PEPPERELL -- Summer is not the best time to catch trout. Streams are dry and the coldwater fish do not thrive in the warmer water.
What is an avid fly-caster to do? The folks at Evening Sun Fly Shop in Pepperell have a solution.
Every year they sponsor a fly-fishing tournament at the town field. No fish are involved. This year, the completion took place on Aug. 24.
It takes lots of skill to cast well, said Scott Griffin, a shop employee who ran the competition.
Stations demanding different skills were spread across the field. Kneeling fishermen cast, mimicking the actions required to cast from waist-deep water or from a kayak.
One station, the limbo, limited the height the rod could reach.
Other stations tested distance and skill with the nondominant hand.
Anglers prize the local waters. Customers come from upper New Hampshire and across Massachusetts to shop and to fish on the Squannacook and Nissitissit rivers.
Philip Ankher-Nogee, 15, came in from Newton and won the contest for the second year in a row. A member of the nationwide Trout Unlimited Teen Advisory, he got his dad, Alan Nogee, into the sport.
"He has real good timing," Griffin said as he watched Ankher-Nogee cast after the competition.
"You've got to throw a tight loop," he said. The cast relies on the weight of the line and needs to stay on a plane close to the tip of the rod.
"It's probably not a natural move," said competitor Bill Norrish.
Promoting the sport is just one of the store's missions, said owner Charlie Shadan. The store, tucked into a brick building, has been open for eight years. This year is the sixth competition.
In the spring, the store is responsible for stocking the local rivers and streams with fish provided by the state. When locals distribute the stock, they are able to spread the fish out enough so that they are not caught all in the same place.
One of the most important things the store, its customers and the Squanna-tissit chapter of Trout Unlimited do is promote clean water, Shadan said.
Each year, they participate in a river clean-up. And the shop ran a raffle to benefit removing the Millie Turner Dam near Route 111. The project is a collaboration that includes the state and conservation groups, he said. The work is scheduled to begin in mid-2015.
After the competition, the anglers met back at the shop to learn who the winners were. Griffin computed the scores while others ate pizza and chicken wings.
A lucky few, including Shadan, had fishing on the agenda for later in the day.
The streams around Pepperell are low and warm at the end of summer, but the waterways further north and west beckoned.