It was my first visit to the historic Golden
Gate Angling and Casting Club (GGACC) in San
Francisco, California. It was here where some
of the greatest casters competed, set mind-boggling
records and defied the laws of physics with casts
of incredible distances.
It is surely the greatest casting club in the world
from a physical viewpoint.
Visiting the Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club is
an incredible experience. Many casting techniques and
tackle were developed here. It was built during the
Depression years by the WPA.
The GGACC was built in 1938, by the Work Project
Administration (WPA)- a wonderful program that
provided an opportunity for the unemployed to
join a work force and lead productive, meaningful
lives. Today, a similar casting club built in a
metropolitan area would cost millions.
You almost sense the ghosts of the past while casting
in the pools. You can feel the presence of Jon
Tarantino - the great caster who was robbed of his
youth when he was shot in a robbery attempt. Marvin
Hedge. Henry Fujita, Sr. Herman Hittenberger. John
Dieckman. Dick Miller. Myron Gregory. Phil Miravalle.
Earl Osten. On and on. All these great casters not
only competed here at one time or another, but helped
to develop new tackle, new casting techniques, like
shooting heads and the double haul and all the other
things that many fishermen use today but take for granted.
The Golden Gate Angling and Casting Club is the shrine
for all tournament casters; it is a "must" visit for
any serious angler who values history and tradition.
The purpose of my visit was to compete in a couple
of distance events in the 95th Annual Casting
Championship sponsored by the GGACC, the Oakland
Casting Club (another great casting facility) and
the American Casting Association (July 28 to
August 2, 2003).
The Trout Fly Event encompasses roll casting.
Competitors must hit 5 targets from 20 to 50 feet within
This was my third consecutive National, so I was
well acquainted with the skills of champion casters
like Steve Rajeff, Chris Korich, Rene Gillibert and
new superstar Henry Mittel. I expected them to excel
and they did.
But there were new names emerging, like Jay Clark
who won the All Fly Accuracy-beating Chris Korich
by one point. I learned that he was a member of
GGACC for some time, but only recently decided to
train seriously for the National.
George Revel (age 14) and Dustin (age 13) address
the casters at the banquet. They cast an amazing
126 and 109 feet respectively. They then presented Guy Manning,
their casting coach and mentor, with some special flies
that they tied for him.
And the young guys-George Revel (age 14) and his
brother Dustin Revel (age 13), George cast 126 feet
in the Angler's Distance Fly Event! Yeah, many of
us think we can cast over 100 feet, but if we were
to put a tape from where we cast and where the fly
lands (not how much line shoots through the guides)
most of us would probably be disappointed. His younger
brother, Dustin, cast 109 feet. The Revel brothers,
plus young Chris Walker, did very well in the accuracy
events and the grizzled veteran fly casters certainly
took notice. They cast in the Intermediate Division
(ages 13-16) today, but surely they will be the
champions of tomorrow.
This was Randy Olson's first National. He practiced on
his own for two months prior to the competition. He
used a video camera to record and analyze his casting
I was very impressed with Randy Olson. The 33-year-old
angler from Montana loves to fish "for any species that
will take a fly" and became interested in tournament
casting through web sites including this one. He started
practicing in earnest about two months prior to the
tournament. Randy did not win any events but cast
with the poise of a veteran. In the Two-Handed Fly
Distance event he cast 203 feet! Folks, that's two
thirds of a football field.
I asked him how he went about it, what were his
best practice casts and if he was nervous in his
"I practiced for about an hour every day for about
two months leading up to the National. My neighbors
repeatedly asked, 'Have you caught any fish yet?' I
was able to practice distance casts in my neighbor
Viola Flynn's yard for which I am very thankful. I
also set up hoops in my yard to practice accuracy.
I was making progress in my practice sessions: My
best in Two-Hand Distance Fly cast was 229 feet,
Single Hand was 187 feet, and Angler's Fly, 148
feet. That was in practice; it's a lot different
in competition. I wish I could say I was not nervous,
but when Steve Rajeff is always right behind you in
the casting order, and Chris Korich is judging, it
is a little nerve racking. Steve has always been an
inspiration to me because of his reputation as a great
caster. Chris is a world-class caster also.
"The video camera was a key in getting my rod
path to track in the same plane. I set the camera
up at different angles depending if I wanted to
look at my loop shapes or from front and back to
look at the plane of my rod. Bruce Richards
six-step method is very helpful in analyzing
the stroke here."
Steve Rajeff won the Grand All Around again, and
Chris Korich won the Angler's All Around, while
Henry Mittel was the All-Fly Casting champion.
Korich shot a perfect score in the Dry Fly and Trout
Fly events. He was up next in the Bass Bug Event. No
one has ever cast perfect scores in all three fly
accuracy events in a National. A silence prevailed
among the gathering crowd. Most of us stood up. He
hit his first five targets in a row. The sixth one
is a tough one because it's 65 to 70 feet away. He
hit it, but the crowd, sensing a historic event,
remains silent and motionless. Korich hits the next
three. Only two more to go. He misses the next one by
inches. The crowd senses his disappointment. He misses
the next one, too, because he is disappointed in not
achieving what no one else was able to do: Three perfect
scores in the fly games in a National.
In the Senior's Division, Cajun Bill Clements cleaned
up. He cast so well he makes the prestigious
This was Dick Fujita's 55th National Casting Tournament!
Here he flings a fly 205 feet with a double-handed rod.
This was Dick Fujita's 55th National casting tournament.
Dick, in his seventies and probably weighing only
140 pounds, proves that brawn and power are not the
answers in distance fly casting. He casts a fly 205
feet in the Two-Hand Distance fly event. His second
longest cast? 205 feet. He is topped in the Senior's
Division by Ed Lanser who cast 215 feet. Ed also won
the Single-Hand Distance Fly event for Seniors with
a 157-ft. cast.
Gold Medal winner Peg VanNatter (left), Silver Medalist
Elaine Gong (center)and Bronze Medalist Nicole Kozicki
(right) share good times and laughter at the banquet.
Earlier there was fierce competition among the ladies
for the coveted All Fly Accuracy championship.
In the Women's Division, Peg VanNatter beat out
Elaine Gong by a single point for the All-Fly
Accuracy trophy, with plenty of competition from
Alice Gillibert and her daughter Nicole Kozicki
Steve Rajeff casts 273 feet in the Two-Hand Distance
Fly! Henry Mittel wins the Angler's Distance Fly with
a cast of 180 feet (with equipment similar to what's
used in steelhead fishing). Last year, Rene Gillibert
cast 190 feet in this event to tie Rajeff's Angler's
Fly record. Talk about defying the laws of physics!
The last cast is made. Medals, trophies and plaques
are presented to the winners and runner ups.
John Seroczynski-one of our great casters and probably
tournament casting's best ambassador- is elected into
the Casting Hall of Fame.
Those who didn't win will go home and practice,
practice and practice. There is always next year.
There are no losers here. ~ Jim C. Chapralis
Publishers note: Jim being a modest gentleman,
failed to include his own results. He casts in the
Senior Division. He cast 151 ft. which was good for
second place - Silver Medal - in the seniors single-handed
distance fly. The winner cast 157 feet - six feet further.
In the Angler's Distance Fly (like the steelhead event)
he cast 138 feet, which won and he received a Gold Medal
(in the Seniors). He also received a plaque for the
fourth best all distance fly in the Senior's division. DLB
Jim Chapralis is a world traveler, a pioneer in the international fishing
travel business, and author, most recently of Fishing Passion,
reviewed in our Book Review section. He is an avid angler - and caster.
You can reach Jim via his website