Outdoors: 33rd annual Reid Hill Children’s fishing derby a success

Youngsters and their families enjoy a beautiful day while attending the 33rd annual Reid Hill Fish and Game Club's Children's Fishing Tournament. (Photo courtesy Gabe Lopez)

Youngsters and their families enjoy a beautiful day while attending the 33rd annual Reid Hill Fish and Game Club’s Children’s Fishing Tournament. (Photo courtesy Gabe Lopez)

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Rainstorms rolled through our area last Saturday night, but left perfect weather in their wake for the 33rd annual Reid Hill Fish and Game Club’s Children’s Fishing Tournament, which was held Sunday morning. 

Every year, the club stocks hundreds of rainbow trout in the pond at The Bridgewalk in Perth in an effort for our youth anglers to come out with family and friends and have a fun-filled day and productive day of family fishing. 

Upon arrival, I could not help but notice vehicles parked almost to the road. Every year, this amazes me, but this year, it seemed particularly full. The weather was beautiful as well, not too hot, not too chilly and no rain, which I am sure contributed to extra high attendance, which had to be pushing close to the 200-contestant mark.

Once getting down around the pond, there was barely an open spot of real estate along the edge that was not already occupied with a family fishing. “I finally got a trout!” I heard a youngster proclaiming as he excitedly made his way up to the measuring board to get checked in. It is just one of those moments that brings you right back 30 years ago to a time when that little kid was you, just happy as a clam.

The event finishes with kids in every age range receiving trophies for the largest catches of the day, a Chinese auction and a 50/50. It is a long-time running youth event for the area, and one I look forward to every year.


Aside from the youth fishing tournament, I participated in a tournament of my very own up in the Lake Placid area this weekend.

The Ausable Two-Fly Challenge has been held annually for 23 seasons. However, this is the very first time I have personally fished it, as I typically have some other event I must attend coinciding elsewhere. 

The event kicked off Thursday evening with a meet-and-greet type of local festival with live music, bonfires, along with food and beverage trucks at the Wilmington town beach. 

The tournament setup has a bit of a twist, hence the name. You are only allowed to use two flies per day, and you must choose your flies prior to fishing, and once they are lost, or chewed up to the point they are no longer usable, then you are done for the day.

So there is quite a bit of thought that goes into choosing what to use. Some flies are great, yet rather fragile and only last for a handful of fish. Durability is just as important as effectiveness when it comes to your selection. It is a two-day event, and you get two fresh flies each day. Somehow, over the course of the tournament, I managed to not lose a single fly. There was a time or three I had to go swimming to recover my fly, but I was not letting one go without a heck of an effort. This factor also stressed the importance of wet wading gear, where just randomly taking a dip was not a big deal.

The winners are determined by overall inches of trout caught. This is an honor system type of contest, and you must fish with a partner who signs off on your scorecard. More on that little fact later. A trout must be 12 inches long to be counted, as well. Measuring tapes are provided at in-person registration on the first morning. 

I have fished the Ausable for close to 35 years, just a wee little guy bouncing from rock to rock with my dad, over the course of my lifetime. I am intimately familiar with every nook and cranny this river has to offer.

Going into the competition, I knew my two flies of choice would both be the same, Lance Egan’s version of a Pat’s Rubber Legs. This is my go-to point fly most anywhere in the state, and far and away my No. 1 producer from mid-April through October. It just never fails me. It is an extreme confidence fly for me.

I typically tie them on a size 10, Daiichi 1730 bent shank nymph hook with a 4mm Tungsten bead and 18 wraps of .015 lead. I had plenty of this size on hand, but the first morning of the tournament brought about rather heavy wind, a steady 10 to 15 mph, with gusts approaching 25 mph. This caused an issue getting proper drifts, so I knew something a touch heavier would help. I broke out the vise during the wee hours of the morning in our hotel room at the Hungry Trout Resort and spun up a handful of the same fly, but tied with 4.6mm Tungsten beads and .020 lead wraps to make them significantly heavier, yet still hold the same, slim profile that fish love and which helps them cut the water and quickly get down to fish holding depth.

At the end of day one, my partner, Gabe Lopez, and I were just shot. We recorded over 7 miles worth of steps rock hopping and wading the river. Fishing goes from 8 a.m., and cards must be turned in by 8 p.m. We fished probably 75% of the allotted time frame, with only a couple of short breaks for food and drink. I had 45 fish in the net, but only 13 of them made the 12-inch or better cut. So many fish fell just shy of the 12-inch mark and couldn’t be counted, 11 3/4-inch fish were the name of the game, but we were dead honest and did not register a single undersized trout.

Day two brought about calmer conditions, so I switched back up to the original 4mm fly. Cards had to be turned in by 4:30 p.m. this day. I had 43 fish total. and 11 of them made the cut. Over the two-day period, I caught 88 trout, with only 24 of them being 12 inches or larger, so approximately a 1:4 ratio of countable fish.

I was unsure how I would stack up against the others in the competition. There are three divisions: Pro, Men’s, and Women’s. Women were up first. First place came in at 105 inches, there was a tie for second at 27 inches. The Pro Division was up next. First place was 349 inches, second place was 278 inches and third place was 193. For the men’s category, and the division I was registered in, first place was an overly astonishing 1,325 inches. Upon the announcement of that value, multiple tables within the banquet room burst out in audible laughs as the number seemed so far fetched. The organizer of the event mentioned that it was, by far and away, the most inches ever recorded in the 23-year history of the tournament. I finished second at 338 1/4 inches. Rounding out the men’s division in third place was 268 cumulative inches.

Was 1,325 inches a fabrication of the truth? There is no way of proving it, but I think everyone there knew the answer. As sad and unfortunate as it is, perhaps there needs to be some type of photo evidence involved. Obviously, we cannot trust our so-called peers. Most are great. In fact, 50-something other contestants were amazing, but it’s the one bad apple that leaves a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. Will I compete in the tournament next year? Probably, as it was still one heck of a fun time where great new friends were made.

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