After having seen the competition on Fly Rod Chronicles for the past two years, I really wanted to participate in it. Back in November, I sent in the form explaining who we were and why we wanted to participate in the competition. Of course by we, I mean Greg and I. Our team name was/is J&M Flies. Well, we got selected to do it and we were stoked. However, our schedules never meshed and we never got to practice. So without any practice, planning or preparation we headed out. After we got the email regarding our room assignments, we realized that we would be sharing a room with team New Jersey. A quick look at the cabin on the Harman's website, located here, revealed that the cabin had a loft, a room with two single beds, and a room with a double bed. Check in time wasn't until 1500. Greg and I decided that in order to get separate rooms, we would have to leave around 0930 or so in the morning. Lucky for us Harman's is only three hours away. Also lucky for us there is some great smallmouth water just down from Harman's. So we decided to get there a little early, pound the smallies, and then check in early in a grand effort to beat team New Jersey, Paul and Andy, so Greg and I wouldn't have to share a room.
Well 0930 came and went on Thursday. I think we finally ended up leaving around 1030 or so. No fault on Greg's part. He showed up on time. I just couldn't get my act together and get out the door. In hindsight maybe that should have been a sign for things to come. So we were on the road by 1030 and heading to WV. We attempted to make a plan and discuss the potential activities during the competition but we really didn't come up with anything solid. For us, simply competing was rewarding enough. We weren't in it to win. That isn't to say that I didn't and don't think I am a great fly fishermen. Hell, I think everyone does to some degree. For me however, being chosen was rewarding enough. Plus I had Greg as my handicap so I figured I didn't have a snowball's chance in hell at winning. Greg has only been fly fishing for 2 and 1/2 years now. With that being said, it was shocking what happened during the competition on a number of levels which I will talk about over the next few days. I don't think either one of us knew just how much competition there would be, nor how good some of the competitors were. I think, if I am not mistaken, that some of these teams travel all over the country competing in tournaments. For two guys fly fishing on a part time basis, we really didn't even stand a chance but we didn't know that....yet.
We pulled into Harman's around 1330 hours on Thursday. Greg and I talked about going to chase the green trout (read smallmouth) but settled on checking in. My, how we were hoping for those single rooms!! I walked through the door to check in, with Greg in tow. After giving our team name to the lady behind the counter, I noticed she crossed us off on a list. More importantly, I noticed that team New Jersey was already here, as they were also crossed off the list. We had seen their car earlier parked along the side of the road while they fished but we weren't sure if they had already checked in or not. So I asked the lady if they had and she said yes. The gentleman behind us was kind enough to let us know that they arrived the night before. DAMN! We grabbed the key and rushed over to cabin 3 hoping beyond all hope that they hadn't laid claim to the good rooms yet. Walking in the door to cabin 3 and seeing their stuff already there, I knew they had. Hell, I couldn't be mad at them, we had tried (and failed) to do the same thing! Oh well.
With our gear and clothes dropped, sorted and stowed, we went over to cabin 15 for registration. At 1700 everyone gathered around to hear Ryan Harman and Curtis Fleming explain the rules of the tournament and to pick beats. We learned that each team would fish three beats. Each beat was to be fished for two hours. Since there were 16 teams and only 8 beats, there was to be two different flights of competitors on the water at different times. By this I mean that on Friday flight one fished 0900-1100 and flight two fished 1130-1330. Then flight one would fish 1400-1600 and flight two would fish 1630-1830. For Saturday's session, flight one was 0830 to 1030 and flight two was 1100-1300. The championship round was to be from 1430-1730 on Saturday. We also learned that there would be a two fly session. This meant that during one of our three sessions, we would have to fish it as a two fly. Yes, that is two flies between the both of us. If you lost them, you were done regardless of the time.
Team J&M Flies was called and Greg and I walked up to chose our three beats... think pulling names out of a hat. Being the (self designated) team captain, I chose the beats. I picked beat 1 for the first session, beat 6 for the second session and beat 2 for the third session. The beats were laid out like this: beat one went from the Harman's property line at the entrance to about half way up to the bridge, beat two stopped at the bridge, beat three began at the bridge and went up a ways, beats four and five were the stretch of water in front of and behind cabin 12, beat six started behind cabin 13 and went to just beyond cabin 15, beat seven was the big stretch of water above cabin 15 and finally beat eight was on the other side of the mountain apparently (I never saw beat eight so I can't really describe it). I love beat six and always have. Every time I have been to Harman's I have mainly fished beats four through seven. Greg and I have done well fishing this area and usually pick off a dozen or so trout between us if not more. I rarely fish beat one and two and had never fished three or eight. Glad we didn't get those. Sadly it wouldn't have made a difference but that will come later.
So rules explained, beats laid out and picked, we had dinner and then headed back to the cabin for some cigars and conversation. We quickly learned that our new roommates were very nice and a pleasure to be around. Really that translates into us busting on each other and we had some great laughs at every one's expense. Truly a man bonding session. Next up....session one beat one. For now, enjoy the photos of the cabin and the scenery.
(the above picture is the room Greg and I got to share... see how close we were?)
Sorry Paul and Andy. I wasn't stalking you. I just wanted to get photos of the cabin for the blog as well as for the wife. I knew she would ask and was happy to see that I did what she wanted me to (for once).