American anglers take 3rd at World Championship | SummitDaily.com

American anglers take 3rd at World Championship

John LaConte
Vail Daily

EAGLE COUNTY — Spain defended its fly-fishing crown at the 36th annual FIPS-Mouche World Fly Fishing Championship on Saturday, with France taking second and the U.S. finishing third.

In the individual standings, Americans Lance Egan and Pat Weiss took third and fourth, respectively, with Julien Daguillanes, of France, winning and Jordi Cortina, of Spain, taking second. The Americans had four finishers in the top 15, an unprecedented achievement for the team that finished last at the World Fly Fishing Championship in 1997 and has been steadily improving since then.

Egan said he was able to finish well by fishing making the most of the bad beats he was dealt. The athletes randomly draw what beat — or section of the river — they will receive in competition.

"I drew a beat that produced the least amount of fish and managed to catch more fish than all other competitors combined," Egan said."I drew two good beats and two dreadful beats."

““The rivers were perfect for us, and the organization was good,” said David Arcay Fernandez, of the Spanish team. “We are very happy to win in the U.S. because it’s the best of fly-fishing, so winning here is very good for us.”David Arcay FernandezSpanish team

Egan also won the Slyvan Lake portion of the competition at the State Park in Eagle.

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"In the lake, you make your own luck," he said.

3,802 FISH CAUGHT, RELEASED

Other venues included the Eagle and Colorado rivers in Eagle County and the Blue River in Summit County.

Egan caught 60 fish over the course of the three-day competition; Cortina caught 70 and Daguillanes caught 86 trout. Those fish were then measured for length and each competitor received a point total based on number of fish caught and the length of those fish. Daguillanes biggest fish was a whopping 32-inch trout caught in water surrounded by privately owned banks on the Eagle River.

"It's hard to fight a fish like this because we lost a lot of time," he said of the 6 to 7 minute struggle it took to bring in the enormous trout. "But it's very important to have a big fish."

Daguillanes, 34, has been competing for half his life, but has never achieved a result as momentous as the individual World Championship gold medal he was awarded at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail on Saturday.

"I feel amazing," he said.

Following the competition, tournament organizer John Knight said Daguillanes had the Vail Rod and Gun Club to thank for the monster fish. The private water was donated in part by members of Vail local and State Sen. Kerry Donovan's family, and Donovan gave a speech at Saturday's closing ceremonies in Vail, thanking the International Sport Flyfishing Federation for returning to the U.S. after 19 years.

"Vail is known for its snow sports, but as many of you have discovered, those high mountain snowpacks turn into wonderful trout waters," Donovan said. "Fly-fishing is a magical way to experience the outdoors."

A total of 3,802 fish were caught by the 25 participating teams in the three-day competition, which wrapped up late Friday evening. The Spanish team caught 302 fish, the French team caught 293 fish, and the American team caught 289 fish.

SPAIN DEFENDS TITLE

Most of the Spanish team was experiencing their fist trip to the U.S. during the 36th World Fly Fishing Championships. Despite not having much time to get used to the surroundings, they managed to defend their title.

"The rivers were perfect for us, and the organization was good," said David Arcay Fernandez, of the Spanish team. "We are very happy to win in the U.S. because it's the best of fly-fishing, so winning here is very good for us."

Before the competition, Fernandez struck an ironic tone when asked if the Americans were going to be tough to beat.

"We will see, we will see," he said with a smirk. "At the end of the competition we will tell you."

Also last year's winners at the 35th World Fly Fishing Championship, Spain now faces the prospect of attempting a three-peat at next year's World Championship.

The medal presentation also included a ceremonial passing of the championship scroll and box to the country of Slovakia, which will host the 37th World Fly Fishing Championship next year.

"I hope we in Slovakia organize so high level a championship," Slovakian team member Igor Hribik said while accepting the scroll and box. "See you next year."

VOLUNTEER HELP

How does Eagle County keep attracting world championships level events? Volunteer support might be the answer. Eight-year-old Sam Streb, of Minturn, said he had a once-in-a-lifetime experience volunteering at the World Fly Fishing Championships. “Watching them, I learned a couple new things … I feel like they care about the fish, not just catching them,” Streb said.

Next up, Team USA could use some volunteer help the weekend of Oct. 8 at regionals near Ft. Collins on the Poudre river, Horsetooth Reservoir and Barnes Meadow Reservoir. To volunteer, contact Ed Mulhern at emulhern14@gmail.com.

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