Casting for Hope Bringing Top Fly Fishers to WNC
For a seventh year, the Gold-Level Casting for Hope Fly-Fishing Competition is staging a three-day competition, presented by MasterNymph, is April 13-15 in Spruce Pine and Bakersville. Co-Directors Taylor Sharp and John Zimmerman said some of the top-ranked fly-fishing anglers in the country are expected to compete, and this year, there’s a new twist, the #CFHPledgeChallenge.
“Donors pledge a certain amount of money for every fish they catch at the April tournament,” Sharp said. “For example, pledging 1 cent per fish could pay for gas for a trip to chemotherapy. Anglers can send out a personalized fundraising link to their supporters. As exciting as it is to catch and land a fish and to compete, we know that every fish caught this year is fighting cancer.”
Since the tournament began, the nonprofit has raised nearly $500,000 and draws some of the biggest names in fly-fishing, Zimmerman said.
Devin Olsen, the No. 1 ranked angler on Team USA, will be flying in from Oregon to compete. Other national fly-fishing team members expected to compete are Michael Bradley, No. 6, of Cherokee, Mason Simms, No. 9, and Tyler Cornett, who attends Western Carolina University.
The field of 40 – eight teams of five – sold out within a week of registration opening, Zimmerman said. Anglers are split up into flights of eight people, who stay together all weekend, fishing five different venues – Cane Creek in Bakersville, Upper and Lower North Toe in Spruce Pine, and the Little Rock and Big Rock Creek in Bakersville.
There is one representative from each team in each flight, and they are competing against everyone within a flight. Each fish caught is worth 100 points, and every centimeter is worth 20 additional points. Points are added up at the end to determine the winning team.
Sharp said he is amazed and proud of how far the fishing tournament has come. The national-caliber event is one of only two that models the World Championships, allowing a great practice venue for those looking to earn a spot on Team USA for the World Champs.
The nonprofit has grown to include several fishing tournaments throughout the year, including the upcoming Cherokee Classic June 9 in Cherokee. It also hosts the Morning of Hope 5K and Community Sunrise Service on March 31. The race starts at 8:45 a.m. at Catawba Meadows Park in Morganton.