The medal ceremony for the World Youth Fly Fishing Championship is 5:30 p.m. today, at Vail Mountain Plaza, at the base of Gondola One and Vail Mountain.
There’s also a Conservation Symposium at Camp Hale’s Nova Guides Lodge today. You’ll learn about watershed conservation, invasive species, and fishery management.
Colorado Trout Unlimited will teach you about casting, fly tying, and bug stations to learn more about our area. You’ll be able to fish the private lake of Nova Guides, catch and release, of course. You’ll need a ticket, to cover the cost of lunch. Buy tickets at the Colorado Trout Unlimited website, coloradotu.org.
It’s good to wade home waters.
Team USA is the two-time defending World Youth Fly Fishing champions and has won three of the past four world team titles.
This week, however, is the first time the World Youth Fly Fishing Championship has been contested in the United States. They were in Poland last year, and the Czech Republic the year before that.
More than 200 young anglers from 10 countries are in town for the event, the 14th annual World Youth Fly Fishing Championship. The 36th annual men’s world championships are here next summer.
“It’s a big deal to be defending a world title on home waters,” said Cam Chioffi, a member of the U.S. team.
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Show up at Vail Mountain Plaza at 5:30 p.m. today for the medal ceremony, and you’ll learn who won at the same time the competitors do.
Chioffi won the world title in 2013, and the silver in 2014 when U.S. teammate Gabe Wittosch won the gold. Wittosch aged out of the youth team.
What Chioffi really wants is another team title, he said.
Toward that goal, the team gets together every night and talks fishing. Then they pass out exhausted as they prepare for another day.
“We share information. That’s part of what helps us be successful,” he said.
Chioffi may have an individual world title in his creel, but that doesn’t make him the favorite, he said.
“Anyone on this team could do it,” he said, pointing to his teammates.
Vail Valley native Jack Arnot fished his way onto the U.S. team. He’s a freshman at Vail Christian High School, or will be when school starts next week.
To get here, competitors worked their way up through their national rankings at local and regional qualifiers around the globe and earned a spot on their nation’s teams.
Everyone fishes everything, two lakes and three rivers: the Colorado River, Blue River, Eagle River, Sylvan Lake and Dillon Reservoir.
“Everyone has their own way of doing things,” Arnot said.
The information they share can be huge. They can also look at a river and read it like it’s a large print edition comic book.
They can tell you where the fish are, what weight flies to use, what weight line to use … just about everything they need to know to catch fish.
Lifetime on the water
Chioffi is 18, not that many years old, but he’s been at this for a lifetime.
“I caught my first fish on a fly rod when I was 2 years old,” he said smiling.
He made the U.S. national team in 2012 and won a world title in 2013. Chioffi was born in Fort Collins, moved with his family to North Carolina and then Boston before he started high school.
The world champion is the angler who catches the most fish. Competitors earn 100 points per fish and 20 points per centimeter for the length of each fish. The minimum length is 20 centimeters, about 8 inches.
The key to winning, he said, is to know how to finesse fish when they’re spooked, which they would be after they’ve been pursued all week like they’re the prom queen holding the numbers for a winning lottery ticket.
On Monday, before the world championships began, Chioffi and some teammates had a few minutes to spare, so they wandered down to Gore Creek for some fishing. They caught at least six fish each, including Chioffi’s 18-inch brown trout.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vail daily.com.