Larysa Switlyk just returned from Spain, slowly getting over jet lag and preparing for her next adventure, fishing for Team Easy2Hook in the Women’s Professional Tarpon Tournament Series Saturday in Boca Grande Florida!  This tournament is the largest & richest Women’s Fishing Tournament in the United States! The tournament lasts 5 weeks with a grand prize given each week.  3 ladies on each team competing for a $25,000 Sea Hunt boat.  The winner is determined by top weight that week, weight in one tarpon within the 3 hours time allowed for fishing! So yes, this Saturday Larysa Switlyk will be bowing to the King, King Tarpon that is!

Spain was a success! Switlyk was blessed with the chance to represent Team USA and Easy2Hook in the World Catfish Classic. Fishing for Wels Catfish, which is the 2nd largest catfish in the world.  The trip was action packed with three full days of fishing on the River Ebro outside of Chiprana, Spain.  She fished 9 hours a day trying to capture the Catfish Classic Cup and 7,500 British pounds! (about 11,726 dollars).

55 teams of the best angles from around the world, fished hard for three days.  Representing their country, flying their flag high and proud during the opening ceremony, they paraded through the streets of Chiprana.   PV TV, a Romanian TV channel for anglers and hunters, covered the whole event as it was happening!
Before the start of the tournament, Ross Honey, the founder of the World Catfish Classic, put in place a major environmental campaign called “Friends of the Ebro”.   This initiative combats bank side litter in the Chiprana/Caspe area. A few days before the tournament he and his team picked up truckloads of litter from the River Ebro.  All the competitors joined after the tournament to ensure the river was left in prestige condition.

Each team rotated fishing different sections of the River Ebro.  “Our first day of fishing was slow!  We weren’t in the best section of the river and it was one of those days where everything was going wrong – we even lost 2 good fish.  Our spirits were high and we knew tomorrow was a new day of fishing!  We were put at the worst section of the river on day 2, but managed to pull in 3 fish.  What a change of luck!  These were the only fish brought in the entire section, which lead us to win that section for the day!  With no other teams catching in our section this shows how knowledgeable my teammate Gary Sheridan is who owns CarpDreamFishing.com. He knows his Wels catfish and how to fish for them which helped put Team USA on the board! We were excited for our final day because we would be fishing the best part of the River where most of the fish were brought in. “ States Switlyk. Don’t count out team USA! They still had a chance and the tournament wasn’t even close to being over!

Day three was a make or break day and the pressure was on.  Today would determine if Team USA would make the top ten and be eligible for the prize table.  “We set out four rods with different baits to see what these catfish were in the mood for.  They took fancy to a mixture of squid and pellets.  In an instant we had two rods going off at once! That was the type of action I was hoping for!  I barely had time to pull in the first fish, tag it and let it go before the second rod was bending under the weight of another catfish!  It felt good to be covered in Catfish slime! I was here to catch fish!” states Switlyk.  Not knowing how the other teams were doing that day, there was no knowing where Team USA stood in the rankings.  Larysa Switlyk adds, “My goal was to at least make top ten.  Our standings going into day 3 was 32nd place. I knew we just needed one or two more fish and we could be close.   However, as luck would have it the fish didn’t get the memo.  We would get a little teaser bites but no takers! It was driving us all crazy!  The rod would bend quickly and then nothing.  Especially when we could see the catfish in the distance slap their tails on top of the water! Last hour of the tournament was torture; especially knowing all we needed was one more fish to get us in the top ten.”

“Every time I heard the alarm go off on the rod, my heart would skip a beat and my adrenaline would start flowing. Waiting to see if the fish took the bait and coming up with nothing felt like heartbreak. Time was standing still.  I was trying to keep negative thoughts out of my mind but things were not looking good.  The clock showed 15 minutes left.  What were the odds of hooking a fish right now and it count in the running.  Low and behold, time stopped – one of our rod alarms went crazy and a fish was definitely eating. The moment Gary set that hook, the rod was bending steady, my heart started racing.  It’s not over yet!  This was the fish I was praying for!” says Switlyk.  Talk about cutting it close! Team USA brought that fish in with 2 minutes to spare! The fish weighed in at 28kilo.  Was it enough to help them gain a few spots?

“After getting tossed in the river by Gary ( I of course had to get him back and throw him in as well!) I reeked from the smell of the river and the catfish slim.  After getting clean it was time for the closing ceremony. I had no idea where Team USA stood in the rankings and my stomach was in knots!  My mind was racing, Did we pull it off?”  states Switlyk.

The announcer started with the team events. Team USA was also fishing under Berkley Team 2.  “In third place they started announcing my name and Gary’s name. I was so confused?   We won the team event? I didn’t even think we were in the running!  We were in last place yesterday.,” says Switlyk.   How things can change overnight!  They came in third!  “That was so unexpected; I was still in shock when I went up to the stage! It felt good to show our hard work paying off! “

“When the announcer began reading the top ten finishers I might have been a little overly excited when they announced Team USA taking 10th place in the World Catfish Classic. You might not think 10th place is anything but to us, it proved our hard work and Gary’s experience paid off.   It was impressive because of the obstacles we had to overcome.” says Switlyk.  10th place awards free entrance into next year’s World Catfish Classic.  “ Guess I will be back on the River Ebro fishing next year for Team USA!  I hope I made Team USA Proud! We worked out all the bugs this trip so next year my eye is on the top prize!” says Larysa Switlyk.

Berkley will be sponsoring Gary Sheridan and Larysa Switlyk along with Easy2Hook to compete for Team USA in the World Carp Classic on Lake Bolsena in Italy (outside the Pope’s summer house) this September 2nd-8th.  “Looks like I will be Unleashed in Italy after Carp in a few months!  Go Team USA!!” shouts Switlyk!

All of these fishing tournaments are being filmed and will air on Larysa Switlyk’s television show called Larysa Unleashed in 2013.

photos: Larysa Switlyk

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