Cherokee reels in North Carolina Casting Championships
Top fly and bass fishermen will be coming to Cherokee to show off their skills at the North Carolina Casting Championships scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 4.
The casting competition will be held at the Cherokee Fairgrounds. Fishermen will compete for both accuracy and distance.
“For the accuracy, you got to be dead spot on, which is fun to watch, but what normally earns the bragging rights is the distance,” said Eugene Shuler, a nationally renowned flyfisherman and operator of Smoky Mountain Fly Fishing guide service, which is hosting the event. “There will be some over 100 feet, which is equivalent of 300 yard drive in golf, which only a few people can do. It will be the best around.”
Shuler can sometimes be found in his yard practicing his own long-distance casts — behavior that used to raise the eyebrows of passers-by.
“They did holler at me, stuff like ‘Fish down there in the river, son,’ until I showed up on Outdoor Life Network,” Shuler said. “To get a good distance cast, you really got to be about half mad at it to really fling it out there.
For the accuracy portion of the contest, hula hoops will be placed at intervals of 25, 50, and 75 feet. Fisherman will attempt to land the fly in a hula-hoop — a concept similar to an archery match. There will also be an accuracy cast at 45 feet involving an obstacle.
Another accuracy contest will be familiar to locals who are used to fishing the narrow, rhododendron-thick creeks of the Smokies — landing a bow or slingshot cast in a very small target. The technique is used in tight fly-fishing quarters and involves pinching the fly between the fingers, bending the rod back, and releasing it to launch the fly into the air rather than flicking the whole rod.
“That’s a technique you use up here in the mountains,” Shuler said. “It’s a real art to be accurate with it.”
There will also be a tuck cast — a cast where the fly lands on the water first before the line touches down. The tuck cast is commonly used in creeks and rivers strewn with boulders where currents are less predictable. The water drags on the line and can quickly move the fly off target. For the distance competition, fishermen will make three casts, and the distances will be added together for a final total.
There will be a bass casting portion of the competition as well. Bass casters will make their casts from the deck of a bass boat elevated on a trailer, which includes pitching and flipping under simulated docks.
“Bass prefer shade, especially when the sun is up, so they hang out under docks a lot,” Shuler said. “So we are going to simulate that by making them cast up under an obstacle.”
Bass casters will also try to hit targets at 25, 40, and 60 feet. There will be obstacle targets made difficult with vegetation as well as a distance cast. All casting will be done with bait casters, casting a jig and pig.
The entry fee is $25 for either the fly-casting or bass-casting class, or $50 to enter both classes. It’s free to come and watch.
A local vendor who makes Indian Fry Bread and chili will be there. There will also be salesmen on hand showing off the latest and greatest tackles and gear.