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Puerto Rico native Jamie Aponte began fishing as a kid with his father and grandfather; today he carries on the family tradition, crediting father Jose for passing along a deep love for the water. During a summer job at Yellowstone while in college, Aponte picked up his first fly rod--and never put it down again. He is an eclectic angler: Aponte's favorite fish on the fly is whatever is biting when he's on the water. Now the owner of Pagosa, Colorado-based outfitter Piedra River Anglers, Aponte guides for trout and pike on the fly. In development is a new program that will enable him to take anglers to his home waters in Puerto Rico to fly fish for tarpon. Aponte also assists Mike Williams owner of Nomadic Waters with hosted trips to Brazil for peacock bass. Aponte loves to draw others into fly fishing with his "both/and" philosophy: Anglers can both enjoy our precious fisheries and respect, protect, and conserve them.

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:

Conservation Police Officer Bonnie Braziel has been employed with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources for almost seven years. She is currently assigned to the Special Operations Unit as the only female K9 Handler, where she thoroughly enjoys working with K9 Grace, a three-year-old black Lab. This girl power duo–K9 Grace and CPO Braziel–has been involved in several cases involving wildlife crimes, felonies, and even murder. When Officer Braziel is not working with K9 Grace, she is an avid fisherwoman; living on Virginia’s east coast, she has the opportunity to take advantage of everything from small freshwater ponds to the Atlantic Ocean. CPO Braziel is also passionate about combining angling with travel: She has enjoyed fishing for trout in Branson, Missouri; yellowtail snapper in Key West; and most recently, salmon and halibut in Alaska. We are so pleased to have Bonnie (and Grace) as guest instructors at this year’s Beyond the Cast Women’s Fly Fishing SymposiumBonnie's class How to Interact with Wildlife was so popular last year, at this year's 2024 festival we will be offering it to the general public.

Roanoke-based Virginia Trophy Guides, owned and operated by Captain Austin Conrad and Captain Josh Laferty, specializes in fly fishing for musky across the Commonwealth of Virginia. They also provide float trips for tailwater trout, smallmouth bass, and other species on a seasonal basis. When not guiding clients to the best of the Southeast, these professionals spend summers in Bristol Bay, Alaska, on the world-renowned Naknek River. Conrad and Laferty are journeymen guides with nationwide experience and a reputation for world-class hospitality. If you want to learn the ins and outs of landing Musky with a fly rod, don’t miss Captain Austin’s lecture on that very topic at this year’s festival.

John Demuth learned to fish growing up near the South Holston and Watauga Rivers in East Tennessee, and his wife Katie learned to fish growing up near the rivers of the Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee.   John and Katie became passionate about fly fishing and tying flies together, and John quickly became drawn to the world of fly tying and continues to grow in his fly tying skills. Katie also enjoys photography as a hobby and takes many photos of tied flies and fish.  Her photos and photography tips have been featured in several fly fishing magazines, retail magazines, websites, and blogs.  John ties a variety of both fresh and saltwater flies and is always looking to learn something new from other fly tying legends and friends.  He is passionate about sharing what he has learned with other fly tiers and enjoys this aspect the most about fly tying.  John and Katie also look forward to sharing fly tying and fly fishing experiences and skills on through their live show, “Whip Finish Wednesday” which is now being streamed on their YouTube channel.  The two also enjoy taking part in fly fishing shows and demonstrations and have attended many across the country (and now world) together.  John and Katie are both pro team members and ambassadors for several fly fishing and fly tying companies, including Semperfli and Renzetti.  John is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, and Katie is a veteran of the United States Army.  He and Katie have four children who keep them busy when they are taking a break from fly fishing, tying flies, and traveling.

Kirk Deeter is the editor-in-chief of Trout Unlimited Media, including TROUT magazine, and TROUT Digital.  He’s also the editor of Angling Trade, the business-to-business media group that covers fly fishing in North America.  A long-time editor-at-large for Field & Stream, he is the author of several books, most notably The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing. His work has also appeared in WiredOutsideMen’s JournalThe New York TimesUSA TodayGarden & Gun, and many other publications.  Known for his offbeat, “out there” story angles, he’s covered fishing on five continents and three oceans, from the tip of Tierra del Fuego in Argentina to north of the Arctic Circle in Russia, from the Tasmanian highlands to the Amazon jungle. He lives in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with his wife, Sarah.

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 Beyond the Cast Women’s Fly Fishing Symposium.

Lifelong bass angler Howie Fischer picked up a fly rod seven years ago--and never looked back. A few years later he began tying flies with a 30-year old Griffin vise from his father and a handful of repurposed dental instruments; today he is addicted to fly tying as a stress-relieving creative outlet. Fischer is an affiliate of Altar Fly Fishing and is a brand ambassador for Angler's Coffee, Renomed USA, Solarez, Regal Vise, Ahrex Hooks, Hemingway's, Semper Fly Rods, and Upavon Fly Fishing. We are pleased to Fisher as one of our Featured Fly Tyers this year. You can watch Fischer in action at his Instagram and YouTube channels.

Trout angler Kent Edmonds discovered striped bass and shoal bass when he moved to West Georgia in the mid ’80s; since 2001 he has been professionally guiding clients to these popular species. An accomplished fly tyer, Edmonds’ patterns are sold and distributed both nationally and internationally–including his popular Stealth Bomber, a foam topwater bug tied and distributed by Rainy’s Flies. He has been a manufacturer’s rep for a number of well-known fly fishing companies. Edmonds became a Federation of Fly Fishers (now the FFI) certified casting instructor in 2002 and was the Southeastern Council Federation of Fly Fishers 2007 Man of the Year and 2013 Fly Casting Instructor of the Year. He has taught in numerous casting schools, including several alongside Lefty Kreh. Be sure to check out Edmonds on our casting pond this year, and in the Featured Fly Tyer’s booth where he’ll be tying his famed Stealth Bomber. You can learn more about Edmonds here.

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. See will also be an instructor at our Beyond the Cast Women’s Fly Fishing Symposium.

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 FishermanAmerican 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.

Gabriella Hoffman is a freelance media strategist, podcaster, columnist, and 2019 Professional Outdoor Media Association Pinnacle Award recipient. Her writings have appeared in Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, Sporting Classics Daily/Sporting Classics Magazine, The Virginia Sportsman, and other national publications. She hosts the weekly “District of Conservation” podcast and is a Senior Fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum. Hoffman wil be a special guest and Lead Angler at this year’s Beyond the Cast Women’s Fly Fishing Symposium.

Born and raised in West Virginia, Sarah Holt loves being outdoors with her family fishing for musky or trout, hunting, or just spending time at their cabin in the Mountain State’s beautiful Pocahontas County. As Development Director for Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, Inc. (PHWFF), Holt works with donors and fundraisers to support the healing journey of the nation’s veterans. She volunteered with PHWFF for several years, including as Program Lead for the Parkersburg, West Virginia, program, and has assisted in numerous PHWFF regional outings including gatherings at Pocahontas County’s Thornwood 4-H Camp, the Greenbrier River Fly Fishing Classic, and the Eric Workman Memorial Musky Tournament. Her husband Bubba has volunteered with PHWFF for more than 12 years and currently serves as West Virginia’s Regional Coordinator. When he broke his neck in a horrific car accident in 2013, other PHWFF volunteers and participants sprang into action to support the entire family–so the Holts know firsthand how life-changing the organization can be. Sarah Holt has a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Marietta College and an M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications and M.B.A. from West Virginia University. Sarah will be one of our special guest speakers at our Women in Fly Fishing Leadership Luncheon at this year’s Beyond the Cast Women’s Fly Fishing Symposium.

Cilla Johnson has been fishing since she was 15 years old. Based in Northern Virginia, she can be found with her husband and children, at her job as a federal business development manager--or fishing. She supports our troops through organizations Bravo Zulu Outdoors and Heroes on the Water, and supports women in the outdoors through the Women’s Fishing Federation. A serious kayak angler, Johnson is a Pan-American Bass Kayak gold and silver medalist for Team USA; competes in her local kayak tournament clubs Northern Virginia Kayak Bass Anglers (NVKBA) and Mid-Atlantic Kayak Bass Fishing (MAKBF); and competes nationally with the Hobie Bass Open Series and Kayak Bass Fishing (KBF). Her many industry sponsors include Dugout Bait & Tackle, Jackson Kayaks, YakAttack, and Torqeedo. The 2024 Virginia Fly & Wine is delighted to welcome back Cilla Johnson, who will teach Beyond the Cast Women's Fly Fishing Symposium participants everything they need to know about fishing from a kayak!

A self-professed fly fishing fool, Bob Lindquist of Callicoon, New York, waded the waters of Long Island for more than 40 years before his retirement. His favorite targets were false albacore, striped bass, and weakfish. Lindquist has also fished the Catskills, particularly the Delaware River System, since 1983. His passion for this magnificent river system inspired him to build his retirement home on the banks of the Delaware River. Lindquist uses the skills he learned fishing the Delaware to guide on the river. He also has a passion for both Atlantic salmon and steelhead. Lindquist has worked with numerous fly-fishing manufacturers, including Jvise Whiting Farms, Solarez, and Ahrex. Trained in mathematics, physics, philosophy, and education, Lindquist takes an analytic approach to fly fishing and fly tying and has been published in Fly Tyer, Salt Water Fly Fishing, Fly Fisherman, American Fly Fishing and Japanese Fly Fisherman magazines. Recently, Lindquist has added a passion for photography to his fly fishing and tying addictions. As a retired teacher and coach, he uses his public speaking skills to give presentations to clubs throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions. We are very pleased to have Bob Lindquist as one of this year’s 2024 Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival Featured Fly Tyers. 

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, the 2023 Orvis-Endorsed Fly-Fishing Guide of the Year, grew up in Lynchburg and began fly fishing in the early 90s. After graduating from high school, Miles moved to Colorado to pursue his dream of becoming a fly-fishing guide. He credits Pat Dorsey owner of The Blue Quill Angler, who gave him his first guiding job, with teaching him how to be the best guide in the business. In 2003 Miles decided to return to Lynchburg to guide his home waters. With over 20 years of experience working with beginners to advanced anglers, Matt Miles' passion is guiding, teaching, and being on the water--and especially pursuing smallmouth bass with popping bugs. Last year Matt’s class on “Fly Fishing for Smallies in Virginia”, was packed so don’t be late or you may not get a seat.

Conservation Police Officer Amanda Nevel has been employed with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources for six years. CPO Nevel is assigned to the Northern Neck of Virginia and enjoys her work in wildlife enforcement. She has been hosting Women and Youth Hunter Education Program classes to empower more women to the outdoors for the last five years. Nevel participates actively in outreach for the community by hosting educational events. In her free time, CPO Nevel enjoys backpacking the Appalachian Trail and has completed over 250 miles so far in Virginia. She enjoys hunting, fishing, the outdoors, and traveling. She has been to Colorado for a pheasant hunt and has also participated in a women’s antelope hunt in Wyoming. Nevel enjoys all kinds of angling, whether for grouper offshore in Florida or for bass in local private ponds or for striped bass in her home waters of the Chesapeake Bay. We are pleased to have Amanda as one of our instructors at this year’s Beyond the Cast Women’s Fly Fishing Symposium. Amanda's class How to Interact with Wildlife proved so popular in 2023, that we are offering this class to the general public in 2024.

Juraj “George” Sabol, a New Jersey-based fly tyer specializing in freshwater streamers and saltwater patterns, is the owner of Hooked on the Fly 2 Custom Flies and Photography. Born and raised in the former Czechoslovakia, Sabol had finished his enlistment with the US Navy when he was drawn into fly fishing for the first time through a Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing outing. There he cast a fly rod for a few minutes and tied his first wooly bugger--and the rest is history. Fourteen years later, Sabol is still tying flies; his specialty is tying custom orders for specific trips. He lives to tie patterns to chase the ultimate predators; some of his clients call him "The Meat Maker" for that reason. Sabol is a pro staffer with HMH Vises, Ahrex Hooks, and Loon Outdoors and has been a professional photographer for over 7 years.  We are quite pleased to have George join us as a new Featured Fly Tyer for our 2024 festival.

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, AudubonMen’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

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. Check back later this fall as we will be adding specialty intermediate to advanced fly tying classes from Allen this year.

Angelica Talon’s passion for traditional fishing began at an early age.  It wasn’t until her daughter Ella asked her to go fly fishing that she began fly-fishing and learning more about the sport.  Angelica is the founder of two successful lifestyle blogs.  She is a source for inspiration, covering everything from travel and fitness to parenting, attainable luxury and style, home decor and more.  Not having seen many women of color represented in the fly fishing world, Angelica is doing her part to change that.  “Growing up in a small town in Northwest Ohio, I was surrounded by people that didn’t look like me and subsequently feel like representation is essential to everyone.  Now more than ever, girls are influenced by so many social factors and shouldn’t feel under-represented in areas of interest.  Especially activities that are meant to be enjoyable and open to anyone.” Angelica has been published in Dun MagazineArlington Magazine and has been featured on The Woman Angler Podcast, several Washington, D.C. television news channels as a regular correspondent and travel expert. She is one of the current ambassadors for Take Me Fishing’s Women Making Waves. Angelica Talan is a mom, a wife, Washington, D.C. based blogger, digital creator and social media influencer.  You can follow Angelica’s journeys in D.C. at, or on Instagram at @angelicatalan.  If you’re in the Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia area and would like to connect with Angelica, she can be reached at:

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.  

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. Be sure to take in Captain Valencia’s class as he speaks on fishing for stripers, shad and more on Virginia’s famed James River. The class will go over tactics, where and when to go, as well as what patterns to use. Don’t miss this informative talk about one of the best rivers in the Old Dominion.

Stephanie Vatalaro is the Senior Vice President of Marketing & Communications at the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF), where she leads the consumer and stakeholder outreach strategy for RBFF and its Take Me Fishing™ and Vamos A Pescar™ brand campaigns. A marketing and communications professional with more than 20 years’ experience in corporate, agency, nonprofit, and TV newsroom settings, Vatalaro has devoted the last 15 years of her career to getting more people out on the water fishing and boating and conserving our nation’s aquatic natural resources. Vatalaro currently serves on the American Sportfishing Association’s (ASA) Marketing and Market Insights Committees, Boating Industry’s Leadership Council, the Marine Marketers of America Board of Directors, and NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries Business Advisory Council. She was recognized in Boating Industry’s 2020 Women Making Waves, and she volunteers with Casting for Recovery. Vatalaro, who received her B.S. degree in communications from Florida State University and a certificate in management from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, grew up in the Florida Keys and is the daughter of a flats fishing guide. She now spends summers fishing and boating with her family on Virginia’s Potomac River. Vatalaro will be a special guest at this year’s Beyond the Cast: Women’s Fly Fishing Symposium which will run concurrently with this year’s festival.

Ashley Wilmont, owner of Spring Creek Fly Fishing LLC guide service and an adjunct professor for the Joe Humphreys Penn State Fly Fishing Program, volunteers with Casting For Recovery Western Pennsylvania, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, and Trout Unlimited. She is a member of the US Women’s Fly-Fishing National Team and the US Women's Fly Fishing World Team. Wilmont also organizes Reel Girls, a fly-fishing program for girls ages 12 to 18. She currently lives in State College, Pennsylvania, and works in Human Resources for Penn State. Wilmont will be helping to lead this year’s Beyond the Cast Fly Fishing Symposium for Women, and we are delighted to have her and her teammates involved in this year’s festival. Photo credit Joyce Yong.

Alex Wise has been fishing the banks of the Smith River for nearly two decades. Living no more than a mile from its banks in Eden, North Carolina, he has spent countless days from the headwaters near Woolwine, Virginia, all the way to the confluence with the Dan River in Eden for a multitude of species. Wise has dedicated the last 12 years to fly fishing and guiding for brown and rainbow trout from Philpott Dam downstream to their furthest reaches. He has traveled to fish many states including Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Montana, West Virginia, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, and Tennessee, but has great pride in calling North Carolina/Virginia home. Alex guides on the Smith for New River Fly Fishing and hopes that a day spent with him on the water results in his clients learning how to better their angling experience.

Shannon Young, who began fly fishing as a teenager in the mountains of North Georgia, was a bass angler for 30 years and fished the B.A.S.S. state federation circuit for three years before opening a guide service in Western North Carolina. Young loves to instruct and guide clients in the art of European or "Czech" nymphing. He and his wife Kristin own and operate Maggie Valley Fly Shop in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. As an avid fly angler, pro-staffer for Cortland Line Company, guide, and fly shop owner, Young is driven to welcoming novices into the quiet sport of fly fishing and introducing them to the enduring beauty of the outdoors. Young is one of our new speakers for the 2024 festival, and we are grateful to have him and his wife Kristin join us.