Last week the Gold Cup wound up and down, starting Monday and finishing on Friday. After the Golden Fly in May that ended with a break down, Ian and I were happy to have a chance to redeem ourselves.
Our prefishing was relatively dismal, still plagued by the wind and weather that’s been a hallmark this tarpon season, and Ian made a plan to fish in a different place than we had hoped for as a result of the difficult fishing. We had worked hard the week leading up to the tournament with horrible success; in four days we had seen nothing worth returning to for the tournament days. The forecast included wind, rain, and what was sure to be a rough five days of fishing.
I’m fighting the temptation to write this report in the standard way: an account of each day, followed by a scoring recap and a mention of the winners. In this case I’m not going to do that, mostly because I’m already sure of the cause of death and don’t feel like performing an autopsy. Further, it was a dynamic tournament, and to include every piece of the complex puzzle would take a long time.
The whole week was a bit of a blur, and while we were able to catch fish every day we had a number of low points in the week that offered a constant flow of self doubt and internal note-writing. Among these was losing a large tarpon on day one after a lengthy fight in deep water, watching as it sent the fly back to us opened up, seeing it right itself and swim away slowly. Another was a fish that tore off on a sprint, giving its all from the outset before seeming to be winded, throwing the fly back at us as well as we were near the final moments. Perhaps the worst was strapping a fish that was under the 70-pound minimum that cost us release points that, once the smoke cleared, would have propelled us to first place. We did catch a lot of fish, however, and there was a steady supply of fish in hand to keep our heads in the game. We slidd a small weight under the wire on the last day of fishing, which made it possible for us to secure P1, which felt like a solid tournament move under the circumstances. Our final tally was three weight fish and six releases, not bad considering the tough conditions but not enough to get us where we wanted so badly to be.
In the end we were third, behind Chad Huff and Scott Christian in second and Luis Cortes and Dave Preston who took top honors. Largest was caught by last year’s champions Jeremy Fisher and Sebastian Varney, and Ian and I also secured most releases. Congratulations are in order to Luis and Dave, as well as Chad and Scott, who (unsurprisingly) performed phenomenally in their first time fishing this event.
All I can say is we didn’t do what we set out to do, and from the moment we realized we hadn’t won everything became about next year, and we are going to work harder to secure what we’re after from now until then. The amount I’m willing to work on this tournament with Ian knows fewer bounds than it did before, and I’m already deep in 2022 preparation.
Hats are off to Luis and Dave. They earned a win under tough conditions and made it happen when the lights were lit.
The Del Brown is next, and John O’Hearn and I are looking forward to getting out after the permit for a change.
More to come,