Tag: competition

An alternative view of impending big-box retail competition


The recent announcement that Cabela’s would enter the Colorado Front Range market (see this Denver Post article) has been creating significant amounts of worrisome debate amongst local fly-fishing retailers and outfitters. Anglers, however, seem to feel the entrance of Cabela’s will create more choice for them, and that freedom means happier fishermen and fisherwomen. At least one established local retailer thinks that is a very good thing.

Read on.

Get busy creating an exceptional client experience, or get busy dying.

MG signing off (to focus on the former)

Teva Mountain Games shenanigans are a go – in other words, go ahead and kick me where it counts

This should be coming across the AP wire, but those folks are too busy with some nonsense about volcanic ash covering the town of Europe. So for all of you who have been deprived important news comes this…

VAIL/DENVER, CO, April 26, 2010 (BigNewsWire) – The Vail Valley Foundation, co-organizer of the annual Teva Mountain Games, was left stunned when it was discovered that Mr. Michael Gracie of Denver had entered the Costa 2-Fly Extreme Fly Fishing competition for the upcoming event June 5th and 6th. After a failed run at the prize money last year, which included Mr. Gracie wearing attire which irritated other competitors and generally mocked both the seriousness of the event and the tranquil nature which surrounds the entire genre of fly fishing, the hosts were certain they were rid of Mr. Gracie once and for all. Sadly this was not to be the case.

“Gracie is simply a disgrace to the sport”, noted Jim Kanda, longtime 2-Fly Extreme competitor and Manager of Trout’s Fly Fishing of Denver. Trout’s owner Tucker Ladd added “He came into the shop the other day and we discussed the Games. Jim and I tried to talk him out of competing, out of respect for our fellow fly fishers. But he’s hardheaded. Or should I say…a jackass.”

Bonafide fly fishing luminaries took time out of their busy schedules to comment on the distressing news as well…

Lefty Kreh: “I’ve seen the kid cast – he’s no Ted Williams that’s for sure.”

Pat Dorsey and Chris Ramos: “Gracie couldn’t catch a trout in a hatchery with a cane pole and a bread ball. What’s he thinking?!”

Kelly Galloup: “If Michael could keep his eye on the target instead of the next woman walking by, he might have a chance. In other words, he’s hopeless.”

Barry and Cathy Beck: “He’s not very photogenic.”

Teva Mountain Games organizers and Vail residents alike are now concerned that Mr. Gracie will wreak havok on Vail’s reputation, a town which is known for its down-home atmosphere and impeccable class. A meeting has been scheduled immediately prior to the festivities, at which time all constituents will have a chance to speak out regarding the impending menace. Proposals for keeping Michael away already include temporarily blockading I-70 at Vail Pass and/or moving the Costa 2-Fly Extreme portion of the Games to Aspen.

About the Teva Mountain Games

The Teva Mountain Games is an annual event pitting competitors against each other in eight sports and 23 disciplines including: x-country, freeride, slopestyle and road cycling, freestyle, 8-Ball, sprint and extreme kayaking, raft paddlecross, World Cup bouldering, Stand Up Paddle boarding, as well as trail and road running, and the GNC Ultimate Mountain Challenge. Also included in the Games lineup is the Costa 2-Fly Extreme fly fishing competition, where entrants are challenged with multiple casting qualification rounds leading up to a day of catch and release trout fishing. The Teva Mountain Games are a project of the Vail Valley Foundation, which exists to to provide leadership in athletic, cultural, educational and community-based endeavors to enhance and sustain the quality of life in the Vail Valley for its residents and guests.

About the “Jackass”

Michael Gracie began his fishing career in the waters of South Florida, catching fat largemouths on Blue Grape Tournament Worms, Johnson Spoons with white pork rind, and Hula Poppers. He moved into fly fishing soon thereafter, but did not catch his first brown trout until the mid-twenties. Mr. Gracie maintains detailed knowledge of the waters directly underneath the Florida Keys’ Seven Mile Bridge, that flowing through a small bend on Maryland’s Gunpowder River, some which accumulated into a carp pond in Westminster, Colorado, as well some spinning around in toilet bowls he’s been found clasped to after over-exuberant nights on the town. Mr. Gracie resides in the good ol’ US of A, although various officials of the Department of the Interior probably wish that wasn’t the case.

So there you have it folks. Everyone is against me! But for the first time in my life I have to agree they are justified in their contempt, and I’m not going to move against the grain. No…instead I’m going with it, and hoping to drag everyone else along.

With that in mind, I’m offering a wager you just can’t refuse. I’m betting I’ll suck just like last year, maybe even worse. And you are going to side with me. This means money.

I’m hereby taking pledges in cents (or dollars) for every point I score in the event, and you’re going to donate that pledge directly to Casting For Recovery, a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that supports breast cancer survivors through a program combining fly-fishing, counseling, and medical information to build a focus on wellness instead of illness. So for example, you pledge ten cents per point, and I score a 1,500 (bwaaahhhh!) – you’d write a check to Casting For Recovery for $150. Easy. Note that high scores for the 2009 qualifier were around 2,500 points, and roughly 800 points for the semi-finals (which yours truly didn’t even get close to).

You put your pledge in the comments, obviously including a valid email address with said comment – when the event is over, I’ll let you know how little much you owe CFR. You wind up looking like a kind and generous soul to each and every passerby to this post, and when I fall flat on my face you don’t have to pay a dime. Heck…even if I do hit one target, I’m assuming it would be a pittance to most anyone that might be reading.

Suck or no suck, you’re a winner.*

Editor’s note: *Pledges are expected to be honored, and all point totals will be tallied directly from official results posted on the Teva Mountain Games website. Should Mr. Gracie hit not zero targets but say all of them, please be ready to write a check to Casting For Recovery. In other words, make your pledge reasonably within your own means. All donations are tax deductible, and the jackass will not be handling any proceeds – a form letter will be provided via email to be included with all contributions. Any in-kind donations or prize winnings (again, bwaaahhhh!) Mr. Gracie personally garners from the event will be donated to the charity of his choosing, Casting For Recovery or otherwise, as well.

UPDATE: Royalties go to charity too.

Stuff I saved in my feed reader for the last ten days – 06/15/09


  • Uh…Twitter something. [Everyone]*
  • Let’s see…Facebook this and that? [Everyone]*
  • *Editor’s note: we’re now actively filtering out all news related to Twitter and Facebook for efficiency’s sake – the above mentioned groundbreaking highlights were garnered through inference.


  • America: Now $8-to-$14 Trillion Poorer [Reason] – It’s very hard for some of us to feel any poorer, but by golly we’re trying.
  • Unemployment at 10% to Depress Consumer Spending, Survey Shows [Bloomberg] – To figure out how to get paid to do surveys that give the same result as that learned in Economics 101 is the real trick to survival.
  • Court Docs Reveal Govt. Likely Forced Chrysler Deal With Minimal Knowledge of Fiat [NewsBusters] – Heck, the government probably forced Merrill Lynch on Bank of America too, so quit the bitching.
  • Fly Fishing

  • England Takes World Fly Fishing Championships [MidCurrent] – Congratulations to Team England. And in other news, the PMs decided this was a good reason to buy all new gear for themselves and bill British taxpayers.
  • To Save Fish, Defeat Them Quickly [Fly Talk] – What the fast-action graphite wielding contingent knew all along.
  • Dress for success applies directly to fly-fishermen [Durango Herald] – Proving once and for all that looking good really does matter.
  • MG signing off (to clean out the rest)

    Teva Mountain Games: The Epilogue

    It was permit I tell ya’ – permit everywhere!

    I stood on the casting deck and took four practice swings. Smacked the short target three times and the middle one once. Confident, I put my fly in my hand and told the guide to get us moving. He said he’d start the moment I did.

    I lifted the rod, tucked my elbow, took a quick pull of the line…and all I saw after that was permit. Permit everywhere. Little black fins bobbing and weaving, in three distinct groups at 25, 35 and about 50 feet. In the back of my mind all I could hear was 12 o’clock…cast cast cast! And then pick up…cast! Pick up…cast! And that’s what I did. The wind seemed to howl simultaneously from all sides, while some imaginary guy on the poling platform screamed bloody murder. I think I hit two targets, and am pretty sure I threw one pathetic distance cast about 60 feet.

    I still don’t have a permit on the fly, and I didn’t qualify for the competition either.

    James Snyder and I skipped out after that, walking 100 yards and then gorging on pancake breakfasts. Found our trucks and set forth west, hitting some nice pocket water in the otherwise raging Gore Creek. We got into a few fish on green and brown Rubber Buggers. On the way home we stopped by Ten Mile and picked up a few more, this time on small stuff. We laughed and carried on as usual, and we had a great time. Trout fishing with a friend – a fitting end to a competitive day. Full of permit.

    What did I learn from this experience?

    There were a lot of spectacular fly casters at the meet, and I think some of them had a great time. I left before the applause, but I’m clapping now – they deserve it. Still, others took themselves way too seriously and probably didn’t have much fun. I showed up for the pre-show in drag, and while a few photographers (as well as a small handful of competitors) were delighted, it was pretty easy to tell a lot of folks there weren’t amused. For them I feel nothing but sorrow, regardless of their performance.

    I know I’ll never be a decent competitive fly caster because my casting stroke is nothing to write home about. I only catch fish because I’m lucky, and sometimes I’m just very lucky. Further, I just can’t seem to take this whole fly fishing thing much more seriously than popping the top on a Coors Light and playing stuffed animal tug-of-war with my dog (which is precisely what I’m doing in between typing the words you see before you).

    Or at least I’m now certain I won’t anymore.

    UPDATE: Almost forgot – special thanks goes out to John Darbeloff of RailRiders, Jeremy Cameron of Flies & Fins, and James Snyder of Primal Fly for the clothes on my back, as well as Tim Emery of FishExplorer for securing accommodations and Tim Marek for sneaking me into private parties.

    UPDATE 2: Official qualifying results are in pdf form here. And a correction – I hit one target, and a 59 footer. Damn I sucked.

    Secrets of a serious fly fishing competitor revealed!

    Hooking a fish with a very long, flimsy bamboo fiberglass graphite pole, using a piece of animal hair for bait, and then cranking it in with a reel that has no gear ratio? Fly fishing is very serious business, and competition only makes it more so. But fly fishing is still a sport of sharing – sharing the great outdoors with all of Mother Earth’s creatures, as well as exchanging flies, techniques, and if all goes well, some good stories too.

    In the spirit of sharing, I’ve decided to disclose how I’m gearing up for this weekend’s Teva Mountain Games 2-Fly Xtreme competition – in other words, how I’m going to hand all the competition their hats…


    1 ) Fly selection – big flies make for big fish (and I’ll bet no trout in Colorado has ever seen a 4/0 hook either).

    2 ) G. Loomis GLX 12-weight – faster that Speed Racer, and more accurate that Superman’s x-ray eyes in a pasties-required strip club.

    3 ) Hawaiian print knock-off, weight forward edition – good for blending in to the surroundings (and the large belly aids in distance casting).

    4 ) Lucchese 1883 Mad Dogs – soft and supple goat skin keeps wader booties from tearing (and lack of cleats keeps ‘fly fishing ambassadors’ from crying over scratched rocks).

    5 ) Black cape – you cannot even hope to get into the party without a cape and a mask (budget constraints forced leaving out the mask).

    6 ) Tibor Gulfstream – very large arbor makes up for the lack of gear ratios in high-priced fly reels (as if there was anything but).

    7 ) Bottle of Dos Gusano – quite possibly the finest tequila on Earth (for making your fellow competitors sick for days)

    8 ) Wide brim hat – for Xtreme glare protection (doubles as fly patch and automotive wax applicator)

    9 ) Impact resistant glasses in hi-vis shooter yellow – because you never know who or what you might run into while fly fishing with a bottle of tequila in your front pocket.

    MG signing off (to fall down in a bar in Vail)

    Editor’s note: The colossal and amazing diagram you see above is also available in a larger than life (and larger than screen saver) 2304 X 3072 pixel version, absolutely free! Don’t miss this amazing offer – download it right now here.

    Are you primed for the Teva Mountain Games 2 Fly Xstream?

    tequila-posterFrom the Michael Gracie “Winning through Confusion, Smack Talking and Foul Play Series”

    There are 29 days left until the Teva Mountain Games Costa Del Mar 2 Fly Xstream fly fishing competition. And according to games director Rick Messmer, there are 46 competitors signed up as of this morning, meaning there are also 29 slots left.

    A true to life geek like myself figures “29…that’s a prime number. Must be some sort of sign.” I could plug that number into some obscure algorithm, but it’ll likely come up blank. Instead I’m going to spend the rest of the day thinking about how many fish I’ll catch tomorrow on one of Colorado’s Gold Medal waters (exactly which one won’t be solidified in plan until this evening). Twenty-nine would be a grand day.

    flycastingpracticeYou’re now thinking “Jeez – fly fishing isn’t supposed to be about numbers. It’s about getting back to nature, exercising form over function, and clearing one’s mind in the process.” Sorry o’ pantywaist bamboo boy, but this is competition we’re talking about here. Mano-a-mano, or in this case me and my broomstick against everyone else and theirs. It’s about finding an edge, and using it to one’s advantage. There’s fame and fortune to be had.

    We’re in full on practice mode now. I’m utilizing multi-colored hoola hoop targets at distances of 10, 18, and 26 feet, right in my small front yard. The next door neighbor is serving me tequila shots between rounds. You might say that publicizing my once top secret training regimen to the world is foolish, but I say emulate you must, or suffer the consequences July 6th.

    MG signing off (to find a very sticky yet undetectable substance I can put on my fellow competitors’ fly lines the morning of competition)

    Editor’s note: The author of this post does not condone cheating. Unless, of course, you know you don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of winning.

    You gotta hit the Teva Mountain Games

    tevamountaingamesThe place is Vail, and the dates are June 4th through the 7th. There’ll be competitions in running, cycling, kayaking, rafting, paragliding and more. Even dogs get to compete, and that’s why I’m so enthused about the Teva Mountain Games.

    See…there’s a fly fishing competition going on which includes timed accuracy and distance casting. If you kick it the first round you go to another, and if you’re in the top eight at the end of the day, you get to spend four hours floating down the Eagle River for the finals beginning the following morning. It’s a two pattern, six total flies in the box deal. Official rules and regs can be found here (pdf), but the gist is the most fish wins.

    If none of this appeals to you, but you’d like to see the world’s only two-legged canine get his rear end handed to him by a bunch of folks who actually can fly fish, then you might just want to show up June 6th. Reason: I’ll be competing, and you’ll get a few laughs out of it!

    MG signing off (to find some hoola hoops for practice time)

    UPDATE: Pete McDonald has kindly stepped in as training and business manager. Excellent, as I need all the help I can get.

    Sporting clays meets fly fishing

    Tom Chandler surmises it’s a positive step:

    Most of the growth in “outdoor” sports is occurring courtesy a competitive angle (e.g. competitive bass fishing, competitive hunting, “action” pistol events, retriever competition, etc.), yet competitive fly fishing has yet to take hold in the USA (despite several attempts)…

    And while regular readers know I’m hardly a cheerleader for the fly fishing industry, I do think this is an idea with merit.

    I’m not keen on distance competitions, but I suspect target casting on a course would be a reel hoot (pun intended) for some. However, most fly fishing folks will probably jump on the notion that no course will ever be able to emulate the variety of conditions one may face on river or flat, from one day to the next. You can bet those that have cut their teeth in competition will think otherwise.

    I hope I never see a “course professional” on my frequented waters, tossing 80 foot casts into hoola-hoops their friends are kicking off the bank upstream. Sporting clays is for runoff time anyway.

    Death Knol or death knell?

    Less than a week after Google rolled out Knol, its “Wikipedia killer”, the blogosphere has decided to whip itself into a frenzy. The major cause of the consternation – Google seems to be ranking Knol pages, which are supposed to be filled with content from a never-ending and every-increasing number of “experts”, a bit higher than the average SEO junkie might suspect.

    Sounds like competition to me.

    Is Google bad or is Google good? I don’t think the “experts” really know for sure, but I do see a pattern emerging. When blogs became popular, those working behind the scenes figured out that comments and trackbacks were a good way to generate search engine attention – and they latched onto the best ranked blogs. When the search engines figured this out, they appealed to the best of the best to add the “nofollow” tag to their discussion threads to weed out the scum. The big blogs agreed, I believe out of fear that Google would see discussions without the tag and bump down the renegades accordingly. All was well, as the favored few remained high on the first page list.

    Unfortunately, content creators are now coming under increasing stress. The sole business motive, advertising, is showing signs of weakness. Purveyors of online expertise are crying for folks to click on their ads – they ask “why give the money to Google?”. Meanwhile, they beg at Google’s feet for traffic – it’s the proverbial biting of the hand that feeds you.

    What’s even more odd about all this, and what would clue the average internet surfer into how badly the tech blogosphere needs a twenty-ton dose of Ritalin, is that the crowd waited until the day after they pounced on Cuil, a potential Google search competitor, before releasing their joint statement on the evil Knol. Yes, after giving a well-publicized Google search competitor a general thumbs neutral/negative (not entirely unearned, since Cuil had major technical problems on the day of its launch) the virtual chatterbox moves on to complain about the fact that Google might be infringing on their territory by juicing its own search results with competitive content.

    Instead of recognizing the the signs of an impending threat and rallying behind the future generation, content creators are playing cards for the small pot instead of the final table. To be fair, some have a clue – seek alternatives and take action instead of pissing in the wind. Still, discussion revolves around quick fixes.

    Budding surgeons don’t pass their boards by suggesting band-aids for severed femoral arteries, and it seems much of the tech blogosphere forgot their hemostats on this trip to the operating room.

    Keeping your head when all about you…

    Trout fishing isn’t usually about competition, but when you’re hot, you’re hot. This last Sunday, after briefly describing my morning to another fisherman – how I was hooking up on #16 Princes and #18 caddis pupae every other cast while others looked on in dismay – they noted:

    “It’s a great feeling catching fish while others can only watch. Everyone on the river starts fiddling with their gear, switching flies over and over. Then, they just leave.”

    Yes, it’s a great feeling.

    Keeping your head, knowing it never lasts, is always the hard part.

    Throwing dries to fish, while they try staying out of reach (not happening)