Last weekend I had the pleasure of being a guest of the Friends Of The Upper Delaware River (FUDR) at their fifth annual “One Bug” Fly Tournament. This event raised over $30,000 in just a few days for spawning habitat improvement on what I consider my home river, and part of that money also went to starting a fly fishing program at the local elementary school in Hancock, NY. Though the team entry fee to actually fish in the tourney was a little rich for my blood, it was fun hanging out (and partying) with the guides and teams that came from as far as California and Oregon to help a good cause, win cool stuff in auctions, and earn serious bragging rights.


The rules for the “One Bug” are many, but some of them include:

– Your bug must be declared before your drift boat splashes
– You can take material away from your fly but not add to it
– Lose the fly and you’re done (guides can earn the “Squirrel Award” by scampering up trees and such to retrieve your hung fly)
– You’re only allowed to measure 5 fish each day
– You get an automatic 100 points just for not losing your fly

The thing is, the Upper Delaware and its branches are very fickle. The day I rolled into town, olives poured off the water, and I was thinking if I were a competitor in the “One Bug,” I’d go dry fly. The next morning the temp dipped to 36 degrees with a nasty wind and snow, which left us no choice but to lash on the sink tips and chuck streamers on a pre-tourney float with good friend and guide Joe Demalderis. Despite the snotty conditions, we caught some big trout and I thought, OK, I’d go with a streamer if I were competeing tomorrow. Next day on my raft, my buddy Jimmy and I tossed streamers all morning and caught zip. Nymphs and tiny dries were the ticket. It seems when those fish are sipping finger food, they could care less about a steak dinner.

A tourney like the “One Bug” really makes you question how well you know your waters. Think of a river or stream you fish often. Is there really a bug that you can confidently say will catch fish no matter what conditions the fish gods throw at you, and no matter what the real bugs are doing? The win in this year’s “One Bug” ended up being secured by a Hendrickson emerger, by the way.