Craig Kennedy laughs while trying to get a grip on the best fish he caught during Sunday’s Floatin’ The ’Boat event put on by Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports and Steamboat Flyfisher. The camp brought disabled fishermen to Steamboat for a day of fishing a private lease on the Yampa River.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Craig Kennedy laughs while trying to get a grip on the best fish he caught during Sunday’s Floatin’ The ’Boat event put on by Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports and Steamboat Flyfisher. The camp brought disabled fishermen to Steamboat for a day of fishing a private lease on the Yampa River.

Fly fishing camp in Steamboat makes a splash

STARS fishing event reels in big ones on the Yampa

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James Clark, center, laughs while fishing on the Yampa River on Sunday during the Floatin’ The ’Boat adaptive flyfishing camp in Steamboat Springs.

Editor's note: This story has been updated from its original published version. The two-day fly fishing event was organized by Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports and Steamboat Flyfisher. Access Anything was not one of the event organizers.

The fishing Sunday was a little like the United States’ stay in the World Cup — a whole lot of close calls and a few questions of “How’d that one not count?”

In the end, though, those moments led up to big catches and, by all accounts, a great morning for the campers at the inaugural Floatin’ The ’Boat fly fishing camp put on by Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports and Steamboat Flyfisher.

“We get to do this every day and take it for granted,” said Tim Widmer, one of the Steamboat Flyfisher guides helping out. “It’s fun to get people out there who don’t always get to go. It really gives you a new appreciation of things.”

The two-day event featured four adaptive campers in what Steamboat's Craig Kennedy hopes is the first of many future events.

It started off Saturday, when the participants tried to get the hang of casting while on the safety of dry ground in Steamboat Springs. They took in the rodeo later in the evening, then gathered early Sunday to hit the water.

The campers loaded up on drift boats supplied by the guides at Steamboat Flyfisher and took to a three-mile private lease on the Yampa River near Milner.

More than four hours on the water yielded a number of catches and more bites than anyone could count.

Lee Johnston snagged a brown trout with a dry fly and was pulling it when it snapped off the string and swam to safety.

That didn’t ruin his day.

“It was fun,” said the Denver resident who was injured in a 1997 auto accident. “I don’t get to fish as much as I’d like, so any chance I get I really enjoy it.”

Kennedy, who helped organize the camp on behalf of Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports, and with assistance from Steamboat Flyfisher’s Tim Kirk­­patrick, had two fish he was pulling in jump off the hook.

He managed to reel in two more, however, one a baby of about 4 inches and the other a nice-sized, 17-inch rainbow trout.

“What a beautiful part of the river to see,” he said afterward. “It’s great to see an area you never do.

“For me, it’s all about getting out of the wheelchair, leaving it behind.”

The camp started off what will be a busy summer for STARS. The nonprofit organization plays host to its first adaptive cycling camp, Bikin’ the ’Boat. The July 6-8 camp will include cycling on area paths and roads and trips up the gondola for a mountain biking experience.

Then the Behind the ’Boat skiing and wakeboarding camp returns to town July 20-22, featuring time at Bald Eagle Lake and a day floating on the Colorado River.

For more information on any of the organization’s events, check out the STARS page at www.steamboatstars.com.

— To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 871-4253 or e-mail jreichenberger@steamboatpilot.com

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