Anglers compete for prizes at Cherokee fly-fishing tournament

More than $2,000 is cash and $5,000 in prizes were won by anglers participating in the Rumble in the Rhododendron Fly-Fishing Tournament Nov. 12-14 in Cherokee.

First place overall went to the team of Paul Borcq and Nick Johnson who took home $1,250 in cash and each received a new fly rod valued at over $700 each. Second place was awarded to Bill Strickland and Jason Bufkin. Rounding out the top three prize winners was Kevin Lowe and Josh Stephens. Chris Lee won a custom made fly rod for casting 100 feet and 8 inches during Saturday’s casting competition.

The tournament was presented by the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the North Carolina Fly-Fishing Team, with the top eight teams in the two-day, two-person competition winning cash and prizes. The whole weekend was filmed for an upcoming show of the nationally recognized Curtis Fleming and the Fly Rod Chronicles television show on the Sportsman’s Channel.

Saturday began early on the frosty morning as the fishermen gathered to try their skills on the casting course. Each competitor was given the opportunity to cast at three targets and based on accuracy were awarded either 100, 200 or 300 points. There were bonus targets for the accuracy portion which proved to be some of the most challenging components of the tournament.  Many of the competitors went as far as casting from their knees in order to cast their lines under a horizontal bar resting 18 inches off the ground with a target two feet behind the bar. Based on the combined two-person team score, the top 15 teams moved on to the second day of competition.  

Sunday morning (day two of the competition) started with all 15 two-man teams fishing pre marked fishing beats along the prized trophy fishing section of the Cherokee Tribal waters. The 2.2 miles of trophy water is strictly catch and release fly-fishing and available to the general public provided they purchase the appropriate permits.

On this Sunday it was a typically cold November morning as the anglers took the water.  Each fish caught was measured, recorded for length and released back into the river.  At the end of the morning fishing the competitors gathered to find out if they qualified for the afternoon fishing. Eight teams moved on to the afternoon round of fishing and at the end of this round of fishing all of the weekend’s competitors, volunteers and controllers gathered at Rivers Edge Outfitters fishing shop in Cherokee for the presentation of the awards.

“The whole tournament was an amazing display of technical skill and ability, combined with a love for fly fishing,” said Matthew Pegg, executive director of the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce and organizer of the tournament. “ We were fortunate to have guys ranked in the top five nationally in competitive fly-fishing competing with a number of guys from the local area. We even had a young man from the Atlanta area who at only 14 years old had many of the more seasoned fly-fishermen closely watching his technique and skill. Overall it was a great weekend of competitive fishing and for Cherokee. I can’t wait to make it an even bigger tournament next year.”

For more information the Rumble in the Rhododendron Fly-Fishing Tournament visit  The tournament is sponsored by the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce, North Carolina Fly Fishing Team and Rivers Edge Outfitters of Cherokee and Spruce Pine.

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