Six years ago, I had the honor of being a founding member of the resurrected Cape Lookout Albacore Festival. The first 5 years were a lot of hard work, but it paid off in spades. We've taken a few hundred disabled military veterans fly fishing for False Albacore and we've raised countless thousands of dollars for our favorite charity Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing.
After last years festival, I unfortunately had to step away from the Festival Board of Directors due to the amount of time it takes to grow our business.
Even though I wasn't able to be involved with the Festival to the extent of past years, I wouldn't miss this weekend for anything. We tried to help where we could with donations and by volunteering as a guide for the vets.
If you want to learn more about the Cape Lookout Albacore and Redfish Festival and how to help support it's mission, visit them here.
If you'd like to learn more about Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing and all the amazing things they do for our Veterans, visit them here.
Captain Rob Fordyce giving sunrise casting lessons to the PHWFF participants.
Veterans get prepped to practice the double haul, fighting and landing fish, etc.
The Cape Lookout Albacore and Redfish Festival is a three day event. The first day is dedicated to our Veterans. Disabled anglers from all over the USA get to try their hand at 9wts, shooting head lines and blitzing tuna destroying helpless anchovies.
Even if they get skunked, the overall experience is pretty amazing for most of them. Guys and girls who were raised on trout streams or farm ponds, get to fish around dolphins, wild horses, and an iconic Outer Banks lighthouse.
But with the abundance of not just Albacore, but Bluefish, Mackerel, Sea Trout and Sharks, the likelihood of getting skunked is slim.
The first morning is an adrenaline rush of excitement as everyone meets and shares the excitement over breakfast at the marina.
PHWFF veterans, celebrity anglers, world class fishing guides, equipment manufacturers, and regular Joes gather and get set to chase Albies!
I had the pleasure of fishing with 3 different disabled anglers over the weekend. The skiff was loaded with everything from 6wts to 12wts, knowing that we'd be seeing fish from 2lb Bluefish to 400lb sharks behind shrimp trawlers.
A veteran with a Bluefish at the first stop of the day.
One of the joys of fly fishing for Albacore is that you get to see so many other fly anglers in the same place. With patience and experience, everyone can fly fish while respecting other anglers and still getting plenty of shots.
This group style fishing is amplified during the festival and you can hear anglers cheering each other on as they hook and land Albacore.
We had a few tough days of fishing but were able to find Albies, Sharks and Bluefish and make some connections.
And the hard work we put in paid off!
I love watching anglers bend graphite and put the heat on some fish.
Although the Festival is a full 3 days of fishing, parties, auctions, dinners, and fundraisers, the first day has always been my favorite. I've caught hundreds of False Albacore over the years and still get excited over each one...but there is nothing better than putting a very deserving military veteran on their first speeding, blitzing, rod bending, drag burning, knuckle busting False Albacore.
Can't wait until next year!