Paper chase marks start of trout season
With all respect due to the aficionados of the quadrennial FIFA World Cup Football tournament, the Olympics (there is already discussion about the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia), or the upcoming opening day of the Major League Baseball season, there may be no event or season as eagerly anticipated by a small but rabid collection of Vermonters as the start of the fishing seasons.
April 10, 2010, will mark the opening day of yet another trout season in Vermont. Spicing up the day somewhat this year will be the second annual Otter Creek Classic Fly Fishing Tournament sponsored that day by Middlebury Mountaineer. To encourage sustainable fishing practices, the tournament is a catch-and-release “paper tournament,” the first of its kind in Vermont for fly anglers. What this means is that anglers are expected to carefully release all caught fish live and unharmed, after a quick measurement and photo for verification. The scorecard is a paper and photographic record of the day’s catch.
All competitors must have a valid Vermont 2010 fishing license. Competitors must also have a digital camera (cell phone varieties accepted) to document their catches. Participants may fish up to three flies at a time (if all are single hook), which is the maximum allowed by state law. The competition begins at sunrise (6:18 a.m.) on opening day, with scorecards due back at the Mountaineer by 3:15 p.m.
Competitors may fish the New Haven River, Middlebury River, or Otter Creek from the Middlebury River confluence downstream to Lake Champlain. It is a walk-and-wade event; no watercraft of any time permitted. Contestants will be scored by the total length (in inches) of all legal fish caught. Any trout over 7 inches counts, with lengths rounded to the nearest quarter-inch. The entry fee is $20 before April 3, and $25 afterwards. All profits from this event are donated to the New Haven River Anglers Association. There is a required pre-event meeting at Middlebury Mountaineer on April 9 at 7 p.m.
I participated in the tournament last year, and came very close to taking first place. Along with several other contestants, I fell just two fish short of the winner, Brian Cadoret (current president of the New Haven River Anglers Association) who won the first annual tournament with a pair of trout, one of which was a 20-inch brown.
“I think the best moment (last year) was just getting the 20-inch brown to my net!” Brian said. “After a few fist pumps and a few claps from fisherman on the other shore I just could not believe the size and colors of the bruiser trout.” He adds, “This year should be great ... more people fishing is really the goal. The New Haven River Anglers is a great group.”
While Brian may be an odds-on favorite to win again this year, Rich Warren (former secretary of the NHRAA) is putting his money on the young Crowne brothers, Thomas and Ross, who are entering this year. As their father, David, notes, “Their single-minded aim is to keep Brian from winning a second year in a row.”
In any case, to keep my journalistic integrity — and because I’ve seen evidence of the Crowne brothers’ prowess, and also I could catch twice as many fish as I did last year and still fall two short of what Brian caught — I will only report on the event this year and will refrain from participation.
There will be many prizes including for first, second, and third place, as well as door prizes drawn randomly from all participants. Prizes and/or support for the event have come from local merchants such as Middlebury Mountaineer, Forth ’N Goal, and Otter Creek Brewing as well as national gear makers like Patagonia, Simms, Scientific Anglers, Sage and others. That support, in addition to the fun of the fishing itself, and the certainty of a post-competition social gathering, should make it a worthwhile event.
To register, or for more information, contact tournament administrator Jesse Haller at Middlebury Mountaineer at 802-388-7245 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or just stop by the store.