If you look at an average fly-fisherman's fly box, you'll soon realize that the challenge of the annual Ausable River Two-Fly Competition might not be catching the fish, but deciding which flies to use.
Because that's all you get.
I'd really have to psyche myself up for this one, because I tend to throw the fly box at the trout if they don't immediately take my latest offering.
But the Two-Fly – scheduled this year for May 17-18 –tests not only your fishing ability, but your knowledge of the river, that hatches and presentation. It's definitely on my "bucket list," as my fishing prowess gets better.
The concept is pretty simple really – you get two flies. Not two kinds of flies, but only two individual flies. You fish with them for a couple of days on designated portions of the West Branch of the Ausable. And the angler who catches (and releases) the most trout wins. You'll be fishing with a partner, who will verify your catch.
But you have to put some thought behind it, because once those two flies are gone, so are you. There are several questions you have to ask yourself – Do you want to go with two of the same fly? Are you confident that the fish may be taking that fly, but not as confident with your knot tying, and know that if you lose one, you'll at least have the very same fly? Or do you go with something completely different for your second fly, having a little change up should the fish not like your first offering, but realizing that once it's gone, you can't replace it?
Knot isn't tied tight and the fish makes off with the fly? Too bad.
Big 2-year-old shreds even the furriest Hare's Ear? Sorry.
Barbless nymph hook dulled to the point where nothing catches? Out of luck.
Hence, the name Two-Fly Challenge.
You'll have to not only do your homework and know what's going on on the Ausable, but you'll have to make sure your equipment (and knots!) are in good working order.
Sure, I can give you a hint. Past winners have included Prince nymphs, Hare's Ear nymphs, Pheasant Tail nymphs and Woolly Buggers. But keep in mind, that really doesn't mean anything given the vastly different springs we've had in the Adirondacks the past several years. A trip to one of the area's fly shops may provide you with some insight on this year's hatch schedule.
The weekend begins on Friday morning with registrations before you hit the river with your flies of choice. Tie it on tight, because you've only got one other. Come back in Friday for a get together and fly-tying demonstrations. Take your beaten and battered flies back out to the river on Saturday for a day on the water before joining your fellow anglers for dinner, awards, raffles and, of course, some fish tales.
It's all in good fun and many of the almost 100 participants have been here before not only for the days on the river, but to raise money to keep it flowing.
Lodging sponsors for the weekend are: Birch Tree Lodge, Hungry Trout Resort, Ledge Rock at Whiteface Mountain, Brook Lodge, Adk Woodland Retreat, Wilderness Inn, LP/Whiteface Mountain KOA, Adirondack By Owner, Alpine Country Inn & Suites, Grand View Motel and Windsong Cabin. Sponsoring fly shops are the Hungry Trout and the Ausable River 2-Fly Shop.