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Casting Carolinas Gives Cancer Survivors Hope

Cancer.

It’s everywhere. And it affects everyone.

In 2018, 1.7 million Americans will contract some form of cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 600,000 will die from it.

“Cancer is evil,” TFO advisor Wanda Taylor said. “We detest it.”

Science can help prevent cancer. Compassion can help those who are fortunate enough to survive it.

It’s the main reason Taylor helped start Casting Carolinas, an organization in North and South Carolina that helps women’s cancer survivors cope. Taylor and other anglers gathered in the Western North Carolina Mountains last weekend to host the Tie-One-On Challenge, a fly-fishing team tournament and CC fund-raiser. Also on hand at the Cherokee, N.C. affair was Starr Nolan, CC’s executive director, who was assisted by a slew of volunteers, who braved high water and a wave of cold rain to pitch in during the two-day event.

“My father died from lung cancer,” Taylor said. “Starr had a close friend die from cancer. We wanted a way to fight back. This is our way to fight back. When you find out you have cancer, your world stops. We wanted a way to stop that. That’s basically it. It’s not just one cancer. We have 17 different kinds on our retreats. When it all comes together, it’s like a posse. Everyone says, ‘thanks for giving your time. You’re so patient.’ They have no idea how much it helps us. It helps me to know my dad didn’t die in vain. There are people out there surviving. Each year we have earlier detection. That’s key for the healing of cancer.”

Nolan and Taylor were both involved in Casting for Recovery, a non profit that provides fly-fishing therapy for breast cancer survivors, but decided several years ago to start Casting Carolinas, which is independent of any national oversight and welcomes women who have faced all forms of cancer.

“We wanted every dime donated, every dollar, every hundred-thousand dollars donated to stay in state,” Taylor said.

The goal of Casting Carolinas is to provide education and support for women who have survived cancer. Part of the weekend retreats is fly fishing. Taylor, a member of Southern Appalachians Fly Fishing Hall of Fame, has served as one of the instructors.

“You can’t think about anything else when you’re fly fishing,” Taylor said. “When you’re casting toward fish, your world is focused on that. You can’t think about chemo. You can’t think about dying or radiation. The brain needs a vacation, a huge vacation. They’re so giddy, whether they hook a fish or not, just from being in the water, they’re so refreshed. When they come in, they’re so beaten down. When they leave, they’re so refreshed. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.”

Nolan stressed that CC’s mission is much more than fly fishing, but nevertheless its impact is undeniable, particularly when it comes to creating confidence.

“They get to the end of the retreat and it’s like, ‘Wow. Success,’ which is a big rush,” Nolan said. “Part of healing from anything is having successful experiences, maybe doing something that you never thought you could do.”

Taylor has assisted with cancer-survival retreats since the early 2000s. She sees no reason to curb her commitment.

“For me, it’s a passion I have bringing other people into the sport of fly fishing,” she said. “I love fly fishing. I dream of fly fishing. I just think I get a joy of bringing new people into the sport. What we teach our staff is, this is never about you. It’s always about someone else. In any volunteer organization, that’s the bottom line. If you’re doing it for any other reason, for fame, for notoriety, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.”

And CC would not have thrived without Taylor’s expertise and enthusiasm.

“Her heart is in it,” Nolan said. “That’s what moves non-profit organizations along is having people who are so devoted in terms of understanding the vision from a heart place. That’s been Wanda all along. She’s always been there. She’s always been there and supportive, available and part of the vision. We could not replace her.”

Every non profit needs resources, and TFO, through Taylor, has donated rods and reels for retreat participants to use. Taylor and other TFO advisors developed several series of rods as a tribute to various charitable organizations, including Casting for Recovery, Project Healing Waters and Reel Recovery.

“People have such big hearts,” Taylor said. “(TFO) loves creating new anglers, whether they’re missing their arm or leg or part of a breast. If they have a passion for it, (TFO) will find a way to help.”

Thoughts on Casting Carolinas or other fly-fishing related charities? Feel free to chime in on one of TFO’s social media pages.

A Tip of the Hat to Anglers and Their Mothers

When the issue of women in fishing is brought up, the name Joan Wulff usually springs to mind. After all, she’s one of the premier fly casters and anglers — male or female — in the world, but here’s the thing that many of us gloss over when pondering women in fishing.

Every angler — male or female – has a mother who had a hand in raising them. So with Mother’s Day less than a week away, we decided to dedicate a blog post to mom. I asked a handful of TFO staffers and advisors to contribute a memory or two of mother.

Any memories of mom you’d like to share, please let us know. Enjoy.


Rick Pope, TFO Chairman
:

“My mother, Bettie, turns 86 on May 26. (She) is still active on the family ranch in the Texas Hill Country northwest of Austin. The first (main) photo is of her mother, Joyce and my daughter, Callan. Mom is on the right. The second (below) is of her with a rattler she shot a couple of weeks ago.  She hates rattle snakes and pigs – shoots both with a vengeance. She is the best mother in the world and that fact has been confirmed by the many members of our TFO family who have met her.”

Not a good day to be a Rattler in Texas. Photo courtesy of Rick Pope


Captain Jake Jordan, TFO Advisor 

“This picture (below) is of my mother, Ann Jordan, and I at her 100th birthday party. She was healthy until late in 2012 and passed away at 102. Mom lived with me for the last six years of her life, which were the best six years of my life. Mom ran a marina in Somers Point, N.J. with my dad from 1950 until 1975 when they sold the marina and retired. She was the sweetest, kindest person that I ever knew, I miss her terribly, and think of her every day, I was truly blessed to have her as my Mother. Happy Mother’s Day, I love you.”

Jake Jordan and his mom celebrate. Photo courtesy of Jake Jordan


Wanda Taylor
,
 TFO Advisor

My mom has always been my inspiration. She put herself through school while raising me and my sis. Rode her own Harley. Received her pilot’s license at (age) 50. Won senior women marathons in three countries. Is a great golfer and fly angler. Most of all she is an elegant woman of faith, love and courage. She is the matriarch of Hairville. When I grow up, I aspire to be her. Gigi Hair Reyes, my mother of the year!”

Wanda and her mom on the flats. Photo courtesy of Wanda Taylor


Collins Illich, Vice President/Bass Category Manager of TFO

“This is an epic Mother’s Day fishing story. In 1994, I was a freshman in high school and my parents had recognized that I was really, really serious about this fishing stuff. I did a bunch of work around the house, and in exchange my mom was going to buy me my first real fly rod, an Orvis 5-weight two-piece. She’s picking me up from school. I’ve always been a terrible student. I love to read. I’m intellectually curious, but I’m a (lousy) student. I was bored in class. My bother is a PHD, JD. My sister’s a judge. I’m the black sheep. My mom being a teacher, (my parents) did a lot of things to really encourage my education. Not succeeding is all my fault, but she’s picking me up from school and taking me to the Orvis store to pick up a fly rod I’ve been casting for like three, four weeks. I had been trying to decide between three or four of them. It’s all predicated on my finishing a reading-comprehension test. Once I get finished with that test, I get to go. The test, believe it or not, only took about three minutes. I called my mom. I got to go. I got to buy my first fly rod. And I got like a 35 on the test. (Laughing), it was the worst plan ever to get me to take school seriously. I spent zero time on the test. I think it’s an awesome story. The results of the test came post-rod purchase. I called her and reminded her about the story (the other day). As a sweet retired school teacher would, she asked if I still had the rod. No, I gave that rod away a few years ago. Thank you for encouraging what was really important to me, mom.”

Collins with his mom, the school teacher. Photo courtesy of Collins Illich

It’s Show Time: A Guide to the 2018 Fishing Shows

It’s winter, too cold to fish, but it’s not too cold to do the next best thing — and that’s talk about fishing.

And what better way to do that than at a fishing show. The 2018 winter show circuit has already started, and Temple Fork Outfitters is scheduled to be on hand at nearly two dozen events with an array of staff, advisors and ambassadors. You can check out the Drift Rod with Jason Randall, get casting tips from Wanda Taylor and Sandi Roberts, talk bass fishing with Cliff Pace, chat about the Axiom II with Blane Chocklett or rub elbows with Chris Thompson, the Virginia Fly Fisherman of the Year.

TFO promises to have something for just about everyone.

“Fly Fishing shows have always been core to TFO’s special connection with anglers,” TFO President Frank-Paul King said. “Whether one of our Ambassadors working with a new angler or Lefty teaching a group class, we all benefit from the relationships fostered at these wonderfully unique gatherings.”

Below is a list of shows that TFO is set to attend in 2018, from late January until July. Please stop by and say hello.

International Sportsman’s Expo, Sacramento, Jan. 18-21

The Fly Fishing Show, Marlborough Mass., Jan. 19-21

Heartland Fly Fishing Festival, Lebanon, Ind. Jan. 20-21

The Fly Fishing Show, Somerset/Edison, N.J., Jan. 26-28

Carolina Outdoor Expo, Greenville, N.C., Jan. 26-28

Kentuckiana Fly Fishing Show, Shepherdsville, Ky., Jan. 27

The Fly Fishing Show, Atlanta, Feb. 2-3

Greater Cincinnati Fly Fishing Show, Loveland, Ohio, Feb. 3

Troutfest/GRTU, New Braunfels, Texas, Feb. 16-18

Surf Day/Jersey Shore Surfcasters, Lincroft, N.J., Feb. 18

The Fly Fishing Show, Pleasanton, Calif., Feb. 23-25

The Fly Fishing Show, Lancaster, Pa., March 3-4

Fred Hall Show, Long Beach, Calif., March 7-11

Northwest Fly Tyer and Fly Fishing Expo, Albany, Oregon, March 9-10

New England Saltwater Fishing Show, Coventry, R.I., March 9-11

Midwest Fly Fishing Expo, Warren, Mich., March 10-11

Texas Fly Fishing and Brew Festival, Plano, Texas, March 10-11

Saltwater Fishing Expo, Somerset, N.J., March 17-18

Northwest Sportshow, Minneapolis, Minn., March 22-25

Spey O’Rama, San Francisco, April 19-21

TFO Day, Oakland (Calif.) Casting Club, June 1

Skeeter Boat Owner’s Tournament, Lake Fork, Texas, June 8

Spey Nation, Pulaski, N.Y., June 23-24

European Tackle Trade Association Show, Amsterdam, Netherlands, June 28-30

ICAST, Orlando, Fla., July 12-14

Big Fish No Big Deal for Wanda Taylor

After months of plotting and planning, patience and persistence paid off for Wanda Taylor. The South’s First Lady of fly fishing caught two blue marlin on fly.

Not just two blue marlin. Make that two world-record caliber blue marlin.

The first fish checked in at approximately 150 pounds. The second? A mere 280.

Both catches easily surpassed the International Game Fish Association women’s world record for blue marlin on fly. The second marlin more than tripled the current 20-pound tippet mark.

Not bad for a first-time student at Jake Jordan’s Costa Rica Blue Marlin Fly Fishing School.

“I want to do it again,” Taylor said during a phone interview from her North Georgia home last week. “I’m truly in love with bluewater fishing. It’s really hard to catch a trout now. Really, I love to trout fish. I love any kind of fishing. That was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.”

Neither of the two fish Taylor landed counted as an official world record. IGFA guidelines require strict documentation before a catch qualifies as a world record. In many big-game fishing situations where a world-record is at stake the fish is killed. Killing blue marlin is illegal in Costa Rica.

Regardless, Jordan practices catch-and-release, as does Taylor.

“I don’t care about having my name in a book,” she said. “We know we did it.”

Actually, this trip was supposed to happen last summer, but was delayed when fishing conditions unexpectedly declined at the last minute, a development that left Taylor unfulfilled, but not undeterred.

“It’s like a fighter,” Taylor said. “You have to get ready. I had to get my head right. It just took a while (to get over the disappointment), then I had to. It took me a few days, but I did it.”

The yearlong delay, no doubt, sharpened Taylor’s resolve. She attributed much of her success to teamwork. Jordan, a fellow TFO national advisory staffer, coached her; the captain handled the boat; and the mates manned the teasers and handled the big fish.

All were aboard the Dragin Fly for a four-day, three-night trip out of the Los Suenos resort in early August.

“It’s like a dance,” Taylor said. “They all work so well together. If someone screws up, it’s over.”

Taylor said she’s caught sailfish before, but that species does not compare to the breathtaking power of a blue marlin. What about tarpon on fly?

“There’s no comparison,” said Taylor, a fly fishing and casting instructor, who was the first woman inducted into the Southern Appalachian Fly Fishing Hall of Fame. “You can’t stop a marlin. You can fight a tarpon. But a marlin is totally different. They have no idea they’re hooked. If you fight them, they break off. It’s like fighting a train. You can’t stop a train.”

Jordan teaches his students to fight big fish by pointing their rod at their quarry and using the drag to apply pressure. There’s no bend in the rod, which runs contrary to the “down-and-dirty” approach many tarpon fishermen use.

Jordan’s method may not be conventional, but it works — if you have the skill to execute under pressure and not revert to muscle memory. Done right, the fish should fatigue well before the angler does.

“It’s not one of those things you just go out and do,” Taylor said. “If you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s over. The way that Jake teaches it, it’s so different from the way anyone else teaches it in the world. Everything that you know about fighting fish, you can throw it down the toilet when you fish with him. He’s got it figured out how it hurts the fish more, but not the angler. It’s a very, very cool procedure.”

The first fight lasted about 30 minutes. The second took less than 25. She used a TFO Bluewater Heavy Duty rod with a Mako reel. Her fly? An 8/0 pink and white Cam Siglar.

“That (second) fish jumped a lot,” Taylor said. “It was almost to the boat and jumped. A photographer’s dream. I told myself not to rush it. I tried to slow everything down.”

In marlin fishing, timing is everything. Once you get the fish near the boat, you don’t have long to get your quarry under control for the release. Those who dawdle can be in for an extended battle if the fish regains its strength.

And if you’re in open water, do not, under any circumstances, decide to slug it out. Taylor’s third fish, estimated at well over 300 pounds, imposed its will well away from the boat, a 43-foot Maverick.

“I got the big head,” Taylor said. “I thought I could stop the fish. It started jumping and darting. It was a mile away. I couldn’t believe it was my fish. I didn’t take my hand off the reel and it popped. Angler error. I don’t know, I blacked. Just watching that monster jump like that, it was just amazing. Such a magnificent fish. I was in the moment. I didn’t bow.”

Nevertheless Jordan, who has caught 56 blue marlin on fly, offered a tip of the cap to Taylor’s performance.

“She is a really good caster and has a lot of really good fishing skills,” Jordan said. “She’s a really good fisherman. Wanda, being the great athlete and angler she is, she was able to listen to instruction and do what she was told. She caught the first marlin she hooked, a 150-pounder. That alone is pretty incredible.”