It’s all in the flies at the Winni Derby
I have been fishing in the Winni Derby more years than I would like to admit. I stared when Big Ed had a camp on Saunders Bay and a group of us would congregate for a weekend of fun, fishing and camaraderie.
Robb’s first derby was when he was 16. It was great. It was also an eye-opening event. We learned that you should never attempt to cross the broads when the wind is whipping up white caps when you are in a 14-foot boat with a 20-horse Evinrude. Later that year I decided that we should attempt to fish Great Bay, and entering Great Bay from the Dover Point launch site was no problem. After fishing for several hours, the tide changed and getting back to Dover Point was an immediate challenge. I put Robb and all our gear ashore and at full tilt I was able to inch my way back through to the Point. We never went back to Great Bay.
The core group eventually ended up at Naswa Resorts on Paugus Bay. You couldn’t ask for a more accommodating staff. They really go out of their way to welcome anglers. When you arrive, you have your name on a boat slip. They have their own derby contest with prizes going to the top three fish by weight. Pictures are taken when the fish are weighed in. Prizes also went to the prettiest and ugliest fish. A special prize was given to the angler who had not caught a fish all weekend; it was a tropical fish.
Upon arriving Thursday, two of our group became instant celebrities, being interviewed by Channel 9 news about the tournament exercising the lie detector provision in derby rules that has been on the books for decades but never was enforced. I don’t think it was necessary, but most other derbies also have check mechanisms, so there is really no harm being done. About 10 or 15 years ago, a major prize winner was disqualified after the fact, but other than this one event, there have been no problems.
Friday was difficult for fishing, with heavy winds and 3- to 4-foot waves. My Lund Fury really performed in the nasty weather and its design made for a safe day of fishing. We had three hook-ups, boated all three and they turned out to be shorts, so they were thrown back. That night I found the flies I had bought from Ron Lacroix.
Saturday was a different story and fishing with the Lacroix flies was like night and day. All told we had seven hook-ups, boated six. Three were shorts, one salmon was 19½ inches long (mine) and hit the scales at 2.3 pounds; another was 18½ inches (Robb’s) and a third was just barely 15 inches and was thrown back. We had been trolling for 25 hours on a 5-gallon tank and I decided to switch to a 3-gallon reserve tank.
In the afternoon, Naswa staff had received prizes from New Hampshire Fish and Game and the New England Outdoor Writers Association and they were drawn as door prizes. Robb won a down rigger rod.
Sunday was another near-perfect fishing day and for the short time we fished, we hooked up four fish. Three were shorts and one an 18½-inch lake trout (Robb’s).
Of Ron’s flies, four fish were caught with his version of Maynard’s Marvel and five were taken on his version of “Blood and Guts,” a Maynard’s Marvel with a black tip. These are single-hook flies and tied thin. The Maynard Marvel has an interesting New Hampshire connection. Maynard’s Marvel was created by Bill Zimmerman of Keene and was named after “Doc” Maynard of Maynard’s Camps on Moosehead Lake.
Fish we were printing on our fish finder were bracketed between 15 and 25 feet. We were using five colors of lead core and one cannon ball at 20 feet and one at 25 feet. This was the best derby we have had, owing to using the right flies at the right depth.
After fishing, we headed back to Naswa at full tilt (30 mph). That return run consumed more gas than I had anticipated, and upon returning to Silver Sands, I promptly ran out of gas. Thankfully, I still had some in the main tank and was able to get to the marina with vapors left in the tank.
(Bob Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)