World fly-fishing federation visits Vail |

World fly-fishing federation visits Vail

EAGLE COUNTY — By now you’re probably aware that the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships are coming to our area. But did you know in 2016 the World Championships will be here, as well? The World Championships of fly-fishing, that is.

The International Sport Flyfishing Federation, otherwise known as FIPS-Mouche, is in town this week doing a site visit at the proposed venues for the 2016 Fly Fishing World Championships and the 2015 World Youth Fly Fishing Championships, which will take place here and in Summit County.

“What the FIS is for skiing, this group is for fly-fishing,” local angler Mark Sassi, who will be the master of ceremonies for the 2016 World Fly Fishing Championships, said of the FIPS-Mouche representatives in town.

“I’ve fished in lakes since I was 6 years old, I’ve seen some waters around the world, but this is like a fairy tale.”
Jason Lieverst
Chief of international supervision and technical commission at FIPS-Mouche

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The purpose of the visit is to make sure the Vail area will have quality fishing waters, accessibility to those areas for the competitors and event workers, and proper facilities and accommodation. On Monday, representatives from FIPS-Mouche visited the site venues at the Colorado River near Dotsero, Sylvan Lake in Eagle and the Eagle River at Wolcott.

Those representatives liked what they saw.

“I think it’s going to be historic,” Jason Lieverst, the chief of international supervision and technical commission at FIPS-Mouche, said from Lionshead Village on Monday. “This place is like Disney for us. People always say about the States, ‘They’ve got no history, they just try to make everything like the Europeans do it.’ Essentially that’s what this is, but it’s actually better than the real thing.”

Lieverst is visiting from the Netherlands, where he says the fishing can’t compare.

“I’ve fished in lakes since I was 6 years old, I’ve seen some waters around the world, but this is like a fairy tale,” he said. “I couldn’t breathe anyway — I live in Holland where we’re 50 meters below sea level, now I’m up at 9,000 feet — but Sylvan Lake took my breath away.”


FIPS-Mouche President Paul Vekemans said it’s the wild fish that has international anglers so excited about fishing the U.S.

“Last year (at the Fly Fishing World Championships), there were sessions where they caught almost 100 fish per person,” said Vekemans. “But it’s all stocked fish. It had nothing to do with skills, it was just speed fishing.”

The last time the Fly Fishing World Championships were in the U.S. was in Jackson Hole in 1997. Vekemans was the captain of the Belgian team at the time and took home a silver medal at the competition.

“It was special,” he said. “There was an opening ceremony in a rodeo station with a rodeo. They really liked to show what the States had. It was a quality show with quality fishing.”

In 2016, Vekemans said he’s expecting more quality fishing.

“And we know it will be quality organizing,” he said. “(Tournament director John Knight) came to the Czech Republic during the last World Championships a couple of months ago and said ‘Paul, can I be your shadow for a week?’ I said, ‘You’re welcome.’ He did the scoring with me, went to all meetings, all the talks with the locals, so probably he learned a lot there. I’m comfortable it will be spot on here in 2016.”


Knight is also the founder and director of the annual America Cup fly-fishing tournament, held annually in Eagle County. He says his goal all along with the America Cup was to bring the World Championships back to the U.S. This year, the America Cup secured a plot of private land to provide a venue along the Eagle River in Wolcott, something competitors said they especially appreciated as they didn’t have to compete with everyday anglers out enjoying the water.

“Wild trout, private water, these are things that are unheard of for these international competitors,” Knight said.

The 2016 World Fly Fishing Championships will take place Sept. 11-18, 2016, and the 2015 Youth World Fly Fishing Championships will be here Aug. 10-16, 2015.

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