The title of this post should have simply been, “Ithaca Fishing Day”, but as it turns out, you can’t truly post about Ithaca Fishing Day without first mentioning the names of two of its most important behind-the-scenes guys: Josh Filter and Michael Lenetsky. I first met this dynamic duo during an Al Hazzard TU chapter meeting. I was immediately impressed as much with with their jovial presentation skills as I was with the technical depth of their “Fly fishing the Finger Lake tribs” presentation.
Most recently I had the opportunity to talk to Michael and Josh over lunch about an event that is truly a harbinger of Spring: Ithaca Fishing Day. It’s a big year for Ithaca Fishing Day (IFD) as the event celebrates its 25th consecutive year and in addition to spreading the word on the details, I thought it would be good to write about the event’s beginnings.
IFD is the brainchild of Phil Genova, a driving force in fly fishing education. Genova is well known for his work in teaching fly fishing. He started the Fly Fishing Apprentice Program, worked as Cortland Line Company’s Education and Communication Program Manager, and authored the book; First Cast: Teaching Kids to Fly-Fish. Ithaca Fishing Day was an extension of his zeal for teaching the art and sport of fly fishing and proved a good way to reach out and get others in the community involved. Phil Genova died unexpectedly at age 51 while on a fishing trip in the Florida Keys, but his legacy lives on with IFD.
Another key force early on was none other than Leon Chandler, who would attend the event according to Michael and Josh. IFD has always had a close association with the Cortland Line Company, and Leon Chandler, known as an ambassador of fly fishing world-wide, must have made quite a presence.
As usual, the Leon Chandler Chapter of Trout Unlimited is sponsoring Ithaca Fishing Day, but this year, the focus is expanded beyond just fly-fishing to encompass all aspects of fishing and cold-water conservation. According to Michael, this focus beyond fly fishing should draw a larger attendance.
The date for the Twenty-fifth Annual Ithaca Fishing Day is Saturday, March 25, 2017 from 9 am to 4 pm. This year, the event will be held at the Ithaca High School, in the cafeteria, in Ithaca, New York.
Ithaca Fishing Day is a unique event that invites the entire community to come and experience a day of educational opportunities focusing on fishing and cold-water environmental conservation. They say there’s no free lunch but there really is: this event is free to the public and all proceeds raised benefit the youth-related environmental education activities of our local Trout Unlimited Chapter, including the Trout in the Classroom program currently in seventeen local elementary, middle and high schools.
Programs are planned throughout the day; including the opportunity to interact with one of the Trout in the Classroom fish tanks. There will be special programs on a variety of important and interesting topics, including presentations by the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, Mel Russo, and Shahab Farzanagen; as well as free fly-casting and fly-tying instruction throughout the day. This event offers unique opportunities to learn fishing and fly tying tips from masters from around the region, and includes demonstration tanks featuring live locally collected aquatic insect specimens.
Also in attendance will be the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network, The Cayuga Lake Floating Classroom Project, The Trout in the Classroom Project, Twin Tiers Five Rivers Chapter of the Federation of Fly Fishers, Izaak Walton League/Cortland Field Archers, Tompkins County Soil and Water Conservation District, the US Coast Guard Auxiliary and more. Several local and regional vendors will be on hand with a wide variety of their goods on hand for sale, including Badger Creek Fly Fishing, JW Trout, Streamflow Design, and possibly Musky Joe’s Tackle.