This year’s “20 Days in September” Photo Contest was another rousing success, generating thousands of great photos from anglers around the world. (Although anglers outside the U.S. aren’t eligible for the prizes, many still took the challenge and posted photos.) Even those who couldn’t get the full 20 days in seemed to enjoy discovering new waters right in their backyards and sneaking off for a few casts at lunchtime or after work. As Samir Shaihk commented, “Had a lot of fun doing the challenge, and can’t wait for another round next year.”
Last week, we presented you with 10 finalists for the contest’s prizes. Unlike in previous years, no single image became a runaway winner, and things were tight the whole way. After more than 2,000 votes, the top two spots were separated by just 80 votes, and just 36 votes separated second from third. Congrats to all the photographers who made the finals!
Your top choice was fatfingeredflytyer’s dreamy shot of an angler surveying a mountain trout stream in the southern Appalachians. Commenter Martzu had this to say: “The fulfillment of every fisherman’s dreams, the image exudes harmony and genuine joy of the peace of nature that the fisherman can experience.” Chris Williams of Sorrento, Louisiana, describes how his wife captured the moment:
This photo was taken on the final morning of a visit to the Smokys in mid-September. We had been unsuccessfully fishing our way up Lynn Camp Prong in search of native brook trout, when my wife (@maedbhryanphotography) decided to put down her rod and spend a few minutes photographing the scenery. While I never did catch that elusive brookie, she captured some amazing images of the morning.
For capturing the top spot, Chris will receive a Helios 3F 9-foot 5-weight fly rod. According to his blog, he only managed 10 days of fishing during the month, as the result of hurricane season and work.
In second place was Neal Henderson’s perfectly timed shot of a cutbow sizing up an unfortunate grasshopper. Neal, who lives in Jackson, Wyoming, described how the scene came about and why he enjoys our annual contest:
This photo of a rising cutbow is on a spring creek in southeastern Idaho. We were on our way to the South Fork of the Snake and stopped to get some photos at this spot. We never did cast to him. This contest becomes a mission for me. I really planned out all the cool spots we could hit in our area. It brings out two of my biggest passions, fishing and photography. Luckily I have two sons and a wife who are always game for a fishing adventure.
For coming in second, Neal gets a pair of our new Pro Waders, which are built for the toughest conditions, for those anglers who will go to whatever extreme necessary to find fish. If Neal’s name sounds familiar, it may be because he also took second place in our “New Season” Photo Contest last April.
Third place went to our pal Tim Johnson’s sweet shot of sunlight illuminating the fins of a cutthroat trout. Obviously voters found the image beautiful and intriguing, but it’s especially meaningful for the photographer:
I caught this Bear Lake cutthroat on a dry fly as the sun was setting on an evening of fishing with my good friend, Spencer Higa, at Strawberry Reservoir in Utah. I’ve been doing a lot of fishing with my guide buddies (like Spencer) in Utah as my family is moving out if state to care for my mother and for me to transition to creating artwork full-time. This photo felt meaningful to that transition: it shows the beauty of a sunset magnified through a fish, but whether the sun is setting or rising isn’t obvious in the photo. This move is the end of one bright chapter of my fly-fishing path but the beginning of another. Sunset and sunrise, both.
Tim’s prize is a Mirage LT Fly Reel! He says it will look great on a rod featuring one of his amazing Timmy Grips.
Everyone who voted for our finalists was eligible for a prize, as well. We plugged in the numbers, and the widget at random.org spat out a winner: Jory Ward, who wrote, “I just love Tim’s image!”
Finally, thanks to everyone who participated in this year’s “20 Days in September” Challenge by fishing, submitting photos, voting, or commenting (or all of these). This was a fun September for me, although low water meant that I had no photos of Battenkill trout for the second year in a row. Let us pray for rain in 11 months’ time.
Here’s a great idea: Let’s all do it again next year!