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Sun Valley Single Fly Tourney Reels in Frogs and Funds
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Orthodontist Tim Auger shows off the fly box he won for reeling in 23 fish, including a 15-inch trout, on the Big Wood River at Hailey’s north end before attending to a patient’s emergency surgery and taking his 80-plus-year-old mother golfing.
   
Monday, August 1, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Fourteen-year-old Reid Black caught only a frog, but that was good enough for a prize.

Black’s friend Uzziel Almaras lost his fly with his first cast, but that netted him a handsome wooden fly box, as well.

And orthodontist Tim Auger, who moved to Sun Valley a year ago for the fly fishing, set a new Sun Valley Single Fly Fishing Tournament record, reeling in 23 fish, including a 15-inch trout and several 9- and 10-inch fish, in the two hours allotted.

 
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Uzziel Almaras’ cast looked great, but he lost his fly on the first cast in what was just his second fly fishing outing.
 

“Everybody who competes provides a copy of the fly they used, so that means the winner gets a copy of every fly used by those he competed against,” said fly fishing guide David Kurtz.

The Sun Valley Single Fly reeled in 50 adults and youth Saturday in a benefit for Idaho Base Camp youth camp. Each fisherman was given the opportunity to see how many fish he or she could reel in with a single fly in a two-hour period anywhere along the Big Wood River.

Each was provided swag bags containing things like a tape measure to measure their fish. And each was told that purple haze was the fly to have by anglers taking part in a gallery walk-like affair for fishermen the night before.

“What a great event and what a great cause!” enthused Auger.

 
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Katelyn Berman offers up some fly fishing tips to novices during a Nosh and Knots event the evening before the tournament.
 

The event was conceived during the pandemic as a way to raise money, while giving youngsters an opportunity to engage in nature.

It was modeled after the Jackson Hole One Fly event, a three-day event that costs thousands to enter and has raised more than $2.3 million to improve habitat for fine-spotted and Yellowstone cutthroat trout in the Snake River drainage and the headwaters of Yellowstone National Park.

“One fly, three days. It’s the New York Marathon, while our event is the best 5K ever,” said Kurtz.  “Ours is a great event. It brings out kids. It brings out parent-child teams. It brings out seniors. My mother-in law won last year.”

Michele Schwartz said that funds raised enable Idaho Base Camp, which is located on Trail Creek Summit, to treat 500 fifth-graders from public schools in Blaine, Custer, Butte, Lemhi and Ada counties to a three-day, two-night outdoor adventure program at no charge.

 
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Reid Black fished the Big Wood near Sun Valley Resort’s River Run Lodge.
 

“Many of these kids have never been outdoors, and teachers have told us that this is the best experience they’ve had because the children learn in a new way,” she said. “They learn exercises that teach balance. They learn courage as they walk blindfolded through the woods. They learn about wildlife and the fish and they learn how to bond, how to hang out without always checking their cell phones.”

The water level in the Big Wood was about as good as it gets for fly fishing on Saturday.

 “We thought it was going to be a bad year because the snowpack in March was only at 60 percent of average,” said Susanne Conner, with Lost River Outfitters. “Then we got a lot of snow and rain and the snowpack increased to 150 percent. It was big for the river and that was good for the fish.”

Still, George Rizzo warned, anyone starting at 7 in the morning when the tournament opened was in for a struggle.

 
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George Rizzo looks through a long line of fly ties with names like Chubby Chernobyl, Yellow Parachute, Zebra Magic, Pat’s Rubber Leg, Smokejumper and Stubby Chubby as he assists an angler at Sun Valley Outfitters.
 

“It usually gets better after 9 because that’s when the bugs come out and the fish want the bugs,” he said. “Unless you’re fishing Silver Creek. Silver Creek’s fine at 7.”

Despite good fishing conditions, some anglers got skunked.

“I caught three very small fish—I was hoping to pull something bigger than I got,” said Dexter Brown, who fished above Hulen Meadows for the Windermere team. “But it’s okay. I love fishing—that’s why I live here. And I’ll head to the Big Lost River after lunch.”

Jack and Amelia Michalsk followed Amelia’s sister’s family to Hailey from New York City in 2020 to ensure their children could attend school in person during the pandemic. Jack Michalsk has fallen in love with the fly fishing here.

“I can be at the river in four minutes on my bike after the kids are in bed,” he said. “I heard about this tournament and said, ‘Sounds like fun and it’s a good cause.’ ”

Mat Gershater noted that Idaho BaseCamp, which he designed to grow leaders and teach children about the environment, is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

“When I started 25 years ago, I just wanted to have fun. Now we’ve provided outdoor education for more than 10,000 students,” he said.

He was excited to see youngsters turn out for the Single Fly event as it offered them yet another opportunity to engage with and learn about nature.

Fourteen-year-old Reid Black woke up at 3 in the morning the day of the tourney, excited to go fishing.

“I told him, ‘Go back to bed. We’ll fish later,’ ” said his mother Tiffani Black.

Reid’s 11-year-old sister took part in the fly-tying class on Friday night but did not get to take part in the Single Fly tourney.

“I want to learn how to fly fish because my brother says it’s relaxing,” said Irie Black. “I hope I can be in the tournament next year.”

THE WINNERS:

Corporate Team—Freestone Building Group

Adult Duo—Jim Rivetts and Rockwell Hammond

Parent/Child Duo—Brian and Thomas Connell

Junior—Luca de la Torre

Open—Tim Auger

Senior—Scott Carlin

Women’s--Shawna Wallace

One Frog-Reid Black

Smallest Fish—Carlos De la Torre (2.5 inches)

First Cast Lost Fly—Uzziel Almaras

Best Photos: Michelle de la Torre and Dave Kurtz.

IDAHO BASE CAMP CELEBRATES 25th with FILM, OPEN HOUSE

Idaho Base Camp will toast 25 years of providing outdoor experiences and education for youth by showing a camp documentary at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4, at the Argyros Theatre in Ketchum.

On Saturday and Sunday, Idaho Base Camp will hold an open house at its Big Lost campus. There’ll be a barbecue and ceremony with music and storytelling beginning at 5 p.m., and people are invited to camp on the premises. Sunday’s schedule includes group yoga at 9 a.m., with suggestions of nearby hikes offered for the afternoon.

The camp is located at 4921 Trail Creek, past the turnoff for Wildhorse. To RSVP, visit https://idahobasecamp.org/our-events/mat-25-anniversary-celebration

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