This first of many new posts will be my experience during the Cheeky Schoolie Fly Fishing Tournament in Cape Cod, Mass. This is a truly grass roots, entry level tournament that anyone can get involved in.
I have been fly fishing for many years now, and done a fair bit of traveling to different fly fishing destinations. However, I have never been part of a tournament/competition before. The Tournament is extremely easy to register for. It occurs in the month of May when the stripers start moving into the flats, canals and creeks of Lower Massachussetts. This is a true, entry level tournament and registration opens in January, usually. The cost to register is 60 bucks per person, $120 per team. The tournament is done in a pair. You must fish with one other person and stay together through the duration of the tournament. If you cannot provide your own partner, they will assign you to someone who also entered individually. Fortunately, I was able to fish with my buddy for the Tournament. The playground is vast for this tournament. You can venture anywhere on the Cape. For me, I believe that anywhere Southeast fo Bourne, Mass.
The tournament weekend kicks off with the Costa Kickoff party at the Black Swan Inn in Dennis, Mass. You can meet other tournament participants, share secrets at your own peril. Registration then opens at 5:15am Saturday morning, with fishing getting kicked off at 6am sharp. Every angler meets in the West Dennis Beach parking lot for registration and then it’s a mad scramble to your first fishing hole for the day. We covered quite a few miles of beach flats, creeks, and canals when we fished this tournament. Fishing was tough, especially for people not familiar with the area. I was only able to catch and land one striper, which met the tournament minimum of 15 inches. Others were able to get into some pretty nice fish and put quite a few inches on the board. The nice thing about this tournament is the ease to participate. It is a strictly walk/wade fly fishing only tournament, which allows far more people to take part in it. The prizes are unreal and the things you receive at the captains meeting pay you back for your entry fee.
For this tournament there is a fair bit of homework you need to do before fishing. I started by talking to some local shops to get an idea of the fishing activity and where the best locations would be. I also looked on google earth. Locating some beaches and looking at the structures off the beach and also the topography of the area helps you locate good fishing locations. Finding beaches with jetties, flats, creeks, and natural sand bars are a good place to try. However, it definitely pays to be a local.
Bring a 9 or 10wt rod. I think you could get away with an 8wt, but there are some big stripers in those waters, so a 9wt is pretty much perfect. I used a floating line, but I felt afterwards that an intermediate sinking line would be much better for that particular type of fishing. Bring plenty of streamers, clousers, deceivers, and eel patterns seemed to be the ticket. I used a deceiver the whole time, had quite a few swipe that and finally hooked into one.
Make sure you pay attention to tides, especially if your fishing flats sections of the cape. Tides come in quick and you can walk a mile or 2 out on the flats and not realize how far you are. Bring a water proof jacket, salt spray sucks and it’s the Atlantic so the water is a bit brisk, especially in May.