Cuda Bowl 2018, Results + Our Fishing
Over the weekend the annual Cuda Bowl took place, and I was invited by Ted Margo to fish with him and John O’Hearn in the spin division. I’ve fished this tournament in the fly division since its first year, and enjoyed a fair amount of success in it with John Benvenuto as well as Aaron Snell early on. This year I decided to take the year off from fly fishing, and the opportunity to spend a few days on the water as a third wheel with a spinning rod was just what I was looking for. We prefished on the Thursday before the tournament started, and Ted and John had been out the whole week prior. Their fishing had been far from stellar, and when I came on board things looked as though they were going to remain that way for the tournament. We took my boat for the speed and relative size, and set out to find a plan for the next two days.
We looked and looked for something to throw at, seeing a bit here and there but never finding enough value to feel good about. At our second spot John decided to fish some, and I got on the platform to pole. At this point we decided that this was fun, and worth considering as a tournament arrangement. What better way to have some fun and take it down a notch then letting me pole two good friends around and get to know my new boat better in the process? We all agreed that this would work, as long John chose the spots and I just poled the boat. We finished up in time for the captain’s meeting at the Square Grouper, and made the switch on the scoreboard.
I’m struggling now looking back to decide when it was clear that John was having continuous moment of greatness. It certainly wasn’t when I fell into the water off the platform on my way up there first thing on the first day, though that was hilarious and started things off on a good note. It wasn’t when John filled his scorecard at the same spot before Ted had put one on the board with fish nearly all over 40 inches. It wasn’t when John upgraded a 39-inch fish to a 49 on the first day, giving him an over 45-inch average:
It was probably after the first day, when John was in the lead by 8 inches over the second place boat and we were in the lead for biggest fish, team award, and most releases that Ted and I realized that John was on fire and we had nothing else to do but keep up. Ted did manage a fast 5-inch upgrade just before we left for home, which put us in an even better team position, though as it turned out we didn’t really need it.
We did even better on the second day, and were able to maintain our lead in all but one of the four categories we led on day one.
John and Ted filled their scorecards immediately, and while we dropped some giants we were able to start upgrading by 10 AM. John soon surpassed the 40-inch average, then made it to 43. Ted was over 40 himself, and kept it coming into the early 40’s into the early afternoon. In two days of fishing I think we caught nearly 60 fish, and lost as many or more on missed bites and jettisoned hooks. We were unable to top our 49 from day one, and lost the big fish award in the end to Bobby Paulson and his team.
The fly division was won decisively by John Benvenuto and Scott Christian, who were also victorious in the Sugarloaf Showdown in November. Of note is the fact that these two were in sixth place overall–an astounding achievement against a field of tube-throwers, and secured both the highest ever score on fly in the tournament as well as the biggest fly-caught fish in the tournament, also in its history. Big stuff. Justin Rea with John Chinundet were the fly division runners-up, and third place went to last year’s champions Pete Heydon and Jim Knowles.
Overall, I had a blast and can’t thank Ted enough for setting up such a great time on the water. It was great to see John shine, and Ted did a great job of making sure that the team award happened for the second time. I have a feeling we’ll do it again next year, and I’m already looking forward to it.
I’m finally current on these reports, just in time for the next two days on the water. Tomorrow I’m with Doug as a guest of Wes Smith, and Saturday Ian and I are heading out. More to come as always.