On Friday, October 3rd, the first annual McKenzie River Two-Fly tournament officially kicked off at the welcome reception at the Oregon Electric Station with guides, participants, and Trout Unlimited members enjoying appetizers, beer and wine.
This inaugural event raised $2500 to help McKenzie River Trust improve spring chinook spawning habitat at the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette Rivers. Chris Vogel, director of the Green Island Project at McKenzie River Trust gave a presentation on the organization’s upcoming stream restoration project.
How is the money being spent?
The proceeeds from this year’s tournament went to McKenzie River Trust’s project at Green Island. This island, over 1,000 acres in size is located just west of the town of Coburg and is formed by the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette Rivers. It was purchased from the Green Family by MRT in 2003. (The following slides are from MRT’s Chris Vogel)
Green Island’s side channels are home to Spring Chinook Salmon and Bull Trout. In winter, juvenile fish use the flooded backwaters on Green Island to escape the high water conditions. In one particular section, the backchannel flooded and was dammed with sediment, creating Crescent Lake.
Crescent Lake is home to threatened, native salmonids, but now it is also home to invasive warmwater species. On the reccomendation of Oregon State University fisheries biologists, MRT plans to notch Crescent Lake, reconnecting it to the mainstem Willamette River. Reconnecting this backchannel will increase habitat for salmonids in the winter, and decrease habitat for non-native, predatory fish in the summer.
If you would like to get more involved with MRT and Green Island, check out the tree planting, October 25.
Tournament participants and sponsors
Special thanks to all the guides who rowed, donating time and hard work for the benefit of the McKenzie River: Chris Daughters, Karl Mueller, Mike Reardon and Lou Verdugo. They all did a great job keeping the participants safe and on top of fish.
We’d also like to thank the participants: Alex Richardson, TJ Matteri, Rick McCreery, Joan McCreery, Todd Mullen, Julian Kudritzki, Greg Hatten and Clifton Molatore. We couldn’t have done it without you.
Lastly, we’d like to thank Al Coppola of the Okonite Company. Al’s donation to the cause in the tournament was key to the the event’s success.
Fly fishing tournament results
Saturday, October 4 the rain poured down as contestants lined up at the Blue River boat ramp. Guides and participants selected each boat’s flies for the day.
Each team had a different strategy on fly selection:
Team Daughters: Morrish October Caddis, two Possie Buggers and a Mega Prince.
Team Reardon: Half-down golden stone, some sort of prince nymph girdle bug hybrid, an awesome October Caddis pupae derrivation, and an orange stimulator.
Team Verdugo: Morrish October Caddis, Small prince nymph, Mega Prince and a CDC Possie Bugger.
Team Mule: Black Stonefly nymph, Giant orange Madam X, possie bugger and mega prince.
After a long day on the water, the contestants piled into Ike’s Pizza for the awards ceremony. The teams were cagey before the final tally of the lenght of each team’s three largest fish. When the measurements were announced, Team Beast (Lou Verdugo, Clifton Molatore and Greg Hatten — photo below) was the clear winner, and second place was a three way tie. The tie was broken by largest individual fish length and second place went to Team Mule (Karl Mueller, Todd Mullen and Julian Kudritzki) thanks to Mullen’s monster native trout, caught on a dry fly in the final hour of the tournament.
Here are the some comments from the participants:
Lou Verdugo: My team worked very hard. It was a lot of fun. The elements were against us. Our nymphing techniques were good. The highlights included chasing down a fine redside and Greg climbing up into a tree to retrieve a fly. We almost lost one entire set up 100 yards from the put in.
Mike Reardon: We caught quite a few fish, some planters and natives. Our bugs lasted most of the day, but we lost three flies. We fished for eight hours straight, two rods going non stop. I almost went for a swim for a possie bugger. Rationing four bugs for eight hours is a different strategy, but it’s fun. All of the participants’ fish came within a couple inches, so one fish puts you over the top for an $1800 prize.
Clifton Molatore: Mega Prince worked well for me when I got a good sized split shot on it. We didn’t go as far as everybody else, so we worked the holes pretty good and when we did, we seemed to bring up some big fish. This was the first time I’ve ever fished competitively. It was a little weird, caring about how long the each fish was. You didn’t fish real tight to the banks, and if it was shallow, we pulled up.
Karl Mueller: The highlight was definitely the big fish that made a sound like a carp taking a cheese puff on top. Fishing competitively makes you a little more serious. It could have gone any which way, you never know how it will turn out.
Todd Mullen: The big fish came up and didn’t take the fly very hard, so it was difficult to set it. I knew it was a big fish when it was on. It was back underneath some alders. I lost my first fly in the first hour, but I used my dry fly most of the day.
Chris Daughters: At Cooks Rapids we hooked a big fish, lost it, and then made a backcast — hooking two flies into a whitewater raft. We chased the raft down, but no one in the raft could speak English, and they kept yelling “Go Ducks” while we followed them down the river. Eventually we got the flies out of the raft and only lost a half mile of productive water.
Get ready for next year folks. October 10, 2009 is the date for the second annual McKenzie River Two-Fly Tournament. Thanks again to all of the participants, sponsors and guides.