By Scott Willoughby -The Denver Post
The Colorado River gives up a brown trout to Steve Good of Philadelphia during the America Cup tourney. (Scott Willoughby, The Denver Post )VAIL — Whatever your opinion may be of competitive fly-fishing, there's no arguing the math.
Like most contests, the America Cup International Fly Fishing Tournament that passed through Eagle and Summit counties last weekend was all about putting numbers on the scoreboard. But this trout fishing contest put up numbers unlike any ever imagined in Colorado.
"We ended up with a total fish count for three days of 2,189 scored fish, meaning at least 20 centimeters, or 8 inches, or more. On Friday alone, the fish count was 1,122," said tournament producer John Knight of Minturn. "It's really an anomaly to see these guys pound this water like this. I've never seen fish numbers like this, and I've competed for years."
About 70 competitors from as far as Ireland and Japan took part in the fourth annual event that landed in Vail for the first time and showcased the Colorado and Blue rivers along with Sylvan Lake near Eagle and Nottingham Lake in Avon.
Using the rigid FIPS-Mouche rules of international competition, the anglers were forbidden from using split shot or strike indicators, yet plucked fish from the water like magicians pulling rabbits from a hat, over and over and over again.
"There's tricks to everything," said Rob Kolanda of Littleton, the individual tournament champion and member of winning Team Emerger. "In fly-fishing, everything is 'match the hatch.' But the secret is good presentation. This is about triggering fish, when there isn't necessarily a hatch there to match. It's about triggers within the flies that you are using and the aspects of the fly that catches the fish's attention — is it a bead, is it a particular color, size and shape? It all figures in."
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