Team USA Southwest Regional Comp – Loch Style Fly Fishing

This past weekend some of the best sticks in the west gathered for a qualifying competition for Team USA Fly Fishing. Spread out on two reservoirs just outside of Durango, Valliceto and Lemon, this much can be said…a great time was had by all.

This was my first ever comp and first ever time loch style fishing, so needless to say there was a steep learning curve set in place. Lucky for me in my corner I had seasoned comp fishers Rob Kolanda and Jay Alipit who were willing to talk me through the intricate details that is the comp scene and loch style.We arrived two days early to do some recon on the lakes that we would be fishing and it gave me a chance to dial in the little experience that I have loch style. Let me say that this style of fishing can be deadly when done properly. The use of sinking lines, long rods, and a drogue make life easier and drastically increases your catch rate. The basic idea is that you set a drift with the wind at your back, throw the drogue overboard to slow you down, and cast your flies out using different fly lines depending of fish depth, and play with different retrieves. Fly selection usually centers around stripping pimped out buggers a great bottom anchor fly, and then a combination of natural bugs and other leaches makes up your two point flies. The 10 foot rods help with control and casting the 15-20 foot leaders.

A perfect morning on Valliceto Res, our boats resting quietly.

Day one:A perfect morning on the Valliceto, the wind was up 10 mph, perfect wind for Loch as we got out of the car and began unloading our gear: boat bag, extra rod, fly boxes, and long handle net, check. Once it was time to fish the wind had died and we were looking at a glassy lake, not good conditions…it took most boats a while to get the first fish to hand, about the time the wind came back up. The winning number for the morning session was 6 fish all in the 14-16 inch range. Our boat only racked two one a piece.

The comp winner Josh Curtis hooked up on another stocker on Lemon.

After a plate of enchiladas and a beer the afternoon beat started, again fishing seemed to be very stagnate until the last hour or so where our boat picked up four fish before the buzzer all on egg sucking leaches. The winning count for the afternoon beat was four fish, not a bad three hours. By the end of the first day Kolanda was in the top four and Jay and I were sitting middle of the pack. That evening was spent tying up heat for the next day over at Lemon Res and getting a good nights rest.

Late night tying before the next day…

Day Two:

Lemon Reservoir, two weeks earlier it had been stocked with 10,000 trout so our plan was to find a pod of stockies and lay the hurt on them. Most boats averaged 15 fish, but numbers reached as high as 31! Thats about 10 fish an hour. If you had to find fish you were wasting time and we wasted too much in the morning beat shuttling to find a good pod. I walked away third from last with 4 fish, this number totally destroyed chances of a good finish. Between hooking and loosing fish, here is where a super soft long rod makes or breaks a comp, and searching for fish I fell.Kolanda selecting the “winning” fly for the afternoon session at Lemon.

That afternoon we ran laps on a pod of fish and we were knocking them down, until I busted my rod mid cast…I opted for a 9′ 4wt super soft Scott G2. The rod was great except for the fact that it was too short. The long rods allow you to leave your long leader outside of the guides while landing, the shorties must be stripped in to the guides and caused me to loose 5 fish in a row, killing me!!!

Overall Kolanda took 5th and I finished towards the end of the pack, but hey thats fishing and I broke my cherry in the comp scene. Many more to come…