Lefty Kreh’s TieFest, back for the 17th year, an inspiration for one filmmaker

Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
Lefty Kreh's TieFest will be held at Kent Narrows Yacht Club on Saturday.

People frequently tell Austin Green there's something unusual about him.

One minute, the 25-year-old St. Paul's graduate is rattling off the names of some of the all-time greatest fly fishermen. The next minute, the fledgling filmmaker is talking about how he's using a more "avant-garde style."

He doesn't like traditional three-act films. In his documentaries, he wants a little interview and a lot of action. Kind of like a "five-minute moving portrait of a subject."

"People have told me ...'Well, you're one of the best guys I know on a computer, but strange enough you're one of the best in the woods,'" he said. "That normally doesn't go together."

Green has found a niche combining those interests. Pursuing a bachelor's degree in filmmaking from the Maryland Institute College of Art, he released his first feature film, "Pursuing Esox: Musky, Pike and Pickerel on The Fly," last summer, through Southern Culture on the Fly Magazine. It has been watched roughly 15,000 times online.

The movie, as well as Green's devotion to the sport, was born out of conversations at Lefty Kreh's TieFest, which started in a basement and grew to become the Mid-Atlantic's foremost fly-fishing show. The 17th annual event will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Kent Narrows Yacht Club.

The event will feature more than 30 tiers demonstrating fly patterns that have proved successful in the mid-Atlantic area; casting demonstrations; shops and equipment manufacturers with their latest products; and fishing guides in the area.

TieFest has always been about sharing the knowledge and love of the sport with the next generation, but there's a special emphasis on young anglers this year, with tying classes added for children and novices.

Green and his girlfriend, Katie Blizzard, 27, represent that next generation. They are among the youngest to have a booth, set to show off flies, Green's thesis portfolio and artwork, and "Pursuing Esox."

In production for two years, the film was edited to just over 25 minutes from dozens of interviews and hundreds of hours of footage from nine states. There was minimal funding — just what Green could afford himself and whatever cash his friends floated his way. He didn't expect it to have much of a reach. But just this past year, a friend texted him a picture of a television screen at a fly shop in North Carolina. It was showing his movie.

"When I was younger, I didn't understand the need for the community and going to these types of places," said Green, who started attending TieFest about five years ago. "I was catching fish, and that's what I wanted to do. But you grow and mature, and you realize there's things to get done, there's people to connect with, there's conservation issues to learn about."

While Green has been fishing since his grandmother taught him how when he was 5 years old, Blizzard is relatively new to the sport. Green began teaching her after they met, but she was more interested in observing at first. When she did start, she found casting in small, tight creeks to be frustrating, and tangled lines even more so. At the time, Green was too busy with school work to keep up with lessons, so she practiced on her own.

"That's when you learn a whole lot," she said. "You go through the struggle of not catching anything, but I've also caught plenty of trout by myself. I've been addicted ever since."

Now, just a few years later, she's leading workshops at Bass Pro Shops and fly-tying nights at Great Feathers in Sparks in between work and home-schooling her 7-year-old son, Nolan. Seeing one of her best friends catch a fish with a fly she tied is among her most rewarding experiences, but she finds those moments too rare. That's why she's focused on starting more women's fly-fishing events in the greater Baltimore area.

"I really want to shake up fly-fishing, especially in this area, and get people more involved and teach people," she said. "I want to introduce a fresh face with it."

It's because of that passion that Green and Blizzard have captured the attention of the greats, who see them as the future leaders of the sport.

"All those legends, they love us for not just who we are, but the fact that we want to carry on the torch," Green said. "We don't want to just do the sport, and be a part of the sport — we want to carry on the culture, the tradition, the respect, the honesty, the admiration, the knowledge, the research. All of it."

Green wants to pursue a career in filmmaking. Blizzard wants to teach more clinics. Both are focused in their own way of growing a sport that has inspired them, bridging the gap between the older generation and the new. This year's TieFest aims to do just that.

"You have grandfathers and grandmothers there that especially cling to children and younger people," Blizzard said. "I can see myself doing the same thing when I'm their age. Seeing someone that's getting into it and clinging to them and saying, 'Hey, you can do this! Pass this love on.'"

cdoon@baltsun.com

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Lefty Kreh TieFest

Where: Kent Narrows Yacht Club

When: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4p.m.

Admission: $10 for adults; free for children 16 and under

More info: facebook.com/leftykrehtiefest

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