The Mountaineer gear shop in Keene Valley is widely known among the Adirondack hiking, climbing and skiing community. Now, it's trying to re-establish its foothold in the fly fishing world.
On Saturday, it will take a big step in that direction by hosting the inaugural Adirondack Fly Fishing Festival.
Mike "Kaz" Kazmierezak, who heads up the The Mountaineer's fishing department, said the store is trying to get back to its fishing roots. The fishing aspect of the store was a big passion of George McClelland, the original owner who passed away in 2010 at the age of 91. His son, Vinny, now runs the store.
A fly fisherman fishes the West Branch of the AuSable River.
(Enterprise file photo — Mike Lynch)
Being in charge of the department is a natural fit for Kazmierezak because he used to be a fly fishing guide and run the fishing department in a store in Potsdam. He's guided trips on many northern Adirondack rivers, including the St. Regis, Salmon and West Branch of the St. Regis.
"For me, personally it's been fun to re-engage with it, connect with a lot of people that I used to work with," he said.
Kazmierezak said he thought the festival would be a good way to engage the public and promote the activity. The Mountaineer has a strong history of running outdoor sports-related events. Currently, they host three other events. One for mountaineering and ice climbing, a backcountry skiing festival and a trail run. All have been very successful and have served as fundraisers for various nonprofit causes. The fly fishing festival will raise funds for the AuSable and Boquet River associations.
This festival is expected to be smaller than some of the other events, but there will be several opportunities for the public to learn about fishing.
There will be rod demonstration, free casting clinics led by local guide Ken Kalil, and local fly tying demonstrations. No registration is required for the free demos and clinics.
Those looking for more in-depth instruction can register for the all-day Fly Fishing School led by local guide and Federal of Fly Fishers Casting Instructor Stan Oliva. Oliva will cover the basics of equipment, fly selection and fishing knots.
Half of the day will be spent in the classroom and half will be spent outside practicing casting techniques, including the overhead cast, false cast and roll cast. Pre-registration is required for the Fly Fishing School. The price for this full-day of instruction is $100.
The Festival will cap off with a fly fishing film and reception at the Keene Arts Playhouse, located on Route 73 in Keene (between Stewart's and Town Hall). The main movie will be "SOULFISH 2" by Mikey Wier, a Patagonia fly fishing ambassador.
Tickets are $10 at the door, with proceeds benefiting the AuSable and Boquet River Associations.
There will also be a raffle of gear provided by sponsors Patagonia, The Drake, Loon Outdoors, ECHO, Cortland, Ex Officio and Chota.
More detailed registration information is available at www.mountaineer.com/fly-fishing-festival.