In todays news. Leland. Idaho lands ESPN fly-fishing contest By DARYL GADBOW of the Missoulian Rejected by Montana, event moves to Henry's Fork of Snake River After being turned down by Montana, ESPN will hold its Great Outdoor Games fly-fishing tournament in Idaho, the television network announced Monday. ESPN proposed holding a fly-fishing contest on Missoula-area rivers April 8-10 as a qualifying test for its 2003 Great Outdoor Games, a made-for-TV event that combines competition in a variety of outdoor activities, which will be held in July in Reno, Nev. On Feb. 14, after receiving almost 400 public comments that ran 2-to-1 against the Missoula contest, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks denied ESPN's request to hold it. Montana fishing regulations prohibit contests that impact wild trout. So the ESPN tournament would have required a waiver of the rule from FWP. Objections to the Missoula event in the public comments included potential negative impacts to the fishery and recreation by the likelihood of increased fishing pressure and crowding caused by the national television exposure. Eric Matijevich, director of the ESPN Great Outdoor Games, said he was surprised and disappointed by FWP's decision. But he said the network wouldn't appeal it to the FWP Commission, which is allowed under state regulations. Matijevich said ESPN planned to hold the fly-fishing contest in an alternative location and that the network was considering five or six different sites. ESPN and Idaho state officials announced Thursday that the ESPN Fly Fishing Challenge, one of two regional qualifiers for the Great Outdoor Games, will be held April 8-10 on the Henry's Fork of the Snake River near Idaho Falls. "The Henry's Fork is a spectacular site for our Western competition," said Matijevich. "We were looking for generous waters that are still going to challenge the anglers and get them ready for the kind of world-class event we're going to have at the games in July." The competition will involve 18 anglers. Twelve have already been chosen by committee review of the applications. The other six will be selected through an open-call casting competition early in the first day of the event. The April contest will be televised on ESPN2 at 12:30 p.m. during the June 14 ESPN Outdoors weekend television programs and again on June 20 at 1 and 7 p.m. "The Henry's Fork is one of America's great fly-fishing rivers," said John Barrett of Missoula, whose production company is working with ESPN to televise the event. "Through the show," Barrett added, "viewers will get an opportunity to see anglers test their skills on a river that's still accessible and generous to the everyday fisherman." Fly Fishing Challenge contestants will wade or fish from drift boats for a maximum of three hours on designated sections of the Henry's Fork. Within that time, the competitors must each measure and declare a single fish as his or her official catch, and then release it back into the river. Once the angler has declared a fish, he or she must stop fishing. The top six anglers from the first day of the contest will move on to the final day of competition. The top three anglers from the final day will earn prize money and invitations to the Great Outdoor Games, set for July 10-13, on the Truckee River in Nevada.