In this 2019 photo, Rob Dunnett of Brewer casts a fly toward the shore of the Penobscot River fishing for smallmouth bass. Howland is the site of this week's Golden Monkey Bug Bumper 2 Fly Tournament for bass. Credit: John Holyoke / BDN

Summer may soon be coming to an end, but there is plenty of great fishing left to be had in Maine.

This weekend, anglers have an opportunity to take part in a unique fishing tournament that brings together the consistent action of smallmouth bass angling and the challenge of using a fly rod.

Kevin McKay of MaineFlyFish.com is the organizer of the inaugural Golden Monkey Bug Bumper 2 Fly Tournament, the state’s first two-fly event for smallmouth bass.

The event is scheduled for Friday and Saturday at the Penobscot River Cabins in Howland.

“I’m basically doing this just to get people together to have some fun,” McKay said of the tournament, which he hopes might become a fundraising event in the future.

The Hermon native, a longtime Registered Maine Guide who lives in Howland, saw a need for a fly fishing tournament in eastern Maine.

The Bug Bumper 2 Fly Tournament will challenge anglers to effectively and efficiently use their fly fishing skills.

Competitors will be allowed to head onto the water with only two flies. They cannot be changed after they are selected, nor may they be replaced.

“If they lose their flies, break them off, they’re done,” McKay said. “They can keep fishing, but they can’t enter any more into the tournament.”

Fish must be caught using a fly rod and the selected flies, then released. Participants, who can fish from the Winn dam down to the Old Town dam, will receive a ruler with which they must measure their catch.

The five largest fish caught and photographed next to the ruler (with the fly in their mouth) will count toward the total.

“It’s on the honor system,” McKay said.

The activities begin Friday, when anglers test out their equipment and their flies and get in some practice. There’s a check-in for the competitors at 6 p.m. at the Penobscot River Cabins, where the tourney rules will be discussed, rulers issued and flies turned in.

On Saturday, registration begins at 7 a.m. The tournament runs from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. Awards will be presented at 5, followed by a pig roast along with a campfire, music and camaraderie.

The cost is $50 per person.

The top prizes include $2,000 worth of fishing gear, while the runner-up gets $1,500 in equipment. Third place is gear worth $500.

Other prizes include fly rods, Yeti products, fly boxes, gift certificates and clothing.

There also will be a trophy and a $50 gift certificate to Annika Rod and Fly presented to the angler who catches the largest chub.

“Even if you’ve never fly fished before, if you can get a fly in front of a bass, most times they’re going to eat,” McKay said, contrasting that dynamic with the more fickle species such as brook trout and landlocked salmon.

Registrations will be accepted up until Friday and can be completed here.

There should be no shortage of smallmouths to target during the tournament.

“That’s kind of why I want to do a bass tournament, because there’s a lot of fish in the river,” McKay said.

McKay said most smallmouth river fishing is top-water action and participants should expect to land 20 fish apiece.

“There’s no better way to fly fish than to go fish for ‘smallies,’” McKay said.

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Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...