2019 Helen Classic Champions!
Helen Classic 2019
Dates of the competition were Saturday June 22nd and Sunday June 23rd. I would say the water conditions were medium flows and just ever so slightly tinted. Air temps were in the high 80’s and the water temps would get to around 71 after lunch time.
Peyton was away at a Trout Unlimited camp all that week, so my partner for the competition was Shawn “Big Fish” Isaac's. Shawn is a really good angler and at the time of this tournament I was ranked 5th in the South East Fly Fishing League and Shawn was ranked 6th. We knew that a good showing would put us at the very top. I was feeling very confident going into this tournament that we could win it.
We started off fishing first on beat number 5 for the first session. The Chattahoochee river where we were fishing, was a mixture of narrow pocket water with very short runs mixed in. A couple of pools, put not many. We decided to divide the beat in half and Shawn preferred the pocket water in the top half of the beat leaving me with the bottom half. I had a nice run at the bottom under a bridge (that I knew would be a prime area for stocking) but it was occupied by a recreational angler that liked the spot so much, that he stayed there during our entire session.
I ended the session with 14 fish and after meeting my partner at the bottom of the beat, I was tickled to hear that he had caught 21 fish for a total of 35 fish. We ended up with a 2nd place finish for the session as our ole buddies from TN Robin Lewis and Chase Turner in Beat 4 picked up 47 combined fish.
I felt that had I been able to fish under the bridge, I could have caught several more fish as that was the very best spot in my beat, but 2nd place for the session wasn't bad.
Session 2 Beat #2
We had heard from one of our team mates that Beat 2 was not producing much fish, and that they had fished their tail off just to get 9 fish. This time, I took the top part of the beat that had short runs and Shawn took the bottom that had one good run into a pool and then short runs above it.
The section that I was fishing just seemed void of fish. The water temps were high and the fish seemed to have just shut everything down. I managed to nab 3 fish out of sporadic spots with no patterns making itself evident. Shawn found a pod of fish in the bottom pool of his area and had brought 11 fish to the net leaving our team with 14 fish......... good enough for another 2nd place.
Session 3 Beat #6
Going into day two of the event, we had gotten intel from team mates that Beat 6 was also fishing very difficult. In the five sessions before ours it had only put up 6-8 fish combined for each session. Shawn started at the bottom and I started at the middle to work the top section.
I moved up to a slow pool that had some recreational anglers in it, but they were fishing the slow water in the center and were ignoring the run coming into it. I moved up to the head of the pool and picked up a couple of fish immediately. I think out of frustration the rec anglers decided to pack it up and go after seeing me pick up fish immediately when the had caught nothing and had been there since early that morning. I moved down to where they had just been fishing and started picking up fish.
I think I picked up one more fish in the final seconds for a total of 16 fish. Shawn had caught 8 in his section for a total of 24 fish and a first place finish for the session. This was in a beat that teams were struggling to catch 7-8 fish combined.
Session 4 Beat #1
Last session of the day for us. Beats 4 and 5 were producing the most fish, and although we had heard that Beat 1 was also tough, it ended up being the third best beat in the tournament after doing my post tournament beat analysis. The issue was, this was actually the 7th time straight that this beat would be fished by very skilled competitive anglers. What had worked in the earlier sessions would and should not work at this point in the tournament. Fish become aware of the techniques and flies used previously and you had to really think outside the box to catch fish in the later sessions. You have to fish where others haven’t fished and use techniques and flies that the fish hadn’t seen. (to see what I did in this session and details of the previous sessions including what flies and techniques were used and the reasons they worked please join our member only team) Click Here The fish really responded to the technique that I had rigged for them and I ended up with 10 fish for the session. Shawn picked up 4 more for a total of 14 and another 2nd place finish.
Shawn and I finished on top of the podium for the tournament with 7 placing points and did no worse than second in any session. Out of the 4 sessions that we fished, we caught more fish than anyone in every beat we fished but one. I believe that winning this tournament should put us at number 1 or number 2 in league standings. We shall see!