The Cheeky Schoolie Striper Tournament

by | May 20, 2023 | Cheeky Schoolie Striper Tournament

Cheeky-SchoolieThe Cheeky Schoolie Striper Tournament is the worlds largest fly fishing only competition (over 500 anglers) and its entire purpose is for striped bass conservation.  Cheeky Fishing raises significant funds for striped bass conservation groups including Stripers Forever, Keep Fish Wet and the American Saltwater Guides Association.  This tournament is held in Cape Cod every spring is adamantly catch and release.


Blane-ChocklettThis year is Cheeky’s 12th annual and my first time fishing in the fun event.  Friend and well known angler and designer of the Game Changer Fly, Blane Chocklett and I were invited by Yeti to be the anglers on Yeti’s two man team.


If you’ve followed this blog you know I fish the World Master’s Championships and occasionally the Jackson Hole One Fly.  I always give my all and try to win.  Today, although it would be nice to nail a few big fish and compete, we continued our Costa / Yeti photo shoot and fished the surf, estuaries and jetties with hopes of some good sized stripers.  With over 500 anglers and 250 teams, winning seemed unlikely so our number one goal was to have fun.  There were eight of us and we fished together all day.


Cape-CodThough the competition started at 5:30 AM, we made our first casts around 8:30.  We fished areas around West Dennis Beach.  Mostly the mouths of rivers.  The weather started out extremely nice but throughout the day it would deteriorate.  After an hour of fishing our first location we came up emptyhanded.


striped-bassThe wind had already picked up and was blowing hard in our face.  We were about to leave the spot when I noticed a couple kayak anglers arriving.  The tide was incoming and these guys started casting plugs towards the river mouth.  You could tell they knew what they were doing.


Game-ChangerNot knowing the area, it was a risky wade to get near the spot they were casting too.  But Blane and I carefully made our way out.  I was fishing a popper and Blane was hucking his famous Game Changer in white.


I couldn’t believe my eyes when a nice swirl occurred behind my popper on the first cast.  The same happened to Blane a cast later.  Suddenly we got serious.  It took another five minutes or so, but I stuck a striper.


Cheeky-SchoolieTo score, you measure and photograph your striper with Cheeky’s provided measuring tape.  You can measure as many fish as you want throughout the day, but you can only turn in four.  You add up the inches of all four and that’s your team score.  With the crashing waves and wind, it was a task to measure and photograph this fish.  But we got it done and the handsome fish was exactly 21”.


The spot Blane and I were standing was precarious.  We were waist deep.  There was current from the rushing tide.  The wind was howling and waves were crashing on us.  Occasionally over our head.  There was urgency to catch our four fish.


After I released the 21 incher, Blane hooked the next.  It was a better fish approximately 24”.  I had the tape out and my camera in hand.  Blane got the fish nearly to hand for lipping but a rogue wave hit and the fish was gone.  Dang it!  Not only did we lose our fish but Mother Nature was telling us to get our butts back to the beach while we could.


Estuary-fishingThe wade back wasn’t a problem and perhaps Blane and I could have kept fishing and got the job done.  But you can’t take chances with the ocean.  We moved to safer fishing areas up river in an estuary.  We were more protected from the wind here and a light rain started.  It was absolutely beautiful and we caught more stripers but they were all under sized.


Jetty-flyfishingFor our last hour of fishing we fished off a jetty at the mouth of the Herring River.  It would have been easy to call it a day without making another cast.  Now the wind was beyond howling and the waves were crashing hard.  The rain was falling and making a good cast was a chore.  But we tried and lo and behold, I managed a fish.  But it wasn’t a striper.  It was an American shad (Alosa sapidissima).



photo by Rick Griffiths

While the American shad isn’t a tough species to catch on fly, you still need to be where they live.  I rarely am and had never caught one.  Fighting the elements paid off and I added a new species to my list.  That’s two additions this month!


We called it a day a half hour before the tournament officially ended at 4.  We sent in our results.  At least we didn’t blank but we’re way down.  The winning teams four fish added up to 119 inches.  Best news of all is that this year’s competition raised $31K.  It’s all for a good cause – hopefully I’ll be back next year.


My flight home tomorrow isn’t until 6 PM.  Its by design.  Stay tuned, I’m fishing in the morning!


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


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I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!