Article by Nate Skinner for Lone Star Outdoor News
Most fishing competitions involve anglers fighting to catch the largest specimens of a particular species. The Agua Fresca fly fishing tournament, hosted by Gruene Outfitters and 25 On The Fly, took this concept and threw it out the window.
Halfway between a scavenger hunt and a fishing tournament, the event challenged anglers to team up for two full days of fishing with the goal of landing as many species as possible from a list of 18. different types of fish, all found in Texas. In addition to counting several species, the fishermen were also invited to take on team challenges throughout the event. The top three teams with the most points by racking up multiple species and ticking off team challenges were crowned winners.
Gruene Outfitters store manager Chris Long said any public waterway in Texas is open for teams of fly fishermen to fish.
âWe had a total of 25 adult teams competing,â said Long. “Many teams fished multiple bodies of water and took a road trip to check off as many species and team challenges as possible on their scorecards.”
The first team consisted of Ryan Clarke and Robert Faaborg. They captured 11 different species and totaled 3,600 points. Kyle Trainor and Adam Soto landed eight species and scored 2,410 points to secure second place, and third place included Odum Wu and Dylan Mendoza. They captured seven species and scored 2,370 points.
âSome species and team challenges were worth more points than others,â Long explained. âOne of the team’s challenges was the longest fish category. Wu and Mendoza caught a 47-inch boy on the fly which increased their point total compared to the 4th place team, who actually caught a species more than them.
A team of young people participated in the event, traveling from Abilene to fish the Hill
Area of ââthe country. Brothers Will and Clay Knight drug their father all over Hill Country for two consecutive days.
âThis event would not have been possible without the support of Gruene Outfitters owner Tiffany Yeates,â said Long. “She’s the reason I can organize awesome events like this.”
Fly fishing guide and fly maker Jeffrey Davis participated in the tournament and found the format both fun and challenging.
âThe multi-species aspect is definitely a game-changer,â he said. âAs a guide, you often focus on one or a few species of fish. This tournament has forced you to step out of your comfort zone and try new things in order to be successful. It really leveled the playing field.
Davis said the format proves just how diverse freshwater fishing is in Texas.
âIt was interesting to see how many different species of fish could be caught on a body of water or in an area,â he said. âI spend a lot of time on the water, but I often have tunnel vision as a guide. The event opened my eyes to the number of different angling opportunities and the number of different species of flies that will actually deceive.
According to Davis James, co-owner and operator of 25 On The Fly, the event was judged using a capture-video-release concept, which allowed fishermen to submit videos in real time on a smartphone app. , which were then rated remotely by a panel. of judges.
“The proprietary smartphone app used to submit species and team submission videos allowed the tournament production team to upload and present the captures in real time to social media platforms and post the tournament results in a highlights recap video, âexplained James. âUsing this technology and format for a fishing tournament takes an event to new levels and allows it to reach both anglers and fans alike. “
James and his business partner, Blake Katchur, founded 25 On The Fly and came up with this tournament format as a way to bring the fly fishing community together and shed light on many underrated fish species in the Colorado where they reside.
“In a country where largemouth bass fishing apparently dominates the freshwater industry, we wanted to show the world of conventional gear that flies can effectively trick bass, as well as other species.” James said.
The idea has now evolved into a series of events across the country, hosted by 25 On The Fly and partner flight shops and organizations that host the tournaments.