World’s best anglers in Summit County
Summit County correspondent
Vail CO, Colorado
FRISCO, Colorado” The top trout waters of Summit County are being stalked by international anglers for the first-ever America Cup fly fishing tournament.
With the 9 a.m. start of the first-ever America Cup fly fishing tournament, some of the word’s best fly fishermen will compete for what many consider to be the world championship.
“The best teams from Europe are here and in the world,” Irishman Michael Drinan said. “It should really be called the ‘World Championships.'”
Twelve teams from six different countries ” Ireland, Hungary, Poland, Japan, Australia and the United States ” will compete in the inaugural event.
The competition takes place today through Friday on the Blue, Colorado and Arkansas Rivers and on Ten Mile Creek.
Drinan and David Pehle conceived the idea for The America Cup a couple years back, and Summit County was the obvious choice to host the event.
“We are in close proximity to the rivers that are very good fishing,” Pehle, a Colorado resident, said. “It is just a great venue. Frisco, the town, just has been great through the whole thing.”
Results for the tournament are judged based on international fly fishing rules.
Teams, made up of five anglers each, receive points for every fish they catch that measures more than 20 centimeters. For every centimeter past the benchmark, the team will receive additional points.
Keeping in tune with Summit County’s general catch-and-release regulations, all fish will be returned to the waters after being measured and checked by a tournament official.
“We have strict rules, very strict rules,” Pehle said, also noting requirements for barb-less hooks and a ban on lead weights.
The teams will fish the waters in 200-yard “beats,” and rotate between the four different streams.
“So in the morning, say you are going to fish the Blue,” Pehle said, “in the afternoon, you might fish the Colorado. It keeps it lively, and you fish a different venue everyday.”
The rotations are broken down into five sessions. There will be a morning (9 a.m. to noon) and an afternoon (2-5 p.m.) both today and Thursday. On Friday, there will only be a morning session.
Because everyone will be fishing the same waters ” albeit at different times ” it will be increasingly harder to land a fish as the tournament progresses.
“The first day, you better catch a lot of fish,” Pehle said.
Drinan, though only on his third trip to the States, has been practicing with Team Emerger, which takes the name of the bait and tackle company he owns in Ireland.
His team, of which he is the captain, has been trying to get a read on the waters they will be fishing.
“The waters here are so different than we have in Europe and back home,” he said. “They are faster flowing rivers (here). We have learned a lot from fishing here.”
Though Drinan has high hopes for his own team, he considers the three-time world champion Polish team to be the overwhelming favorite.
“They are the guys that we have to beat,” he said. “It makes this a world-class competition having them here.”
With the conclusion of the tournament Friday afternoon, The America Cup will hold a party at the Frisco Bay Marina from 3-8 p.m. Awards to the top teams will be presented and there will be live music and food, as well casting and technique clinics.
“You can hang around with these guys and pick their brains if you’re a fly fisherman,” Pehle said.
Fans wanting to get an up-close view of the action can walk the trails along Ten Mile Creek and see the anglers in action.