We have some pictures from the competition, but more to come. We want to thank all of you for being there, I am glad to hear that everyone had a great time.
We have some interviews/feedbacks from the competitors and tonight we will post the first one.
Keefer Pitfield had the courtesy to answer our questions. He is the winner of this year competition, congrats again Keefer!
1. Could you give us a few words about yourself?
I first started fly fishing when I was a very young boy on the Credit River but lacked the patience to stick with it. Around the age of 18 I went to school in London Ontario where I eventually hooked up with Ian Colin James. Ian got me back into fly fishing and taught me much of what I know today. Ian is the one who really pushed me to competitive fishing. My passion is on the river, in quiet settings, fishing for resident trout. The Credit and Grand rivers are where I call home. I have had the great and honorable pleasure of learning from Ian James but also from internationally successful competitors such as Jiri Klima, Karel Krivanec and Milan Hladik in the Czech Republic.
2. When did you start doing fly-fishing competitions? Why?
My first comp was I think back in 2009 at the Canadian National Fly Fishing Championships in Mt. Tremblant, Quebec. Ian James and a few other London people put together a great team of guys on the woodlot penguins. Many of the same competitors are still on the original team, but now under the team name of the dredgehogs. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and learned more in the week of preparations and competition than I had learned during the year that led up to that event. The culture and steep learning curve that is often associated with large competitions is an experience that I advise anyone who has an interest in competitive fishing to give a shot. National events are like nothing else and the people you meet are spectacular.
3. How do you prepare for a competition? (techniques, fly tying, training, gear, etc.)
I am not really the ideal person to discuss preparation methods for a comp. I am often unorganized and have not prepared as well as I should. That said, it is hugely important to do your research, get as much tying out of the way as possible and be as organized as possible as it relates to understanding the venues, strategy and having all the gear in place. I have been hugely fortunate to have some very organized team members throughout the years — Ian Troup and Dave Forgeron!
With all that said, the main reason I have had some success is simply by fishing. A lot!
4. How was the fishing in this competition?
The fishing in the Sotto Fly Fishing Club comp was great. It was a great example of how comp fishing really works. Just because there are lots of fish everywhere and certain spots that have a disproportionately large number of fish, results can really vary. Truly, the most important thing to remember is that every cast can produce a fish and with that in mind, it is important to fish as much as possible and to the very last second as one never knows what will happen. Persistence is what leads to consistency across sessions. For those that watched some of my sessions, you will have noticed that I try to bring a hooked fish to the net as fast as possible, measure/score the fish, release and get your flies out as fast as possible. You are only fishing when you have your flies in the water and every second counts. The other thing that I found important was identifying the most productive fly and sticking with it. Confidence in a fly and strategy is one of the most important factors in toughing it out through difficult sessions. I identified my fly for the day after the first two fish. After that, I rarely changed flies.
5.A few words about the strategy/flies/rods/lines?
My strategy was simple. I started with a ‘slime’ line (essentially an intermediate sinking line) as it was clear upon arriving that the fish were near the surface. My cast consisted of three flies tossed as far as possible and then retrieving them in using varying retrieve speeds. In the morning it was largely pulling the flies back fast with some twitching. In the afternoon, it was a very slow and controlled retrieve with less twitching. When it completely shut down, particularly at the slower beats, I would cast as close as possible to a rising fish (they were too far to reach), once the flies landed, I would give two or three really hard, fast and long strips so the fish would feel the water pushing on their lateral sensors on their cheeks, notice the fly and approach. After the fast strips, I would slow it right down to a figure of eight crawl and eventually they would take. Flies were relatively simple. I started with a sunburst blob on the top dropper, a small cormorant on the middle dropper and a black leech on the point. After hooking most of all the mornings fish on the sunburst blob, I switched to two of the same blobs on the point and middle dropper and changed out the top dropper between a black cormorant booby / another blob. Most of all the fish were caught on the sunburst blob and nearly all on the slime line. I took a few fish on a full sink Di7 line, but that was only because I broke my leader on the slime line and had the sinking line all rigged up — a decision based on time, not lines.
6. How would you describe the general atmosphere?
I think the atmosphere at the comp was great. Everyone got along and there were a lot of different skill levels, which is great to see. I was very pleased to see so many people out to compete and hope that they all had fun and continue competing.
7. How would you rate the organization part on a scale from 1 to 10?
The organization was somewhere around a 9 out of 10 – just incredible.
8. What suggestions would you have for the same competition in the following years?
For the same comp, next year, Im not sure I would change much of anything.
9. What advice would you give to those who participated for the first time?
For first timers, I would suggest asking guys who are successful around you what they are doing and whats working. Not everyone will share, but most will. I was happy to share what fly was working with anyone who asked. If you dont ask, you wont know! If a passion for competitive fishing has been recently developed, I would strongly suggest attending nationals.
10. Will you come to this event next year?
I am available next year, I will 100% be there.
Thanks again Cosmin and Friends,
And now some pictures:
The tension before the beginning:
Coffee table preparations
…and everybody looks more happy
Maps for orientation
we had a small store:
…and game on
the first big score
gathering the results
Frank Zacharias got the biggest fish 65 cm
Keefer Pitfield the winner of the competition
…holding the big prize Sage 99
The second place John Warner
… Corey Cabral the third place
Dave Harris the forth one
Stay tuned more pictures and interviews to come…