Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cam Chioffi, 2013 Youth World Fly Fishing Championship individual gold medal winner

 Who is Cam Chioffi?

"Taught by his dad and grandfather, Cam has loved fishing since he was two. At age eight, he was introduced to fly fishing and has since become a student of the sport, reading and observing every bit of information available.  The first competitive clinic Cam attended was in May 2010 in Pennsylvania.  During that clinic, he learned the basics of competition he uses today.  After that clinic, he was hooked and attended several more around the country with the aim of learning and improving his technique.  In 2013 Cam won the individual gold and team gold at the Youth World Fly Fishing Championships in Ireland. In other recent competitions, he placed 4th (Youth Nationals 2012 in NC) and 7th (America Cup 2012 in CO).  Cam lives in the Boston area and is a member of Greater Boston Trout Unlimited.  His local fishing is done on rivers like the Swift, Farmington, and the Assabet.  He also enjoys fishing Central Vermont for native trout, and Cape Cod for stripers and bluefish.  Cam is a junior at Weston High School where he plays varsity ice hockey and continues to teach fly fishing to his friends and in his community". (

In Cam's own words... 

World Championship
During preparation for the World Championships in Ireland, two USA Youth Team members (Hunter Hoffler and Gabriel Wittosch) took a trip to the Dundalk area to pre-fish the venues that would later be fished in the competition. This was in May, and the championships would take place in late July. During their trip, the River Fane consistently produced numbers around 70-100 fish a day, per person. The Quiggery River was much more technical with slower moving water and picky rising fish, however they were still able to pull 20-30 fish a day. The lakes all produced very high numbers of hard fighting stocked rainbows and wild brown trout. Things were looking up heading into the competition but upon arrival to the first practice venue it was very clear we were in for a change in conditions. Kells Backwater River was the first practice river venue. Not many places were more than ankle deep and the deepest parts were only about shin deep. Ireland had had 2 straight weeks of sunshine, no rain at all, which is very uncharacteristic for this country otherwise known for its foul weather. Looking over the bridge into the clear shallow water we all saw loads of fish scatter at the first sight of a shadow. Needless to say we all went back and added about 10 more feet of tippet to our leaders. We were in for a challenge. Beats on the Quiggery produced many blanks throughout the whole competition, in fact you were lucky if you got a good enough beat to even have 1 or 2 fish take your fly the whole session. The good beats on Fane produced 12-13 fish sessions at most, with a majority of beats producing 3-6 fish and some blanking. The fish populations were there, it was just the brutal clarity, low water, and high sun that had the fish hiding and seeking the deepest fastest water they could find which was few and far between. Knee pads were essential on the rivers, I don’t think I stood upright for more than 5 minutes during my Quiggery session. As for the lakes the fish were in the deepest parts you could find. On Esgragh I didn't catch a fish with any line less than a type 6. I caught a majority of my fish on a type 8 which is an extreme depth line. As for McRory Lough or more commonly known as the death lake for its brutally low numbers, I caught the one fish that basically won the championship on a type 6. The fish were deep plain and simple. All in all the conditions were definitely the most challenging I have ever faced, and certainly the most challenging for any world championships ever held.

Competition Nymph Line
When fishing these extreme conditions on the rivers, the fish were on high alert. Any splash, shadow, and even loud noise would spook fish, and when one fish spooked, he spooked another and a chain reaction of spooked fish continued upstream. I fished a long fine 20’ leader with about 6-7 feet of 7x tippet. The long leader combined with the ultra fine Comp Nymph Line allowed me to present my dry dropper rig at long distances without having to splash down on the water and spook fish. The supple, thin, and light build of the Comp Nymph Line fished a dry fly like a dream. I could control my casts at long distances and mend it over micro currents that would otherwise drag my fly and ruin any chance for that one Quiggery Fish. The light taper and supple design of the line really made the difference in giving me the ultimate stealth advantage to my presentation when having to fish behind some of the worlds finest youth anglers in the toughest conditions I have ever faced. When you might only get one shot at a fish, and that fish could mean the difference between two gold medals or no golds at all, you don’t want an inferior piece of equipment to decide your fate. That's why I trusted my Cortland fly lines to whatever Ireland had to throw at me. 

Winning Gold!
Going into the last day I had been nearly perfect through out the competition, taking 2 first place finishes the first day and a third place finish on the second day. My two venues for the day were Esgragh Lough and McRory Lough. I had good recon on both lakes as my team mates had done well on them in previous sessions. However both lakes were still putting up very low numbers, as low as 5 fish per session, total being caught. I went out on Esgragh and used the intel that the fish were very deep to my advantage. I started off on a type 6 line and caught a fish about 5 minutes in. Nothing was happening for a while so I switched to a type 7 sweep line and caught another fish right away. Once again nothing happening for quite some time so I switched lines again to a type 8 and began counting down to 30 and 40 seconds, I knew my flies had to be almost right on the bottom so I began giving them short strips and jigs back up vertically to the surface and this proved to be the most effective way to catch fish. I caught 5 more the biggest measuring 47.5 centimeters. This put me at first place for the session. My team mate Hunter Enloe had Esgragh after me so I left the type 8 and flies with my parents to hand off to him at that venue as I made my way to McRory. Knowing that I took a first place and that held a solid lead going into the last day, I was confident that if I could catch just one fish on McRory lough I would take a first place overall. Reports said from last session that only three fish total were caught on McRory lough in the last session. As we waited for the session to start, a massive thunder storm moved in and the skies opened up. It poured rain for about 2 hours and let up just as we got in the boats to start the session. I was in the boat with my fellow competitor from Canada, Colin Huff. We decided to follow the Irish as they had been doing well with McRory’s tough conditions. This session came down to the wire. I saw three other people catch fish throughout the session, including the second place Irish team competitor, as I watched my individual and team gold slowly slip away. With about 20 minutes to go in the final session we decided to motor over to the far, deep corner of the lake where I saw a Spanish competitor catch a fish early on. First cast with a type 6 I got a hit and stripped the fish furiously to the boat, only to find out it was a perch. I figured this was a sign we were too shallow still so we moved out to about 40 feet of water. With about 15 minutes to go I bombed out a 90 foot cast and began counting down. As I reached 15 seconds I began to retrieve the flies back with short quick strips and then boom… my rod doubled over and line burned out of my hand. I knew it definitely was not a perch. Stripping in the fish carefully, my heart was pounding, I got it to the boat and as I raised the silvery pink head of the rainbow out of the water to slide it into the net, I could taste victory. There it was, the gold medal fish. It measured 38 centimeters and was caught with 12 minutes left in the final session of the competition. This gave me a second place for the session behind the Czech Republics 39 centimeter rainbow. With some critical blanks saved by my team mates on the rivers, we were able to win a team medal to accompany my gold medal. Greatest finish in USA competitive fly fishing history in my opinion. An awesome experience and overall the best trip of my life.

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