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A move across the country put an end to Jack Plumb's career as a spinning rod casting champion, but the thrill of holding that first trophy 50 years ago as a 13-year-old in Chicago re-emerged recently and set the Emigration Canyon resident into action.

"We moved to Utah and no one knew anything about casting competitions," Plumb said. "It fell out of my life."

Last fall, just out of curiosity, Plumb decided to do some research about the national tournament. The ensuing trail led him to San Francisco — where he turned some heads — to Long Beach, Calif., and the 103rd American Casting Association National Tournament, and finally, to the top of the podium, where he found the thrill of winning just as powerful as he did when he was a teenager.

It all started on a small pond across the street from his home in Hammond, Ind. Plumb remembers grabbing his rod and heading to the pond nearly every day.

"There were these huge giant goldfish. I'd cast over them with treble hooks and watch the line and jerk it when it was over them hoping to snag them, which wasn't very often."

One day he saw a group of people standing on a pier casting to rings out on the water. Intrigued, Plumb wandered over to see what was going and was invited to try his luck at casting into the rings.

"They were so taken with me. They were such nice guys, and they told me about the casting competitions."

Plumb had found his calling. Before long, people were making custom spinning rods for the youngster. After success at some local tournaments, he convinced his family to let him head to nearby Chicago, where the indoor national championship was being held.

Plumb claimed the title and had a few months to relish in it before his parents announced the family was moving to Utah. Years of fishing kept his skills intact and now not officially retired, but with more time available as the owner of the Alpine Body Shop, he found the American Casting Association Web page.

Plumb planned a trip to California in October and showed up at a tournament hosted by the San Francisco Casting Club. There, he competed against two former champions and held his own. He left the event with confidence and new friends, along with an invitation to compete in the national championship as a member of the San Francisco Casting Club.

Plumb returned home and returned to practicing his casting at four hula hoops placed between 40 and 85 feet away in his backyard. He was more than ready when the championship arrived earlier this month.

But things didn't go as well as Plumb had hoped in two of the three events in which he competed — the 1/4-ounce plug, 3⁄8-ounce plug and 5⁄8-ounce plug.

"I'm still troubled about what happened," he said. "I don't think I was having performance anxiety or anything. Maybe I tried too hard to pretend like I wasn't nervous."

At any rate, Plumb failed to make a splash in the 1/4-ounce and 3⁄8-ounce divisions of the senior men's competition.

Things came together, however, for the 5⁄8-ounce division.

"It was the same one I won in 1961. It says so right on the trophy, and I won it almost 50 years to the day," Plumb said.

Winning was a thrill, but being with other casters in a championship venue gave Plumb a sense of returning to an old passion.

"I was almost tearful. It was nice to be back," he said.

Casting again

O See a video of Jack Plumb working on his spinning rod casting skills.