Fishing For the Fight Raises $200,000 In Fly Fishing Tournament

Vern Swank during the Fishing for the Fight Tournament, held each July to raise funds that assist cancer patients and children with special needs & chronic illnesses in Sublette County. Photo: Kyler Beal

The charity assists cancer patients and children with special needs and chronic illnesses in Sublette County

PINEDALE — As the sun set over the water in Pinedale, Wyoming on July 20, you would have seen sun-kissed, smiling faces if you were to drop by Dogwood Valley Ranch for the Fishing for the Fight tournament banquet. The dinner, auction, and awards ceremony marks the end of the 3-day fly fishing event that raises money for cancer patients and also children with special needs and chronic illnesses.

In a ‘first, biggest, and most’ style of tournament, this fundraiser has grown to see some competition show up from all over the country. This year, you might have even found yourself on the water with Tom Bie, founder of The Drake magazine, who happened to join the cause, or maybe Scott Sanchez, world-class fly tier and outdoorsman who has graciously guided every year and shared his expertise, or one of the many other gracious guides who chose to spend the weekend fighting “the good fight” when they could have booked days on the water.

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The 2019 overall point winners were team Reel Tight, Kolja Rockov and John Merritt, who were partnered up with FFF guide Abby Roich from Casper, WY. They also won the 2018 tournament, but this year netted over 70 fish on their stretch of water. They get their names added once again to the Charles Stough Memorial trophy, which is displayed in the lobby of St. John’s Medical Center, also a 3-time Gold sponsor of this benefit each year.

Biggest fish of 2019 was a tie at 24” between Team Hereford Bulls and Team Fishing Hogs and First Fish of 2019 went to Team War Eagle, with a fish to the net in the first 10 seconds of the tournament, helped by Wyoming guide Cyndle Clift.

Chauncey Goodrich, FFF Founder, and Colt Mergle, recipient of a recent FFF grant, hanging out at the Saturday evening banquet. Photo: Jenna Mergle

Saturday night’s banquet culminated in fish stories and fundraising, as an estimated $200,000 was raised for these local causes. Many in the crowd were brought to tears as the family of Colt Mergle shared his story of his fight against NEHI (NeuroEndocrine Hyperplasia of Infancy) and how Fishing for the Fight (FFF) helped them in their time of need. Tears came again as Wyoming philanthropists and generous supporters of FFF, Foster and Lynn Friess, announced that they would like to donate whatever it takes to get the evening’s fundraising up to $200,000.

“It was amazing to see everyone getting involved and raising money for our cause. We were expecting to raise somewhere between $140,000 and $160,000 and Foster’s match to get us to $200,000 was a blessing. It left many of us speechless, we weren’t expecting that,” said FFF Founder, Chauncey Goodrich.

Foster Friess and Chauncey Goodrich, FFF Founder. Foster and Lynn Friess surprised everyone in attendance when they matched donations to bring the total up to $200,000 raised for the evening. Photo: Camden Bennett

As everyone traveled home Sunday morning, back to their homes across Wyoming, Georgia, and more, they were left with some great memories on and off the water. We hope to see you there next year!


Fishing For The Fight is a fundraising tournament, hosted by a group of dedicated fly fisherman who have come together to organize an exciting new fly fishing competition. The proceeds generated from this event go directly to families who are in the fight against cancer and children with special needs and chronic illnesses in Sublette County, Wyoming. The funds defray the costs of travel, food and lodging, a cost that results from living in a rural location far from cancer treatment centers.

Learn more about FFF at and how you can sponsor a team or fish some of the best waters in Wyoming all while giving back.