Vail Valley’s John Knight fishes his way into international angling |

Vail Valley’s John Knight fishes his way into international angling

After organizing two world fly fishing championships in the Vail Valley, John Knight, far right, was elected vice president of the International Sport Fishing Confederation. Knight is helping lead the opening ceremonies for the 2015 World Youth Fly Fishing Championships in Vail.
Mike Speer|Special to the Daily |

Who’s John Knight?

John Knight is an avid fisherman who has competed in national-level competitions and organized international events, including two world fly-fishing championships in the Vail Valley.

He manages the USA Bass Team and is a U.S. Angling board member and an International Sport Fishing Confederation (CIPS) vice president. CIPS was started Feb. 22, 1952, and boasts 135 national federations from 79 countries, representing 50 million members.

He works with Nova Guides. They have 20 weddings this summer, plus September’s annual Healing Waters event on Karl Berger’s Coyote River Ranch. It’s for wounded military veterans and is run though Knight’s nonprofit, America Cup.

VAIL — After hosting two world fly-fishing championships in two years, John Knight thought he was done with international fishing.

Maybe, but international fishing was not done with him.

“In three weeks, my whole life changed,” Knight said. “I thought it peaked with the world championships here. I thought this adventure was done. It was more just the beginning. I’m going to Rome. I’m going to Africa …”

Last September, Knight and his nonprofit, The America Cup, hosted the 36th FIPS Mouche World Fly Fishing Championship in the Vail Valley. The summer of 2015, Knight and The America Cup hosted the world youth fly-fishing championships.

That was the fork in the road, he said.

“What we did in Vail reminded people what a great resource we have. I’m doing that globally now. To me, that’s a higher calling,” Knight said.

Those two world championships caught the international fishing community’s attention. He was invited to Niagara Falls, New York, in May for the U.S. Angling Confederation. He was elected as vice president and appointed Sports Director of Fly Fishing for the United States. He’s a liaison for the adult, masters, youth and women’s fly-fishing teams representing the United States at events around the globe.

He didn’t even unpack his suitcase. From Niagra Falls, it was off to Prague, Czech Republic, as a U.S. delegate to the International Sport Fishing Confederation (Confederation Internationale de la Peche Sportive, or CIPS). He campaigned for a seat on the CIPS Presidium as a vice president and won, the first American to do it.

Brand new BFF

Google translate is his new best friend.

“I have made so many friends around this world,” he said.

He’s one of two CIPS vice presidents. The other guy is from Senegal. CIPS liked Knight so much they elected him to lead the Youth Commission. He’ll promote youth angling and clean water education to 78 member countries and 50 million members.

“I’m not going to tell them to put their phone down. I’m going to tell them to take a picture of their fun moment and send it to their buddy in Ireland or Belgium,” Knight said.

Not everyone is angling to be an angler, Knight said.

“While every kid may not pick up a rod, they will learn the value of clean water, not to throw a plastic cup in the river,” Knight said.

That charge to work with youth will land him at next month’s National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, where he and a cast of several will teach fishing and conservation to 40,000 Boy Scouts and adults.

He had to be home for the Vail Valley Partnership Success Awards in May.

“I always want to come back to Vail. It’s my home. I hope to promote Vail around the world as I’m traveling the next four years,” Knight said.

In October, he’s off to South Africa with six of America’s top bass professionals for the Black Bass World Championship. The U.S. won the gold medal nine years ago, but hasn’t been back since. Knight is the U.S. Bass Team manager.

“This year, the USA will return to the international stage and make a run at the podium again,” Knight said.

With a little luck and a lot of skill, the United States will be in Mexico for the 2018 Black Bass World Championships, back in South Africa for the 2019 World Games and the United States for the 2020 Black Bass World Championships on the Potomac River.

His day job is with Nova Guides, which keeps him busy.

“We kept doing what we were doing and stacked a bunch of other things on top of it,” Knight said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

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