The main players were both avid brook trout anglers, and as such they rarely traded information on locations, advice on tackle, tactics or any other tips that might possibly provide the other guy with an upper hand.
Rules of the contest were quite simple. After catching a potential trophy, it was to be wrapped in paper and kept frozen until the day after the annual trout season was complete. Over the course of the trout season, they would each measure and re-measure their catches in order to gradually increase the size of their respective trophies by increments of several inches.
A 14-inch brookie taken at ice out in May could later be replaced by a 16-incher in August, and a 19 and ¾ inch specimen may eventually be unveiled the day after the season closed. Since the two contestants lived nearby, there was always a lot of friendly banter and a fair bit of packaging, and repackaging of the potential trophies. Contest rules required the fish were to be wrapped in freezer paper.
The sparring anglers would often visit their competitor’s home freezer to take measurements. The practice was usually unannounced, and often undeclared, however it was the only way they could keep up with each other. However, as the end of the season rolled around there were often other tactics employed. Fishing lines may be ‘slightly nicked’ deep on the spool, and brass snap swivels may be filed down to reduce their strength, or a rod tip could be roughened up to damage the integrity of the fishing line.
Of course, neither of the competitors would ever admit to ‘doctoring’ their competitor’s equipment. But suspiciously, it seemed there were always weakened lines, a hole in the landing net, or seemingly odd ‘burrs’ to be found on their respective rod guides.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.