National Fly Fishing Championship ~ Interviews


The National Fly Fishing Championship & Conservation Symposium sponsored by Colorado Trout Unlimited and associated TU chapters will be held in Boulder Colorado on June 1 to June 4 of 2006. It constitutes the final round of three regional competitions. Fifteen of the competitors will be chosen to represent the United States in an Olympic style event in Portugal during August of 2006.

The National Championship will consist of 9 to 12 teams of five members each. Six of the teams will come from winners of the regional events, two from Team USA 2005, three international teams, and two Colorado teams - one will be all women - who are planning on a big upset!

You can find out more about this activity by logging on to the Colorado Trout Unlimited site, www.cotrout.org, or logging in to the Colorado section on the Team USA site, www.flyfishingteamusa.com/CO/co.htm

Paul Prentiss
Chairman, Colorado Steering Committee

Jim Hickey, Member TEAM USA

Jim Hickey is the Head Guide and Director of Guide School Operations for World Cast Anglers based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Jim cut his teeth on the rivers of North Carolina and Virginia. He graduated from Hampden-Sydney College in 1993 and then moved west to begin his professional fishing career in Wyoming. As a Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructor, Orvis Endorsed Guide, ESPN competitor, and member of Team USA, his knowledge and proficiency are widely admired.

Pete Erickson, Member TEAM USA

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Pete Erickson got an early introduction to fishing. His parents love of fly fishing enabled him to experience some of the worlds great fly fishing meccas at a young age-places like Kamloops, BC, the Olympic Peninsula, WA, and Southwestern Alaska.

Pete received his BA in Journalism from the University of Oregon and subsequently his MA in English at the Boise State University.

Love of teaching ultimately lead to a career in Education. Love of fishing combined with teaching lead to a becoming a fly fishing guide.

Pete is no stranger to competitive fly fishing. In the past few years he has competed in three World Fly fishing Championships and was the highest American finisher in 2004 & 2005. Along with a 12th place overall finish at the Worlds, Pete was also the 2002 ESPN Great Outdoor Games Gold Medalist. He has been a member of Team USA since 2002.

CTU: Where do you reside currently and what do you do when you're not fishing, tying flies, or thinking about fishing?

JIM: My wife Jenny and I live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I am a fulltime fishing guide and partner in a fly-fishing outfit, so I spend my non-fish-related time with my wife and 5 week old son.
PETE: I reside in Boise, Idaho where I teach 9th Grade English. In the summer months I work as a fly fishing Guide for World Cast Anglers based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

CTU: Where and how did your interest in fishing begin? Why were you attracted to fly fishing?

JIM: Growing up hunting and fishing in Virginia and North Carolina, fly fishing looked like the next step in my outdoor passion. I started fly fishing at twelve, and I think the entire process and the unlimited amount of learning involved in the sport has captured my interest for the past 23 years.
PETE: I grew up in Seattle, Washington and my mom and dad were into fly fishing in a big way. I started waving around my mom's old bamboo rod on the lawn when I was 5 -years old. It seemed like fun then and it still is!


CTU: How many days a year do you spend on the water?

JIM: I'm on the water 200+ days a year.
PETE: Including guiding, I'd say at least 200 days.

CTU: Are you involved in any conservation activities? If so what are they?

JIM: The Federation of Fly Fishers and Trout Unlimited. I also donate trips to conservation causes such as the Jackson Hole One Fly.
PETE: When time permits I'm actively involved in the Ted Trueblood Chapter of TU in Boise, Idaho. I also often participate in habitat and stream restoration projects in Idaho.

CTU: Why competitive fly fishing?

JIM: Competitive fly fishing allows me to focus entirely on the fishing. A fishing trip with friends and even a trip where I am guiding another angler are fun and relaxing, yet those trips often shift away from the fishing and onto to another part of the experience. Fishing in a competition leaves no room for distraction, so I can completely enjoy each cast, each fish, each moment, fishing as hard and as intensely as I can.
PETE: In large part fly fishing is all about continuous learning. Competitive fishing offers you an opportunity to expand your horizons. I'm particularly fascinated by new techniques which come into view by participating in world class events. Even better, you have an opportunity to meet a lot of fascinating people associated with this sport.

CTU: Has completive fishing changed your style or approach to the sport? What personal benefits, if any, can have resulted from your participation?

JIM: Competitive fishing has definitely changed my perspective on fly fishing. I still enjoy the same parts of the sport as I did before, but I now also see how much more information there is throughout the world on fly fishing.
From European grayling to Czech and Polish nymphing techniques, to loch-style fishing, the rest of the world has much to teach the U.S. anglers. On the other hand, US techniques and approaches to fishing are of intense interest to our friends overseas. The point I want to make is that the best anglers do not all live in the U.S. let alone Teton County Wyoming. We can become the best team in the world if we are willing to learn from all the different anglers in all the different countries. We can become better anglers ourselves if we embrace the information that is available.
PETE: Yes! I realized how much I didn't know about global angling. When it comes to fly-fishing, the U.S. is often centered in its own angling reality. There is a whole world of original thought and techniques out there waiting to be discovered!

CTU: What advice would you offer to someone who would like to become involved in competitive fly fishing?

JIM: Learn as much as possible and then continue to practice what you have learned.
PETE: Don't be intimidated by the competitions or the people who go out of their way to judge competitive angling. The future of fly fishing is obviously young people, and most of the younger anglers that I have talked to are very interested in competitive fly fishing.

CTU: I'm assuming you have traveled extensively in pursuit of great fly waters. Where is your favorite place to fish and why?

JIM: So far (as I have many more destinations and waters to fish!), southern Chile has been my favorite place to fish. The mountains, the completely undeveloped landscape, the pure crystal water, and the 100% wild trout help me imagine what the American West might have looked like and fished like 100 years ago.
PETE: South Western Alaska for the big bows on mice and the Spanish Pyrenees for probably the most technical dry fly fishing on the planet.

CTU: When fishing for fun what is your favorite method?

JIM: Dry fly fishing (1st) and then Polish nymphing.
PETE: That's easy, big dries or sight nymphing

CTU: How has fly fishing changed your life for the better?

JIM: Fly fishing has helped me meet incredible people and share some of the best places on earth with those people.
PETE: I love interacting with people and passing along what I have learned. When you can do this and be close to nature at the same time it simply can't be beat.

CTU: Good luck to both of you in June of this year