By Zak Brown
Saturday, October 6, 2007
LOVELAND — As he climbed out of Big Thompson River on Friday afternoon, Eddie Pinkston was hoping to go out on top.
The fly fisherman from Asheville, N.C., was in third place going into the final session of the National Fly Fishing Championships on Friday. He needed a good day on his assigned piece of water, just below the Idylewild Dam. If that happened, he had a solid chance of winning what could be the 58-year-old’s last national championships.
“Well, this is probably my last one. I don’t know how much longer I can handle fishing like this for three straight days,” the tall, lanky Pinkston said. “This is really made for those fishermen who are in their prime, but have still had enough experience on the water.”
Friday was the last day for the championships, which brought more than 150 competitors to northern Colorado for the three-day event. The competitors fished on the Big Thompson River, the Poudre River and Parvin and Dowdy Lakes in the Red Feather Lakes area.
Because of the wide area of competition, the final scores for the competition were still being determined late on Friday night. But the competitors were already trying to figure out the winner Friday afternoon. The fish stories were flying around the Big Thompson, but these ones were actually accurate. Pinkston caught seven in a three-hour period, which gave him — and others — hope.
Pinkston is known around the championships as a character, which is why several people congregated around him when he finished his day. When one of the spectators shook his hand they said, “I think I’m shaking the hand of the gold medalist.”
Even if he didn’t win the gold medal, Pinkston was happy to just be fishing Colorado waters on a beautiful fall day.
“There’s plenty of trout waters where I’m from, but not the volume of fish there are here,” he said. “You all have some beautiful rivers here.”
Trout Unlimited will have a free Conservation Day at the Millennium Harvest House today from noon-5 p.m. to give Colorado families a glimpse into the world of stream conservation.
There will be exhibits, activities and speakers. Experts will talk about oil and gas drilling on Colorado’s Roan Plateau, balancing oil and gas exploration with wildlife, implications of climate change for western waterways and nitrogen and mercury deposits in Colorado’s high mountain lakes and streams.
Children’s activities include the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s giant aquarium with trout and other Colorado fish and a fly tying table for young people.
A barbecue lunch will be available for $7 from noon-2 p.m.
For an event schedule, including information about tickets for tonight’s banquet with keynote speaker Gov. Bill Ritter, visit www.cotrout.org.