The Bitter Root Water Forum is hosting the 2018 International Fly Fishing Film Festival and a Reels N’ Brews fundraiser at Bitter Root Brewing on Sunday, Feb. 18.
The International Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4),which begins at 11 a.m., is a collection of movies with beautiful cinematography and intriguing fly-fishing from the Northwest, Southwest, Eastern, American, Canada, and Thailand - with a variety of fish including trout, sharks, Atlantic salmon, and Arctic char.
“Classic fly-fishing is trout fishing, but over the years the sport has evolved and any species can be caught on fly. That’s where we’ve seen the expansion of the sport,” said Eddie Olwell, president of the BRWF. “Over the last 50 years people have started chasing salt water fish, exotic fresh water species, and warm water species.”
This is the fourth year of a film festival by Bitter Root Water Forum, but the first year of IF4. The non-profit hosted the F3T (Fly Fishing Film Tour) that also played in Missoula. Last year the BRWF hosted a Montana film festival featuring fly-fishing films from Montana.
“We’re just trying to change it up and mix it up every year and offer different films and different genres,” Olwell said. “With the F3T we always had to compete with the Missoula market and a lot of folks from the Bitterroot like to go down to that, so we don’t want to compete with that one. There is no one putting on the IF4 locally.”
Olwell said he believes the nearest showing is in Bozeman. He is hoping to draw folks from Missoula and keep the Bitterroot folks local.
“We kind of put it on now as ‘the cure for cabin fever’ since we’ve all been hunkered down for winter and are starting to dream of spring, summer, and it gives us a little boost in the dark days of winter,” Olwell said.
The IF4 will be held at the Pharaohplex Theatre, 582 Old Corvallis Road, in Hamilton with doors opening at 10:30 a.m. and film starting at 11 a.m. Tickets will be available at the Bitter Root Water Forum office and Freestone Fly Shop. They are $12 in advance and $15 at the door.
BRWF Program Coordinator Katie Vennie said if folks are not interested in the fly-fishing films, the water forum is also having a fundraiser at the Bitter Root Brewery afterward from 1 to 7 p.m. A silent auction from 2 to 6 p.m. features items including fly-fishing gear, rods, local art, and gift certificates to local businesses.
“A lot of folks come right after the movie and then we get a lot of folks later in the day when they get off the ski hill or whatever they are doing outside,” Olwell. “It works well and is very successful.”
Vennie said that the dinner crowd may come in not realizing a fundraiser is under way.
“It is a good opportunity for the water forum to get more visibility in the community,” she said. “The Bitter Root Water Forum is a local non-profit and we work to bring the community to protect, enhance and restore the watershed that we all rely on.”
BRWF does on-the-ground restoration work, watershed education for youth and adults, and annual events like the Bitterroot River Clean-up.
“We’re actually doing a clean-up all-year-round campaign starting this year, where we will be putting bags for people to take every time they are on the water to keep a handle on their own trash as well as maybe pick up some other stuff if they find it out there,” Vennie said.
Olwell said BRWF represents all users who are all part of the watershed – agriculture, public health issues, and recreation.
“A lot of the habitat work we do is to protect and restore clean, cold, water, which fish and wildlife are the beneficiary of,” Olwell said. “It’s also important because hunting, primarily fishing, is a big part of not only our culture but our economy. A lot of people come on vacation to fly fish and lots of people are retiring here because we have this great trout river running though our valley.”
Raffle tickets will be available at both events to win a full day float trip for two with Eddie Olwell of ‘Fishs Eddy O Outfitters’. The trip is all inclusive - equipment, transportation, and lunch.
“If they need it, I can provide it,” Olwell said.
Raffle tickets are $5 each or five for $20, and can be purchased ahead of the event at the BRWF office or at both events on Feb. 18.
For more information visit fishseddyo.com.
All the proceeds from the film and the fundraiser go to the BRWF. Bitter Root Brewing also donates a portion of every beer sale.
“If you got to both events, bring your ticket from the film to the brewery and they’ll give you $1 off a beer,” Vennie said.
To watch the trailer of the IF4 film visit online flyfilmfest.com.
“Come watch the film, and support us,” Olwell said. “It is a great way to enjoy yourself and support the Water Forum. We try to always support the local economy, on our projects we try to hire local contractors. We not only keep it in the valley but in the watershed.”