ORCA Nationals in the Smokey Mountains just concluded last weekend, and while I was only able to partake in two days of festivities, it created some lasting memories.
Let's begin by talking about the Smokey Mountains. If you've never had the pleasure of seeing the Smokeys, you absolutely have a treat in store for you. It is amazing.
The rooms were unbelievable. The Lodge was a world class resort, as you can see from this photo, and the staff very helpful.
I arrived Friday morning in time for the casting competition. A number of competitors tested their skills in both vintage bait casting and spin casting skill competitions.
Lest we forget the many volunteers it takes to run the show, here's Dave Erickson manning the registration desk as Roger Schulz slacks off somewhere.
Friday afternoon was spent listening (and giving) presentations. Teaching and learning are the lifeblood of the club, and there were some exceptional presentations. Master of Ceremonies Craig Barber oversaw events and kept everyone on time.
We were blessed to hear Curry Gayle speak about his family's legacy. We were further blessed that his father Joe Gayle was in attendance. Joe, as we found out, was a former Marine in World War II who was shot in the neck on the third day of the Battle of Peleliu. That would be the same Peleliu that served as the basis for the recent mini-series The Pacific, based on the book by E.B. Sledge entitled With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa. Joe was friends with E.B. Sledge and even travelled to Peleliu for a reunion with him. It was a great honor to meet him, talk a bit, and shake his hand. Curry gave an awesome presentation.
Bob Miller and myself followed with a talk on Pflueger trade reels. Bob was his incomparable self, and I just tried to keep my feet after following him. This was followed by Richard Lodge's excellent talk on Skeleton fly reels, Dick Braun's fine presentation on Johnson Demo Reels, Roger Schulz on cataloguing your collection, and Craig Barber on how to research a fishing reel. All superb talks.
The most interesting aspect of the talks is that they place about a half mile downhill. Straight downhill. We needed a Swiss army vehicle (no joke) just to get there and back. Some, however, were more intrepid:
Saturday we awoke early to set up for the show itself. It was an outdoor venue but fortunately we had terrific weather, and there were a ton of goodies to see.
Inside the welcome area were the displays. As always there were some amazing ones
But ORCA Nationals isn't so much about the reels--although there is always a lot of them around. It's more about the people. And it was great to talk to so many old friends and make a few new ones.
ORCA Nationals is an intimate gathering and a fun time. You will get to see reels you'll never see anywhere else (just go see Kerry Chatham or Andy Foster) and meet some of the nicest people in the world. It was a blast.
-- Dr. Todd