The first Cape Lookout Albacore Festival was held October 25-26in Morehead City, North Carolina. This conventional and fly-fishingrelease-only event was the vision of director Charlie Utz whose2-year-old daughter, Katie, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in May2001. Utz and four friends organized the event to raise money forpediatric cancer patients receiving treatment at DukeChildren’s Hospital as well as their families. Despite beingthe first year for the event, over 74 anglers participated and 275people attended the captain’s party. More than $60,000 wasraised for programs at the hospital. “One of the goals of ourevent was to have families participate together,” says Utz.”As it turned out, the fathers ran the boats while theirchildren and wives fished.” In the end, the winners of thethree main categories, Top Overall Angler, Top Fly Angler and TopConventional Angler, were ages 18, 13 and 8 respectively.
One highlight of the weekend was a special fly-casting clinichosted by world-famous angler Bob Clouser. Clouser donated his timeand expertise to introduce new anglers to the sport offly-fishing.
The organizers of the Cape Lookout Albacore Festival are settingup a fly-fishing school for kids with cancer to be held at DukeChildren’s Hospital. This event is scheduled for April 2003and will introduce youngsters between the ages of 11 and 16 to thesport. “This school is very important to our mission becauseit introduces the children to a sport that can truly benefit a sickchild. Fly-tying is something that they can do while in thehospital. It takes concentration and fine motor skills, and cantake them away, in their minds, from the treatments and thehospital. Fly-casting is also something that can get them outside,and it’s good for coordination and exercise. Most important,it gives them something to live for. When they catch a fish on afly they’ve tied themselves, it makes them want to fight thecancer that much more,” said Utz.
For more information, call Charlie Utz at 252-222-0229, or visitwww.claf.org.