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Trout fisherman tries for Trout Bum title

Updated:
SALPHUR, Okla. (AP) _ A Sulphur angler will be fly fishing in five trout streams over 10 days as part of the 2005 ``Trout Bum'' tournament sponsored by Fly Rod and Reel magazine.

Barry Shrader, 51, is only one of eight anglers from the United States and Canada selected by the magazine to participate in the tournament.

Four two-man teams were chosen, and Shrader is teaming with partner Bruce Dixon of Whitewright, Texas. They have named their squad the Blue River Bummers.

The other teams include anglers from Canada, New York, Idaho and Montana, said Jim Reilly, assistant editor for Fly Rod and Reel magazine.

``We really didn't think we had a snowball's chance in getting selected,'' Shrader said. ``After all, a Texan teamed with an Okie in a sport that is legend in such places as Montana, Colorado, the Catskills and the Au Sable. I figured we were toast from the beginning.''

This is the fourth year for the unique tournament, which is less a competition between the anglers and more about their adventures on the road.

The magazine gives each team $500 for expenses. All teams are required to fish five different trout streams over 10 consecutive days and file daily reports by phone or e-mail. Their reports are posted each day on the magazine's Web site (www.flyrodreel.com).

The winning team is selected not by the biggest creel, but by how much fun they have, Reilly said. The winner will be announced in the January-February issue of the magazine, he said.

``We pay these guys to go fishing for 10 days and then tell us about their adventures,'' he said. ``The readers enjoy it because they get to do it with them vicariously.''

The tournament also provides readers of the magazine with information about different trout streams around the country, Reilly said.

Shrader is the first Oklahoman to be chosen for the tournament and the first angler to be fishing in Sooner waters, he said.

The three other teams will be fishing in trout streams in New England, the Canadian Rockies and the Grand Tetons of Wyoming, he said.

Shrader and Dixon begin their 10-day journey with a trip to the Lower Mountain Fork River in McCurtain County. After two days, they will travel to the Lower Illinois River in eastern Oklahoma.

From there, it will be two days in Arkansas on the North Fork, Little Missouri and Little Red rivers, all part of the White River system. They will then spend two days on the Roaring River in Missouri, before returning home to fish the Blue River in southern Oklahoma for the final two days.

``We are just going to get out there and have the best time we can,'' Shrader said. ``We are taking a tent, a Dutch oven, Bisquick, Beanie Weanies and Vienna Sausages.''

Shrader admits there likely will be very few trout left in the Blue River in mid-June, but he wants to fish his home stream in the tournament to spread the word nationally about the potential plight of the river.

Shrader and other southern Oklahoma residents oppose a proposed plan to remove water from the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer, which gives birth to the Blue River and other streams, and pump the water to cities in central Oklahoma, mostly in Canadian County.

They fear those streams will go dry if a pipeline is built to pump water from the aquifer. Their fight led to passage of Senate Bill 288 last year, which created a moratorium on issuing any temporary groundwater permits for municipal or public use outside any county above the aquifer.

Landowners seeking to sell the water are asking the state Supreme Court to declare SB 288 unconstitutional.

``That's my home waters,'' Shrader said of the Blue River and other southern Oklahoma streams fed by the aquifer. ``I'm very protective of them...

``From now until the time we are finished with the tournament, around June 27, we plan on spreading the story surrounding the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer and how the springs, streams, and rivers the aquifer makes possible are threatened.''

Shrader thinks anglers have a duty to ensure places like the Blue River will be here for future generations of fly fishermen.

``We have to send in daily reports of our fly fishing adventures and each report must contain a bit of our fly fishing philosophy,'' he said. ``In that philosophy, Bruce and I agree, that the thesis is the need to ensure there are future waters for generations to come.''

For Shrader, the reward of fly fishing is not so much the catch, but the quest.

``It (fly fishing) has been rooted with me for quite some time, but I really didn't get serious about it until the late '80's,'' he said.

``I kind of have a passion for it. When I am out there in the water, that's the time in my life when I am really at peace. It's kind of a spiritual thing.''
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