Anglers from across the state attended the inaugural Fly-Fishing Summer Showcase in Brunswick on Saturday, which raised close to $5,000 to support wounded veterans.

The event was hosted by two Maine-based fly-fishing companies, Maine Fly Guys and Maine Fly Company. The proceeds will be donated to the Togus Maine Chapter of Project Healing Waters, an organization that puts on fly-fishing programs to help veterans.

“We’re very pleased with the outcome,” said Maine Fly Company founder Jeff Davis. “Whenever you can raise near $5k to support local veterans and bring Maine’s Fly-Fishing community together for a common goal, that’s a big win!”

“This event also showed that Maine has great potential and an even greater community ready to support fly-fishing and become a leader in the fly-fishing world,” said Maine Fly Guys CEO Greg LaBonte. “There will be another event next year, it’ll be bigger and better for all and I, like everyone, am already counting down the days.”

The event was made up of three different parts: a tournament, an exposition at Thomas Point Beach and an afterparty at Trinken Brewing Company, a veteran-owned brewery in West Bath.

Eleven people participated in the tournament, which went from 12:01 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Anglers could participate all along the coast of Maine and Trevyr Thomas of Grey took first place as a solo angler with 381” of striped bass recorded.

The exposition consisted of 25 different booths relating to fly-fishing services, products, conservation and more. People were able to practice casting and learn about the sport through clinics and educational talks. Between 350 and 450 people attended the exposition.

Wilton resident Brian Maxham, who has been an angler for about 55 years, said he stopped by “to learn new techniques, see new products also to meet up with some new friends and to meet up with some old friends.”

According to Bill Owens, the project lead for the Togus Maine Project Healing Waters chapter, the money from the event will be used to fund local overnight, outdoor trips for veterans. Owens, and others involved with the organization, pointed out that for many veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or other injuries, outdoor sports can be very therapeutic.

“At least for me personally, when I go hunting it’s just me outside, by myself with my thoughts,” said veteran and Assistant Team Lead for the Maine Chapter of The Fallen Outdoors Tim Crouch, who also highlighted the therapeutic value of outdoor sports for veterans.

Like Project Healing Waters, The Fallen Outdoors looks to support veterans by connecting them to the outdoors and each other.

Others stationed at booths on Saturday expressed excitement for an opportunity to network and meet with others in the state and beyond that are involved in fly-fishing.

“Expos are the best way to highlight local, and out of state as well, availability of business and products and services,” said Nome Stark, owner of the Portland-based company, Predators on the Fly.

“I’m really happy to see this summer expo, it’s ideal,” Stark added, pointing out that many expositions only take place during the winter.

Annella Linton, an organizer with Maine Women Fly Fishers, said that her group looks to organize fly-fishing events in the state for women who are both experienced as well as new to the sport. The group, which has around 1,100 members on social media, is part of the national organization of the Sebago Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

“Historically it’s a male-dominated sport, it’s just nice to see so many women fly fishing,” Linton said. “I’ve never seen so many women interested in fly-fishing than I have in the state of Maine.”

John Simoneau, from the New England Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, said that the event was a good opportunity for the organization to inform people about their mission.

Among other things, Simoneau said, the group advocates for certain land management plans, hosts hands-on clean-up projects and provides educational talks in the region.

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