It won’t attract as many fishermen to Lake Fork as the upcoming Skeeter tournament.
The payout isn’t going to be anywhere near the $100,000 of the Toyota Texas Bass Classic.
And the weights, well, they won’t be off the scale.
Still, come Saturday about 50 or so fly fishermen will take to the water for the 5th annual World Championship Bass on the Fly Fishing Tournament.
That is a lot of name for such a small event, the brainchild of part-time Lake Fork resident Ted Warren. An avid fisherman of all types, Warren said he has fished traditional bass tournaments in East Texas and has seen fly fishing tournaments while working in a Colorado fly shop in the summers. It seemed almost natural to combine the two in Texas.
For some there is a misconception that fly fishing is strictly about rainbow trout or maybe fishing for tailing redfish, but if you live in Texas and want to fly fish regularly it is also about largemouth bass, white bass, bream and anything else that will take a bait.
Warren considers it a natural extension of fishing similarly to what bow hunting is to deer hunting, an added challenge.
The tournament has grown slowly but surely over the years. This year there are already registered entries from Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Colorado.
As with any tournament on Lake Fork, there are obstacles because of the lake’s 16- to 24-inch slot limit. That of course is solved by making it a paper tournament with a twist. Fishermen must take a picture of each fish they catch on a belly board next to a tournament ID card.
The tournament has two divisions: a boater division for those using big boats that can get around the lake with ease and a non-boater division for those using kayaks, floats or fishing from bank.
Fishermen can fish alone or as a two-man team and the lengths of their five longest fish will be combined for their final score. Last year’s non-boater division was won with 34 inches.
Dallas-area fishing guide Carey Thorn won the boater division with 100 ﾽ inches while 2012 champions Benson and B.C. Fowler were second with 93 ﾽ inches.
What made Thorn’s win interesting was that he was a relative newcomer to Fork, having fished it only a few times before the tournament, and that was with traditional bass gear. And while he fly fishes both freshwater and saltwater, it was only his second time to fish for bass on a large lake.
He also had not planned to fish it, but was sent at the last minute by Bass Pro Shops, one of the tournament’s sponsors.
“I had been on Fork four times and that was for the Big Bass Splash,” Thorn said. He didn’t show it, catching about 30-40 bass the day before the Bass on the Fly while fishing with a friend.
Last year’s tournament was held two weeks earlier and despite 20 mph north winds fish were still on beds.
“I pulled up at 6 a.m. and turned on the green LED lights I have on my boat,” Thorn recalled. “My first three casts I caught 18-inch sandies. My next 15 casts I had all bass.”
By 6:45 he had caught about 40 pounds of bass. More importantly for the tournament, he had a stringer that measured more than 90 inches. He thought he already had it won, but still wanted to cull one 17-inch bass for something larger.
During practice he had found a 22-inch fish on a bed and decided to try to catch it. He cast at the fish for 45 minutes before she finally took the bait. Nine minutes later he had it in the boat for the winning stringer.
Thorn, who has become more of a regular at Fork, isn’t returning to defend his title, but did have a fishing report. He said the majority of the fish have moved off the banks, but are feeding shallow before moving out and schooling on flats, points and in coves until about 8:30. If it is cloudy he said they could school throughout the day.
He said tournament anglers should do well with red streamers, a Texas-rig looking bait, and with poppers for schooling fish.
The tournament will be from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information go online to www.bas sonthefly.org.
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