Improve Your Catching!

August 12th, 2002

ACA National Casting Championships Wrap Up
Conducted By Jim C. Chapralis

Chicago Angling & Casting Club celebrated its 110th anniversary by hosting the 94th Annual American Casting Association National Tournament July 29 to August 3, 2002.

The Accuracy Events took place at the Lincoln Park casting pier. The Chicago Angling and Casting Club celebrated it's 110th anniversary by hosting the 94th National.

"It's the first National held in Chicago in almost 60 years," explains CACC president John Seroczynski. "It attracted some of the world's best casters from 14 States plus Canada and Sweden."

The incomparable Steve Rajeff ready to unleash a tremendous cast in the distance fly. Note how he abruptly stops his forearm on the back cast.

The weather was stifling hot and humid, with the thermometer hovering in the mid-90s. On the distance casting fields, it must have soared to 110 degrees. Humidity and calm or swirling winds are the enemies of the distance casters.

This didn't deter Steve Rajeff from casting 268 feet in the Two-Handed Distance Fly event! In the Single-Handed Distance Fly, Steve belted a 197-foot cast despite poor wind conditions for another Gold Medal.

But one of the most spectacular accomplishments was Rene Gilibert's phenomenal long cast of 190 feet in the Angler's Fly Distance. This absolutely defies the law of physics! Those of you who remember our Lesson Six in our target and Distance Casting Practice Seminar series, will recall that the line is basically a 10 weight shooting head but cannot be less than 28 feet or more than 31 feet. To put things in perspective, Rene's cast was almost 2/3rds of a football field.

Rene's cast tied Steve Rajeff's previous National record.

For the roll-casting portion of the Trout Fly Accuracy event, most casters kneel for the close targets. That's Chris Korich making the cast.

Moving over to the accuracy games, the first event was the Trout Fly which combines dry-fly casting, wet-fly casting and the roll cast (see Lesson Four). Steve Rajeff tied with Chris Korich with 99s. A perfect score is 100, which means that they missed one target out of ten by less than a foot and made all their roll casts. Believe me, this is a tremendous accomplishment under any circumstances but with a swirling wind it's an incredible feat. Steve won the shoot-off.

Rene Gillibert (left), Steve Rajeff (center) and Chris Korich (right) have much to smile about as they are among the world's best casters. They won more than their share of medals and honors.

In the Dry-Fly Event (see Lesson Three), Steve Rajeff shot a remarkable 99 (which means he missed one target out of ten by a foot or less). The targets are 25 to 50 feet away.

The Bass Bug (Lesson Five) is one of the most challenging accuracy events invented because, in addition to other targets, competitors in the second round must cast to a 30-inch target that's about 50 feet away. Then he or she must lift up the line, make only one false cast and deliver the Bass Bug to another target that's placed at about 70 feet. It's not easy to lift a flat-headed bass bug 50 feet away. Then, of course, the unfavorable winds were very tricky. The competitor's mind must calculate everything in a split second before the caster's hand, arm, rod, line and leader can deliver the bug on target.

Steve Rajeff shot a 98 to win this event while Chris Korich and Henry Mittell tied with 95s and had to cast two shoot-offs before Chris took second place with a 98 to Henry's 95.


Casters over 60 years old compete in the Senior's Division. Ed Lanser, one of our finest casters who has competed in 40 Nationals and holds many records, won the Two-Handed Fly Distance event with a cast of 217 feet.

Canadian Gord Deval cast 173 feet in the Single Handed Distance Fly Event to win the Gold. Tom Gong's 150-foot cast put him in the winner's circle for the third consecutive year in the Angler's Distance Event.

Bill Peters won Trout Fly Accuracy Event with a 95 and Tony Yap won the Silver with a 94. Bill Burke took first place in the Dry-Fly Event with a 97. Bobby Spear and Bill Peters tied for second with 94 and required two shoot-offs before Bobby won the Silver.

It was hot and humid during the entire tournament. Casters waiting their turn, greatly appreciated the generosity of E-Z-Up Canopies which provided shade and comfort from the blazing sun.

Bill VanNatter and Charles July tied for first with 94s in the Bass Bug Event and required two shoot-offs before Bill outscored Charley by a single point!


All-round, talented Pam Peters cast 134 feet to win the Angler's Distance Fly event.

In the Trout Fly Accuracy event, Alice Gillibert and upcoming Cathy Sero tied, and Alice won the shoot-off by one point. Pam Peters came in third.

In the Dry Fly Event Nicole Kozicki won with a 95, beating Alice Gillibert, who happens to be her mother, while Pam Peters won the Bronze Medal for third place.

Now comes the good part: Alice Gillibert, daughter Nicole, and Peg VanNatter all tied in the Bass Bug Event. Alice won the shoot-off, Nicole came in second and Peg third. Mother and daughter are tremendous competitors, but, as always, hugged and kissed after the shoot-off. They've been in numerous shoot-offs through the years. And Rene Gillibert? The fellow who tied the Angler's Distance Fly record with a 190-ft. cast? He is Alice's son and Nicole's brother. Talk about a talented casting family!


George Karsant III (left) is a very talented all-round caster and won the Trout Fly Event; Andy Tulgetske (center) won Dry Fly and Bass Bug, and Glenn Carl (right) won two Bronze Medals.

In the youth divisions, George Karsant III, casting in the intermediate age group (13 to 16 years old), won the Trout Fly Event with a solid 86, but Andy Tulgetske won the Dry Fly and Bass Bug events. Glenn Carl tied with Andy in the Trout Fly but lost second place in a shoot-off, when Andy cast a remarkable 91.

He's not into fly casting yet, but 4-1/2 year old Jake Less turned some heads when he shot a 76 in the 5/8 oz. Plug Casting Event. He'll be fly casting in a year or two.

Perhaps the star of the non-adult crowd was Jake Less. Okay, he is into plug and spinning right now, because he is only 4 years old and too small to handle a fly rod. Well Jake shot a 76 (out of possible 100) in the 5/8 oz. Plug Casting Event to take the Junior B (age 8 and under) Gold Medal. Get this: His score would have beaten 11 adult casters (men, women and seniors) and all but one non-adult. Is this the budding Rajeff of the future, or what? If Jake sticks with casting he'll be great.

Ulf Janson, president of the International Casting Federation, and his family flew from Sweden to attend the Nationals. They competed as guests and the whole family are excellent casters.

John Seroczynski was elected president of the American Casting Association for the forthcoming year. John, his brother Phil and their wives spearheaded the highly successful tournament. The generosity of the adjacent Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, which welcomed the casters by providing many of the feature comforts including meeting rooms, was greatly appreciated.

P.S. Okay, some of you who followed my "casting practice" lessons on this website, are probably curious as to how I did in the tournament. Casting in the senior division, I won second place in the Single-Handed Distance Fly Event with a cast of 163 feet and won Bronze Medals (third place) in the Trout Fly and Bass Bug Event and placed 5th in the Dry Fly Event. ~ Jim C. Chapralis

About Jim:

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. Currently involved with the 94th Annual National Casting Tournament July 29 to August 3, 2002. You can reach Jim via his website

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