10th Annual “To Catch the Cure” 2013 Rocky Mountain Fly Fishing Classic
September 27 and 28th, 2013
Seldom do you find a cousin who lives close to you, a transplant from Louisiana like you, who fell in love with the Colorado outdoors like you, who you never knew, who has been a professional fly fishing guide for 21 years, who invites you to fish a fly fishing tournament to benefit Cystic Fibrosis and in the process experience learning the art of Fly Fishing.
Recently, I had the great opportunity to be invited to fish this amazing tournament with my Cousin Ivan Perrin who has participated as an angler, and supporter of the Rocky Mountain Fly Fishing Classic tournament for his 9th time. The Tournament was the 10th Annual Rocky Mountain Fly Fishing Celebrity Classic that is hosted by Mark Cooper, Ex NFL Denver Bronco. This tournament was founded by Gary Ellis when his daughter was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis and is part of the Red Bone Fishing series. The two day “To Catch the Cure” tournament consists of multiple anglers from across all destinations floating the beautiful Roaring Fork and the Colorado River, alternating each day. The competition is a strict catch and release of 2 brown trout, 2 rainbow trout, and 1 wildcard fish per day. Each angler is required to call each fish as a “tournament counted fish” before he or her continues to compete, so you just can’t count your biggest at the end of the day as in other types of fishing tournaments.
I would have to say that our 1st morning starting off a wee bit chilly. Our guide Gifford Maytham (otherwise known to us now as Gilligan) prepared us for the weather and we knew it was going to be a tuff day, of not only fishing but freezing. This tourney is for a great cause so the weather didn’t matter to us. My cousin Ivan took the back of the boat and I took the front. This was literally my 3rd time I’ve had a fly rod in my hand EVER so it was a little difficult at first fighting the wind and the cold air. But that didn’t matter because less than an hour in our float I had landed a 17” Rainbow. I was hollering at my cousin, “Get the net, get the net, we can’t lose him” Gilligan saying, “Calm down its ok!” The excitement was overwhelming, not only was this the first catch of the day but it was the biggest fish I had caught so far on a fly rod, must have a great teacher. This big rainbow ate a white streamer close to the boat within view of all of us. I was ecstatic. I landed the fish by keeping constant pressure while giving line to the fish during his spurts during the fight.
The day continued of Gilligan coaching me on the technique’s of fly fishing. Each river run, feeding lane, all have their individual characteristics not to mention there were different methods that we used to trigger a strike. For example just after my big rainbow, less than 600 yards down the river Ivan had a Brown eat his streamer by coming completely out of the water, showing his girth, 18 or so inches but cousin never got hold of the fish, yes some got away.
As we would come into a run Gilligan would instruct me “Ok fish to the left”, as my fly lands the next instruction was usually “lift the rod”, or “mend” or “strip” or “HIT IT”, yes hit it was his words for “Hey set the hook that’s a fish” Yes both me and cousin missed some. Ivan and I both had strikes that never resulted in us fighting the fish. Such is the way of fly fishing; the fish seemingly has an advantage over the angler.
We used three methods of fly fishing to fill our card the first day. The first fish carded was Ivan’s Rainbow, using a nymph fly called, “FKA, and Formerly Known as Prince”, He caught it under the bridge at Carbondale on the Roaring Fork. Nymphing is basically using subsurface fly’s that are representing the natural insects in the river during their life when they are sub surface. The “FKA” is considered an attractor fly. This fly looks a lot like either, a small stone, a caddis, a large mayfly, well you get the picture. It doesn’t look exactly like either of those but has the shape of all and looks really buggie.
The second method we used was Streamer fishing. In streamer fishing our fly’s were made mostly of bunnie hare and about an inch and a half long, sometimes two. We would cast usually to the banks edge and strip, or move the fly about 1 foot at a time before pausing. Then after the pause I would twitch my rod tip or strip the line to move the fly. This type of fishing is a little like spin fishing. I can’ t teach you that method in another story.
The third method was Hopper dropper. Near in about 1 pm we had 3 fish left to fill our card. Just past the west bank launch our Gilligan tied on a large Hopper, with a nymph dropper about 14 inches back.
Ivan was doing well and I was so excited for him, he was landing big fish and filling his card. I had landed my browns early on and was just waiting for another rainbow and my wild card fish. I was getting cold but gritting my teeth because I knew Gilligan had some good honey holes for us to fish in. Gilligan gave me his favorite fly and told me to get ready, not only was it a few rainbows, but SOME BIG RAINBOWS. Ivan had landed one 1st and then we switched rods and it was my turn to try to catch a big one. I was grinning and just knew that I had to do this. I casted and landed Gilligan’s special fly in the river really soft and then BAM fish on. I was trying to be so calm and not get too excited, I didn’t want to lose this fish. After a fight that felt like forever he was finally in the boat, this rainbow had such a majestic look and after we measured I had another 17” Rainbow. I was smiling so big, I was so happy; I even gave my guide a big ole hug. At this point Ivan’s card was full and I just needed one more fish, it didn’t matter what kind, but one big one for sure.
We could see at a distant that the 1st cold front was coming our way. I was already chilly, and I didn’t want to give up. Gilligan was doing everything he could and he said let’s give it one more shot with my special fly and go after another rainbow for you. With big grins I said, “Let’s do it!” Gilligan rowed us back up into his little honey-hole and after numerous casts another big’ole rainbow was on! Ivan and Gilligan were telling me exactly what to do, “Jackie strip, wait let em go, strip, and strip” I was trying to be as fragile as I could so he wouldn’t spit out the fly. I was like geez, “Get the net we can’t lose him” grinning ear to ear so proud. Gilligan finally netted him and we measured him over 17.5 inches. We took a quick picture then back in the water he was.
We proceeded to card our last 3 rainbows from the same group of feeding Rainbows, (As Ivan says 90% of the fish are in 10% of the water)
Yeah I was so excited, my card was full and I just had the excitement of catching 5 gorgeous fish out of the Roaring Fork River. It was only 1pm at this time and we had hellacious weather coming our way. All 3 of us suited up in our rain gear with beanies and gloves and was preparing for the rest of the float down river to the dock. We laughed and joked and smiled and we were so proud of our 1st successful day of fishing! After all of the scores went in Ivan and I were in 1st place off of the Roaring Fork and holding second place overall in the tournament.
With the rain/snow storm that came in we were a bit worried about fishing the Colorado the next day.
We got up at sunrise and instantly when we got to the river we knew it was going to be a much harder day of fishing. The Colorado was very muddy and flowing pretty fast.
The whole day was so tuff for me to fish. The Collie is a much larger river than the roaring so I needed to be able to cast further and quicker than I did the previous day. Immediately I knew it was going to be all fishing, NO BREAKS! Gilligan was great trying to show me how to cast, strip and land the fish. Ivan on the other hand being the Pro that he is was landing big fish and filling his card. My cousin is the one who turned me on to fly fishing and asked me to fish the tournament with him so I wanted to make sure to do well. The day persisted with heavy winds and I persisted with literally throwing 100’s of casts. I did land a pretty nice rainbow and caught some smaller fish but most important we were having lots of fun. Ivan and Gifford were satisfied so that was all that mattered. We turned in our cards and at the end of the night we were announced 2nd place overall winners of the Tournament. I was the only woman participant finishing 7th as an angler and I have to say not too shabby for a girl. LOL. I was so excited and so proud. All 3 of us had worked so hard, freezing our butts off, but we still managed to come out in 2nd place.
It was an amazing experience to be able to fish such a great tournament, for a great cause, with most of all great people. I would like to say thank you to Mark Cooper for having the tournament. I would also like to thank Mr. Gifford Maytham (Gilligan) for putting up with me all day, I am sure his stress level that day was over the top with my jibber jabber, but I had a blast. And most of all I would like to say thank you to my cousin Ivan Perrin (Guide Roaring Fork Anglers, www.rfanglers.com), who gave me an opportunity of a lifetime which I will never forget. The thought of the outdoors, the sound of the river flowing, the excitement I feel each time I land a fish, will never be forgotten. Thanks again. Big Smiles for Fly Fishing! Jackie
If you would like to participate in this Wonderful Fishing Tournament next year you may have to beat me and my cousin but please, join us!!!
For the entire REDBONE Fishing Tournament series go to www.redbone.org
To find a guide for fishing the Rivers mentioned in this article visit the Roaring Fork Anglers Web site www.rfanglers.com