Some hockey dads and moms think they have it bad when they have to drive sons and daughters halfway across the state for a game.
Imagine your young athlete on the U.S. Youth Fly Fishing Team. There’s only one away game, but it’s in Portugal.
Actually, that doesn’t sound like a bad time — a trip to the Pyrenees Mountains, where some of the best young fly-fishers in the country will go up against real sharpies from
European countries with long histories of competitive angling.
The assistant coach of the U.S. team is a New Yorker, my friend Loren Williams, a guide on the Salmon River in Oswego County who’s been involved in international competitive fly-fishing for a number of years. Williams was the head coach of one of the two home teams when the 2007 World Youth Fly Fishing Championship was held in State College, Pa., and was the official fly-tier for the men’s team in Sweden in 2005.
The 14-18-year-olds on the team will be fishing intensely for wild brown trout in the Ceira, Alva and Mondego rivers in Penacova, Portugal — “really, really, really fanatically spooky fish,” Williams said.
As a guide for often-wary salmon and steelheads on the hard-fished Salmon River, Williams knows plenty about catching spooky fish. He said the seven-member U.S. youth squad is up to the task.
“You watch these kids fish, and it’s mind-blowing,” Williams said. “I wouldn’t want to compete against some of them.”
The subject of competitive fishing has always been a little controversial, even among those anglers who are willing to admit they secretly hope to out-fish the guy next to them.
Some think rules, judges and medals have no place in fishing, and competition introduces a little of the rat race that we go to the stream to forget about in the first place.
But its fans note that competitive fly-fishing is a clean, gentlemanly game, and Williams said the world championship is long on sportsmanship, cultural exchange and the fraternity of anglers.
“It’s an honor to go to other countries and catch their fish and meet the people and [experience] the culture,” he said. “And it’s an honor to have them come here, too.”
This year’s seventh world championship sanctioned by FIPS Mouche (the Federation Internationale de Peche Sportive Mouche, or International Federation of Sport Fly Fishing) will be held Aug. 5-8. Last year, U.S.
Team 1 just missed a bronze medal, and Team 2 finished a respectable seventh. The U.S. team finished fifth in the 2006 championship in Moncao, Portgual.
You can learn more about the U.S. Youth Fly Fishing Team at www.usyouthflyfishingteam.com.
Speaking of Web sites, I highly recommend that fly-fishers, and especially fly-tiers, visit Williams’ site, www.flyguysoutfitting.com.
Williams has posted detailed, beautifully photographed, original tutorials on tying dry flies, nymphs, streamers, stillwater patterns and egg patterns, making strike indicators and even tying those neat Polish-style woven nymphs, along with other fishing tips and tricks and very good articles.
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