Angler Spotlight: Joseph Kwolek

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Let’s dive into the other spectrum of the league, the individual or “free agent” angler.  I interviewed Joseph Kwolek to get his take on competitive fly fishing, the league and more.

Ben- “How long have you been competing and what brought you to the competition scene?

Joseph- “I started competitive fly fishing in early 2018. I wanted to learn more about Euro Nymphing and thought that this would be a great way to learn and a cool way to catch big fish at some of the events.”

Ben- ” What were your goals for last season and did you accomplish them? If so what were the keys to your success.?”

Joseph- “When I started comp fishing in early 2018 I was still uncomfortable with the Euro technique. I was still dry-dropping and soon realized that I needed to advance my skills. I set a goal to start Euro Nymphing 100% of the time in order to get better. It was not until the summer of 2018 that I really felt I had a good grasp of the technique and was able to catch fish consistently.”

Ben- ” What are your goals for this season and how do you plan to achieve them?

Joseph- “Goals are pretty much the same. Improve my small stream abilities while continuing to work on presentation and landing skills. I plan on fishing as many events as possible in 2019, as well as hitting the smaller streams in N GA/N Carolina.”

Ben- ” Do you have a favorite fly Pattern?”

Joseph- “Just depends on the stream and time of year. The Pats(Girdle Bug) is my favorite anchor fly though…”

Ben- ” What is your go to technique when competing? ”

Joseph- “Finding the seems and pockets. I learned about the seems and pockets growing up fishing and it is a tried and true way to find the fish.”

Ben- ” For someone interested in competing or starting out, what would be your advice to them?”

Joseph- “Ask questions and observe all the competitors. I learned a ton this past year at various clinics and comps by watching other folks and their techniques”

Ben- ” Why did you choose to compete in the SEFFL and after its first year what do you think about the league in general?”

Joseph- ” I think the league has a lot to offer both the experienced angler and the new comer to the sport. I like the group of folks that fish in the league and enjoy our time together.”

Ben- ” You are fairly new to competition. What are your thoughts on how it affects the sport, positive or negative?”

Joseph- “I do not dwell on negative feedback on competition fishing. Man has always competed in one sport or another. I think it helps make better fishermen, and it helps in the organizations that put on the events or are donated to by the events.”

Ben- ” What was your favorite event so far and why?”

Joseph- “Any event that is not affected by the rain… Seriously though, my first comp early in 2018 was my favorite. Even though I did not finish well it was a great learning experience. Since about mid-2018 I started fishing with my son so they are all my favorite no matter where we finish.”

Ben- “Have you been able to apply what you learned competing to be a more succesfull angler outside of competition? ”

Joseph- “Most definitely. When I started Euro Nymphing I was still fishing way too far away from where I stood. I did not realize how close you can get to some of the fish and still catch them. In stocker streams, this technique really lands the fish consistently.”

Ben- “Open forum, anything you want to add, you can add below.”

Joseph- “I would be interested in events outside of fishing like fly tying nights. I started tying my own stuff this year and really like it but still have to learn a bunch.”

Angler Spotlight: Peyton Bodo

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Recently I had the pleasure of watching Peyton and his step father Roger Wilson at the Championship event.  These 2 anglers are in the top 5 of the 2019 leaderboard and it is well earned. They both have a good skill set and drive to do compete.  Although this interview is with Peyton, our top youth angler this year, I commend Roger for all he has done to bring Peyton to the sport.

Ben-  How long have you been competing and what brought you to the competition scene?

Peyton-  I have been fly fishing for 5 years. I started in 3rd grade. I have been competitively fly fishing for about 2 years. My step dad Roger Wilson introduced me to fly fishing and the competitive world.

Ben-  What were your goals for last season and did you accomplish them? If so what were the keys to your success.

Peyton- My goals for last season were to compete as much as possible to learn how it works, learn to fish under pressure and being timed, to participate in a Team USA youth clinic, and compete in youth nationals.

I did accomplish these goals. Last season I competed in about 8 or 9 competitions. I placed second in the Battle of Gatlinburg one fly tournament. I attended a youth clinic and also competed in youth nationals. I also learned that fishing while being timed means you have to figure the fish out fast.

The keys to my success were going out and practicing fishing, participating in competitions, and the strong support of my family.

Ben- What are your goals for this season and how do you plan to achieve them?

Peyton- My goals for this season are to help my team, Team Nymphmaster to bring home the gold cup, to earn a spot on the youth world team, and to win nationals.

To achieve my goals, I plan to compete in several more tournaments in order to gain more experience. I also plan to practice what I know and figure out what I need to work on.

Ben-  Do you have a favorite fly Pattern?

Peyton- I don’t have a favorite fly. I have confidence flies for different types of waters.

Ben- What is your go to technique when competing?

Peyton- I don’t have a go to technique. My technique and style of fishing depends on fish activity and the environment around me.

Ben- For someone interested in competing or starting out, what would be your advice to them?

Peyton- Join a team and compete in as many comps as possible.

Ben- Why did you choose to compete in the SEFFL and after its first year what do you think about the league in general?]

Peyton- The reason I fish in the SEFFL is because I live in the area. I think it is very organized and it is great for the sport.

Ben- You were the top angler on your team, do you believe the team aspect of competitive angling is a unique outlier that makes the sport more fun than just individual angling?
Peyton- Being part of a team helps build relationships and you can learn from people better than you.

Ben-  Open forum, anything you want to add, you can add below.

Peyton- In fly fishing you can be creative. You can create your own flies and techniques. You can also create your own style. That is one reason why I love the sport. It gives me an opportunity to create flies and see if they work when fishing. Also in competitive fly fishing I have made friends from all over USA. I also would really like to thank my stepdad Roger Wilson for introducing me into the competitive fly fishing world and for my family being very supportive of what I do and love.

Angler Spotlight: Richard Carbon

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Our next angler interview goes to Richard Carbon of Team Georgia.  Richard has not been on the scene long, and I have personally been lucky to judge him at two events this past season.  Read below for his interview.

 Ben- “How long have you been competing and what brought you to the competition scene?”

Richard- “The 2018 season was my first year fishing competitively so I’ve been competing for about 8 months so far. When I began to get serious about fly fishing, particularly tight line nymphing some friends I met on the river mainly Scott Brown told me I should consider competition fishing after fishing together a few times. Before this I really didn’t know much about the competitive fishing scene except a few bits and pieces I came across on the internet by mistake. A friend told me about the team he was on called Team Georgia, so after a bit I tried out for the team and made it. I competed in my first comp, the Helen Classic held in late June on the Chattahoochee River in Helen hosted by Team Dead Drift, in which I placed 5th. After this event I really caught the bug for fishing competitions and started really locking in trying to see how far I could go.”

Ben- ” What were your goals for last season and did you accomplish them? If so what were the keys to your success.”

Richard- “I’d have to say my main goals for 2018 were just to perform well, learn as much as possible, and win an event. I wasn’t fortunate enough to win an event this season but achieving top angler on my team is something that I’m very proud of, as well as the team taking a third overall in the league. I spent a lot of time on the water practicing techniques, experimenting, reading water, and just trying to piece it all together which I think definitely contributed to my success in my first season.”

Ben-” What are your goals for this season and how do you plan to achieve them?”

For the 2019 season I plan to pick up where I left off in 2018 and keep grinding and striving to learn, win a comp, and maybe repeat as the team top angler. I plan to spend as much time as I can on the water practicing and doing as many comps as I can in the coming year. I also want to fish different bodies of water outside Georgia to experience some different water types. I’ve begun to notice what my weaknesses are as an angler and what I need to work on to become better, so I want to turn my weaknesses into positives this year.

Ben- “Do you have a favorite fly Pattern?”

Richard- “I’d have to say I have 2 favorite patterns, first is a walt’s worm. When I first started fly-fishing another angler, Pat Brechbill showed me the walt’s worm while teaching me how to euro nymph and I did well with them. From that day on they became one of my confidence patterns and I carry them in a bunch of variations with me on the water still. My other favorite is a micro wolly bugger, I can fish it in numerous ways when I really need a bite and they nearly always produce for me.”

Ben-” What is your go to technique when competing?”

Richard- “My go to technique would have to be euro-nymphing when in a competition and for my regular fishing as well. It has proven to be a great technique to catch fish especially when numbers of fish matter like in competitions.”

Ben- ” For someone interested in competing or starting out, what would be your advice to them?”

Richard- “For someone starting out I would say the best thing you can do is put time in on the water, there is nothing that can beat that in the beginning. Read internet forums, jump in ask questions on the boards and read old threads. I spent many nights at work reading through old posts when I first got started looking for information on comp techniques, rigs, flies, and anything else I could find out there. After that just find the nearest comp, sign up and do your best.”

Ben- “Why did you choose to compete in the SEFFL and after its first year what do you think about the league in general?”

Richard- “The SEFFL gives anglers in the south a place to get started competing without having to travel far, which was perfect for me. One thing I like about the SEFFL is that there’s some pretty strong competition to gauge yourself against which is great. The competition can range from the new guy doing his first comp to members of both adult and youth Team USA at any event. Also the friends I’ve met who fish competitively all compete in the SEFFL so I’m able to compete with them and see them at events which is cool.”

Ben- “You were the top angler on your team, do you believe the team aspect of competitive angling is a unique outlier that makes the sport more fun than just individual angling?”

Richard- “Yes it makes it more unique in that the team aspect brings comraderie and ability to learn from others, that if you’re going about it solo you would never get to experience fully. You always have other people to fish with and exchange tips with which is what we do a lot of on my team to all grow. I’ve built friendships on my team as well as with members of other teams that compete in the SEFFL that I probably would not have made otherwise.”

Ben-  “Open forum, anything you want to add, you can add below.”

Richard- “Want to say thanks to Ben and the other guys behind the scenes that started the SEFFL and are keeping it going. I haven’t been on the competitive scene for long but it seemed like it was starting to die off here in the south, but you guys have turned it around. I don’t know how much goes into running the league, planning events, gathering sponsors and all the other involvement but thanks for all you guys do to keep competitive fishing alive in the south.”

Angler Spotlight: Michael Yelton

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I had the pleasure of interviewing Team Stonefly’s Michael Yelton. Michael has been an enormous asset to competitive fly fishing in the U.S. for many years. Please take the time to read the questions I asked Michael and his responses as I attempt to shed insight into what the best anglers int he league have in common.
Ben Vandevender- “How long have you been competing and what brought you to the competition scene?”
     Michael Yelton- “My first comp was the Pisgah Fly Masters which was a casting comp that took the top ten casters to fish the next day on the Davidson Private water. I took 2nd place and was hooked. I want to say that was in 2008.”
Ben Vandevender- “What were your goals for last season and did you accomplish them? If so what were the keys to your succes?”
     Michael Yelton- ” I really just wanted to fish well, keep attention to detail and keep progressing. No drops, no blanks. I spent a lot of time on playing fish. I would like to fish a perfect comp with no drops.”
Ben Vandevender-  “What are your goals for this season and how do you plan to achieve them?”
         Michael Yelton- “I would really like to just keep fishing well, keep getting better and keep learning. It can be achieved by keeping my nose to the grind stone and working hard. “
Ben Vandevender- “Do you have a favorite fly Pattern?”
       Michael Yelton- “The one that’s working at the time! I really feel like presentation trumps fly pattern. I do like that france fly though.”
Ben Vandevender- “What is your go to technique when competing?”
      Michael Yelton- “Being able to do it all in any given situation. Whether it’s throwing streamers, dry dropping or tight lining, being able to execute it and have confidence when you go to it is the key.”
Ben Vandevender- “For someone interested in competing or starting out, what would be your advice to them? “
          Michael Yelton- “Have fun, join a team, fish with people better than you. Soak it up, ask questions and get out on the water.”
Ben Vandevender- “Why did you choose to compete in the SEFFL and after its first year what do you think about the league in general?”
       Michael Yelton- “I wanted to support comp fishing and anything that was going to help keep it going. I think the SEFFL is competitive and scrappy. If you want to get better this is a great place to do it. I also want to thank and congratulate Ben and all the guys that help make this league happen. You guys are much appreciated and doing a great job.”
Ben Vandevender- “You were the top angler on your team, do you believe the team aspect of competitive angling is a unique outlier that makes the sport more fun than just individual angling?”
         Michael Yelton- “Absolutely the people I’ve met through comp fishing is what makes it so rewarding. The fellowship with teammates and other competitors, being outdoors and staying active is what keeps me coming back for more. “
Ben Vandevender- “Open forum, anything you want to add for those reading this?”
        Michael Yelton- ” I’ve finished first, last and all in between. There’s nothing like being on the clock. I love the highs and lows of comp fishing.”

2019 Gold Cup

Out of the gate into the 2019 season the Gold Cup was off to a great start.  Sadly the event was cut short due to the new Georgia Winter Monsoon season we have dealt with since November. The total rainfall Saturday accounted for .5 inches of rain and the sessions finished just as the river reached the max safe level.  Then another 2 inches of rain that night, washed us out for any fishing on Sunday.  Anglers did fish both venues, and scores were finalized with sessions on each venue.

Ricky Ozmar and Alex Boyer took 1st after taking a close 2nd last year.   Austin Shoemaker and Elijah Ellis took 2nd, and Daniel Levi Ladlee and Chase Turner took 3rd.  It was a tight race for the top 4.  Richard Carbon won Big Fish with a 64cm Rainbow!

2018 Championship!

After a monsoon season of rain the December Championship had to be rescheduled. Now in February the SEFFL board voted to allow the event to count towards 2019 as a 2x multiplier and for the 2018 season as it was intended as the 3x multiplier event.  So on February 23,24 2019  anglers and teams descended on the town of Helen,Ga for a true grit competition. The venues changed due to another week of rain but Smith Creek below the dam held fast but fishable water for the event.

2 days and 514 fish later,  Forrest Johnston and Martin Dietz took home Gold for the event, Forrest securing his jump from 4th on the individual leaderboard to 1st place individual angler of the year!  Daniel Levi Ladlee and Chase Turner held onto second place on day 2 and proved that were a force to be reckoned with after their top 3 finish at the Gold Cup a month prior.  Ricky Ozmar and Josh Kim battled through some challenging beats but ended up with a 3rd place finish for the event, and a 2nd and 3rd place finish individually for the season!

As far as team rankings go, Team Dead Drift over took Team NC to finish the season as top team.  Team North Carolina took home 2nd place thanks to Forrest Johnstons solo attendance at the Championship event.  Team Georgia made an impressive showing and jumped from 4th place team and overtook Team Stonefly for 3rd place team for 2018 season, a true last minute final hour move!52724394_2544086148999303_117306723768729600_n

It was a fantastic season and look forward to what 2019 has to bring!52810402_1008377439350844_7912999367638777856_n