On Sunday, four PPTU members participated in the Casting for Recovery Two Fly contest in Syria, VA. Ken Bowyer and I, Bob Dietz, officially represented the chapter while Pati Nicholson and Mike Abramowitz were part of other teams. Ken and Mike have added their comments to this report.
Ken & I both went down the day before and fished different rivers within Shenandoah NP - Ken the Rapidan, and I the Rose - with indifferent success. I was not feeling very confident when I got to the contest site. The river (the Rose) was "on its bones" as the Brits say.
The rules I thought were a bit odd. You got to choose two flies, one of which had to include pink in it. You were assigned beats in the river, one in the morning and one after lunch; the beats were several hundred feet long. (Nothing odd yet.) When you caught a fish, you could chose to have it measured, but each team could only have three fish measured for the whole contest, and you got a point an inch for measured fish. All other fish caught and released counted 2 points. (A factor one team regretted.) Only trout counted. (a factor that I regretted). If a contestant still had both flies left at the end of the day, that person was awarded a bonus of 10 points. A river monitor was assigned to each team to make sure the rules were followed, and to measure the fish.
The stream is tiny, but heavily stocked with "pellet pig" rainbows. (The largest fish caught during the contest was 22", but it only counted two points because that team had already measured their three fish.) Ken chose as his two flies a pink daddy long legs dry, and a pink San Juan worm. I chose a March Brown spider and a pink San Juan worm. (High winds were predicted and it was a small bushy stream -- a recipe for disaster with a lot of false casting.) I put on a new 9 foot 4x leader with no extra tippet to minimize the possibility of a break off (something else I latter regretted).
The beat that Ken and I were assigned for the morning session let something to be desired. I was later told that people who fish there regularly usually skip that section as not being very good. It consisted of a long flat section, most of which as about 6 inches deep, with small trickles at the head and tail of section. The only part deep enough to hold fish (at least in the minimum flow we were experiencing) was a small hole in front of a brush pile at the head of the flat. Ken tried with both flies with no success, and then went off to try his luck in the trickles at the head and tail of the pool. My turn next. Throwing the spider up against the brush pile rewarded me with a chub in short order, but one didn't. I could see half a dozen trout in the hole, and also knew the only place a hooked fish was going to go was straight into the brush pile. Still, I hoped to catch one of the smaller ones around them, and at least get us on the board. I ended up hooking one of the big ones, with completely predictable results. Ran me under two submerged branches before breaking me off. At that point I quit for the morning so that I would have a fly left for afternoon. Ken was unable to hook anything in the beat, and gave up shortly afterward. Total score for the morning 0 (or minus 10 depending on how you look at it).
Before lunch we went and scoped out our assigned beat for the afternoon, and took heart in the fact that it was nice looking water, and had been unfished during the morning (two teams didn't show up). We wasted our time; just before the afternoon session, we were reassigned to what had been the "hot" beat during the morning, and the team from PHW got the beat we had been previously assigned. (Speaking of PHW, one of the beat monitors was Doug Rink -- many in our chapter will remember him and his dog.)
We did better after lunch. Ken scored first, on his SJ worm. His fish was a bit over 14 inches, and we decided to measure it and have it counted (after all, it might have been the only fish we caught). He promptly hook another and broke off his fly. (We were once again fishing near a brush pile, but with a bit more room to keep the fish out of it.) He moved up the beat, and I moved into his spot. I had a couple of hookups, but ldr'd them. We switched spots again, and he tried his dry fished wet. (He might have even been able to catch on top, because by this point the fish were rising.) Another 'bow slightly over 14", and we decided to count it. Good, thing, because his next hookup cleaned him, and he was down to no flies. Off he went to fish below with his favorite beadhead brassie, and I once again moved into the honey hole. I finally put yet another 14 incher into the net, and we counted that as our last "measurable fish". I promptly hooked a considerably larger fish, but fortunately ldr'd it just before it entered the brush. In the meantime, Ken caught several nice fish on the brassie, but of course they didn't count. With minutes left, I hooked what was the largest fish either of us landed that day. Both out beat monitor and I thought I'd somehow managed a brown, and even though it would only count two points, I really wanted the fish. As brought it to the net, I think people several beats away could hear me yell "it's a d--ned bass!" It was my largest smallmouth all year (and last year too). OK, it didn't count, but I least I knew that wasn't a stocked fish.
So, we ended up with 42 points, which put us above two or three other teams. The winning score for the day was something like 97 points. (That twenty points for having all four flies comes in handy.) The largest fish officially measured (and it was a tie) were 16 1/2 inches. The team that fished the beat we had in the morning did as poorly on it as we did, with no fish landed. (There was small satisfaction there.)
After the contest was a nice picnic style dinner, a bucket raffle with some nice prizes, and a silent auction, all of which brought in a nice chunk of change for CFR, which is what it was all about, anyway. One of the boxes of flies that Jim Greco tied and donated in honor of Robert Simpson's wife went for $100, and I think other were similarly sold (they were sold, not silent auctioned).
The rain stated just as we were pulling away on our way home, so even the weather cooperated. It was a fun event, and quite a success.
Ken Bower added to the report:
"when I wet the parachute portion of my Daddy Long Legs with spit, it looked like a very light pink egg pattern underneath.
I probably should have used 4x tippet instead of 5x thinking that might have prevented the loss of both flies. I talked to Mike briefly afterwards and he commented that he had started with 3x tippet but eventually went to 4x and did better with the finer tippet.
Besides seeing Doug Rink as Bob mentioned below, I ran into Barton Jennings. He's still in the Army stationed at Fort Belvoir now. He was a member of our chapter nine years ago and I mentored him on the Gunpowder. He was stationed at Fort Meade then."
Mike Abramowitz also added:
One of the high lights of the day was a tribute to Jim Greco. Jim tied and donated five boxes of beautiful flys to benefit Casting For Recovery. This was in memory of Roberts Simpson's late wife. There tears to many eyes.
THANK YOU JIM!
I fished with Richard Holden. Our wives are active with CFR retreats. We fished beat # 12 and beat #5 . I started with a 3x tippett. I used an isonychia nymph in a size #12. My second was a #18 parachute Adams with a pink post.
This year a new rule was that you could not buy a ( 3rd ) mulligan fly with a donation to CFR. Another rule was that one fly had to have a pink component. Richard used a San Juan Worm and an egg sucking leech woolly bugger with a pink egg. I think my nymph should have been smaller like a # 14 0r #16. I planned to use a smaller Adams, however I thought it may have been difficult to remove small hooks from the larger fish even thought the hooks were required to be barbless. I changed to 4x tippet and did OK. I caught a number of fall fish which did not qualify for points. We had a total of 55 points. One more 13 inch fish would have placed us in a better position on the score board.
The fish were very picky, the water was very clear. There were no hatches visible execept for an odd caddis and small( #20) l light colored may flys late in the afternoon.
Overall it was a fun and challenging day. Kiki and Mollie organized a great fund raiser.