Mark your calendars to be at the Black Tooth Brewing Company on the evening of Sept. 20. That’s when Joey’s Fly Fishing Foundation will be hosting a fundraising event to kick off the first annual Joey’s Fall Fly Fishing Tournament (to be held the next day, Sept. 21).
This Sheridan area nonprofit foundation, created by Joey Puettman, provides mentoring to local youth through fly rod building classes and various fishing outings and “fly fishing camps.”
Later this month Joey will match 12 of his young fishing “students” with 12 adults who will comprise two-man teams competing in a catch ‘n release fly fishing contest on a stream running through several local area private ranches.
The night before, each team will draw for their own section of the stream (called a “beat”) in which to fish. Each beat is about one-half mile long, and the competition will last about four hours. Points will be awarded to teams based on the number and size of fish caught and safely released.
One of the many fun things about this event is that each of the 12 beats will also be assigned a “controller” who will basically serve as a fishing guide for the two competitors on that particular beat. These guides will help the team with fly selection, knot tying and fishing techniques. There are a number of Sheridan area fishing professionals who will be volunteering their expertise on tournament day. Among other great fishing mentors, this group includes: Bob Krumm, a Big Horn River guide for over two decades; Clint Krumm, also a Big Horn professional; Paul Dubas, a semi-retired Big Horn guide with decades of experience; Brett Smith, a local fireman and former longtime guide at the local fly shop; Paul Wallop, outfitter and guide at the Wallop ranch in Big Horn: and Roger Miller, owner and outfitter of Fly Shop of the Big Horns in downtown Sheridan.
Uniquely, local professional Sam Paul Mavrakis will be serving as one of the judges for the entire tournament. Sam Paul was instrumental in working with the Foundation in structuring the tournament rules. Sam Paul’s father co-owned and operated the Ritz Sporting Goods store in downtown Sheridan for nearly 45 years. Most everyone is familiar with the statue of Sam Sr., carrying an elk, located near the intersection of Coffeen and Gould streets. Sam Paul himself is a former member of Team USA Fly Fishing where he represented our country in competitions held in Spain, Slovakia and Sweden. He is a two-time individual champion of the famous Jackson Hole “One Fly” fishing tournament.
Lastly, and (perhaps) least, I will be serving as guide for a rather unique team in the tournament. Jon Sweet, also a local fishing guide, decided to sponsor a team which would include one of the participants from my Project Healing Waters Program for military veterans. I will be guiding a team with the adult fisherman being a graduate of my Healing Waters Fly Fishing program, and the youth fisherman being a graduate of Joey’s Fly Fishing program. What fun!
The participants for the tournament itself have already been selected, but there’s a lot of fun and excitement also awaiting the public! Starting at 6 p.m. at the Black Tooth Brewing Company on Friday the 20th, folks will be introduced to the competitors, and then they can make donations to Joey’s Foundation by purchasing a fly for use by the team of their liking. Each team is allowed up to 20 donated flies. Cost per fly will be $20. All proceeds will go to help defray future costs of the Foundation’s outdoor activities for our local youth.
There will also be lots of hors d’euvres, a silent auction and some dancing to the music of the Craft Brothers Band. Please come on out for the fun! Tickets can be purchased for $25 from Fly Shop of the Big Horns, Radio Shack, Tom Balding Bits & Spurs, Solitude or by calling Joey’s Fly Fishing Foundation at 673-0897.
If you can’t make it to the kickoff on the night of 20th, then at least have your thoughts rooting for me and my team of amateurs to win the big tourney on the 21st!
GORDON ROSE works as a commercial fly tier and operates Sheridan WYO Healing Waters, part of a national nonprofit organization which teaches disabled military veterans fly fishing, fly tying and fly rod-building as part of their therapy.