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Spring Ridge anglers raise money to fight cystic fibrosis through fourth annual Redbone tournament

Anglers fishing beautiful Spring Ridge Club in Spruce Creek know that taking a deep breath of country air is not something to take for granted. While pursuing trout in the pristine waters of the club, participants in the Fourth Annual Little Juniata Fly Fishing Classic Celebrity Tournament raised funds for Cystic Fibrosis research.
The recent tournament, part of the international Mercury Redbone@Large Celebrity Tournament series, raised over $70,000 to go to finding a cure for the hereditary lung disease.
“Everything went well. We’re at least at $71,000,” said Donny Beaver, Spring Ridge owner, of proceeds tabulated.
The figure did not include several of the silent auction purchases or other donations. The final tally could be closer to $75,000 or range up to $100,000 because of interest some visitors to the fundraiser expressed in making contributions. Last year’s tournament raised $50,000.
Beaver said he’s excited that some folks involved with the tournament for the first time have pledged to talk to family members and various organizations about supporting the event next year.
“They’re saying they want to double it next year,” Beaver said.
The Spring Ridge event was the first freshwater tournament held in a program which began with redfish and bonefish as the quarry — hence the “Redbone” moniker.
Gary Ellis, a Florida fishing guide, and his wife, Susan, started the tournaments in the early 1980s after their infant daughter was diagnosed with CF. Nearly 30 events are held now at locations around the U.S. and in Costa Rica and Mexico. The Ellis’s daughter, Nicole, 21, is now a college student and helps in tournament planning.
Gary Ellis attended this year’s Spring Ridge event, held at the Espy Farm, along with guest celebrity Ernest Schweibert, author of numerous fly-fishing books including “Trout” and “Matching the Hatch.”
Beaver said the hot weather slowed the fishing action somewhat.
“The top guys performed really well,” Beaver said.
Brian Waldron, a Resica Falls, N.J., resident, again won in the individual category, repeating last year’s win.
Beaver’s brother-in-law, Bob Simpson of Altoona, was the runner up, also repeating last year’s placing.
Simpson and teammate Tom Jonocko took the team trophy, as they did two years ago.
Susan Waterfall of New York City was the winner in the women’s category. This was the first year such a category was offered.
Anglers score points on the length of each trout. Beaver said Waldron pulled out the overall win with the catch of a large fish at the end of the tournament.
“A big fish can really give you a big boost,” Beaver said.
Beaver said a small earthworm-like offering called a San Juan worm was working well as was a pheasant tail nymph.
“The only place they were really active was in the deeper, shaded areas, in the riffles,” Beaver said of the hot spots in hot weather.
About 30 teams registered for the tournament and fished sections of the stream according to a schedule.
In the end, the fishing is less about catching fish and more about raising money for research.
Heather Connors, director of special events for the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in Pittsburgh worked with the Spruce Creek tournament for a third year.
“It was tremendous,” she said. “Spring Ridge Club did a phenomenal job of hosting this tournament.”
Connors said the funding is used in a number of ways including research for a cure.
“It supports children’s hospitals and clinics,” Connors said, adding that many strides have been made in research.
“There’s so many things in the hopper,” she said.