The American Museum of Fly Fishing hosted its Heritage Award event honoring author Tom McGuane on April 5 in New York City. A spirited crowd gathered at the Racquet & Tennis Club, as lively and colorful as our honoree for the evening. Guests caught up with one another, sampling fantastic hors d’oeuvres and cocktails while browsing a wide selection of live and silent auction items. Among the items donated for the night’s festivities included fly fishing equipment from Douglas Outdoors, Orvis, and Simms as well as a multitude of fly fishing trips and experience getaways.
The Executive Director of the American Museum of Fly Fishing, Bob Ruley, addressed the guests prior to dinner and thanked Mr. McGuane for accepting the honor from the museum. He touched upon the literary great’s ability to connect with his readers, saying that he could never fight a bonefish again without thinking of it as being “handsomely vulpine”, which drew a chuckle from the crowd before they viewed a special tribute video to McGuane and dined away.
Auctioneer Nick Dawes then took the stage, leading a rousing and entertaining live auction bidding session. Money was raised for the museum’s summer outreach program, which will focus on a series of public programs designed to engage and educate the greater Manchester community on the sport of fly fishing. These programs will include the museum’s 10th annual Fly Fishing Festival, which will be held on August 12, as well as classes designed on fostering a new generation of fly anglers by teaching children how to cast and create “clown” flies that are tied on coat hanger “hooks”.
Following the auction, Bob Ruley and President of the Board of Trustees, Karen Kaplan presented the Heritage Award to Mr. McGuane. He stayed brief but to the point in his acceptance speech as he stressed the importance of public lands in this day and age, reminding the event guests of their importance to our sport, to our nation, and to future generations. In a sample of wit and dark humor as only McGuane could put it, he stated that he would very much like our public lands and fisheries to be around for the next generation so that we would have a museum of fly fishing that is chronicling the living history of an active sport instead of a mausoleum of fly fishing.
The highlight of the evening was a discussion between the honoree and guest interviewer, Tom Brokaw. The two recounted many fishing successes, failures, and numerous adventures in between. It was a discussion that combined two lifetimes worth of incredible experiences and condensed it down to a mere half an hour. Both gentlemen’s outsized personalities were on display, and the two friends continued playfully bantering with each other right from the event floor to their respective cab rides home. It was truly something special to witness.
The museum would like to thank our honoree, Tom McGuane, auctioneer Nick Dawes, event committee chair Bruce McNae and members of the committee, as well as our dinner guests and auction donors. This night would not have happened without your continued support of the museum.
About the American Museum of Fly Fishing:
The American Museum of Fly Fishing is the steward of the history, traditions, and practices of the sport of fly-fishing and promotes the conservation of its waters. The Museum collects, preserves, exhibits, studies, and interprets the artifacts, art, and literature of the sport and, through a variety of outreach platforms, uses these resources to engage, educate, and benefit all. The Museum fulfills this mission through our public programs (including exhibitions, gallery programs, lectures, special events, and presentations), our publications, and our quarterly journal, The American Fly Fisher.