The Gulf Coast Classic Fly Fishing Festival (May 5-6, 2023)

While our regularly scheduled Step-by-Step tutorials will be back next Thursday, I wanted to take a moment to highlight the Gulf Coast Classic Fly Fishing Festival.

A new event put on by the Gulf Coast Council of Fly Fishers International (GCC FFI), the “Classic” is slated to take place next week, May 5th and 6th, at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, AL. A first of its kind event for the region, the Classic will host a slate of speakers, fly tyers and exhibitors from across the region and country. Additionally, the Classic will include a unique Mixed Bag Tournament (running May 4-6) and a showing of the 2023 Fly Fishing Film Tour.

While I can’t highlight everything going on at the Classic in a single post, I wanted to take a moment to highlight just a few of the speakers, topics, etc that will be on the docket.

The Speakers

We’ll have a great slate of speakers both days, but here are a just a few to keep in mind as you’re planning your visit:

Friday (May 5)

The GCC FFI Suncatch Challenge: Ben Roussel of Mountains to Marsh will be speaking on the diversity of panfish found in the gulf coast region and highlighting changes to the GCC FFI’s Suncatch Challenge.

Fly Fishing Mobile Bay: Peter Jordan of the Lost Angler Fly Shop will be onsite Friday afternoon to share his knowledge of the Mobile Bay fishery and how to best target a diversity of local species on the fly.

Net Building 101: For those looking for a new DIY side project, we’ll also have Ethan Ingleheart of Stonefly Nets (Little Rock, AR) sharing the many tricks of his trade.

Saturday (May 6)

Surf Fishing on the Fly: Captain John Botko will help kick off Saturday morning with a presentation on Surf Fishing with a Fly Rod. A wealth of knowledge on the subject, this talk is a must for anyone interested in targeting the local pompano and redfish in the waves.

Panhandle Tarpon: Local Tarpon Guru, Captain Chip Smith of By Land & By Sea Charters will be on hand Saturday afternoon to share some tips and tricks for those looking to target the Silver King along the Florida Panhandle and Alabama coast.

Women’s Fly Fishing Roundtable: Patty Lueken of FFI Women Connect will be hosting a pair of events Saturday including a Women’s FF Roundtable and a presentation on the FFI Women Connect program.

Paid Tying Classes with the Experts

While nearly two dozen talented tyers will be on display in the conservation hall during the Classic, we’ll also have a number of smaller, paid tying classes available for those looking to up their game and learn a new skill.

These classes, four in total, will have limited space, so be sure to sign up early. More info on the instructors, patterns and registration can be found at the links below:

Fly Tying Workshops – Info

Fly Tying Workshops – Registration

FREE Casting instruction from FFI Certified Casting Instructors

If you’re new to fly fishing, this event will be a great opportunity to hone your casting skills under the tutelage of one of FFI’s talent Certified Casting Instructors.

Experts at their craft, these instructors will teach the basics of fly casting including casting fundamentals, the Overhead Cast (PULD), the Roll Cast, False casting, Basic line management including stripping line and shooting line, and self-diagnostics.

Anglers can bring their own equipment along or use one of the rods provided onsite by GCC FFI.

Only 10 spots are available each morning, so be sure to pre-register for this great opportunity.:

Casting Instruction Registration

The Mixed Bag Classic: Fly Fishing Tournament

For those looking to test their skills on the water, the Classic will also host a unique Mixed Bag Tournament as part of the event. The tournament, slated for May 4-6, will challenge anglers to capture a diverse array of species from the waters in and around Gulf State Park and is FREE(!!) to everyone who attends the Classic. Pre-registration is required though, so be sure to purchase your Classic Admission in advance if you plan to start fishing Thursday (May 4)..

With sponsors including Orvis Fly Fishing & Bajio Sunglasses among others, this is a can’t miss opportunity for those attending the Classic. Be sure to check out the link below for the complete rules and other important details:

The Mixed Bag Classic

A glimpse at part of the 1st Place Prize Package for our Adult Division

2023 Fly Fishing Film Tour

For those still looking for more after two full days of fly fishing fun, be sure to hang around Saturday afternoon/evening for the Fly Fishing Film Tour. Beginning at 4pm on Saturday, May 6, this 3-hour event will feature a variety of short films on topics ranging from Trout to Tarpon. It’s a can’t miss event, and this is one of the few opportunities available to those of us living along the Gulf Coast.

As an added bonus, those in attendance will be automatically entered in a raffle to win prizes a variety of prizes including a SAGE R8 SALT Fly Rod. Tickets are only $25, and, with limited seating, they won’t last long. So be sure to reserve yours at the link below:

2023 Fly Fishing Film Tour (Gulf State Park, May 6)

While there’s plenty more to this event, I hope the highlights above are enough to draw your interest. This should be an exciting two-days, and I hope to see many of you there. And, for those considering coming in from out of town, keep in mind that a limited number of spaces in the onsite dorms are available. At only $50/night, they’re a great way to visit Gulf Shores and the Classic without breaking the bank. Check out the registration page for more info.

Tight Lines!


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