Author Andrew Weiner Supports Charity With "Down By the River"

"Down By the River" author Andrew Weiner has two big passions— fly fishing and books. His love of fishing started when he was a kid, enjoying the activity with his family on Kezar Lake in Maine. As an adult he picked up fly fishing and that passion flourished after a trip with a friend to Missoula, Montana. Ever since, Weiner plans every vacation around fly fishing locations.

He incorporates his other passion into his day-to-day life regularly, too. Weiner is a publishing professional with Abrams Books, and his own title, "Down By the River," was already in his mind nearly 20 years before it ever saw the light of day. He worked through different versions of it and submitted it to various editors, none of whom were interested in pursuing it.

Eventually he connected with an editor at Abrams Books that shared his understanding of the value of fishing and what it can mean for families. She, too, had spent a childhood making fishing memories with loved ones. Coincidentally, it was at the same Kezar Lake in Maine. Once those two minds came together and started refining the story of "Down By the River," the project finally took shape.

"I knew that there was a story there," Weiner told Wide Open Spaces. "The editor shared my vision and made it really special."

What Makes "Down By the River" Special?

"Down By the River" follows young Art, his mom, and his grandpa on a breezy autumn day. It's a simple day, but it's Art's favorite kind. Throughout the story, Art grapples with a bit of failure and overcomes some self doubt. The entirety of the book is held together beautifully by April Chu's illustrations, which Weiner is a huge fan of.

"Virtually everything I envisioned for the book, she envisioned as well," Weiner said. "She was incredible. She did a fantastic job."

The choice to include a mom as the generational pillar of fly fishing for Art was an intentional decision on Weiner's part. In most outdoor-focused literature for kids, the dad is often featured as the mentor and instructor. But after conducting some of his own research, Weiner realized that might not be the case, especially for fly fishing. In recent generations, women fly angler numbers have increased dramatically, and Weiner wanted his book to reflect that.

"There were so many more women becoming involved in the sport," Weiner said. "That evolved into the mom (in the book) being an expert fly angler herself. In the process of promoting the book I reached out to many women anglers and they have been the greatest supporters of it. They are the heart and soul of the sport these days."

The book ties generations together in a celebration of fly fishing, and it has definitely been well received. It won the IFTD/AFFTA Award for Best New Entertainment/Education Product, and was also named a Fly Fusion Magazine Editor's Choice.

Beyond a Book

After "Down By the River" was published, Weiner wanted to impact the community even further, so he directed his attention to non-profits that focused on fly fishing. He joined forces with April Archer of SaraBella Fishing for a collaboration to help support The Mayfly Project.

The Mayfly Project's mission is to support children in foster care through fly fishing and introduce them to their local water ecosystems, with a hope that connecting them to a rewarding hobby will provide an opportunity for foster children to have fun, feel supported, and develop a meaningful connection with the outdoors. The Mayfly Project has introduced over 500 children in foster care to the sport of fly fishing since 2016, and there are project locations all across the nation.

The SaraBella Fishing/"Down By the River" collaboration features a limited edition rod that showcases art from "Down By the River" and The Mayfly Project's logo. The purchase of a rod includes a free signed copy of "Down By the River" and $200 from each purchase is donated back to support The Mayfly Project's work with foster children. For every four packages purchased, a child can participate in The Mayfly Project's program.

Weiner is involved with other non-profits as well, including Casting For Recovery, which supports women who have fought or are currently fighting breast cancer through fly fishing. His latest involvement is with a new non-profit called Reeling in Recovery, which aims to support those in recovery from drug or alcohol use by embracing nature and the spiritual connection that fly fishing offers so many. Weiner will serve as president of the board of directors.

Thanks to his efforts to get "Down By the River" published, and the opportunities that have come to light since, Andrew Weiner is having a profoundly positive impact on the generation of anglers that are preparing to carry the torch.

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