Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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Matt Markey


Casting call: Peters catches all the gold at national tournament

These were typical brothers, telling their lone sister they would show her how to cast, how to bait the hook, or how to tie on a leader, but they would only show her once or twice, and then she was on her own and she’d have to do it herself.

They weren’t going to spend any more of their time on additional lessons because what they wanted to do was fish.

To the men of the Peters family: You had no idea what you were creating with your anglers’ form of tough love.

Pam Peters, the lone female in the group of four siblings, recently took part in the American Casting Association National Championships in Tennessee. There were seven disciplines in the competition, involving distance and accuracy with different types of tackle.

She took first place in all seven events, and was an easy choice as the overall women’s national champion.

There was a baker’s dozen of individual gold medals awarded at the national tournament, and Peters won all 13 of them.

“I thought I could do fairly well,” Peters said about her modest expectations before the competition, “but I certainly didn’t expect to win everything.”

But she did win everything. And the course to all of those titles and trophies and medallions was carved out within the family dynamic, where fishing was for fun, for relaxation, for recreation, but also for competition.

“We fished Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair and, on our summer vacations, we’d go fishing too, for bass, walleye — whatever was out there. And everyone in the family went,” Peters said.

“For me, at first, fishing was just something to do, but when me and my brothers would go out, it was always about who caught the biggest one, who caught the most, and who caught the first one. The competitive juice was always there.”

Peters was involved in sports while a student at Clay High School, competing in track, basketball, and volleyball. She attended the University of Toledo and earned a communications degree, and later added a Masters in criminal justice from the University of Cincinnati.

She did not get interested in competitive casting until after graduating from UT, and the sport started steadily reeling her in. So she got better equipment, and kept practicing and competing.

Since she had grown up a bait-caster, that was her strength and her specialty, so those were the events she initially participated in. But, at one competition, she was approached by a representative of Loomis, one of the top fly-rod manufacturers in the country.

“He said he had watched me in the casting competition, and he asked me why I wasn’t competing in the fly portion of the tournament. I told him ‘I don’t have a fly rod.’”

That evening, back at the hotel, the busboy showed up with room service, only it wasn’t a portabella burger or a grilled chicken Caesar salad. It was a new concept fly rod Loomis had developed that wasn’t on the market.

Peters took the Loomis rod home, and her father, William, gave her a few lessons in the backyard. Two months later, she took third place in the dry fly competition at the national tournament, using that Loomis fly rod.

In the 100th national tournament in San Francisco six years ago, she used that “test” rod in the fly accuracy event and shot a perfect score.

“The ‘test’ has been going pretty good,” said Peters, who still relies on that Loomis 7-weight, 9-foot graphite rod in competition. “It is a really well-balanced rod.” Loomis now sponsors her in international events.

Peters also uses Redington fly rods in some of the competitions, praising their “parabolic flex” and “natural movement.”

Regardless of the equipment, to see Peters throw a fly is much more like watching Act II of Swan Lake than watching an episode of “River Monsters.” It appears to be effortless precision, a fluid and almost imperceptible burst of gravity-taunting energy.

In hot, humid, heavy air at the recent nationals in Tennessee, she won the spin distance event with a cast of 255 feet. She won the dry fly casting event with a throw of 131 feet. Distances are measured by a laser, and there were about 50 competitors at the nationals, from across the U.S. and Canada.

Peters said the nuances and intricacies of the casting motion are based on routines, just like in other sports.

“It’s all based on muscle memory, and doing it exactly the same every time. You go through your motion and stop the rod at a certain point,” she said. “If I’m doing it right and I’m on, there are times when I can close my eyes and hit the target.”

While she continues to take part in competitions and work in her career in criminal justice, Peters is also tying flies, building rods, and planning on doing more instruction. She also spends time on Michigan’s Pere Marquette River, her favorite stream, pursuing steelhead, rainbows, and brown trout.

“I feel like I was a pretty good fisherman before I got started competing in casting tournaments, so I think the fishing helped me be a better competitor,” she said. “In the tournaments, I’ve had a chance to learn different techniques and increase my knowledge. So the tournaments have made me a better fisherman.”

As Peters quietly and humbly took home that cache of trophies and medals in the recent nationals, she did so with the full support of those formerly impatient instructional brothers, and her father.

“My dad is all for me competing in these tournaments,” she said. “He realizes that he must have done something right in raising another fisherman.”

Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: or 419-724-6068.

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