Popular Oil Creek fishing tourney returns next month

Entering its third year, the Oil Creek Classic fishing tournament will bring some of the sport's most notable names to the region from May 6-8. (Contributed photo)

The Oil Creek Classic fishing tournament has turned into quite the catch.fish2

Entering its third year, the fly fishing competition will bring some of the sport’s most notable names to the region from May 6-8.

“This is our biggest year yet,” said event chairman Al Rickerson, who is running the tournament along with the Titusville Rotary Club.

Pat Weiss, a member of the U.S. world fly fishing team, John Dietz, a team gold medalist for the U.S. youth team, and members of the Canadian world fly fishing team are just a handful of the 40 anglers who will be hitting the local waters next month.

Nick Bell of Franklin will also take part in the festivities after winning the pro division in last year’s tournament.

Even though Bell experienced success in the second installment of the Oil Creek Classic, he did not feel like there was much competition to go up against. As a result, Bell used his position as personal relations manager with TroutLegend, a nonprofit fly fishing team associated with the United States Fly Fishing League, to increase the event’s exposure.

“I was able to post it up and obviously the anglers took a liking to it,” Bell said Monday. “With me helping host it, settling all the beats and working with all the anglers in the rotary club, we are going to make this pretty awesome,” he said.

In order to be eligible to compete, fishermen need to have a one-day or one-year league pass through Trout Legend and must pay a $50 entry fee.

Bell said there are still a handful of slots left to be filled, but time is running out. Anyone interested can sign up by visiting http://www.troutlegend.com/forum and selecting Oil Creek Classic under the sanctioned competitions tab.

Cash prizes will be given to the top performers at the end of the tournament and all proceeds will go to the Titusville Middle School to help students pay for a trip to Chincoteague Bay Field Station on Wallops Island in Virginia.

Oil Region Alliance president John Phillips believes the success of the Oil Creek Classic is just one example of the region taking advantage of its God-given assets.

“There are several events in outdoor recreation that have really come into their own, this being one of them,” Phillips said. “It’s the validation of what we have already come to realize – our area is extremely special. It just does nothing but benefit us economically and showcase the asset-based economic development approach we have here,” he said.

Organizers for the event are very optimistic that the competition will continue to grow in the future.

Progress has already been made in that regard as the TroutLegend’s board of directors have already given the OK to add the Oil Creek Classic as part of the National Cup Race next year.

“We’ve talked about it and the guys are very interested in it,” Bell said. “It’s something I can certainly say has never happened to the area,” he said.

During the National Cup Race event next year, fishing will take place at two locations – Oil Creek and Justus Lake.

“Justus Lake is actually classified as a world venue that can be very comparable to some of the lakes we fish in Europe based on the amount of fish, bug life and some other technicalities,” Bell said.

Bell thinks the added attention to the area will only help grow the event’s reach in years to come.

“It’s just going to get better,” Bell said.