Then everything changed.
It started with the registration. Reality set in that we were no longer the only game in town. You could almost sense the trout darting for cover as the highest concentration of fly fishing mojo I’ve ever encountered radiated from the hotel conference room to the streams. There was some serious talent gathered there, and it was FOCUSED. No bravado. No swagger. Just skill.
Team Poland checks in. Houston, we’ve got a problem:
This is the hydrograph on the water we hit in practice, kind of what you’d expect in mid-September in the Rockies, even on a tailwater (who irrigates in September?):
The competition venue was switched to a private ranch. All part of the game I thought. Private water = dumb fish, right? Maybe so, but this ranch was below the Green Mountain Reservoir, and this was the hydrograph at the competition beats. I guess a golf course near Los Angeles needed to green up the fairways a tad, so the call went into Green Mountain to start dumping water.
At these flows, I concentrated more on not falling in and embarrassing myself by needing to be rescued in my first hour of competition. Weighted zonkers and bunny flies replaced the dry and dropper. Still, I connected with several heavy fish, managing a break-off and several long distance releases. Coulda-shoulda-woulda – I managed only excuses in the morning. I did score a 47 cm rainbow on a zonker in the afternoon. I must admit a rediscovered liking of the metric system. Makes everything sound bigger. Or at least longer...
Team Freestone licks its first day wounds. To quote Vince Lombardi: “What the hell is going on here?!?”
Midger made us proud on Saturday by winning his beat on the Arkansas. He also scored well with his bottom rolling nymph technique on the Blue. I had a decent beat on the Arkansas, but only scored 3 fish despite consistent hookups.
Not much else to say. Get the full damage report at www.theamericacup.com.
We’d have to settle for borrowing a medal for a snapshot. Freestoner BJ Heigle gets in on the festivities:
This was a tremendous experience for me. My only regret was not having time to watch these anglers practice their craft during the competition itself. Techniques were as diverse as the individuals, and I felt I had something to learn from each and every one of them.