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The annual Marabou Madness event returned to the North Carolina region of Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing after a two-year suspension caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fifty-five veterans from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee participated in this all-day event held at the Pechmann Fishing Education Center in Fayetteville, North Carolina which is operated by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

The feature activity for Marabou Madness is the fly-tying instruction provided by renowned fly-tyer, Charlie Craven. Craven is the author of several fly-tying books, the owner of Charlie’s Fly Box in Arvada, Colorado, and is also a regular contributor to publications such as Fly Tyer and Fly Fisherman magazines. This year marks Craven’s fourth appearance at Marabou Madness, and he is welcomed for his expertise and concise style which provides the participants with easy-to-follow instruction and a better understanding of fly-tying techniques. Volunteers from the region assisted Charlie with the instruction and the audiovisual technology provided by the Pechmann Center tp ensure that the large group could easily follow instruction.

Many of the veterans also competed in the “mystery material” fly-tying contest in which they construct a fly from a material unknown to them until the start of the contest. Contestants are given a short amount of time to collect additional materials for their flies, and then have 10 minutes to tie. Judges awarded Doug Wisnoiski of the Tennessee Valley Region 131 points of a possible 150. Doug took home a FishSkull Fly tester for 1st prize.

Also on Saturday, participants had the opportunity to fish in the center’s ponds, one of which is stocked by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission with trout for the winter fly-fishing programs. Volunteers assisted with fishing and provided casting instruction to those wanting additional pointers. On Sunday, participants returned to the center for some more fishing. Several fish had been tagged and participants who were lucky enough to catch a tagged fish received a prize. Robert Harrell, PHWFF Participant from the Richlands (Camp Lejuene) program received a TFO NXT Combo for the fish which he landed and safely released.

Best of all, the participants and volunteers all seem to agree that it was great to get back to sharing the great experiences that PHWFF has to offer and to see old friends and meet new ones.

phwff north carolina regional coordinator tom carpenter

PHWFF would like to thank the Pechmann Fishing Education Center, for use of their facilities, Charlie Craven, for his time and expertise, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, and last but not least, all of the volunteers and veterans who showed up and made this event super special!

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