BETHEL — The theme was Women in Fly Fishing at the seventh annual Western Maine Fly Fishing Expo on Saturday at the Gould Academy Field House in Bethel, and with over 50 booths set up to thrill, educate and explore, there was plenty of excitement to get people “hooked.”
Selene Dumaine of Buckfield attends the expo every year, and has made quite a name for herself in the fly-tying world, with several of her designs featured in museums and literature, as well as a first-place win under her belt at the 1998 World Fly Fishing Expo in Massachusetts.
Fly-tying is the art of creating an artificial bait fish or insect using natural materials such as feathers and fur, and more modern synthetics such as beads and rubber.
Dumaine prides herself on fly-tying without a vice, which most fly-tying experts use to secure the hook and hold it while they tie on the design. But Dumaine, like her idol, Carrie Stevens, uses only her hands.
“It keeps her history alive, and preserves her tradition. Nobody else does it,” Dumaine said.
Stevens, of Madison, Maine, died in 1970, the same year Dumaine was born. Stevens was famous for her fly design, the Grey Ghost, which Dumaine said is the most famous fly in the world.
Dumaine said she loves fly-fishing because it gets her out into nature and provides ample opportunities to learn about fish habits and to create new fly designs.
“I like the grace of (fly-fishing),” said Susan Bradford of West Paris, who attended the expo for the first time Saturday. “I’ve always thought it was beautiful.”
Bradford has been fly-fishing for about 30 years, and said she enjoys both fly and spin fishing, which uses a rod with a caster, but she likes the versatility of fly-fishing.
“You can have wet and dry flies, in and out of the water. It just adds to the experience,” she said.
Members from Casting for Recovery also attended the expo, and were advocating for breast cancer survivors to try fly-fishing. The organization takes survivors on a weekend retreat, free of charge, and teaches them how to fly-fish.
“It’s amazingly effective,” said member Debbie Graul of Rangeley. “It was one of the best times I’ve had in a long time. You make new friends, and it’s just very heartwarming.”
Graul said fly-fishing also has health benefits to breast cancer survivors — the casting motion can help prevent the swelling of lymph nodes.
In addition to helping cancer survivors, William Clunie of Back in the Main Stream, a veterans’ support group, was at the expo urging veterans to try fly-fishing.
“It doesn’t heal anybody, but it just kind of gives them a break,” Clunie said.
Solomon Fast of Fast Fish and Wildlife Carvings stands in front of his work at the seventh annual Western Maine Fly Fishing Expo at the Gould Academy Field House on Saturday in Bethel. (Liz Marquis/Sun Journal)
Selene Dumaine of Buckfield and her husband, Eric Frohmberg, laugh together at their booth during the seventh annual Western Maine Fly Fishing Expo at the Gould Academy Field House in Bethel on Saturday. (Liz Marquis/Sun Journal)