Super fish at Superfly

Big trout nets fouth tournament title for couple

Photo courtesy of Briant Wiles Mindy Sturm of Crested Butte holds the 22-inch rainbow trout she caught during the 2016 Gunnison Superfly contest earlier this fall. Sturm’s fish was the biggest of the contest and won the competition’s Top Rod award.

Early November and it might as well be mid-October if you’re trying to figure out the weather patterns prior to a day outdoors.

Anglers are looking askance at suggestions of putting aside their graphite rods and instead go shuffling through the brush and dried grasses of the high country in pursuit of elk.

Why bother with blazing your way through the mountains when the days still are conducive to standing in a stream, picking though fly boxes, searching for something to match the midge and late-season caddis hatches?

For some anglers, the only outward sign summer was ending was the Gunnison Angling Society’s annual Superfly contest held earlier this autumn out of the Almont Resort north of Gunnison.

This year’s competition, the 40th annual and the first in recent memories the local chapter of Trout Unlimited failed to land a team in the contest, featured eight two-person teams competing to catch the most total inches of fish and the accompanying year’s bragging rights.

Unsurprising to most watchers, the team of Mindy Sturm of Crested Butte and Gene Hart of Gunnison, fishing as “Mysis Pimps,” took top prize in the one-day contest with 138 total inches of trout, including Mindy’s heavy-bodied 22-inch rainbow trout, the biggest trout of the day.

This was Sturm and Hart’s fourth Superfly title and, coming on the tail of their 2015 Superfly win, made them the first back-to back Superfly titlists. (Hey, Cubs, you paying attention to this?)

It’s a simple concept. Each team draws a stretch of water (this year every stretch was private water) for the morning beat and another stretch in the afternoon.

Each angler is limited to two flies and if you lose them, you’re out of the competition.

A monitor is assigned to each team to measure fish and to make sure fish are handled and released properly.

Not all the private water is equal. Some of it’s totally wild and without man-made habitat improvements.

Other reaches serving a well-heeled clientele may have seen extensive habitat work, frequent trout stocking and even occasional fish feeding.

An observer noticed that while this concept should impel the anglers to fish as a team, surprisingly few do. And the result of this free-for-all is that even talented anglers often end with far fewer inches of trout than they should catch.

Not the Mysis Pimps.

“You have to learn to leave your ego on the bank,” said Hart during a recent day on the Gunnison. “Our thought is we both don’t have to be fishing at the same time.”

With one angler fishing, the other can be spotting big fish or simply noticing “subtle things” missed by a concentrating angler.

“We’ve been working on it for a long time,” Mindy said. “We do it even when we fish for fun, watching each other and learning about how fish react, things you won’t see (standing) in the water.”

That communication paid dividends during the Superfly when Sturm was fishing Tomichi Creek. While playing an 8-inch trout, she was stunned when “something huge” emerged from beneath a cutbank and tried to snatch the smaller trout, knocking it from Sturm’s hook.

In the excitement and shock Sturm backed out of the water but Hart, who was standing nearby, stopped her.

“I told her to get back in there,” Hart said, and so she did.

Sturm swung one of Hart’s soft-hackled flies through the pool and minutes later hoisted the 22-inch rainbow. With it, she became the first Superfly angler to have the biggest fish (Top Rod award) and be on the winning team, which says something about the individual nature most anglers adopt.

Sturm finished with 72.75 inches of fish while Hart tallied 64.5 inches of fish to the team total.

Second place was Riffle & Rise, John Bocchino (Crested Butte) and Perri Gore (Almont), with 124.5 inches of trout.


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