Tuesday, October 20, 2009

'1 Fly' 2009

Columbus Day ‘1 Fly’ Event
This past Columbus day weekend I was involved in a ‘1 fly’ friendly competition. About 6 years ago a group of Erie steelhead fishermen got together and wanted to see how many fish they could catch with only using 1 fly in an allotted amount of time. Now in its 6th year it has evolved into an annual event with food, prizes and great comradery.
The rules are easy enough to understand. Starting at 9:00am and fishing until 1:00pm you have to only fish with the ‘1 fly’ you designated at the early registration. You accumulate points for each inch of steelhead you catch, double points for brown trout and ¼ point per inch any other fish. Restrictions are you must wade fish any of the Lake Erie tribs or lake shore. Once you tie your fly on you are not allowed to add leader or more tippet. If you lose your fly and are not able to retrieve it you are out of the competition but any points you accumulated to that point adds to your team score. You fish with a partner so he/she can still add points with their catch until time is up or they lose their fly. Rod usage is restricted to a noodle rod or fly rod. The ‘1 fly’ must be constructed of the usual material used in fly tying for fly fishing. Prizes are awarded to the top three teams as well as the biggest fish. This year two casting challenges were added.
This is a free event with limited entrees. This year we had about 45 teams. Donations are welcomed be it hand made or store bought. The grand prizes are custom made or restored bamboo rods and some times an old fiberglass rod gets put into the mix. Even door prizes may consist of custom made rods by participating fishermen.
My partner and I came in second place in team competition last year and I had the most inches of fish caught by a single member winning a restored 8wt. Fiberglass Wonderod. This year my partner and I didn’t fare so well, due to conditions, but during the 2 casting competitions I competed in and won the speed casting event. I had one minute to cast into 5 rings scoring points for each ring. I totaled 11 points for the win.
Here’s a short piece about the ’1 fly’ this year.

2009 ‘One Fly’ Bits & Pieces
I crawled out of my van and stood in the artificial light that lit up the area around the pavilion in Foley’s Campground. The October chill in the early morning air was tolerable with heavy under-clothe and a sweatshirt. The moisture from the overnight rain lingered with the smell of dampness. Looking up, the outline of the grayish clouds was barely visible in the morning darkness against the drab dark slate blue sky. A line of people were already starting to form outside the pavilion for the 7a.m. registration. Figures of fishermen in all sizes, in bulky waders, looked like a bunch of Halloween clowns in baggy costumes waiting for their turn at the trick-or-treat door. Outbursts of greetings and laughter were a sure sign of friendship within the commotion of the waiting and handshaking anglers. As I walked among the ‘1 Fly’ participants I greeted and was met by unknown faces to well known user names. The once thought silly name tags were worth their addition to the event.
Jack was greeting others also, while explaining the registration formalities. Debi was gathering food donations as Skip was answering questions and filling in as needed. Nymphus , dano and skeeter were doing their part to keep things moving along as schlemoc was handing out patches for a small fee. It almost looked like things were organized for the 80+ people in attendance.
My partner, rippinlip, pulled up in his pickup and I went over to greet him. I gave him the scoop of my Friday expedition and scouting report. I showed him the flies the fish were hitting and told him a few more places I heard where the steelhead were holding at. In short we selected our 1 fly and got in line to register. After receiving my patch from schlemoc, my last year’s partner, I wished him luck and stood around long enough to hear Jack’s morning speech.
Upon leaving to our destination 4 people showed up that I didn’t see earlier. Texcobb99 and dream catcher appeared walking up from our camping area. Another pair, Loomis and fishrmn, stood near the pavilions if they just awoke from a ‘good night’ of drinking. Evidently they hadn’t picked their one fly for the event yet. Gathering his thoughts, Loomis went down to the off color brown stained creek. Upon examining he decided, with experience, that big and ugly was the way to go.
Rumor has it he went back up to the pavilion and tied the flies on the spot and then entered them. I also heard by the time they got to their fishing spot they actually didn’t start fishing until about ten. Not sure this is true but only they can confirm this.
Rippinlips pulled his truck down the long road that led to the mouth of trout run. Lake waves crashed against the shoreline. The first choice of ‘1 fly’ fishing was not an option anymore. Texcobb99, dc and I did well fishing it Friday morning in small waves and calmer water but today the Lake Erie extreme weather warlock put an ‘enter if you dare’ condition upon the waters. With rippinlips 30+ years experience and my early scouting we headed for the vicinity of Uncle Johns Campground.
Walking along the slippery gray mud along the bank of Elk Creek in felt soles was like walking in fresh poured cement. With rippinlip leading the way I carefully followed trying not to slide in the slippery mud he left behind or get caught up in the overgrown jaggers he pointed out.
A line of fishermen were already casting and drifting ‘what-nots’ against the far bank. We slowly moved up creek looking for a couple of spaces for both of us to fish. Rippinlip pointed out good holds but they were already taken by anxious steelheaders. We finally came to a good hole that I fished the day before with enough room for both of us being able to fit in. just before 9:00a.m. We got our lines wet and at 9:00 game on!
The fish catching was undeterminable in the dark water. I only saw one guy, upstream, consistently hooking up under some hanging limbs against the bank.
Oldbrowntrout and his partner showed up a touch later and joined in. Being in a precarious position OldBT casted up creek with difficulty in the slight breeze. Time passed and my fly line finally tightened and moved downstream. In the muddy water I thought I had hooked into a submerged drifting tree limb. I held on, letting line out not wanting to break off. The end of my fly line finally rose and I called out fish on. Within 3 feet on the guy downstream from me the fish showed himself just below the surface. It didn’t take long for the slow pulling fish to dive deep and with a headshake my fly came loose. I felt it must have been a foul hook not expecting a fresh fish to fight so unconcerned. When my line went slack I mentioned it must have been a foul hook. The guy who seen the fish said it was a good hook up and that he seen my chartreuse egg sucking bugger in the side of the fish’s mouth. I concluded that I didn’t to set the hook good enough since I originally thought I had a drifting limb.
#1 missed!!
Meantime OldBT was having trouble casting into the slight breeze and finally got snagged up right in front of himself. Working as best he could to save his one fly he pulled up a piece of plastic garbage bag. He diligently untangled the mess as the bag slipped through his fingers, submerged, and drifted downstream. Relieved, from the snag, he brought in his leader only to find the fly did break off and disappeared with the bag never to be recovered. For him the event was over but……. He tied on a tandem and continued to pursue steelhead.
My second hook up came with a sudden take of my drifting bugger. I set the hook good and the fresh steelhead headed for the far bank. In midstream he showed himself with a leaping display of mean headshaking flight. Pounding back upon the water he submerged briefly only to exit the water again in frustration. This time, upon his pounding reentry, my fly line went limp. 2 hook-ups and nothing to show for it but the thought of what could have been points on the score card. Rippinlip continued to work his white bugger at different depths and movement trying to entice a steelhead as Old BT moved in between us with plenty of room to spare.
Oldbrowntrout proceeded to put on a clinic patiently drifting the tandem set up and hooking up to steelhead after steelhead in the next hour or so. Rippinlip moved upstream for more promising waters while I stayed put being that OldBT continued to convince me steelhead were right in front of me with his continuous hook-ups. The event ended with rippinlip losing his bugger to his only hook-up and I not being able to encourage any more fish to take my offering.
Back at Foley’s the food line was forming as we pulled in under the sunshine, brightening up the day’s event.

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