Eagle County fishing tournament draws worldwide attention | VailDaily.com

Eagle County fishing tournament draws worldwide attention

Special to the Daily

VAIL, Colorado – Gil Padovanr really, really likes flyfishing. He checked out of a hospital Thursday, then flew to Vail to participate in this year’s America Cup flyfishing tournament.

Padovanr, a New Jersey resident, is part of the five-member World Fly Fishing Japan club team, which sent one Japanese member to the event, Misako ishimura, who lives in Arkansas.

“I just like to fish,” Padovanr said. And, while this is his first time fishing Eagle County, he’s eager to get out on the local waters, as are his teammates.

And, while all the teams at this year’s event would like to win, Padovanr had a simple answer when asked what would be a good result.

“We’re here – that’s the best part,” he said.

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Teammate Peter Van Buskirk, a Long Island, N.Y., resident, is another first-timer at the America Cup, but has fished in tournaments before.

“You want to see how you stack up,” Van Buskirk said. “We spend thousand on equipment. This is a hobby, but you want to see where you rank.”

Competitors also get a chance to see how teams from other countries fish.

“Everybody has different techniques – it’s good to see what they do,” said teammate John Kimura, a California resident.

The Japanese team is one of 14 groups hitting area waters over the next few days. Everyone will fish every stretch of water, and the people who catch the most fish win. Everyone gets 100 points for every fish, with another 20 points for every centimeter in length the fish is.

Tournament organizer John Knight of Minturn said that formula puts a premium on the number of fish. A lot of 10-inchers will score better than a handful of Big Ones, he said.

The tournament was Knight’s brainchild, after getting into competitive flyfishing by accident. On an early-year trip to Yellowstone National Park, Knight, an avid but amateur fisherman, won a tournament, which made him the captain of the Colorado team in a national event.

There, Knight started talking with members of the Irish team, who said that the United States needed its own international event. The America Cup was born.

Knight acknowledged that competitive flyfishing has its critics, who worry about the effect all those people catching – and releasing – all those fish will have on local trout populations.

“We’re the best people to touch a fish,” he said. “They’re being handled by professionals.”

Knight said he hopes this tournament gives locals a chance to see people who really know their stuff in action. And, he said, the growing popularity of the America Cup might bring a world championship event to the area, with hundreds, instead of dozens, of competitors and their friends and family members.

But, he added, the America Cup is rapidly getting to be more than he and his wife can handle alone.

“I’m not going to sleep for a few days this year,” he said.

Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or smiller@vaildaily.com.

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