The third Annual Costa TU 5 Rivers Rally ended in style this past weekend, huddled around a massive bonfire with the Costa truck bumping tunes late into the evening. College student’s gathered from across the country all sharing one thing in common. A passion for fly fishing.

Students arrived to the campgrounds on Friday afternoon, signing in at the Costa Tent. That’s when they received their “Swag Bags”, an assortment of goodies from companies like Cheeky Fly Fishing, FlyMen Fishing Co, Post Fly Box, and Costa Sunglasses. In the foreground, Legendary guide Greg Morgan advises Andrew Loffredo how to roll cast under some obstacles. 

Franklin Tate, Director of Youth Education Programs at Trout Unlimited, checks in a student at the Costa booth. 

We asked a few students to tell us a little bit about their experience at the Rally. First up is Tanner Poeschel, a Flylords Intern, and founder of the Mizzou 5 rivers chapter. 

“Representing the University of Missouri chapter of the 5 Rivers Program, Max Vaaler and I had the chance to travel to North Carolina for the Costa 5 Rivers Rally. As a senior coming upon graduation, my days are spent going to class, studying, writing cover letters, applying for jobs, and maybe a quick trip to the gym. Although life has been extremely fast-paced, the rally this weekend allowed me an opportunity to wind down and spend time on the water with friends. Meeting like-minded individuals from different schools across the country was an eye-opening experience. Spending time with great people at a great event was exactly what I needed. The college students participated in a “Get Trashed” event cleaning up the river, shared stories around the campfire, and caught lots of fish. Lots of laughs were shared, and beer was drank. All in all, the Rally was an incredible experience, and I cannot wait until the next rally next year!”

Students are Out and About on Saturday morning. Some more focused on catching fish, while others are trying to find as much trash as they can get their hands on. 

Jay Johnson holds the trash bag for David Grossman (The mind behind Southern Culture on The Fly). You may recognize Jay because he is the Star of the hit fishing show Geobass. Not only is Jay a world-traveling adventure junky/party animal, but he also has a huge heart and cares more about protecting our environment and setting a good example than catching fish.

The Get Trashed event brings students together from across the country to pick up trash, now how cool is that. It’s a great reminder that this sport is not only about catching “trophy fish” or getting that grip and grin “hero shot”, but protecting the incredible resources where we find these fish. Prizes were given to students who found unique pieces of trash.

James Mugele, a recent graduate of the University of Vermont talks about Pig Farm and how much he enjoyed the 5 Rivers event: 

The PigFarm family is growing and the hype surrounding the sport of fly fishing is reel. This past weekend fly fishing clubs from Universities all around the country met in the heart of the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina to get bitchin’. And we got bitchin’! The best part about PigFarm Ink is that we want everyone in the sport to realize the importance of fly fishing lies in its simplicity, and how just getting out there leads to epic days on the water, and new friendships for a lifetime. It’s not always about catching fish- this past weekend me and some of the West Virginia homies spent more time on the river boiling water for coffee, than actually fishing (Colombian BamBam). But that is what it is all about. We also got two nice ladies to touch their first brook  trout! Great weekend with awesome people! When the inspired inspire, everyone is happy.

The Rally is a great opportunity to get into the sport of fly fishing. So many confident and knowledgeable anglers all willing to help out.

Dorn Brown, of Clemson University ties on a Squirmy Worm, helping the ladies increase their chance of landing a trout from the depths of the Nantahala River. 

A Rising Fish feeds on a Mayfly on the Nantahala River.

The weekend is about teamwork and encouraging your friends to get out and make a difference or try something new.

As the train passed one last time on the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad, students reflected on a truly incredible weekend. We wanted to give a huge shout out to Andrew Loffredo, Franklin Tate, Tara Granke, Jay Johnson, Greg Morgan, Derek Edwards, Dan Zazworsky, Todd Barker, Matt Kremser and Peter Vandergrift for the incredible work that went into making this event happen. To any students who would like to get involved with a 5 Rivers program, please contact aloffredo@tu.org.

For more information go to http://www.tucosta5rivers.org/ and follow tucosta5rivers on Instagram.