Imagine yourself escaping from city life to the long, winding rivers of southern Vermont. There’s something magical hearing nothing but the sounds of the flowing river, chirping birds, buzzing insects when all you’re used to hearing are car horns and ringing cell phones. In our journey to find the best outdoor activities in Southern Vermont, we knew fly fishing could not be ignored. Not far from Stratton is the Orvis Fly Fishing Academy, which trains some of the countries best fly fishermen and guides. That’s where we found John Morawski, a former Orvis, now independent fly fishing guide. John teaches fly fishing to everyone from a total beginner (us) to seasoned fishermen. What we experienced was amazing. For this Venture Vermont, here’s what you need to know:
The Fly Fishing Excursion
John has multiple excursions that cater to each individual’s needs. Choose from:
- Basic guiding
- Fly Fishing Lessons for Beginners and Experienced Fishermen
- Basic and Advanced Fly Casting
- Dry Fly, Nymphing and Streamer Techniques
- Reading the water
- Fly Selection
- Safe Wading, Proper handling of Fish.
Lunch and equipment is provided on full day outings at no extra cost.
Half Day | One person: $200 | Two people: $225
Full Day | One person: $350 | Two people: $450
What You’ll Learn
I went into this experience knowing almost nothing about fly fishing. I have fished a good amount on lakes and ponds, but have never fly fished before, so i figured I would pick it up somewhat quickly. Fishing is all the same, right? Nope. I found out that fly fishing is almost nothing like traditional fishing. However, that’s what is so great about John’s teaching experience, because there is a lot of information to learn but he explains it in a simple way that is very easy to pick up and understand.
First, John introduced us to the equipment. He has multiple cases of different flies, and though it was a bit overwhelming at first, it was really cool to see how much time and art goes into this sport. He will teach you about why some flies are used over others, such as why an ant shaped fly is better than others in certain water conditions.
Next, you will work on casting (without a fly or hook). John teaches you step-by-step the correct way to cast. It involves a particular way to move your arm, hold the line and reel in the fish. We practiced this for about 20 minutes, and John critiques and fixes your form to make it better.
Once you have the form down, John will teach you the different knots to tie on your fly. What happens from there depends on which course you are taking and what your ability level is. Other points John will guide you on is water safety when you are wading, how to unhook a fish from the fly, reading the water and various fly techniques.
Overall, I learned much more than I thought, and came out with a greater respect for fishermen and the sport as a whole. I learned how relaxing it can be to be in nature fishing, even if you don’t catch anything at all. It’s therapeutic in a sense.
If you are unable to view the video above, please click here.
Depending on the time of year, the water temperature and multiple other natural factors, John will take you to his favorite fly fishing spots such as the Battenkill River. With almost 60 years of fly fishing experience, you can bet on John taking you to the best fly fishing locations in close proximity to Stratton.
What to pack & What to wear
All fly fishing gear is included in the excursions. We suggest to pack a sun hat, sun glasses or eye protection, and rain gear. Lunch is also included in the excursions, but we always suggest packing a re-fillable water bottle to stay hydrated. You should wear clothes that you don’t mind getting wet or dirty.
Suggested Age Range
While being outdoors all day is great for all ages, we suggest ages 10 and up for this Venture Vermont. However, if your child is under 10 years old and is responsible with a fishing rod, or you believe they will be, this excursion would suit them, as well. Younger kids can learn alot about the sport from John, even if they don’t actually go out to the river to fish.
For Vermont state fishing license information, click here.
We want to see how you do Vermont in the summer! Share your photos with us using the hashtag #VentureVermont.
About the Author
Cassie Russo | Growing up in central Massachusetts, Cassie ventured to the snowy mountains of Vermont almost every weekend until her late teens to enjoy her passion – snowboarding. After working at a ski shop while studying for a degree in journalism, Cassie knew Vermont was her next destination. You can now find her living her dream of residing in Vermont, pursuing a writing career and strapping a snowboard to her feet every day. When the snow melts, you can find her on her paddle board, on the tennis courts and searching for the next adventure.
Cassie’s Instagram and Twitter:@cassachusetts