230 Anglers Compete in 5th Annual Cheeky Schoolie Tournament; Team Deceiver Crowned Champion
May 27th, 2016
Cape Cod, MA – On May 21st, 230 anglers representing 19 different states gathered on Cape Cod, Massachusetts to participate in the 2016 Cheeky Schoolie Tournament. Now in its 5th year, the annual Cheeky Schoolie Tournament has grown into the largest saltwater fly fishing tournament in the country (we think?), and perhaps the largest fly fishing tournament in the world. The unique, grassroots style event provides the opportunity for anglers of all skill levels to cast flies at early season striped bass and vie for thousands of dollars in fly fishing prizes.
Check out the recap video of the 2016 Cheeky Schoolie Tournament.
Even with the event’s growth over recent years, the Cheeky Schoolie Tournament remains a low barrier to entry, catch-and-release style event designed to encourage the interest and growth of saltwater fly fishing. The format is simple: the team that catches and releases the 4 largest striped bass wins. In addition to podium prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd, this year’s tournament included other grand prize categories such as smallest striped bass, most miles driven, and a team skunk award – a pair of spinning reels awarded to a team that turned in a zero fish scorecard. Participants included the likes of some of the nation’s top guides, as well as anglers hoping to catch their first striped bass on the fly.
Over 150 participants gathered for the Friday night Costa Kick Off Party at Swan River Restaurant
In typical Cheeky fashion, the 2016 Schoolie Tournament kicked off on Friday night with the Costa Kick Off Party, hosted by Costa Del Mar and Cheeky Fishing. Many teams came out to talk strategy, swap stories and share a beer before retiring early to get some rest … but not before one lucky participant was randomly selected to win a $1,500 fly fishing outfit that featured a pair of Costa Sunglasses, a Thomas & Thomas Solar rod, and a Cheeky Boost 400 Reel lined with Cortland Fly Line. After a 6:00am captain’s meeting the following morning, teams flooded out of the parking lot to fishing spots all over the Cape.
Cheeky CEO Ted Upton addresses the participants from the top of a truck during the Saturday morning Captain's Meeting.
The fishing was hot from the get-go, as teams found a healthy abundance of stripers of all sizes at nearly every spot. When the dust settled, Team Deceiver – comprised of John and Ben Bianco, stood alone at the top. Their four largest striped bass totaled 107.5” inches, good for 1st place and the second highest total in Schoolie Tournament history. To cap off their epic day, the father/son duo took home $500 cash, two Cheeky Mojo 425 Fly Reels, two pairs of Costa Sunglasses, two Cortland Fly Lines, two Under Armor Performance Shirts and two Wingo Striped Bass Belts.
Team Deceiver took home over $1,500 worth of fly fishing gear for their 1st place finish
Not far behind were Matt Reinemo and Bob Ruley of Team Compass. The reigning 2015 champions turned in another masterful Schoolie Tournament performance, landing four stripers tallying an impressive 100.5”. Team Compass went home with $250 cash, two Cheeky Boost 400 Fly Reels, two pairs of Costa Sunglasses, two Under Armor Performance Shirts and two Wingo Striped Bass Belts.
Team Compass claimed 2nd place with 100.5"
Rounding out the podium was Team Why Knot Fishing in the third spot. Matt Zimmermann and Ryan Nee also tallied 100.5” on the day, but due to the Schoolie Tournament tiebreaker (largest fish of the day), fell to the third position. Zimmermann and Nee took home $150 cash, two Cheeky Tyro 375 Fly Reels, two pairs of Costa Sunglasses, two Under Armor Performance Shirts and two Wingo Striped Bass Belts. This year marked the first year that all three top teams broke the century mark in total inches.
Team Why Knot Fishing capped off the podium with a 3rd place finish
In total, anglers caught over 3,500 inches of striped bass during the course of the single-day event. At the awards ceremony, talk of 30 to 50 fish days proved commonplace, and several teams landed stripers measuring out over 30”. While the prizes and scores were impressive, for many participants, the tournament continues to be about more than winning and losing. Above all, the Cheeky Schoolie Tournament is an opportunity for anglers of all skill levels to come together, share a few laughs, and celebrate the wonderful people, scenery and fishery that the Northeast has to offer.
The Schoolie Tourney remains a fun, low barrier to entry tournament
Cheeky would like to thank all of the tournament’s participants, sponsors and supporters who helped make the 2016 event such a success. We look forward to seeing you in 2017!
Anglers were met with blue skies and hungry fish all along the shores of Cape Cod
Peter Vandergrift of Costa Del Mar addresses the crowd at the Friday night Costa Kick Off Party
Not quite a schoolie. This 35" striper was the largest of the day
Swan River Restaurant proved to be the perfect location for new tournament headquarters
One of Why Knot Fishing's larger stripers of the day
The prize table was loaded with over $5,000 worth of fly fishing gear
A healthy schoolie is released
Photo credits: Ben Carmichael, Alex Feuti, Alicia Rossman, Why Knot Fishing, Zachery Copp
Thank you to all of our 2016 Sponsors