Brandon Bichrest (left) and Isaah Carman give a thumbs up while competing in the 2 Fly Bug Bumper fishing tournament last month put on by Maine Fly Fishing Adventures. Credit: Courtesy of Kevin McKay

Years ago, I participated in a two-fly fishing tournament on the Androscoggin River in Bethel. I would block out the whole weekend, grab my kids and a couple buddies and spend the weekend fishing and hanging with friends. I looked forward to it all year.

I always thought something like that would be fun on the Penobscot River and in 2021 my partner Stac and I thought it was time to start organizing one of our own.

The object of the 2 Fly Bug Bumper fly fishing competition is to catch the five biggest fish in total length, using only two flies. The trick is, if you lose a fly, you are left with the one fly for the rest of the tournament.

Credit: Courtesy of Kevin McKay

And if you lose both flies, you are done fishing. It’s the perfect way to bring the fly fishing community together, tell stories, fish and make new friends.

Our inaugural event in 2021 included staying in rented cabins, a pig roast and an evening campfire to tell lies about huge fish and past adventures and dream about the future.

It was such a success that we decided to make this year’s tournament, in August, a fundraiser. We raised $600 to send a youth angler to Trout Camp, organized by Maine Trout Unlimited.  

“Maine TU Trout Camp is dedicated to educating youth about our cold-water fisheries,” Trout Unlimited said. “Our mission is to build tomorrow’s conservation leaders, giving teens a solid foundation in conservation, entomology and biology, while keeping it fun and interesting with fly fishing.”

The camp is for students ages 13-17 who are interested in learning more about fly fishing, fly tying, resource sustainability, effects of climate change, the importance of native fish and how they can become leaders in these vital areas.

We offered a pre-fish day on Aug. 27 so anglers could scout the waters of the Penobscot and decide the best place to cast their flies for the monsters to clinch the title. That night, the 30 participants gathered at Marsh Island Brewery in Orono for a beer and to go over the rules. It was a fun night talking about fishing and getting everyone excited about the event.

The 2 Fly Bug Bumper rules included fly fishing only and catch-and-release only on the Penobscot River. The length of the five fish determined the winner and anglers had to photograph each fish on the ruler provided. Anglers were allowed only two flies.

Sunday morning brought some serious fog but it didn’t stop our anglers. They used canoes, paddleboards, drift boats and regular boats. There were husbands and wives, solo anglers, fathers and sons, friends and fishing partners.

There were 13 returning competitors, including 2021 champion Brandon Bichrest, along with guides, experienced anglers and novices.

We were fortunate enough to have generous sponsors again this year.  The support within the industry is humbling.

First prize and largest fish went to Megan Hess of Beadhead Fishing Company with a personal best measuring 21 inches and an overall fish length totaling 77 inches. Her prize package included a Scott Centric 6 weight fly rod, a Yeti Hopper flip cooler bag, Twelve Weight apparel and hot sauce from Fractured Sauce.

Hess also won a custom-made net by Nate Bacon and a Yeti Rambler bottle.

“The two-fly tournament is a great event to gather some friends and enjoy a day on the beautiful Penobscot river fishing for smallmouth,” Hess said. “Not only was it a day packed full of bass action but it was a great way to gather the community and support a kid going to trout camp.”

There were 30 participants in the 2nd 2 Fly Bug Bumper fly fishing tournament held in August on the Penobscot River. The event raised $600 to send a youth to Maine Trout Unlimited’s Trout Camp next year. Credit: Courtesy of Kevin McKay

Second place went to Matt Hornberg, with a total fish length of 75.25 inches.  This was his second time in the top three and he walked away with prizes including an HMH vise and a Yeti Camino carryall bag, Fractured Sauce and Twelve Weight apparel.

Stanley Williams took third place with a total fish length of 74.5 inches. He took home a Yeti Rambler mug, Maui Jim sunglasses, books by author Mark Usyk, Twelve Weight apparel and Fractured Sauce.

Bichrest walked away with the highly sought-after chub trophy given to the angler who catches the largest chub. His was 15.5 inches. He won a $50 gift card to Annika Fly shop, Twelve Weight apparel, bass flies tied by Hess and a hand-carved chub trophy.  

We absolutely loved having a day that brought people together to do what we all love, fly fish. The planning has begun for next year, so mark your calendars for Aug. 26-27, 2023.

“My wife and I decided it might be fun so we entered. I’m so glad we did,” said Gary Beaulieu.

For more info on the Trout Unlimited camp, visit

Maine native Kevin McKay, a lifelong fisherman, lives on the banks of the Penobscot River north of Bangor. He is a Master Maine Guide who since 2002 has operated Maine Fishing Adventures, where he strives...