Orvis fly fishing festival

A Spectacular Fourth Year for the Orvis Saltwater Fly Fishing Festival

The fourth annual Orvis Saltwater Fly Fishing Festival, taking place from the 1st to the 3rd of September, was hosted on the picturesque beaches of Hayling Island. It promised—and delivered—an unrivalled experience that drew saltwater fly enthusiasts together to fish the varied waters, in some of the biggest tides in 15 years…

Orvis fly fishing festival

Hayling Island was the perfect location

The location for the event seemed perfect for a fly fishing festival. There were the expansive mud flats, with mullet following the warm water over them. There was access to a sandy spit which screamed bass. And then there was the natural harbour entrance. A huge volume of water is funnelled through this narrow mouth, and it flowed like a deep river. This gives access to much deeper water very close in. These are just the locations that I had time to visit, there were many more. It’s a fantastically unique area to fish.

It’s also handy to be so close to some of Britain’s finest chalk streams. For those travelling a good distance to attend, it meant they could make it a whole week if fly fishing if they wanted.

sustainable lure fishing uk

Likeminded characters flocked from all corners…

It was not merely a festival celebrating the skill and finesse required in fly fishing for bass and mullet but also about forging new friendships among like-minded individuals. With attendees ranging in age and skill level, the festival served as a convergence point for amateur and professional anglers alike.

saltwater fly fishing festival

Record-Setting Tides and Stellar Workshops

Chichester Harbour and Hayling Island are renowned as some of the South Coast’s most productive mullet and bass marks. Add to this some near record breaking tidal ranges, and you had a backdrop that set the stage for an exciting two and a half days of competition fishing. The workshops were the real highlights, featuring bass and mullet master classes from experts like Colin Macleod, Michael Rescorle, Philip Spratt, and the Fluff Chuckers’ Rodney Wevill.

saltwater fly fishing festival

Prizes and Partnerships

The festival wasn’t just about the joy of the catch. With categories such as ‘Longest Bass’, ‘Longest Mullet’, ‘Longest Other Species’, and ‘Most Number of Species’, there were coveted Orvis prizes up for grabs. The event was also partnered with esteemed brands like YETI, Lakedown Brewing Co, and Fulling Mill, adding a touch of luxury to the rugged outdoor experience.

Orvis prizes

Sustainability and Community

Orvis has always been an advocate for the wild, and this festival was no exception. With a focus on sustainability, catch and release were highly encouraged, highlighting the festival’s commitment to environmental stewardship. Furthermore, the festival is laying a foundation to celebrate what the UK has to offer in terms of saltwater fly fishing, considering you can never be more than 70 miles from the coast in the UK.

fly fishing UK

The Takeaway

The Orvis Saltwater Fly Fishing Festival 2023 was a celebration in the truest sense of the word. Whether you were there to compete, learn, or simply enjoy the camaraderie, it was impossible not to get swept up in the collective enthusiasm and passion for fly fishing. If this year’s festival is any indication, Orvis UK’s flagship event is not just going strong but is setting the bar higher for what a fly fishing festival can be. With each passing year, the festival is not just an event; it’s an ever-growing community.

Special thanks to Orvis for inviting me as media from FISHMAG, and for hosting such a groundbreaking event that captures the essence of this remarkable sport. Also, a special thanks to all the anglers who appear in the photos on this page.

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