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Experience pays during casting event
By Steve Wright
GO Games Staff

Carter Andrews
Carter Andrews bested high winds and all competitors in the Fly Casting competition.
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Experience ruled the day in the fly casting events, which opened the third annual ESPN Great Outdoor Games here Wednesday.

Carter Andrews of Crooked Island, Bahamas, the silver medalist from last year, and Chuch Farneth of Little Rock, Ark., the gold medalist a year ago, finished first and second in the distance and accuracy casting events, which determine seeding for Thursday's fishing competition.

Lori Ann Murphy of Victor, Idaho, the only other returnee from last year, finished fourth in the casting events.

"I was listening to some of the others talking before we started," said Andrews. "I heard a lot of 'are you nervous?' in the conversations. All we're doing is what we do almost every day — cast a fly rod. But on the other hand, when you turn the cameras on and you're performing in front of a crowd it's very different from what we usually do."

Weather attempted to dominate the fly casting events, as winds from 12 to 20 miles per hour gusted, compounding the nervousness of the nine first-time competitors.

Ultimately every angler starts again at zero when the medalists are determined Thursday on the Ausable. But seeding is critical in getting a section of the river that has a greater amount and variety of trout holding cover. Andrews, with his No. 1 seeding, selected the same section of the river as he did a year ago.

"I feel strongly about that," Andrews said. "The water is a little lower than it was last year and this section has two deep stretches in it. I rolled about a 20-inch fish in there last year, which I couldn't get to bite again, so I know there are some good fish in there."

Farneth, ironically, won't be fishing where he won the gold medal in 2001, although he had the chance to select it with his No. 2 seeding. Farneth chose the river section just upstream from Andrews. It's where Farneth fished in 2000 when he finished seventh overall.

"It's got a couple of spring-fed feeder creeks," Farneth said. "It has the potential to hold some good fish."

There is a similarity to playing a card game of poker in the Fly Fishing event. The medalists are those who land the longest fish. Once an angler lands a fish, he or she must decide whether that one will be the fish entered in the competion or not. But you may enter only one. So it's either stay at zero and keep fishing or enter that fish and quit. And anglers aren't allowed to discuss their fish with the other anglers.

Chuck Farneth
Defending One Fish champ Chuck Farneth placed second.
In 2000, Tom Rowland won the event with an 18.5-inch brown trout. Doug Swisher also caught an 18.5-inch brown, but Rowland won the tiebreaker due to the greater girth of his fish.

Last year, most assumed it would take another 18-inch-plus trout to win it. Rowland released a 17-inch plus fish, which would have earned him a second straight gold medal if he had known that Farneth's 16-incher would end up being the best fish of the day.

Farneth and Andrews agreed that if either caught an 18-inch trout on his first cast Thursday, he would quit and make that one official.

"I'd measure it in a heart beat," Andrews said. "I hope someone catches a 20-incher. That would be good for the sport, and you just know there are some that big in here. But 18 is a good number to keep in mind. That will at least make you a medalist."

Farneth, Andrews and Murphy established the experience factor from the first casting event Wednesday. In the long distance competition, Farneth was first with a cast of 97 feet, earning him 97 points. Carter was second with 91 feet, and Murphy was third with 83 feet.

Competition moved from the GO Games oval to Mirror Lake for the accuracy casting, where the gusting winds really became a factor. Each angler had three attempts to hit a floating target with a 35-foot standard cast, a 45-foot roll cast, a 50-foot backcast and a 60-foot forward cast. The target held a 12-inch diameter inner ring worth 300 points, a 24-inch middle ring worth 200 points and a 36-inch outer ring worth 100 points.

Andrews executed the only two 300-point casts of the day, making a perfect cast on both the 35-foot target and the 65-footer, in addition to earning 100 points with one of his three backcasts. Combined with his 91 feet distance cast, Andrews totaled 791 points.

Mirror Lake was white-capping at times during the casting accuracy event.

Farneth used repeated false casts to gauge the wind and earn 300 total points with his three 35-foot forward casts, scoring twice with 100 and then 200 points. He scored 100 points on a backcast and another 100 on a 65-foot forward cast. His second place total was 597 points.

Nathan Rayl of Cheyenne, Wy., earned the No. 3 seed with a superior exhibition of backcasting. Rayl earned all 400 of his accuracy points on that one station, hitting two 100-point rings and a 200-pointer in his three backcasts.

The greatest testament to the effects of Wednesday's gusting winds was the fact that four of these 12 accomplished fly fishers couldn't hit a single 36-inch target on 12 casts.

Thursday's fishing competition will be divided into six three-hour morning sessions and six three-hour afternoon sessions. All three top seeds selected the morning hours to fish as Rayl took Beat No. 4 on the Ausable's morning session, meaning he, Farneth and Andrews will occupy the lower three river sections beginning at 6 a.m. Thursday.

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