Tag: Teva Mountain Games

My training regimen for the Teva Mountain Games Costa 2 Fly Extreme

I’ve been practicing so much for the Teva Mountain Games Costa 2 Fly Extreme fly fishing competition coming up in Vail this weekend that I literally exemplify the extreme in the name. It’s been tough, really tough – so arduous that I’ve been skipping sleep and have forgotten how many practice sessions I’ve actually undertaken.

It could just be that I’m old, and experiencing intermediate-term memory loss.

Or it could be that my refrigerator is improperly stocked with the nutrients vital to a strong performance…

Ok…I’m running out of excuses.

The fact is I haven’t practiced a lick, and don’t plan on it either. Which means you shouldn’t have any excuses not to make a pledge to Casting for Recovery. Remember, my score determines whether you laugh or cry.

Just hope you get the humor.

MG signing off (to crack open another case of “energy drink”)

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.

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.

Steering fly fishing in the wrong direction

teasdale-sticks-blue-riverI knew that all my hard work trying to get the Primal Fly crew to spend more time trout fishing would pay off. While firmly ensconced hoodlum Tom Teasdale only caught one trout last week, he did get to spend a lot of time rowing. And he’s back on the Blue today. No doubt sold.

Personally, I’m pretty glad that this weekend’s Teva Mountain Games fly fishing competition doesn’t include a rowing component – although I’d probably stand an even better chance of embarrassing myself, it’s very difficult to keep tequila in shot glasses while the boat bobs downstream oar-less. While I’ve never actually been responsible for a damaged boat, I have broken a few oars – I can live with that, but who can live with spilled tequila?

SIDE NOTE FOR THE GAMES: As of this morning the Eagle River was running 2,330 cfs and the Colorado below Kremmling (the suspected alternate to the Eagle for the Games) was at 3,370 cfs. Some might call those flows less than optimal conditions for competition, with some being anyone besides a world class kayaker. The Blue River below Green Mountain, at 952 cfs, is a little more reasonable for fly fishing, but even that is subject to sudden change. The tailwater was at 750 cfs just last night. Stay tuned.

If you can’t win a fly fishing competition, you might as well look good trying

Plenty of people know I’ve entered the Teva Mountain Games Costa Del Mar 2 Fly X-treme fly fishing competition. Only one person knows I don’t stand a chance of making it past the first round. This is a good thing. From now until the games commence I can continue photoshopping fly gear and fish into various pictures of myself, slap those onto background layers depicting some idyllic nature setting, and folks will keep on thinking I can actually use a fly rod for something other than just picking my nose. And…they’ll send me stuff I can use at the Games. Cool!


John d′Arbeloff sent me a pair of his Extreme Adventure Pants and a Hydro-T. They were kindly offered, but I was a little skeptical at the start. RailRiders clothing is billed as ‘The Toughest Clothes On The Planet’, which usually means the most uncomfortable on the planet as well. But nothing could be further from the truth.

The first thing I noticed about the pants was the design – simple, but with some well thought out features. Side pockets have zippers tucked neatly beneath a double layer of stitched material, and the ankles have both elastic and velcro strapping so you can fit them nicely over wading (or hiking) boots. The best parts are the belt loops, which are traditional narrow material on the sides but a solid loop across roughly eight inches of the rear and front (no worries about tearing belt loops off here), and the front of the pants from the knees down to the ankles where heavier material is used for durability (kind of like premium waders). They fit perfectly, and were very comfortable right out of the box.

As for the Hydro-T, the material is slightly heavier than what you’d find in a traditional (i.e. cheap) wicking shirt, but quite soft to the touch. This sucker ain’t no cheap – it’s the best I’ve ever seen. The XL also fit nice – loose but not so baggy that I’d have to tuck it in to control excess material. Additionally, RailRiders did something I really love, they went easy on the logos. I’m not a big fan of logos emblazoned on premium outerwear – I just spent good money on your product, and I’m not inclined to do free advertising for you too. RailRiders logos are discrete. Good job fellas!

As previously mentioned, I’ll be using those pants for wet wading this summer, and will report back after I try to bust them up. I’ve been told I can’t, so I’m going to give these garments extra hell. After taking a good close look at the way they are built, I know I have my work cut out for me.

flies-and-fins-logoFlies And Fins

Jeremy Cameron of Flies and Fins hinted that I looked like a real goof in that felt hat I’m always wearing on the river, and suggested something a little more stylish. That would be a kick ass comfy cotton cap, one I’ve been eyeing ever since I realized the Fishing Jones commemorative visor wasn’t going to protect my spit n’ polished dome. Yes, I look better in it than the crushable Bailey, and believe you me I can always use improvement in the fashion department. Of course, Jeremy didn’t realize when he made the hat offer that I’d been pilfering the music from his website and dubbing cowbell into it with GarageBand. He knows that now, but he’s not getting his hat back until I hit the front cover of Fly Fisherman (i.e. never).

Even if you’re inclined to tell nobody but your dog about that favorite fly fishing spot or that secret fly you used to kill ’em, Flies and Fins is still definitely worth logging into. The crew over there has plenty of stories of their own to tell, and much of the really good stuff is behind the free wall. And if you don’t fly fish at all you should still sign up – Jeremy and Company produce some great original music, and tracks are available for download within. My favorite is Rat Race, and I’m taking it upon myself to designate that tune as the official song of my pending decimation at the TMG.

primal-fly-logoPrimal Fly

These folks are my brothers and sisters. Big brothers and big sisters – you know, the kind that only let you hang out with them so they have someone to punch in the face whenever they feel the urge. I still have all my teeth, but I think that’s mostly because I complimented their cooking. Even though I don’t catch as many carp as that bunch, I can validly claim those rejects from the koi pond are just scared of me. See…I wade like a twelve-footed Shrek – the trout can’t hear me coming because the water’s too noisy in the riffles, and I when I hit the salt in a skiff the footwear is non-existent and the guides usually Super Glue my feet to the casting deck. Carp must think they’re two seconds away from getting run over by a freight train when I’m a half mile away. Still, it’s all good.

What did Primal Fly provide? A lousy t-shirt! Those cheap bastards also plastered their logo right across the chest, and the URL for their crummy website down the sleeves. Just because they provided mezzanine financing (read: loan sharking) for the rod and line I’ll be casting and comp-ed me a sweet reel (actually paid for in blood) doesn’t mean they are entitled to skimp on the outerwear. I must look good, because in the grand scheme that’s all that matters (at least for the photo ops). And lest they forget, their graphite and aluminum bribes were handed to me more than a month ago! Dirty rotten scoundrels…I’m going to hack their blog, again.

Love is in the air

Even the folks at the Teva Mountain Games sent me something – their official logo…


Thanks to everyone for their support!

MG signing off (to continue my Tequila-laden practice sessions)

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.