VAIL, Colo. – The Eagle River gave up a host of enormous trout and the final four tickets to the summer’s big event this week, as fly fishermen from across the country gathered to compete for berths in July’s ESPN Great Outdoor Games presented by Dodge.

Brian Capsay of Durango, Colo., landed a 17-inch brown trout in Thursday’s final round that put him in first place for the competition. Capsay, who grew up in Chicago, said he considers himself something of a hometown competitor for the Games, slated for July 8-11 in Madison, Wis.

“I’d like to say I’m somewhat of a hometown boy,” he said. “I grew up fishing the spring creeks around Wisconsin.”

Although Capsay, a professional guide who is breaking ground on his own shop, Durango Orvis, is no stranger to competitive fly angling, the format for the Great Outdoor Games was new to him. The competition seeds anglers into a set stretch of river, which they may fish for up to four hours in an effort to land the longest fish of the competition. However, the anglers must stop fishing after they record one official catch for the day and are forced to make a gambler’s decision of whether to keep or cull each fish.

“I came up with a game plan that I wasn’t going to keep anything under 16 and a half in the first two hours,” said second-place finisher Ryan Barnes of Salt Lake City, Utah, who will join Capsay at the Games. “I felt like I could take some risks and still have some time at the end.”

In Wednesday’s first round, Barnes stuck to that strategy and still set a Great Outdoor Games record, landing and recording a 17-inch rainbow in just two minutes and 13 seconds. Although it was the second-largest fish caught in the first round, it came back to haunt Capsay on Thursday, when he tied with Capsay. The tie was broken by Capsay’s Wednesday catch, which was three-quarters of an inch longer than Barnes’.

Nevertheless, both anglers will appear at the Games, along with Jim Hickey of Jackson, Wyo., and John Wilson of Russellville, Ark.

Final Standings
1. Brian Capsay, Durango, Colo., 17-inch brown trout
2. Ryan Barnes, Salt Lake City, Utah, 17-inch rainbow trout
3. Jim Hickey, Jackson, Wyo., 16 ?-inch inch rainbow trout
4. John Wilson, Russellville, Ark., 15 ?-inch rainbow trout
5. Riley Cotter, Vail, Colo., 12-inch brown trout
6. Rick Forge, Center Harbor, N.H., no catch

The ESPN Great Outdoor Games presented by Dodge are the ultimate championship of outdoor sports and will be held July 8-11 in Madison, Wis. Top athletes from around the world will compete at the Alliant Energy Center in competitions that will be televised on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC July 14-19.