Saturday, July 12, 2003 Updated: April 4, 5:44 PM ET
Egan shocked by Fly gold
By Steve Wright ESPN Outdoor Games staff
RENO, Nev. Lance Egan decided it was time to cut his losses. After catching a 23-inch brown trout and a 19-inch rainbow trout during a practice session earlier this week on the Truckee River, Egan simply wanted to keep from zeroing when he caught an 11-inch trout at 7 p.m. Friday.
Foster Hetherington landed a 10 ¼-inch brown trout three minutes before the deadline, earning him the bronze medal.
The 25-year-old Egan, a professional fly fisherman from Sandy, Utah, was shocked to learn a few hours later that the 11-inch fish was big enough to earn him the Fly Fishing gold medal at ESPN's Great Outdoor Games.
Egan caught his winning fish on a No. 14 Bird's Nest pattern, the same fly pattern he'd used to catch the big brown and rainbow during practice.
"The fishing had been brutal and I didn't want to goose egg," Egan said after he came off the river. "An 11-inch fish is nothing to brag about, but not measuring is worse."
A gold medal, however, is something to brag about, as Egan learned when all 12 anglers gathered later and the results were announced.
It was difficult to believe an 11-inch fish won. However, everyone agreed fishing was extremely tough.
Lance Stanchfield from Wise River, Mont., took the silver medal with a 10 ½-inch trout. He caught the fish with 30 minutes left in the afternoon session.
"I saw a fish rise," Stanchfield said. "It was the only fish I saw rise all day. I was reaching at that point. He cast a No. 14 CDC Caddis and attracted the small, but silver medal-winning fish. Like Egan, Stanchfield was simply trying to avoid striking out at that point.
"That might be the toughest fishing day of my life," Stanchfield said. "I can honestly say that."
Foster Hetherington, who won the bronze medal with a 10 ¼-inch brown trout, concurred.
"I've fished in 30 different states and guided in many of them," said Hetherington, who lives in Brandon, Vermont. "Today is the least confident I've felt on the water in the last six years. Hands down."
Hetherington said he tried every pattern and technique imaginable, from dry flies to dead-drifting a heavily-weighted crawfish pattern in 10 feet of water, and barely had a hit while fishing the 6 to 9 o'clock morning session.
Then, as he hustled upstream to fish a riffle in the final 30 minutes before deadline, he tripped over a rock, and barely managed to keep his ESPN-supplied remote microphone out of the water while the Truckee River flowed into his waders.
"It turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me," Hetherington said. "It woke my ass up."
Using a No. 16 soft hackle pattern tied by recent acquaintance Ed Weber of Rochester, N.Y., Hetherington coaxed a bite from the riffle he had hustled and stumbled to reach. There were only three minutes left in his session when Hetherington landed the fish.
"I'm relieved I didn't zero, but I'm disappointed in my performance," Hetherington said, before finding out he'd won a bronze medal.
However, once the results were announced and all 12 anglers realized they'd fished the same tough conditions and hadn't simply failed to perform under pressure, those 11- and 10-inch trout started looking a lot better.
"I'm thrilled," Egan said.
Final results fly fishing
1. Lance Egan Sandy, Utah 11 inches
2. Lance Stanchfield Wise River, Mont. 10.5
3. Foster Hetherington Brandon, Vt. 10.25
4. Chris King Redding, Calif. 9.25
5. Chuck Farneth Little Rock, Ark. 8.75
6. Matt Stedina Stockbridge, Vt. 8.5
7. Whitney McDowell Denver, Colo. 8 inches
8. Mike McFarland Tyrone, Pa. 0
8. Pete Erickson Boise, Idaho 0
8. Andy Fisher Cody, Wyo. 0
8. Kevin Biegler Mound, Minn. 0
8. Tom Ference Lower Burrell, Pa. 0