With a big boost from a big fish, a local group took top honors at the recent Utah Single Fly fishing contest at Flaming Gorge.

Paul Holden, Rick Krannich, Guy Jardine and Bryan Smith, all members of Cache Anglers, racked up 161 points at the Sept. 28 event to beat out 14 other teams. It was the first win in the contest’s five-year history for a local group.

“This year the fishing was very, very difficult, so having the right fly and a guide who could put you in the right spot was very important,” said Holden, who sealed the CA victory by landing a 20-incher, the largest fish measured that day.

It was a sweet title for the Cache Anglers, who two years ago were high in the standings when one team member lost his fly in a fish. Although he eventually — and amazingly — recovered the fly when that fish was re-caught, the group wasn’t able to climb back to the top.

This year, Holden fished with Krannich on one stretch of the Green River, while Jardine and Smith fished a lower section. With help from guides Charlie Card and Nick Jackson, both pairs scored well enough to push the team to the top. It didn’t hurt that Jardine and Smith drove down early to pre-fish the area, giving them a good idea of what type of fly would work. Anglers are allowed only one fly for the day — lose it and you’re done — so starting with a sturdy, effective fly is crucial.

Holden fished with a “Tootsie Roll,” a brown ant pattern fly he tied himself that is a popular fly in that area. That proved to work well in the afternoon, while the black ant pattern used by Krannich worked well in the morning.

Lance Egan, a former U.S. fly fishing champ employed by Cabela’s, landed 19 fish to tie for most fish caught by an individual. Holden said competing against pros like Egan is an added challenge, although the element of luck is always present when it comes to fishing.

“Once you think you know how to fish a river, the next day you may catch nothing,” Holden said.

In this case, river flows were changing as more water was being held in the reservoir, prompting fish to move to new places and making the anglers’ work more difficult.

“That meant that all four of us needed to keep our fly all day and catch a decent number of fish,” Holden said.

By doing just that, the group proved they could cast with anybody.

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