Heading for Masemore mid- morning, the truck’s thermometer read 62 degrees the sun was shining bright. The forecast was for the low 70’s and I was thinking, “Bugs will be everywhere today”. When I pulled into the parking lot around 10:15, I found Lou Reichel already there suited up at rivers edge. We walked out on the iron bridge looking for risers. No fish, but we did spot a fisher-woman thigh deep and wading wet in the 45 degree water making short accurate casts to the far bank.
Within a few minutes the contestants assembled in the parking lot, we stated our chosen flies and dispersed. Lou Reichel - #14 Grouse & Herl, Bob Dietz - #14 Grouse & Herl, Dennis Covert - #14 Grouse & Herl, Tim Bowers - #20 Black Midge, and Mike Abramowitz - #8 Hornberg.
As I headed down stream I was thinking how fast time flies, this being the fifth annual One fly contest. It was a beautiful spring day, warm enough to fish in shirt sleeves for the first time this year, although water conditions weren’t quite perfect. The flows were something over 200 cfs, making wading a little stiff and there were bits of algae flowing throughout the water column giving it a green tint and reducing visibility to a couple feet.
I expected brown stoneflies to be everywhere by noon, but looking on rocks and fallen logs as I moved downstream I didn’t actually see one on the ground or in air till after 1pm, and then just one. With a temperature somewhere in the low 70’s, the absence of bugs was a little perplexing. Tim and Bob reported much the same experience upstream. Tim, working his midge up near the dam, saw only a few bugs and couple rising fish, none which were interested in his fly; and Bob gave up on the Falls Road section by early afternoon for the same reason taking up a new beat below Masemore.
Lou struck first hooking a brown, but lost it at the net just before losing his fly putting him out of the contest early. Mike got a 10 inch fish in the net on his Hornberg. The Hornberg is not a fly I fish, but thought Mike’s looked particularly interesting weighted with a large bead. As the day slid by the hikers became increasingly active but the fish did not.
At 200+ cfs there were places where the water was just too deep and swift to wade across to retrieve flies out of brush and rocks on the far side. I should have lost my fly a half dozen times, but somehow, whenever I pulled it free, the soft hackle always came back still attached to the end of my 6X tippet. Thus emboldened I changed tactics adding a strike indicator and a gob of weight and began dredging the holes, and when that effort failed I turned to noodling brush piles. Finding an upturned tree root tight against the bank I dropped my soft hackle between the sunken branches on the downstream side. Slowly lifting it back up through the current I felt the wiggling take and set the hook guiding a mighty brown of six inches to the surface with the rod tip. Doesn’t sound like much now, but at the time after fishing hard for three plus hours without a bump I can remember thinking, “Hot damn, finally something,” before promptly losing my fly to an unseen snag at the next pile. Ah well, it was time to start wandering back toward the truck anyway.
A couple of minutes later I came across Bob fishing on the upstream side of a good brush pile. He said he had just caught an eight and a half incher on his one fly, lost it, and then tied on another getting a couple more of about ten inches. He said within the last few minutes he had actually seen a few stones coming off and fish rising to them. So, Bob had me beat out by two and a half inches of trout.
Getting back to the lot I found Mike at his truck and asked about the ten inch rumor that had spread downstream. He said “Yep”, take a look, holding his camera inside the hatchback out of the sun so I could see the screen. Before looking I hooted over at Bob we had a new champ then stuck my head inside to see a very pretty picture of a ten inch fall fish lying next to Mike’s rod. Looking back at Mike he was grinning behind that mustache and I knew I had been had.
There are no trophies or medals in this competition, just the right to brag, but winning three years in a row does seem worthy of something more, a title, an MGH perhaps, master of the Grouse and Herl. Hereafter, perhaps, Bob should be addressed as Sir Bob. On the other hand that may be a little too much; I’ll leave it up to you guys.
Congratulations Bob! Brag at will, and once again you will grace the Outings Calendar’s March page in 2011.