I got up around 0730 Friday morning. The rest of my roommates arose around 0800. Coffee was brewed (courtesy of team J&M Flies), cups poured, donuts eaten, and scouting of beats and competitors began. Since we had beat 1 and team New Jersey had beat 2, both teams meandered over to the scenic overlook to watch the competition. Regarding beat 1, we watched Team Orvis reel in a few fish. As stated before, beat 1 runs from the beginning of the Harman's property by the road all the way up until about half way to the bridge. Beat 1 looked like this:
Beat 1 contained a lot of varied water. The first photo shows the back end of beat 1. This pool is very deep. Really deceptively so. The second photo shows how beat 1 also contained some faster water that flowed down into that big, deep pool. Beat 1 seemed to have a wickedly fast current running through it straight down the damn middle (making mending and a decent drift extremely hard as we would soon find out). So watching Team Orvis fish it, Greg and I decided after much debate to fish the faster water. The reason behind this was that we were thinking this was where the majority of the trout would be holding. Not bad thinking and a good strategy (however the fish turned out to be on the other side of the stream as we would soon find out).
As the time neared, we geared up to head out. Now I have fly fished for the past twenty or so years. Greg has fly fished for the past two and a half years. It is fun. I love it. For me it is a way of life more or less. A passion (called an obsession by the wife) that I can't seem to get enough of. That being the case, then why the hell was I so nervous? I felt like I was a cat in a room full of rocking chairs or a groom about to be married and suddenly wondering if it's all worth it while looking for an exit. This is fly fishing. I know how to do this! I have done it a bunch of times. Hell, I have even done it here. I have caught fish at Harman's and plenty of them. What gives? Dear reader, I have no clue! I can honestly say that both Greg and I were worried that we wouldn't catch anything and that we would be in last place. We just needed to fish. So geared up, we headed to beat 1 to meet the judge and start the competition.
Geared up and ready to head out
Being team captain and an all important self-appointed super star, I decided I would fish first. The water was still moving pretty fast at the top of beat 1. We had to add a lot of split shot in order to get the flies down. I finally ended up switching to a size 4 sculpin pattern. I was hoping for the saying "big flies equals big fish" to work out in my favor.
Here I am working beat 1at around the mid point of it
Here is Greg working beat 1 closer to the top of it
I am happy to say that I was the first one to get a strike, hook a fish, land said fish and then measure said fish. YES!!! We were on the board. My beautiful rainbow measured a whopping 40 cm which converts to a stunning 15 inches. Not bad. I have caught bigger here and know they roam these waters like a great white shark looking for a meal. Well, at least we were on the board. Time to go back to work and catch some big ones. Thinking about it, two hours seems like a lot of fishing. Rest assured, it wasn't! That magical number is the total amount of time both Greg and I had to fish beat 1. Only one of us could fish at any one time. We had to tag in and out. So with my fish scored, Greg tagged in and went to work.
Not too long after I landed the rainbow, Greg connected with a smallmouth. We had asked before hand if other fish count towards the fish total. I mean, hey we are warm water fly fishermen right? We do love to chase the green trout or in this case the bronze trout. We were told yes smallmouth count but not any other fish. So, Greg lipped his smallie and brought it over for scoring. Sadly it was only 17cm but we decided to log it anyways as our time was nearing the end. So our 6 inch smallie, yes 6 inches, was added to our total. Wow, only 6 inches?? .....sounded bigger and better in centimeters.
And so ended flight two, beat 1 for Team J&M Flies. We were on the board with two fish and not skunked! All was good with the world....well until we started hearing how other teams reached their limit in a matter of 30 minutes or less. One team landed a 64 cm rainbow. That is a 25 inch fish. A monster. We had our work cut out for us in the afternoon.
Me trying to hitch a ride to lunch!
Next up...session two!