Angler Spotlight: Michael Yelton


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

March Update!

3 months into our first season we have had 4 events!  Top team has been a back and forth match between Team Dead Drift and Team North Carolina.  North Carolina held the lead after the US2man Championship after Dead Drift held it from the Gold Cup.  Then Dead Drift repositioned for top team after the Dead Drift Throwdown and narrowly holds the lead after the Green River Gamble.  Team Stonefly has positioned itself well, and holds the podium in 3rd with a clear shot of 2nd and 1st!  The Casting for Hope event in April will count for points and be a massive contributor into how all teams are positioned going into the last half of season!


2018 Gold Cup

Less than two months away and coming in strong as the larges event of the year, Team Dead Drift has slated an event of Epic poportions.  This event is scheduled to host 20 2man teams in head to head competition across two private water venues with prizes from a list of Grade A sponsors.  If you are interested in attending to compete or just observe, definitely head over to the event page that Team Dead Drift has posted on Facebook.