Fall was in the air Friday morning as the first group of anglers took to their rafts to kick off the opening round of this weekend’s America Cup fly-fishing tournament.
It was a cool, overcast start to the first of five fishing sessions. Shortly after the boats left the docks at the Dillon Marina, the skies cleared and the sun came out for the remainder of the three-hour session. Good news for most, but not for competitive anglers.
“It was tough today,” said Glade Gunther of Utah, after the morning session. “As soon as the sun came out the fish shot right down. I’d rather fish on a stormy day than a sunny one.”
Calm waters and sunny skies make for challenging conditions, according to the fishers participating.
Sector judge Michael Johnson, of Longmont, said that flat water is especially difficult because it makes movements in a boat more noticeable to fish.
Antonio Rodrigues and Brown Hobson were able to overcome the difficult conditions and lead the group of 14 with five catches each. Tournament founder John Knight said that was a good haul for Lake Dillon. Gunther, who was in a boat with Rodrigues, came away with four catches.
A few of the fishers returned to the docks without a catch on the morning.
“It was hard fishing,” Hobson, a North Carolina native, said. “I think I had a good fly.”
U.S. Youth Team member Gabe Wittosch, whose team recently won gold at a competition in Ireland, came away with only one catch.
“We got into a couple; we couldn’t hook ’em,” the 18-year-old Georgia native said. “This is definitely going to be one of the tougher spots.”
This is the first year in the cup’s six-year history that Lake Dillon was chosen as one of the five competition sites. Throughout the weekend each of the 14 teams’ five members will fish at locations across Summit and Eagle counties. The sites are along the Blue River below the Green Mountain Reservoir, at Sylvan Lake State Park and on Black Lake on Vail Pass.
The competition attracts professional fly-fishers from across the globe, including the world No. 1 team from the Czech Republic. The U.S. Mens Team, currently ranked fifth, is also competing.