A Fairly Fishy First Try; White River Open Deemed Successful

Ron Rhodes, of Pomfret, landed this 17-inch rainbow trout during the first annual White River Open Fly Fishing Tournament on May 31-June 1. It was the longest fish caught over the weekend.
Photo courtesy Brian Burkholder.

Ron Rhodes, of Pomfret, landed this 17-inch rainbow trout during the first annual White River Open Fly Fishing Tournament on May 31-June 1. It was the longest fish caught over the weekend. Photo courtesy Brian Burkholder.

When fly fishermen Brian Burkholder and Eric Dexter decided to organize a fly fishing tournament on the White River, they sought advice from Jesse Haller, who directs the Otter Creek Classic in the Middlebury, Vt., area.

“We were really modeling our tournament after that, because Jesse does such a good job with it and it’s been so successful,” Burkholder said of the OCC, which raises money for the non-profit New Haven River Anglers Association.

Burkholder and Dexter hoped their White River Open would raise funds for the Greater Upper Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited, a non-profit dedicated to the protection and conservation of cold water fisheries.

“(Haller) told me not to expect to make any money the first year, that we’d be lucky to break even,” said Burkholder, of Barnard. “We were expecting 10 people and hoping for 20. When 39 people showed up, we were pretty ecstatic.”

Taking place along the entire length of the White — from White River Junction to Granville, Vt., and all the branches in between, excluding two small state-protected areas — the event raised $766 during the two-day, catch-and-release tourney.

Participants got underway at 5 a.m. on May 31. Using digital cameras or camera phones with a time-stamp function, they quickly took pictures of themselves with the fish, measured them and put them back in the water. Only fish seven inches or longer could be recorded.

Stockbridge, Vt., resident Matt Stedina won the pro class with 38 fish totalling 386 inches. Stedina also won a fly casting competition on May 30, held on the South Royalton green. Competitors there aimed for hula hoops placed at an estimated 33, 45 and 55 feet for points.

Woodstock’s Doug Robidoux championed the amateur division with 15 fish totalling 148 inches.

The biggest fish was caught by Pomfret resident Ron Rhodes, who landed a 17-inch rainbow trout.

Centerville, Mass., resident Nick Cattabriga captured the youth class with one seven-incher.

In all, the fish caught totalled 1,240 inches, with anglers averaging 313/4-inch harvests, according to Burkholder.

“More than a few scorecards were turned in with numbers approaching 80-90 inches of fish,” he said. “Every participant who checked in their scorecard left with a prize of some sort (thanks to sponsors).”

Anglers caught a total of 121 fish in the tournament.

Burkholder and Dexter hope to make the event an annual tradition.

“I used to participate in the Otter Creek Classic, which is a great way to celebrate the start of trout season,” said Burkholder. “After leaving the last one I did, which was three years ago, I thought, ‘Why can’t we do this (on the White River)?’ As it turns out, we can.”

Mason, Glueck Race to the Top

The fifth annual Race to the Top of Bradford drew 56 participants for 3.5- and 1.5-mile races on and around Wright’s Mountain in Bradford, Vt. Twenty-seven-year-old Phil Mason, of Norwich, captured the 3.5-mile race in 30:00, the second-fastest time in event history behind Berlin, Vt.’s Eric Morse’s record of 29:24 in 2012.

Mason’s winning time was 44 seconds faster than runner-up Liam O’Connor, of South Ryegate, Vt.

“It was pretty challenging, with roots and rocks and a fairly steady elevation,” said Mason, a former cross country runner at Thetford Academy. “I think it was 1.75 miles to the summit with 800 feet or vertical gain, so it was a challenge but manageable. Overall, it was great community event.”

The event raised more than $1,000 for the Bradford Conservation Commission.

Fifteen-year-old Adam Glueck, of Hanover, was third in 33:01.

The fastest female was 11-year-old Hanover resident Lucy Glueck, who needed just 36:48 to rollick over Wright’s on a course that took runners up to the open-view cabin area just below the mountain’s 1,822-foot summit. The younger Glueck beat out 31-year-old Corinth resident Elisabeth Kulakowski (40:42) and 28-year-old Aime Schwartz, of Norwich (42:26).

Eleven-year-old William Murphy, of Bradford, won the 1.5-mile “kids run” with a time of 14:34, just one second ahead of Cabot, Vt., 8-year-old Alan Moody.

Seven-year-old Megan Carlan, of Bradford, was the female kids run winner with a time of 20:21.

Be a ‘Mule’ On Mount Washington

The Franconia, N.H.-based Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country is seeking “mules” to help guide adaptive athletes up Mount Washington’s auto road on Aug. 3.

As part of the fifth annual Sunrise Ascent on Mount Washington, mules will push participants up a portion of the eight-mile auto road before enjoying a sunrise with participants at the summit. Mules pay a registration fee of $62.88 — one penny for every foot of Washington’s height — and pledge to raise an additional $355 to benefit the Adaptive Sports Partners of the North Country, a non-profit that works with athletes with physical or developmental disabilities.

The auto road will be closed from 5-10 a.m. as participants make their ascents.

Paralympians Laurie Stevens and Tyler Walker are scheduled to participate, according to an Adaptive Sports news release.

To register as a mule or for more information, contact Adaptive Sports Partners executive director Sandy Olney at info@adaptivesportspartners.org or 603-823-5232.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.