Just a few short years ago I spent many weekends over a couple of years fishing with Doug Freemann, who at the time was fairly new to the sport. He was fascinated with fly fishing and wanted to learn as much as he could about it. At the time, he was focused mainly on nymphing with competition style leaders and nymphs. We often fished the same pools near enough to each other that we could talk about the water we were fishing with respect to flows, holding water, and how best to cover it. Fly tying also became a big part of his world, too (how could it not with my obsession). After a few months he started competing in the fly fishing competitions that determine the team members for the USA Youth Fly Fishing Team.
As time went by he expanded his techniques to dry flies and streamers and became proficient in all aspects of the sport. He not only made the US Youth Team after a couple of years, he traveled to Spain last year with the team for the world competition, and the team took silver, and Doug was the top angler for team USA. This year Doug will be going to Slovenia for the world youth fly fishing championship in about a week as the team captain. Not only is Doug a very good angler, we couldn't have a better young ambassador for our country. I know I'm biased, but if you met him you'd certainly agree. In the fall he is headed to Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, CO. I am very lucky to have been given the opportunity in this life to have fallen into Doug's orbit.
I would be remiss if I didn't include the rest of the team here, as although each angler fishes independently, its the team that they each truly fish for in the end. All of these young men have worked hard over the last year to earn their place on the team. In addition to being very good anglers, they also represent our country very well.
The 2017 USA Youth World Team:
Douglas Freemann, Captain
Grant Hawse, Co-Captain
Kalvin Kaloz, Coach
The US Youth Fly Fishing Team (Team USA) is a carefully selected group of youth anglers from across the United States that has been associated with leaders in the sport. It was incorporated in 2008.
FIPS-Mouche, the world sanctioning body for competitive fly fishing has well defined rules of competition. All fishing is “catch and release.” Anglers fish five different sessions of three hours each, all on different rivers and “beats” of water. Scoring is based on the number and size of fish caught. Placement points are awarded for each session with the goal of scoring as few points as possible. A person catching no fish in a session receives the greatest number of penalty points and considerably jeopardizes their chances of medalling.
Just as important as the fishing, is the camaraderie and the cross-cultural connections that are made through the events. Team members are also involved in a number of other areas of fly fishing such as guiding, offering fly fishing tying clinics, participating in watershed preservation projects, and promoting environmental stewardship.
Please join me in wishing the 2017 USA Youth Fly Fishing Team the best of luck in Slovenia this August.
Go get 'em, boys!