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National Sporting Library Hosts its First Symposium on Fly Fishing

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Symposium speakers included Dr. Samuel Snyder, John Ross, Dr. Bryon Borgelt, James Prosek, and Hoagy Carmichael   (photo: Douglas Lees) Symposium speakers included Dr. Samuel Snyder, John Ross, Dr. Bryon Borgelt, James Prosek, and Hoagy Carmichael (photo: Douglas Lees)

On November 21, 2009, the National Sporting Library held its first symposium on fly fishing, “A River Never Sleeps: Conservation, History, and the Fly Fishing River.”

MIDDLEBURG, Va. – On November 21, 2009, the National Sporting Library held its first symposium on fly fishing, “A River Never Sleeps: Conservation, History, and the Fly Fishing River.” Over fifty attendees from all over the United States were on hand for the event. For those who missed the symposium, a DVD will be available for sale for $20 later this winter. For more information, go to www.nsl.org/flyfishingsymposium.html. The symposium is part of the Library’s Public Lecture Series made possible by the generosity of an anonymous donor.

Internationally-known artist and author, James Prosek, from Easton, Conn., presented a talk titled “Izaak Walton and Native Trout of the World.” The Library has 90 editions of Walton’s, “The Compleat Angler,” including a first edition from 1653. Prosek followed the footsteps of Walton throughout his native England for his senior thesis at Yale. Local writer and activist, John Ross of Upperville, Va., spoke about Virginia’s state fish, the native brook trout, mentioning early legislation dating to the 18th-century protecting its habitat, and discussing Trout Unlimited’s recent efforts to restore brook trout habitat in the state. Hoagy B. Carmichael, author, filmmaker and historian from New York City, spoke on the Grand Cascapedia, a magnificent Atlantic salmon river in eastern Canada.

The history of fly-fishing in America would not be complete without talking about the wonderful Au Sable River in Michigan, the home of the founding fathers of Trout Unlimited in 1959. Bryon Borgelt, Ph.D., of Maumee, Ohio, outlined the history of fishing on the river, which was originally home to native grayling. The grayling disappeared in the late 19th-century due to overfishing and logging on the river. The day’s program and a concluding panel discussion were moderated by Samuel Snyder, Ph.D., a historian of Environmental Ethics from Anchorage, Alaska. Dr.Snyder spoke extensively on “Wading through History: Understanding Angling’s Evolving Ethics,” touching upon such issues as whether fly fishermen are responsible for protecting the resource they enjoy and the awareness (or lack thereof) of fly fishing’s history. Snyder will be in residence in spring 2010 at the Library as a John H. Daniels Fellow.


The National Sporting Library is a state-of-the-art, non-lending research facility dedicated to the world of horse sports, shooting, and fishing. It is open to the public and admission is free.  Its 17,000-book collection covers a wide range of horse and field sports, including foxhunting, Thoroughbred racing, dressage, eventing, steeplechasing, polo, coaching, shooting, and angling. Over 4,000 rare books from the sixteenth century onwards are housed in the F. Ambrose Clark Rare Book Room. In addition to books, the Library owns important manuscript, archives, and periodicals relating to field sports, and also features an audiovisual center that stores non-print materials, including films, videos, and DVDs. The John H. Daniels Fellowship program supports the research of visiting scholars. The Library hosts temporary art exhibitions and holds many fine works of sporting art, including paintings, sculpture, works-on-paper, and sporting artifacts in its permanent collection. The National Sporting Art Museum will open in 2011 next door to the Library in the historic Vine Hill mansion.







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