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Greg Smith Sweeps 2011 Tarpon Trilogy in Mirage 17 HPX
Tournament Tails / July 1, 2011
Rich in Keys sightfishing history, the 5 day 48th Annual Gold Cup Tarpon Fly tournament sported a full field of 25 angler/guide teams. This Rolls Royce of Keys competitions has featured flyfishing’s greatest names. Engraved into the perpetual Cup are the names: Ted Williams, Jimmy Albright, Billy Pate, Cecil Keith, Hank Brown and Al Pfleuger. Because of this impressive roster, the Gold Cup has always been considered THE most prestigious fly tournament.
Greg Smith from Laguna Vista, Texas took the Cup to claim a three tournament sweep and thus a 2011 domination of the tarpon flyfishing world. When David Dalu and Capt. Scott Collins won the Big Three (the Golden Fly, the releases only Hawley and Gold Cup) in 2008, anglers and guides did not believe the feat would ever be duplicated.
Greg “Smitty” Smith not only proved them all wrong, but he did it with an added flair, displaying his mastery of the long wand with 3 different guides, Rob Fordyce in the Golden Fly (5 weights and 7 releases), Scott Collins in the Hawley (11 releases) and Bill Hagen in the Gold Cup (5 weights and 5 releases) all the while in a 17 Mirage HPX with a speedy 115 Yamaha 2 Stroke.
The point systems for the Golden Fly and Gold Cup score a combination of weight fish and releases. Any fish under 70 pounds is considered a release and worth 200 points. A tarpon over 70 is a weight and worth 10 points per pound. You cannot win with releases only. You must have weight points. Release points are freed from the “bank” and can match but never exceed weight points. Weight fish were gaffed and brought back to the dock in the early days. Now, they are photographed, lengthed, girthed and then released. You are allowed a maximum count of 5 weights for the week.
Second Place finishers Ned Johnson and Capt. Doug Kilpatrick, were only one good weight fish behind Smitty’s score of 5,605 points with 11 releases and 3 weights to construct 4,706 points. Ned and Doug also took the Most Releases trophy. I watched Mike Rioles catch one release and whip 4 weights to take Third Place, and win Best Newcomer in his very first Gold Cup. Mike also wore down a 131 pounder to take the Largest Tarpon trophy and even caught the second largest fish at 116 pounds while accumulating 4,331 points.
Click on photos below to enlarge.