On the drive up to the Gunpowder, blooming forsythia and budding trees lent promise that spring was finally beginning to get the best of old man winter. This outing was our second year of the one fly contest, and last yearís champ, Ken Bowyer, who took 45 inches of fish on a brassie, was on hand to defend his right to brag. Six other PPTU members took up the challenge and came brandishing their favorite patterns. Carl Smolka with his version of the polish nymph, Ken Bowyer defending, selected a #14 bead head Zebra midge, Will Amland went with #20 cream midge emerger, Todd Carver and Nick Weber both tying on a # 16 brassies, Jack Benoit a #12 green woolybugger, and myself settling on a #16 soft hackle.
We dispersed from the Masemore parking lot five minutes after ten just as it was filling up with kayakers, dog walkers, hikers, and other fishers. The rules state, once you lose your fly youíre out of the contest, and within minutes mine was stuck in the branches of a tree that at first seemed just out of reach. With the help of lady luck, or maybe a little magic from the incantations I was reciting under my breath, I managed to get my finger tips on the very end of the branch and pull it down enough to grab a better hold and salvage my eligibility. It was a short lived victory, a tree using a higher branch stole it right back at the very next hole putting me out of the contest fishless at a quarter to eleven.
Walking down stream on the path I found Jack working a likely looking run next to the far bank framed by the branches of a large downed tree, I took a quick picture as the sun broke free illuminating the scene, then headed on down stream. Using the elevation of the path to look for fish holding in the runs turned up nothing. Without any leaf cover and long periods of bright sun mid stream trout are conspicuous targets for the kingfishers that seemed to come buzzing out of nowhere.
Sneaking up on a shaded hole with a new fly, I found Will, who less than hour ago I had bragged to about saving my fly, told me he had just lost his on a submerged log, so now we were both fishless and out of the game.
Will said he had seen one rise, which is one more than I had seen, and neither of us had much to report in the way of bug life. A few midges were coming off, and twice I saw something tan in about a #16 fluttering through the branches, other fishers I came across while ambling down river reported much of the same.
A pleasant day on a beautiful river is plenty enough justification for the time spent. By mid-day the sun had the temps up around fifty degrees and maybe almost sixty by mid-afternoon, what wind there was came in little puffs that didnít significantly affect the fishing or the comfort level. Before it was over we did actually catch a few fish and declare a new champ who has earned the right to brag until next year.
Back at the parking lot around 3pm we began to compare notes and tally up. Jack Benoit reported catching two eight inch browns on a bead head prince nymph. A ten inch brown managed to impale himself on my #18 bead head black nymph; Carl hooked two on his legitimate polish nymph but tragically lost them both. Nick Weber was the only fisher to land a fish on his designated fly; two actually, an eleven inch brown and an eight brown for a combined nineteen inches of trout.
In his victory speech, Nick said out of sportsmanship he chose not to fish for the first two hours to give the rest of us a head start. Rather he spent the time checking out the scenery and soaking up the ambiance of the day, before finally settling in and getting serious.
So, Hear ye! Hear ye! Let it be known to all PPTU members, here and abroad, far and wide, that Nick Weber has earned bragging rights for one full year.