Every May for the past nine years, Cheeky Fishing has hosted a Striped Bass tournament to celebrate the arrival of Striped Bass on Cape Cod. This year, in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, Cheeky postponed the spring tournament to September. I had a chance to talk with Cheeky associate business manager Zach Clinchy about the recent news.
Flylords: For those who don’t know, what happened?
Zach: For the past 9 years, we have hosted the world’s largest fly-fishing tournament; the Cheeky Schoolie Tournament. The Schoolie Tournament is a catch-and-release only, grassroots style event designed to raise awareness of striped bass conservation efforts. Traditionally, we have hosted this tournament on Cape Cod in May to kick off the saltwater fly fishing season in New England. With the current COVID-19 crisis, we made the decision to postpone the Schoolie Tournament from May 16th to September 19th. There’s a lot at stake right now and many folks are dealing with incredibly difficult times. Right now, that should be our focus within the fishing community and our communities at large. We need to get through this together and postponing the event was the right thing to do.
Flylords: What else is Cheeky doing in response to the Coronavirus pandemic?
Zach: Although we are continuing to ship orders to customers, we have closed the rest of our offices completely. Our staff is currently working from home as a precaution to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
With all of the travel restrictions, general safety concerns, and less recreational spending, we have joined the #SaveTheSeason initiative led by Postfly. Save The Season is a donation fund that goes 100% to help fishing guides in these extremely difficult times. We are very grateful to have met so many incredible people in the guiding industry throughout the years. Cheeky kicked off its entire business back in 2010 by taking a road trip from Maine to Florida and back, meeting with guides and other industry members along the way to show them our first prototypes. Guides have taught us all invaluable lessons, shown us their waters, but best of all, shared their hospitality and friendship with us time after time. The guides in the industry are suffering and we want to do our part to support them during these difficult times.
In addition to helping guides, we’re also encouraging people to shop with their local retailers. The fly fishing community has always rallied during hardship. If you can, we encourage you to make some purchases from your local fly shop. Many shops are offering curbside pick-up, phone orders, or shipping options. It’s a great time to pick up gear for the spring, buy a gift card for your fishing buddy, or double-down on fly tying supplies for time spent at home.
Flylords: Are there any new changes to the tournament that we can look forward to?
Zach: This will be the first time we’ve hosted in the fall, which presents some exciting opportunities. There will definitely be some fun and unique additions to the tournament. As you may know, there will be different species of fish in the mix during the fall run that aren’t here in early spring. Who knows, you may even see an Albie component to the tournament this year. We will also keep participants engaged all summer long. Right now, in conjunction with the sponsors, we’re working on a badass e-raffle to be held on the original event date of May 16, and hopefully other prizes and mini-competitions throughout the summer. Although we are disappointed to postpone the Schoolie Tournament, the fall run will bring lots of excitement to the event.
In these uncertain times, we are excited to have something on the calendar to look forward to in the fall, and we hope that the participants share this sentiment. If you have interest in signing up for the Schoolie Tournament on September 19th, you can do so by clicking on the following link: https://cheekyfishing.com/pages/schoolie-tournament