Fishy business: Finny festival in Waynesboro

Did you know that Waynesboro is one of only one two Virginia towns with an urban trout stream? At first glance, the South River may appear to be just another beautiful Shenandoah Valley river, but a closer look reveals waters stocked with perfectly sized (for catching, that is) rainbow and brown trout. 
You see, over 10 years ago, the Virginia Game Department selected the South River as a participant in its delayed harvest trout stocking program. Officials were searching for streams close to population centers that afforded easy access. They also wanted to promote catch and release fishing in an urban setting.
It turned out that South River had everything they were looking for: good water quality, ample public parks, supportive industrial partners to ensure access, and lots of eager fishermen to make use of the resource
This weekend, Waynesboro pays tribute to its healthy river and to the quiet, graceful sport of fly fishing at the third annual Virginia Fly Fishing Festival, the only one of its kind in this fin-friendly state. Even if you’ve never held a fishing rod in your life, never reeled one in, never even noticed a difference between a rainbow trout and a red snapper– you could do a lot worse than spend a spring afternoon on the banks of a river, watching the experts cast a spell.
“We invite all those who are interested in fly fishing, whether they are novice or experts, to attend our Festival,” says Dana Quillen, Chair of the Festival, which will animate the banks of the South River at Waynesboro’s Constitution Park.
Quillen and her team of volunteers have orchestrated a two-day celebration that includes a little something for everyone. “We will have continuous lectures, demonstrations and presentations from well known fly fishing experts, such as Lefty Kreh, Harry Murray, and Harry Slone,” says Elizabeth Smith, head of Festival promotions.“
Also, Cathy Slone, president and founder of a group called “Reel Ladies,” will present programs for women who now are becoming more involved in fly fishing.
If you want to learn more about rigging and casting, bamboo rod building and fly tying, Waynesboro this weekend is the place to be. The Festival will also offer family activities and instructions for children. Many fishing outfitters, fly shops, and fishing guides will also be setting up shop.

The Fly Fishing Festival takes place April 5-6 on South River in Waynesboro’s Constitution Park, 10am to 5pm both days. All activities are free. The festival kicks off with an "Evening with Lefty Kreh" Friday night at Colby's on Main Street. A limited number of tickets are available at Albemarle Angler in Barracks Road Shopping Center. Visit the Festival website,  vaflyfishingfestival.org, or call 540-942-6705.