Whether you loathe or admire the idea of competitive fly fishing, you’ve got to be impressed with Fly Fishing Team USA’s bronze medal finish in the 36th FIPS Mouche World Fly Fishing Championships held in Vail September 11-18, 2016.
For years, Fly Fishing Team USA has ben playing catch-up against countries like Belgium, France, and the Czech Republic. These countries were already deeply engrained in competitive fly fishing, and some members of Fly Fishing Team USA were still wearing diapers when in 1981, Belgium won the first world championship.
Since then, it’s been a game of catch-up that at first likely looked a lot like the 1984 Olympic Jamaican bobsled team dramatized in the Walt Disney movie Cool Running. After an inauspicious first few decades, Fly Fishing Team USA has now risen in the international rankings due in part to great coaching by current captain Bret Bishop, and former captain George Daniel who led the team for many years.
But most credit goes to the dedication of individual team members Pat Weiss, Josh Graffam, Russell Miller (reserve), Devin Olsen, Norman Maktima, and Lance Egan who have become recognized leaders at world events. Instead of a revolving door of team members, Team USA has managed to groom a consistent stable of competitors so that every year, there’s a boost in knowledge and experience, not a drain. Lance Egan has been a member of Team USA since 2003, and his knowledge and experience at the world championship level also propelled him to a personal bronze medal in 2016. Last year in Bosnia, for the first time ever, Fly Fishing Team USA won a team silver medal and Devin Olsen won a personal bronze medal. In 2016 in Vail, the team took home a bronze medal while Spain and France took first and second places respectively. “It’s not the color we were after, but proof for the second year in a row that we are improving,” said Egan.
The Denver Broncos Cheerleaders were on hand to celebrate the bronze medal finish of Fly Fishing Team USA at the 36th annual FIPS Mouche World Championships in Vail, Colorado. Photo from Norm Maktima’s Instagram feed.