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.
Virginia native Beau Beasley has fished all over the country and into Canada, but his “best day ever” remains fishing poppers on a Virginia farm pond. Beasley is the director of our sister event, the innovative and long-running Virginia Fly Fishing & Wine Festival, as well as our very own Texas Fly & Brew. He has authored two angling guidebooks and garnered multiple awards for articles in regional and national publications covering conservation of such diverse species as menhaden and bonefish. Beasley has distinguished himself as a thorough, impartial investigative journalist covering thorny issues like public sporting access to local waters and lands. His third book, Healing Waters: Veterans’ Stories of Recovery in Their Own Words will be released in April. At the 2023 Texas Fly & Brew Beasley will speak on “Who Owns the River? What Is and Isn’t Public Water.” Anyone who fishes should be there.
Lee Blanton was born in north Alabama surrounded by many of the finest warmwater fisheries in the United States. Today he resides right here in the Metroplex. Fly fishing for years, Blanton is familiar with fisheries all over north and central Texas. He is a pro staffer for Winston Fly Rods, Ahrex Hooks, and Regal Vises. On the weekends, he may be found tying and teaching at Plano’s Dirty Water Fly Co. Blanton credits Dave Whitlock, Kelly Galloup, Tommy Lynch, and Andreas Andersson as major influences on his tying styles and techniques. He specializes in deer hair bugs and other useful flies that fish anywhere and everywhere. New to fFl tying, why not try Lee's Beginner Fly Tying Class?
Capt. Alvin Dedeaux has been fly fishing for nearly 50 years--and for the last 25 of those years, Dedeaux has been considered one of Texas’ premier fly-fishing guides. As the owner and head guide of Orvis Outfitter of the Year finalist All Water Guides, Dedeaux spends winter and spring chasing largemouth and Guadalupe bass on his home waters of the Colorado River. In summer and fall he can be found chasing redfish in the shallow saltwater flats of the middle Texas coast. Dedeaux is a brand ambassador for Yeti, Howler Bros., and Ford, as well as a two-time finalist for Orvis-Endorsed Guide of the Year. He is also one of the cofounders of the highly successful all-volunteer LoCo Trash Bash, a yearly cleanup on the Lower Colorado River downstream of Austin that to date has helped remove over 45 tons of trash from the water. Check back for specialty classes that will be offered by Dedeaux at this year’s festival.
Pat Dorsey is the head guide and co-owner of the Blue Quill Angler fly shop in Evergreen, Colorado where he has guided for 30 years. He oversees and trains more than 25 guides, setting the standard for integrity and professionalism in the Blue Quill Angler guide operation. Dorsey also, maintains an online stream report that monitors stream flows and conditions for the Blue, Colorado, South Platte (Cheesman, Deckers, Spinney Mountain Ranch, and Elevenmile Canyon), North Fork of the South Platte, and Williams Fork Rivers. Dorsey is an accomplished fly tier and has originated a number of very effective patterns such as the Mercury series, UV scud, Limeade, Cherry-Limeade, Paper Tiger, Top Secret Midge, Medallion Midge and the famed Black Beauty. Although Pat Dorsey no longer has the time to tie flies commercially, he once produced over 28,000 flies in a year. Dorsey is a fly designer for Umpqua Feather Merchants. His signature flies are available at the Blue Quill Angler and other specialty fly shop throughout the United States. Pat Dorsey is also a Pro Team Member for Whiting Farms. Many of his flies incorporate Whiting Farm products. Don’t miss his specialty class Fly Fishing Tailwaters it has limited seating for availability check here.
Willard Franklin is a man on a mission. As the owner of Four W’s Outdoors, his passion is to promote safety in the outdoors, and making it a welcoming place for everyone regardless of their background. Franklin knows what every good sportsman knows, getting more folks interested in the outdoors is good from a conservation stand point, but this takes time. He knows in order to introduce new people to the outdoors, they need someone to come alongside them and show them the ropes. Franklin has been doing this for years, and has taken hundreds of folks hunting and fishing for the first time. From taking women on their first duck hunt, to teaching children how to fish, Four W’s Outdoors is there for anyone that wants to learn. Franklin is working closely with the National Safe Boating Council, and other organizations like Take Me Fishing. Don’t miss Franklin’s class this year and learn what you can do to keep yourself and the ones you love safe while in the field or on the water.
Bill Gammel is the author of A Sportsman’s Pursuit: Finding Christ, Family and Friends in the Outdoors. He is known for his casting abilities. He has been fly fishing all over the US for the last 45 years and has been a fly casting instructor for 35 years. Gammel is best known for his writings and videos on the essentials of fly casting. He is a volunteer instructor for Good Fly.
Born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Heather Gehrke grew up fishing that region’s famed estuaries. A physician assistant, Gehrke connected early in her career with Casting for Recovery (CfR), a not-for-profit organization focused solely on women with breast cancer. Upon relocating nearly 15 years ago to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Gehrke continued serving with CfR; today she is the North Texas Retreat Leader. Gehrke, her 11-year-old daughter, and her husband are all dedicated fly anglers with deep expertise in fly fishing, overlanding, and the outdoors. We are pleased to have Gehrke join us as a Lead Angler at this year’s Beyond the Cast Women’s Fly Fishing Symposium.
Jerry Hamon is an avid fly angler, fly tyer, and dedicated kayaker as well as the past president of both the Texas Council of Fly Fishers International and the Mariner-Sails Kayak Fishing Club. He’s also a certified Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Angler Education Area Chief/Instructor. Hamon’s wildly popular class “A Man, A Fly Rod & A Kayak” will be offered at the festival in cooperation with Mariner-Sails. Hamon runs River Crossing Fly Fishing School and Guide Service out of his home on the beautiful Brazos River in Central Texas.
Mitch Kempe is a full-time guide for Fatties on the Fly, based out of Granbury, Texas. After picking up a fly rod on his annual Colorado family vacation, Kempe quickly fell in love with everything that went into catching a fish on a fly. Once he brought fly fishing back to his local lakes, ponds, and rivers, the real fun started. Kempe’s favorite part of being a full-time guide is having the opportunity to watch how excited people get when they set the hook on a fish, which reminds him of why he fell in love with the quiet sport in the first place. When he’s not running guided trips, you can usually find Kempe chasing carp up and down the Brazos or at home with his amazing wife and his three beautiful daughters.
His father introduced Steve Maldonado of Evergreen, Colorado, to the outdoors as a child, and he has been fishing ever since. He is an Umpqua Signature Fly Designer with numerous patterns to his credit, including Maldo’s Trico, Maldo’s PMD Emerger, and Maldonado’s Jungle Junkie. He is also a pro staffer with Semperfli, Regal Vise, Scientific Anglers, Ahrex Hooks, and Solarez. A huge saltwater angling fan, Maldonado has fished all over the United States as well as Belize, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Canada. He is passionate about fly fishing and fly tying and teaching others to match the hatch and learn to tie flies. Be sure to watch Steve as he teaches our attendees how to tie streamers for big trout.
Julie Mattson, owner of On the River Fly Fishing Guide Service, has been chasing trout since she could hold a fly rod. Mattson began her career in Alaska and then returned home to Montana before relocating to the year-round fishery in Oklahoma. Because of her more than 20 years of experience guiding, she was selected to participate in this year’s Ask a Female Expert panel discussion. Be sure to stop in and listen to Mattson as she shares her guiding experiences.
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!
Seven years ago, Amy Milne began volunteering with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF), which serves nearly 6,500 disabled veterans and injured, wounded, or ill service men and women through the ongoing therapy of fly fishing. Milne was the Regional Coordinator for the Heartland and Program Lead in St. Louis for five years before joining the PHWFF staff, first as a Program Manager for the Central Sector and later as the Assistant Operations Officer. Today Milne is the PHWFF Director of Operations. She has had the opportunity to teach fly tying and casting on video calls and through in-person events with the Missouri Department of Conservation, The Mayfly Project, and of course PHWFF. Milne enjoys watching newcomers to the sport learn to overcome their fear of fly fishing, embrace new outdoor skills, grow in confidence, experience healing, develop relationships, and find peace on the water. Milne can generally be found near a fly-tying vise, on the water, or in a fly shop. Milne will be a special guest and speaker at the Beyond the Cast Women’s Fly Fishing Symposium luncheon.
Brian O'Keefe , who works closely with Eleven Angling published his first fly-fishing photo at the ripe old age of 16. Today, more than 50 years later, angling and photography have taken him to such far-flung locales as Cuba, Tonga, Bikini Atoll, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Kashmir, England, Brazil, Nicaragua.... As much he enjoys jaunts to the Bahamas, Belize, and the Yucatan, O'Keefe is most at home on his home waters in the Northwestern United States. He moved to Bend, Oregon, in 1975 and guided on the Deschutes, North Umpqua, and Klamath rivers in California through the late '70s. O'Keefe has lived on steelhead rivers, bass lakes, and trout streams like the Metolius River. Today he lives in Eastern Idaho, near the South Fork of the Snake River, the Teton River, and the Henry’s Fork. O'Keefe has been published in numerous fly-fishing magazines, newspapers, tackle catalogs, books, and websites, and was co-owner of Catch Magazine for seven years. Check out his work at his website, www.brianokeefephotography.com.
Texas native Steven Palmer grew up fishing for bass and bluegill with his father in the creeks and rivers around Dallas-Fort Worth. Summer trips to Colorado were his introduction to fly fishing–and the rest is history. Today Palmer is the fishing manager for Orvis and teaches numerous fly-fishing and fly-tying classes. He still loves to fish locally but has branched out to pursue gar and carp along with nontypical species all over the world. Palmer has run the hosted travel program at Orvis Plano, taking participants to popular locales as diverse as Bolivia, Montana, Belize, Louisiana, and Iceland. He enjoys offering casting instruction and helping students overcome any bad habit they’ve developed on the water. New to fly fishing or don’t know where to begin? Be sure to sit in on Palmer’s “Fly Fishing 101” class.
Jason Randall’s credits much of his passion for fishing to his father. “Some of my earliest and happiest memories involve fishing,” he recalls. “I remember many trips to Canada or Minnesota for pike and small mouth.” As a young man, he learned fly fishing from other mentors.
The blessings we receive are meant to be passed on to others, so to share his passion and knowledge, in 2002, Jason began a career as an outdoor writer with feature articles appearing regularly in American Angler, as well as Fly Fisherman, Fly Tyer, Eastern Fly Fishing, Northwest Fly Fishing and many other outdoor magazines. His first book, ‘Moving Water: A Fly Fisher’s Guide to Currents’ was released in 2012 by Stackpole/Headwater books. It studies the effect of current on trout, their prey species and our angling presentation. His second book ‘Feeding Time: A Fly Fisher’s Guide to What, Where and When Trout Eat’, was released in August of 2013. It focuses on matching your fishing strategies to the trout’s feeding strategies, especially when targeting large trout. In 2014, the third book in the ‘Fly Fisher’s Guide’ trilogy was released- ‘Trout Sense; A Fly Fisher’s Guide to What Trout See, Hear and Smell’, which offers anglers an opportunity to know more about the quarry they seek. In April 2017, Jason’s forth book was released from Stackpole/ Headwaters Books. Titled ‘Nymph Masters; Fly Fishing Secrets from Expert Anglers’, this book explores the depths of nymph fishing and advanced nymph fishing techniques.
In 2017, Jason joined Luminaries Bob Clouser, Ed Jaworowski, the late Lefty Kreh and many others on the Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO) National Advisory Team and was the lead advisor for designing the TFO Drift rod and the family of TFO Stealth nymphing rods. Jason appears and presents at shows, clubs and events throughout North America.
We are very glad to have Jason speaking at this year’s festival. Please check back later to see a listing of his specialty classes that will be offered with limited seating this year.
Allen Rupp has been tying flies for almost 34 years. Growing up around the District of Columbia, his first fish on the fly were Potomac River smallies. Rupp 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, and the UK to Colorado, Montana, New York, Wisconsin, and beyond. Lately saltwater fish–and especially snook–have been taking up most of his time. Rupp was a close friend and was mentored by the late Dave Whitlock and ties many of Dave’s patterns. This is Rupp’s third appearance at the Texas Fly Fishing & Brew Festival, and we are pleased to have him. He’ll be teaching a new Friday Class Dave Whitlocks Bass Flies Top to Bottom, in addition to an Advanced Salt Water Fly Tying Class. He will also be tying flies and doing demos at his booth throughout the weekend.
“Just a sista who loves to fish” is how Jaz Robinson describes herself on her growing Instagram profile. Known as Castaway Jaz, the Dallas area resident is sharing her newfound passion for fishing with a growing audience. She’ll be the first to tell you she’s no expert, but she’s happiest when she’s sharing what she has learned with others. She loves finding fishing spots close to home, and caught her very first fish at Lakeside Park in Duncanville, which is a Texas Parks and Wildlife Neighborhood Fishin’ location. Jaz’ reputation is growing and she has been featured in Southern Living, Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine, and WFAA-TV. She’s working toward buying her first fishing boat, and hopes to one day compete as a pro angler. She will be one of our Lead Anglers in this year’s Beyond the Cast Women’s Fly Fishing Symposium.
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.
For 16 years Dallas-based casting instructor, fly fisher, and fly tyer Rex Walker has been helping people improve their fly casting skills. He has worked with many of the region’s fly fishing clubs, at fly fishing events across Texas, and with both Reel Recovery and Project Healing Waters. Walker is a Fly Fishers International-certified instructor and the fly casting coordinator for the Dallas Fly Fishers. When not helping other fly fishers, Walker can often be found on Lake Texoma chasing black bass and striped bass on the fly.
Greg Welander is a manufacturer’s representative for major fly fishing brands like Norvise, Thomas & Thomas, Dagon Apparel, Seigler Reels, Sight Cast Fly Fishing and many others. He’s a lifelong angler who has been fishing since he was four years old; he started tying flies not long after. Growing up in San Antonio, Welander has fly fished for everything from stripers on the Red River below Lake Texoma to redfish in the Lower Laguna Madre to bass in local Texas Hill Country streams and lakes. He has been a fly-tying instructor and licensed guide for over ten years. Welander regularly guides clients on the Brazos River and its tributaries in North Texas where he lives. You can follow Welander’s fly fishing journey through Upstream on the Fly.