Thursday, September 23, 2010

Americas Cup Fly Fishing Tournament

The Americas Cup came to town and I thought that it would be a great chance to pick up a few "tips" (or a whole new style of fishing), see the pros in full garb, and watch them tear into fish. The Tournament was hosted on what I would consider my "home waters" the Lower Blue, Arkansas (near Granite), and Colorado River (near Dotsero). Much of the time I fish these waters with dry dropper rigs, nymph rigs with a bobber, or streamers and often from a boat. So needless to say when I arrived and everyone was stringing up 10+ foot rods with colorful mono attached mid line and 20+ foot leaders, I knew the circus was definitely in town.

Top Dog Devan Olsen trying to get one more, with only a few minutes left on the clock.

This is all due to the strict international rules that the competitors have to play by; no pinch on weight, no indicators, one continuous leader, so flies go on short tags, and the files must be 20 inches or 50.8 cm apart. The bottom line is that these techniques can be down right deadly. The weight is in the flies, often weighing up to 1-2 grams, and competitors "swim" these nymphs through a run and fish them deep, on the rise, on the swing, and a whole host of other techniques that make the flies come alive and trigger strikes.

Kevin Lowe working dry dropper rigs in the quiet water off the bank.

I made sure to get myself into some fun stuff so I told John Knight the big guy on campus that I wanted to post up on the lower blue and watch the competitors do battle with some of the hogs that inhabit the deep holes.
The rig is an essential part of the equation, so this happens a lot.

The first session I had Kevin Lowe, he went into the morning seated well with a first place and second place finish on the Ark. I was as excited as any other competitor riding the bus down river to our beat. The excitement soon died when I saw the piece of water, a giant riffle with 15 meters of braids. I figured that this was really going to be a lesson learned catching fish on this stretch. Bottom line the traditional Czech rig failed and Kevin went to double dry with a small dropper off the back and hooked two fish, lost both. Heartbreak and silence fell across the beat as the three hour time limit came to an end. The most dreaded thing a competition angler can say had to come out of his mouth, "I blanked." A blank gives you the maximum points possible in a game where you would ideally like to have no points.

Rob on his beat, lots of good water here.

Luck and a little work on my end, I got dropped off on the Upper Blue, beat #1 fishing with good old Rob Kolanda. I figured that I could have a little fun working with a friend and one hell of an angler. That afternoon Robbie focused efforts on a new style of Polish rigging and a different presentation. Guess what it seemed to work just fine. Rob ended up catching fish number on fifteen minutes in and with the blank out of the question the tension was lifted. By the end of the three hours Kolanda had recorded 5 the most caught that session, but Austin Randecker had more points accumulated due to larger fish, and bumped Rob down to 2nd. Still not a bad finish.

Locked in...feeling for the next bite.

After the day ended at 7 pm I went back to Breck, ready to get my fish on the next day on the Blue River close to Dillion with Jessie. We didnt keep score that day, but id say that she brought home the gold, on the crisp autumn afternoon we spent catching lots of nice rainbows.

Upon returning to Boulder I found out that two of the Team USA guys took the number 1 and 2 spot and a Polish fellow went home with the bronze. Get involved next year!