Do I still fish in a competitive setting anymore? No, but trust me, it is not because I don’t want to. I promise you that there is a lot more to competitive angling than meets the eye. Like anything else, there are conflicting views and some people find negative things to say about it. The truth is, many of the negative things said about competitive angling are based on false assumptions but I’ll save that for another discussion. What I’d like to talk about today is the thing that I miss the most about competitive angling. It’s not the competitions, it’s not traveling around challenging myself with new water, it’s not continually stepping up to the plate to show “what you’ve got”, and it’s not the competitive drive to continually be a better angler. Those are all things I greatly miss about competitive angling, but the thing that I miss the most is the camaraderie of other anglers.
Some of my very best friends I met through competitive angling. If you have never been to a competition, I’m sure your assumption of the relationship between competitors is twisted. Sure, during the competitions anglers are battling one another trying to find an edge to just catch one more fish. Before and after competitors these anglers are all friends using competition as an avenue to fish with each other, and learn together. You would be shocked at the willingness of anglers to help each other out, especially after the dust settles from the end of a competition. Envision a weekend away on new water with 30 really good friends that are really good anglers, that’s pretty much a competition. Sure everyone wants to fish the best they can, and perform at the top of group, but really a competition is a justification of a group of guys fishing together on the weekends.
Competitive angling is a rare gem that has the ability to draw in anglers, and allow anglers to cross paths that never would have before. I often reflect back to when I first got involved in competitive angling. I was a 15 year old kid from Pennsylvania that was obsessed with fly fishing, but I really didn’t know anyone my age that felt as passionately about fly fishing as I did. I was selected to the US Youth Fly Fishing Team later that year and fished in “World Championships” in 2007 and 2008. Immediately upon being a part of the youth team, I was introduced to approximately 20 anglers that were the same age as me, and loved fly fishing as much as I did (Not to mention I had the great privilege of being coached by many great anglers such as George Daniel, Joe Humphreys, Loren Williams, etc) . One of the kids I met that year, Matt Rose, was from Florida (Kinda ironic because they don’t even have trout there. Sorry buddy, but I had to throw that jab in there). Matt and I became great friends and for years Matt would come all the way from Florida to stay with me in PA to fish together. This is just one example, but the point is competitive angling allowed me to meet so many kids my age that loved fly fishing as much as me, that I never would have crossed paths with otherwise. That in itself is a great thing for kids and anglers of all ages.
I also competed in Trout Legend for a couple years and I miss it just as much as my time on the youth team. Through Trout Legend, I was introduced to so many people that loved fly fishing as much as I did AND they for were all from my local area. I crossed paths with anglers through Trout Legend that I am sure I will be friends with for the rest of my life. Trout Legend is a great start for anglers of any ability to become engaged in a competitive setting. There are many people who will be happy to point you in the right direction, explain how things work, and in result, help you become a much better angler. If you are on the fence about competitive angling, I strongly urge you to give it a shot. If for no other reason, the camaraderie of other anglers is well worth the time. I’m sure you will meet many great people through competitive angling, some of which will result in life long friendships.
For more information on Trout Legend, visit the official website here: www.troutlegend.com
On the website you will find information regarding competitions, rules, a forum, a store with hard to find quality products, and much more.
For more information on the US Youth Fly Fishing Team, visit the website here: www.usyouthflyfishing.com