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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Gathering of spey casters returns to the banks of the Clearwater River

A fisherman casts into the Clearwater River on Tuesday.   (August Frank/Tribune)
By Eric Barker Lewiston Tribune

Luminaries of the spey casting world will gather at the Lenore Rest Stop along the Clearwater River at 9 a.m. Saturday to revel in all things associated with two-handed fly rods and fishing for the river’s famed steelhead.

It will be the first time since the pandemic that the once-annual Clearwater Spey Gathering hosted by Poppy Cummins and the Red Shed Fly Shop at Peck has been held.

“It’s kind of a big deal. You get to see some new methods you might not be familiar with and some new tackle and see old friends,” Cummins said. “It’s a good time.”

Presenters will include Simon Gawesworth, one of the leading authorities on spey casting and a star among its practitioners. Gawesworth is the lead designer for Rio fly lines, one of the best-known spey-casting instructors in the world, an author on the technique and star of many spey casting instruction videos.

Other presenters include Zach Williams, the founder and editor of Swing the Fly magazine; Al Burh, a well-traveled teacher who is chairperson of the Federation of Fly Fisher’s Two-Handed Casting Instructor program; Lee Davison of Ballistic Fly Lines; and Whitney Gould, a six-time Spey-O-Rama world casting champion and longtime fishing guide.

Local fly fishing guide Tracy Allen will talk about fishing for steelhead on the Clearwater River.

Cummins partnered with the Fly Project and House of Fly, a brand and shop associated with North 40 Outfitters, to put on the event. Drew Evans, a Fly Project ambassador, said they initially worried that a predicted poor return of steelhead would dampen the event. However, steelhead appear to be defying the prediction and returning in numbers that please anglers and fisheries managers.

“People are catching fish. We are still using floating lines and floating leaders and heads and traditional hair wing and feather wing flies,” said Drew Evans, a Fly Project ambassador from Lewiston. “That is why we all love spey fishing and fishing for steelhead with flies.”

Cummins said coffee will be available starting at 8 a.m. for those who want to show up early and lunch will be served around noon.