Friday played host to check-in and the casting games. What a swag bag we received at check-in, especially, if you entered early (before 1 May)! We received our choice of Buff from Buff, two flies of our choice from Brothers Flies and Lake Fork Marina, a choice of vendor's hat or visor--TFO, Sage, Redington, and a Skeeter t-shirt. After check-in, Cody Bell had to defend his Distance Casting title from last year, but this year all contestants had to tie on a deer hair Dahlberg Diver. With a side-wind and a big fly, everyone was having trouble getting the distances to which they were accustomed. With about 30 feet less than last year, Cody took home top honors again with 82', this time bringing home a TFO 6-8# Mini-Mag, Prism Reel w/line, and a rod case! I'm proud of my man! Benson Fowler tied with Diane Blair accumulating 300 points in the Accuracy Contest. Benson was also defending his title from last year. Today, after all weigh-ins, they had a cast off that went three-rounds with Diane winning and conceding her TFO 5# to Benson. Pretty good deal for all, including the joke Brian Nims played on me.
I did not compete in the Distance Casting game, but I enjoyed watching. Behind where the contestants stood was a pond, and I kept noticing a fish or two hitting the surface pretty hard. Well, Brian Nims and Diane Blair had decided to use the TFO BVK instructor's rod for their turns, and Cody used his own rod. Diane decided she wanted to try casting Cody's rod and then Brian wanted to, as well. So, the BVK was sitting there. (Now, just as soon as Mr. Pope gets those BVK blanks in at Sovereign Row, I will be building my new 8#.) I just couldn't stand it any more, so I asked if I could cast the rod to see if I could catch one of those fish. Brian didn't care and handed me the rod. We all had the same Dahlberg Diver pattern tied on our rods for the Accuracy and Distance competitions, so I gave not one thought to that fly had tied on the line. Second cast, nice, mouth-open hard hit, but a miss. Adrenalin was flowing, casting recommenced, and fifth cast--aggressive, hard hitting action, slight tug with a tight line, boing--slack line, fish off. (Having a difficult learning curve for three years on Lake Limestone, I am not a topwater fan, and only recently have I begun to care enough to try topwater again.) I'm thinking what in the world is wrong with me? I really began casting, working on hitting spots, double-hauling, quick stops, everything, but no fish. Finally, I just decide this is the trickster pond. No one can resist the temptations to throw at the fish in this pond, so they are wise fish who just toy with fishermen; they can't be caught. I reel in all the line and go to stow the rod, just like I do mine, but I can't hook the fly on the guide, because the fly doesn't have a hook! I give it back to Brian and asked him what the deal was, and he thought I was just wanting to work on my casting in a life-like situation and honestly didn't know why I was casting to fish. Thanks alot, Brian!
When have you ever desired to catch fish under 16"? When you're targeting fish outside the slot! The rules for counting fish were different for the Boaters and Non-boaters. For the Boaters, the slot was 16"-24", and so any fish measured in that category could not count and had to be put back. All fish turned in had to be under/over the slot. I found it hard rooting for fish to be under 16" (I am always wanting fish over 24"), but I was at times hoping that the rod's bend meant a keeper. We only turned in one Largemouth Bass, a 10 ouncer, but Cody caught several fish in the slot, and that was a lot of fun--nice size fish, fighting hard, jumping aerobatically--including the Channel Catfish--with most caught on some type of white popper in shallow, shallow waters, and before 9 a.m. I even hooked up with my personal best Largemouth Bass on a deer hair frog popper. Cody's jumping catfish was caught on a CodyBugger, and so were the two Bluegill.
After awarding the prizes and money, and yes, Cody Bell took home a few dollars for 2nd place in the Big Bluegill contest, a 70/30% split of the pot--the 70% went to Diane Blair for her 13oz piggy, the raffle drawings began. First raffle of the day was for the early entrant participants who were up for the Sage's 290 Grain Bass Rod, which was won by Mr. Richard Blair. Fly lines, shades, Umpqua flies, tippets, shirts, kayaking life vest, the tourney raffled off a nice collection of toys. I won a nice Rio line, and I am a Rio/Orvis girl, when it comes to lines. We had a good day and ended it by eating together with great friends, who were already talking about next year's tournament.