traded and shared over drinks in anticipation of the show and stories not yet created. There are always some local vendors with tabletop displays, and this year there is an added wrinkle.
Tarkinson will introduce the “Iron Fly” event, a fly-tying showcase modeled after the Food Network’s Iron Chef competition. The competition is a race against the clock, which begins as each competitor is presented with the same fly-tying materials, and must create a fly within the allotted time with only the materials provided. The “Iron Fly” event will be Saturday afternoon and will feature well-known local tiers.
Perhaps most importantly, proceeds from the film tour are used to fund education and conservation projects through Fly Fishing In Maine’s grant program.
Since 2003 the group has raised more than $50,000, which has been redistributed to such programs and organizations as Casting For Recovery, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and others. L.L. Bean, Patagonia and Orvis have also stepped up with matching funds to extend the dollars even further.
So if you want to escape winter’s wrath, if only for a few hours, head to Fly Fishing In Maine’s film tour and enjoy the escape.
Mark Latti is a registered Maine guide and the landowner relations/recreational access coordinator for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.