Twenty-two teams struck out early on Saturday morning to pursue the rainbow trout of Blue River using a size 16 Rainbow Warrior pattern. In the end, three fly fishing anglers would endure the hardships of extremely clear water, gusting winds, and some very savvy trout, to go on and take the top three places in the competition.
The awesomeness of the whole event began the evening before. On Friday night, a group of two dozen or more gathered around the campfire. On the menu was some darn good burgers grilled over mesquite by Michael Mercurio. There was also baked beans, chips, picante sauce, smoked sausages, cheese, and some rather good mustard sauces prepared by Dan Ham. Of course the beer was flowing and I'm pretty sure I lost my beer about twenty-six times during the evening.
Then... there was the entertainment. Byron Dowd, Chad Yoas, Walker Hairston, and Steve Swenson broke out the stringed boxes and put on an acoustical concert for all present. I loved every minute of their performance and wanted more and more. A young chap from the camp next door heard the music, and he would join in on the strumming.
How long the festivities lasted I can not tell you because I turned in around nine or so. Just before I hit the sack Vernon Forrester pulled in with his cooking wagon and at that point I knew we were good to go for the next day.
Vernon, along with his brothers Mark and Michael began cooking early. They had about 55 people to feed and that takes a lot of work.
A few contestants came in early due to no luck, the wind, or losing their flies, which is something that can happen quite often on Blue River. Several teams were out of the competition within the first 30 minutes due to losing their flies on a rock and this is something we're going to address at future events as Chad Yoas suggested we do so. I think the changes will make for a better tournament.
Around noon a steady flow of contestants were turning in their cards and as Merucurio added the score we sit down to break bread together.
The score cards revealed that there were about eight anglers that caught trout in the double digit category. A lot of score cards showed three, four, maybe five fish and some score cards showed less. It was tough fishing for sure.
When the score cards were finished the results were announced. Third place went to Jamie Reed of Ardmore, Oklahoma.
Second place went to last year's winner Dan Ham of Ada, Oklahoma.
The winner of the Blue River Fly Classic 2014 would be Scott Dittner of Marlow, Oklahoma.
The winner of guessing the mystery fly game was Jason Williams. In three years, Jason has correctly guessed the identity of the mystery fly used in our competitions. Either he is psysic or Mensa... I don't know.
A new award was presented for the first time at the Classic. The new award established this year is an award for stewardship, dedication, and devotion to Blue River. Everyone in the Blue River fly fishing family is deserving of this award and over the years many will be awarded this distinction. However, this was the inaugural awarding and the recipient could be only one person - Mr. Harold Beck. Harold has been with Blue River for 38 years now, introducing many anglers to the river, and teaching fly fishing and tying in college classrooms. Congratulations to Harold.
There were a number of items to be auctioned off with the proceeds being added to the pot for the wildlife department. The bamboo rods would go to Jeff Joseph and Michael Mercurio. A wonderful piece of craftsmanship by Jerry and Jeremy Sellers and an artist friend of theirs would raise $275.00. The creation was certainly one of a kind fly tying material station and the artwork on it was amazing.
When all was said and done around $2500.00 was raised for the wildlife department in support of the trout fishing program at Blue River.
That's some more awesome.