Berkshires to Beaches Expedition - Update 3

Hello to all friends and family members,

If you’ve never been to the Cape before, you need to book a flight to Logan International Airport and drive here as soon as possible. If you need any proof, just ask your kids when they get back. This area of Massachusetts is so wonderful during this time of year: hungry fish, delicious ice cream, breathtaking sunny beaches, and the scenery that belongs in fancy paintings and framed photographs. This place is magical in the summer. Our base camp for the past six days is Nickerson State Park: a wild gem in the middle of Brewster. The site is full of crystal clear kettle ponds that were carved by glaciers when the Cape was formed millions of years ago.

Our first day started out with a quick breakfast to hurry along the enthusiastic and eager guys for their first day fishing on the flats. Our guides organized a double haul casting game for target practice, a necessary saltwater cast for distance and the wind. With full stomaches and fly rods in our hands, we walked the trail to see the well deserved first beach of the trip. ‘Oohs and ahhs’ filled the air as the boys’ eyes widened at the beauty of the expansive flat system. “It looks like we’re in the Bahamas” someone wisely noted. As the tide moved outwards, the group split up in smaller groups to hunt the flats for the prized and picky fish.

With exposed marshes and sand flats, our guides took the time to teach our saltwater marine species class. The kids learned about the different crabs, baitfish, and shrimp that hungry stripers eagerly pursue in skinny water when the tide moves back in. Once on the sand flat, a smaller group split off and played games of ultimate frisbee and soccer on fields that were creatively carved by foot. This was likely the prettiest pitch they have ever played on. Back at camp we went for a sunset swim in the pond with the group. As the fire crackled, so did the jokes with laughter filling the air, a tell tale sign of a tight knit group.

The next morning we woke up earlier than the day before and made our 50 foot walk down to the kettle pond our campsite was situated on. We did our morning mindfulness class with a group meditation, then all went for a refreshing swim. Calming ourselves and starting the day in some chilly water was a great way to mentally prepare for a day of slaying stripers on the flats. The group did even better than the day before, catching three nice fish, working hard on sight fishing. The margin for error on the flats is extremely thin so if we weren’t catching fish, we were improving greatly on our focus and patience with ourselves and the sport. 

During our evening activity, we enjoyed a trip to the ice cream parlor, the first quest of many for Cape Cod’s famous ice cream. At camp, we held our nightly fire pit while a yummy pasta dinner was being cooked. Around the fire we made crispy s’mores and went through our introspective evening circle tradition that the kids came up with. Each night around the fire, every kid shares something they are grateful for from the day, something that challenged them, something they are excited about for the next day, and something they appreciated about another kid from the day. This is such a wonderful way to slow down and reflect on the amazing moments that we have been lucky enough to experience. Life moves fast, especially in the world of technology, so being able to unplug and reflect on our day allows each kid to ground themselves in the gift of being on such a spectacular trip with an even better group. 

The next day we were up with the chirping birds, ate a rapid breakfast, and left camp before 6:30 to get on the flats in ideal time for the tide. This trip we drove a little farther to Yarmouth, Massachusetts to try a different spot. To say it was a success would be an understatement. Eight different Stripers were caught, most of which were the kids’ first ever. Watching the elation on the kids’ faces as they hook up to a species they have been targeting nonstop for the past few days puts an even bigger smile on my face. Our guides work hard to put the kiddos onto fish, but their enthusiasm and perseverance is the real thing worthy of praise. We brought our dinner to the beach, cooking up some stir fried beef and rice with an appetizer of dumplings. The food was amazing, but the view was even more spectacular as the pink skies painted the horizon. Another beautiful day on the Cape. 

Our next day, we repeated the same early wake up routine. This time we went back to the Brewster flats. A few hours of fishing revealed cloudy skies, 30 mph winds, and a tough tide; we had to make lemonade with some lemons. What better thing to do than a Cape Cod beach day? Footballs and lemonade (literally, we bought some cold jugs) replaced our fly rods as we played games and enjoyed each other’s company. A lunch of sandwiches was enjoyed in the company of an old tree’s shade. Back at camp we had something special planned for the kids: the 4th Annual LFFE Kettle Pond Fishing Derby. The crew split up in teams of 4 and fished for 90 minutes. The goal was to tally up as many points as possible before the time was over, the criteria being catching different species (15pts), number of fish, and size of fish. The winning team was Eli, Will, Van, and Liam, all of whom enjoyed flies and probably too much sugar. Meatball subs and our evening circle marked the close of the night. 

On our last day on the cape, we slept in because of a big rainstorm lasting into the early morning. A five part breakfast of pancakes, sausage, hashbrowns, bacon, and more pancakes was enjoyed by the whole group. We took the group to the movies for the rainy start of the day, enjoying some popcorn and well-deserved AC. During the early afternoon the boys hung out on the beach at camp as the wind started to settle down. Having a crystal clear pond/lake in your backyard is a nice luxury that the boys have been sure to enjoy. For the evening, the crew loaded up in the van and drove to Provincetown to fish for stripers and catch the sunset. We capped off the day by ordering some pizzas that we enjoyed with a special view of the sun going to sleep over the ocean. 

Next time you will hear from us, the group will be in the famous town of Salem, Massachusetts. The kids are eager for our upcoming boat charter with captains on the North Shore. This time of the trip is usually where the largest fish of the trip (up to 50”+) are caught. We will partake in our beach cleanup service project, enjoy our memorable banquet dinner with one another, and reflect on the impact and memories that were made during the our Berkshire to Beaches Expedition. 


Until then, wish us good times and tight lines.


-Leo, Jack, Max and the gang

Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions was started in 2010 as a graduate thesis for my Master's Degree in Environmental Conservation Education at NYU. The operating premise was simple - by coupling amazing wilderness fly fishing camps for teens with environmental education and service learning we can help inspire future generations of fly fishing conservationists. We have been growing our unique list of trips and experiences ever since.

When it comes to choosing a summer program for your teen the options are endless. For the teen who loves to fish, be outside, and has a strong sense of adventure we have made the choice easy. We are the leader in teen fly fishing adventures and are dedicated to providing the best backcountry fly fishing experience with opportunities for teens to engage in leadership training, community service, and backcountry camping.


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Will Lillard, Founder/Director/Guide

Contact Us

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Lillard Fly Fishing Expeditions
2540 King Road
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768

(828) 577-8204