After a hiatus last year because of coronavirus concerns, the Dolores River Angler Fly Fishing Festival will return to Cortez this year on Free Fishing Weekend.
The festival will include fly fishing classes throughout the day before the 12th annual fishing derby.
Youth classes will start at 10 a.m. and run until noon. The afternoon adult class will go from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
The youth classes will teach kids about fly rod casting and knots for tying flies onto their lines. They will also learn about basic bugs and gear.
“It’s kind of just a basic introduction to fly fishing,” said Dolores River Anglers Trout Unlimited President Brad Waltman.
Adult instruction could be more advanced, depending on the skill set of those in the class.
The derby will begin at the Parque de Vida pavillion at 5 p.m. and end at dusk. According to Waltman, some of the best fishing of the event occurs during the half-hour period before dusk when the water cools down.
Participants must keep whatever fish they catch. Everything at the event is free of charge.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife will donate roughly 150 drought-resistant Hofer rainbow trout for the event. About 20 of them will be larger than 20 inches.
Waltman usually schedules the event to take place on Colorado Free Fishing Weekend, two days when Coloradans can fish without purchasing a license.
Participants are not required to fly fish for the derby.
Those seeking to participate in the derby can register at 5 p.m. with Waltman and receive a number.
Roughly 130 people attended in 2019.
On Friday, June 4, Main Street Brewery will host “Beer, Flies, & Lies,” a fundraising event to help pay for the fishing derby prizes.
According to Waltman, COVID made it difficult to to raise money for the prizes given out at the festival. Typical prizes include gear such as fishing rods, tackle boxes and nets.
The $15 entry fee gets attendees beer tasting samples, finger foods and door prizes. Cost of admission also includes discounts on any other entrees or drinks.
Local fly tiers will demonstrate tying up their best flies for local waters.
“These are our first two events happening live with people again after a year and a half,” Waltman said. “This is a big deal for our community.”
Those interested in registering for classes can visit https://tinyurl.com/ezus5jee