From the outside, fly-fishing looks like an art form, with anglers harnessing the flowing, lasso-like cast framed by tree-lined mountainsides and a rock-strewn stream. But for Andrew Stiles, a fly-fisherman with more than 40 years of experience on waters around the world, a wealth of technical details supersedes this romanticized image—the physics of casting line that weighs more than the lure, the entomology of matching flies with the season's insects, the leverage required to land a 150-pound tarpon on 12-pound tackle.
This passion for both teaching and fly-fishing drives Andrew to impart his knowledge by instructing anglers all over the world. Locally, he teaches classes at John Tyler Community College and Randolph-Macon College with a curriculum modeled on the teachings of George Harvey, who developed the first accredited college fly-fishing course at Penn State in 1947. Andrew's international teaching experience includes instructing at the Euroclave Federation of Fly Fishing / Danish Fly Fishing Festival in Denmark, as well as virtually coaching clients as far away as Australia through Skype. He also develops tailored video lessons and posts a YouTube series for beginners. Throughout all of this, Andrew upholds the high standards of a fly-casting instructor certified through outdoor organizations such as the Federation of Fly Fishers.
When not teaching, Andrew travels the world, applying his tactics—such as his specialty in the double-haul method—to waters that range from the mangrove flats of Florida to the trout streams in England. “If you’re fishing for trout, you’re going to be in some of the most pristine waters in the world,” he says. An expert in fly tackle, he can also appraise antique fly outfits unearthed from attics, basements, and the forgotten prop storage units of A River Runs Through It.
Owned by school teacher and experienced fishing guide Tee Clarkson, Virginia Fishing Adventures leads reelers to prime fishing locales on the James and Rappahannock Rivers. The guides draw upon their extensive knowledge of the Richmond waterways and canoe rush hours during their guided trips that pay visits to little-known spots where smallmouth bass, sunfish, and striped bass converge. Personal lessons on fly fishing and casting are also available for youngsters and adults, as well as summer camps, after-school fishing programs, and non-fish-related mountain-biking excursions.
Staff Size: 2–10 people
Average Duration of Services: 4+ hours
Brands Used: Field and Stream, Abu Garcia, Repella, Bass Pro Shops
Parking: Parking lot
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: Expert master angler guide on every trip
Recommended Age Group: Adults
Pro Tip: Eco-friendly guided river tours, no white water just a nice calm relaxing trip
When and how did you first develop a passion for your work?
I have always been an outdoorsman, since the very first time I went down the river on my kayak I was hooked, no pun intended. I am known as one of the best anglers in the area, and have caught well over 50 trophy fish in the local rivers, I am a certified expert master angler and know every inch of the rivers I travel both top and bottom
As the old adage says, "Stuff happens." What training do you and your staff have to stay ahead of the unexpected?
All staff [members] keep a First Aid kit on their kayak and are First Aid and CPR certified and up to date on aquatic life saving. [They] also are required to make trips after storms to ensure that there are no new obstacles blocking the river
What is the one feature of your business that you're most proud of?
Showing customers a look at [the] wildlife they dream of.
The picturesque waters of the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean gently lap against the alabaster hull of the Sally T, beckoning passengers to cast a line to the abundant wildlife swimming under the water's surface. Aboard the vessel—a head boat with Coast Guard approval for ocean trips—experienced nautical leader Captain Pete grants aspiring fisherpeople a chance to land prize catches with charter trips that explore the natural beauty of the famed waterscapes. Under the captain's guidance, a friendly crew sniffs out areas teeming with susceptible targets and bestows fishing tips and gear to blossoming seafarers. Groups then practice the skills necessary to catch and clean aquatic fauna and pursue underwater booty such as croakers, flounder, and pictures of Scott Baio taped inside Davy Jones's locker.
Miss Chesapeake spirits vacationers and die-hard anglers alike from its dock at Breezy Point Marina on chartered fishing expeditions. Captain Luke Thatcher and his crew of hyper-intelligent seagulls provide artificial bait, a fishing license, and allow passengers to bring their own snacks, lunches, and beer. Once everyone's fully kitted out, Captain Thatcher sets out across the bay, as Miss Chesapeake trails fishing lines and cuts watery swathes from Bloody Point to the Choptank River.
After a full day of bamboozling fish, sun-soaked adventurers return to shore with coolers filled with their catch. Fish cleaners stand at the ready on the dock, happy to prep the newly netted seameats or step aside and let passengers to do it themselves.
Bunky's has been sailing the open seas since purchasing his first charter boat in 1978. Naming it after his wife, Kathy, he used that boat to catch oysters that he subsequently sold in their marina shop. Over time, his fleet grew to 3 charter boats and 16 rental boats. With more boats, Captain Bunky's able to share his love of the water with his community and one of the ways he does this is by inviting people to try their hand at captaining a ship for a day. Tourists can also come aboard his 40- to 47-foot vessels to indulge in an afternoon of cruising, crabbing, or fishing for selkies on the Patuxent River or Chesapeake Bay.