Monday, October 19, 2009

Day 43 - Tournaments

Having been stuck in Iowa growing up, I was never really privy to fishing tournaments. There might have been some bass tournaments, but being from a panfish family... well let's just say that we thought bass anglers were misguided and tended to waste too much money on non-essential items.

After graduating from my undergrad, where incidentally I sort of minored in fly fishing (OK, it was called Outdoor Leadership, but I did fly fish), I managed to find a job in the outdoor industry. I worked my way up through the ranks until I landed on the buying team for a certain outdoor retailer that focuses on hunting, fishing, and camping. While there I learned they sponsored individuals in archery, hunting, bass fishing... and I wondered what it would take to be sponsored.

And so I looked. Turns out a potential sponsoree(?) had to participate in so many tournaments a year. Not only that, but you had to place at a certain level. Hmmm... did fly fishing have tournaments? If so, where?

I had never heard of a fly fishing tournament up to this point in my life. I didn't even know how you would go about doing a tournament, let alone where it would be located. So, like every good son or daughter of the technology age, I went to the internet. Do you know how hard it is to search for fly fishing tournaments? I finally managed to hit upon Fly Fishing Team USA and realized these folks were out of my league.

Wasn't there some kind of local thing? I was living in Minnesota at the time, so... not so much. So, I took the time to do so research on fly fishing tournaments, since I couldn't partake in one. I found out that they've been in existence for a very long time. They were once popular in the New England states (and still might be for all I know), and people like Joan Wulff would win medals on the time.

I then discovered that Tim Rajeff wins tournaments. I found this out because the buyer at work was thinking about bringing in some his product lines. It didn't take long for me to search his name on the internet to find out that he is big on the tournament list. Evidently, he is the only person to score 300 (a perfect score) for the Men's Accuracy Combination event (100 points for each event: Dry Fly, Trout Fly, and Bass Bug (I think?)).

Some anglers have asked me why I want to participate in a tournament. They say that fly fishing itself should be its own rewards, and if you catch a fish you did it correctly. Other who are less cordial on the point state that these tournaments make "sport" of a sacred pastime, and that it belittles the life of the trout. Maybe that is true, I don't know.

My response, which may not be for everyone, is this: I like to fly fish. As such, I feel that it is only natural to want to test my skill to someone else. I want to do this to gauge how well I'm doing. I want constructive feedback from someone that will help me to become a better angler. I can do this with other anglers, but (no offense to my fishing partners) how do I know that they are correct in giving me advice? I just want to become better, and if I can have a little fun in the process, well so be it.

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