8th Annual Casting For Hope Tournament 2nd Place
Casting For Hope 2019
This was a great competition with lots of different water types. An angler really had to have a lot of different techniques in his possession to finish high in this competition. There were some dominate beats and some terrible beats, and with the competition being so tough, you really need to get a good beat draws to get a shot at the podium. My teammates for this tournament were Johnathon Jordan, Shawn "Big Fish" Isaacs, Jacob Brewster, and Brandon Harrison.
I was really pleased with the group draw that I received to find out that I had drawn Devin Olsen from Team USA and Eli Buchanan from the Youth Team as well as several others in my group. Both are tough competitors and I looked forward in going against them through out the tournament.
Going into Session 1 Friday evening, I had drawn Little Rock Creek at the retreat center, beat number 6. I have fished this beat before at previous tournaments and had a good idea where the fish would be holding. Beat 6 held a good number of fish, but the biggest obstacle to taking a first place in this session was the fact that Eli Buchanan and Devin Olsen drew beats 2 and 3 respectively and those two beats hold many, many more fish and were the two best beats on the river.
I ended up catching 37 fish out of my beat, but it was not enough to compete with the fish numbers caught by Devin and Eli out of beats 2 and 3. They ended up with 49 and 50 fish which left me with a 3rd place for the session. (to learn the details of this session with beat breakdown and analysis, as well as key take a ways join our members only team here)
Session 2 was at 8:00 the next morning on the lower section of the North Toe River Beat 7. Weather conditions were about the same as the previous day. Air temps were low 50’s as it was early in the morning, and water temps were also in the low 50’s. Sky was cloudy and the water tinted. My beat was a very long, slow moving pool.
This river is a Delayed Harvest water, so the fish are stocked but they are completely different from the fish at the previous venue. Here you are fishing to fish that have been here a while and are used to their environment and conditions. They are all typically cookie cutter 8-12 inch stocked Rainbows and Brookies. I finished the session with 42 fish which was good enough for a 2nd place finish behind Eli Buchanan with 60! At this point in the tournament I was sitting with 6 placing points and in decent position after the completion of the first two sessions.
In session 3 we went to Cane River. Cane River was a very, beat dominate venue with high numbers coming from Beat 3, ok numbers coming from 4 and 5 with all remaining beats having very few fish caught. I was fortunate enough to draw beat 3. Conditions were warm but a little breezy, with times of bright sun, and then times of cloud cover. These type of conditions usually turn fish off as the sun goes in and out throughout the day. This was also the second day of trout season on delayed harvest waters and with the weather turning warm, everyone in the county came out to catch some trout! As soon as I arrived, I had two recreational anglers standing right in the middle of my beat and both of them were catching fish. Well at least I knew there were fish in there to catch! This water was what I call frog water. It was very slow moving, and flat with no structure. This was completely different from waters in the previous sessions.
I still finished the session with 30 fish which was good enough for a 1st place, but I could have caught many more. Going into the last two sessions I am sitting with 7 placing points and in 8th place overall.
Going into Sundays sessions I am sitting in a great position, but……………….I have two extremely tough beats to fish my last two sessions. This morning I am fishing Big Rock Creek beat 8. The previous day, a really good young angler blanked this session. Needless to say, I was worried. This water is much like, Little Rock Creek that I fished in my first session. It is stocked at the same time and with the same type fish as the ones in Little Rock Creek. After scouting my beat, I discovered there were virtually no holding water in my beat that typically holds fish this time of year and in these conditions. It was a long beat of shallow, shallow riffled water. There was just no depth anywhere except at the very top of the beat in which to hold fish. And the current there was nearly too fast for fish to hold in…………..it appeared. I knew pickings would be slim, so I decided to search every inch of this water to find anywhere a fish could hold and hoped that the angler that blanked in the session previous just overlooked something.
I ended up catching fish and would have been satisfied with six fish, and would have felt like I had done everything I could have done to correctly fish this beat but as it turned out, six fish was still not enough to get out of the basement for the session and I ended up with a 7th place for that session. Caught a really nice one out of this beat though! Isn't that what all this is really about?
A lot of things have to happen in a tournament with high level competitors. I think if you end up drawing one of the worst beats in the entire competition, you are finished. I ended up drawing TWO of the worst beats in this tournament and it took me from 8th place to 16th. Devin Olsen, one of the top fly anglers in the world drew the worst beat on Cane River giving him an 8th place for that session and it knocked him down to 15th or 16th place and there was just no recovery. The top finishers ended up getting most of the best beats and none of the bad ones. Sometimes the draw itself can beat you. You just have to realize that it’s part of the game and that you have to stay focused and fish the beats you have, as good as you possible can, and hope something comes together.
Going into the last session on Sunday afternoon, I drew beat 8 on the Upper North Toe. This beat had also brought in very low numbers in previous sessions and was taking last place almost every time. The upper beats in this venue were winning almost every session. Again, bad luck in the beat draw here. It took me a long time to actually locate this beat before the competition, so I was unable to get photos, but it was another dog leg bend, with a long wide riffle at the top emptying into a very deep pool at the bottom. The water looked good, and gave me plenty of options. I felt like a decent score could be put up here if fished perfect.
I ended the session with 21 fish which was only good enough for a 4th place finish. I think Devin Olsen caught 27 fish and earned a 2nd or a 3rd place behind Eli Buchanan’s 40-50 fish first place. I felt like that I could have managed this beat much better and had a higher placing had I only done a couple of things different. We ended up taking 2nd place as a team in very respectful competition. Michael Bradley, Eli Buchanan and a couple others ended up taking first and did a fantastic job. The greatest part of this event, is that I ended up raising the most money for women diagnosed with gynecological cancers of anyone with over $7,500 dollars raised. The entire tournament raised nearly $50,000 for the cause. With this in mind, I think everyone came out the winner.
This blog is just a broad overview of the tournament. For detailed analysis, what flies were used, what techniques were employed and why with tournament take a ways, please join our members only team where you will gain access to detailed notes on every competition that I have competed in, lifetime access to our instructional video library, and 20% off in our online store as well as many other benefits. Click Here to join