Weston high school student Cam Chioffi and the national youth fly fishing team made history last month when they brought home two gold medals from the 12th Youth Fly Fishing World Cup in Ireland.
Chioffi, who began fishing with his father when he was about 2 or 3 years old, won an individual gold medal, and the team also won a gold. The World Cup was his first international competition and marked his first individual gold medal.
“We certainly had the skill level to win a gold medal as a team,” said Chioffi, 16, who will be a junior at Weston High this fall. “We lacked the experience, and I was afraid that was what’s going to hurt us.”
Before they arrived in Ireland, the area had gone about a month without rainful, meaning that water levels were lower, and the water clearer, than they had expected.
“The fish would get spooked easily,” said Chioffi. “We basically had to crawl up the rivers so we didn’t scare any fish.”
Chioffi won the competition by eight placing points, which, according to team coach Paul Bourcq, “is a pretty high margin. He basically beat them badly.”
In order to win the contest, a team must maintain the lowest scores. The more trout an angler catches, the lower his total placing point score.
As a young child, Chioffi lived in North Carolina, where fishing streams and lakes were abundant. When the family moved to Massachusetts, Chioffi began fishing near his grandparents’ house in Vermont. Today, Chioffi splits his time between high school in Massachusetts and team practices in North Carolina.
The World Youth Fly Championship is organized each year by FIPS-Mouche , the International Sport Fly Fishing Federation . The competition is held in a different country each year, and will take place in Poland next year .
Team USA scouts potential anglers through troutlegend.com, a website that tracks all national tournaments and the placing points of the competitors. Anglers who want to try out for the team must attend clinics held around the country.
Chioffi participated in his first clinic in 2010, though this year was his first on the national team.
This year marked the second gold medal for the American team under Bourcq’s coaching, but the first individual gold medal for a team member in US youth fly fishing history .
The American team defeated several other international competitors, including the Irish team, which had the home advantage.
“The competition style of fishing is not hard to teach, but inevitably, every tournament you go to, there comes a point what you think is going to happen doesn’t,” Bourcq said. “If the angler has the ability and the confidence to say, “I see the following conditions, therefore I’m going to make the following changes,” those are the guys that win.”
Chioffi said that the team medal excited him more than his individual one.
And both Chioffi and his coach already have their eyes trained on the future.
“All these boys found their way to the team by different methods,” Bourcq said. “I think the next world champion’s probably fishing every weekend with his dad. It’s just a matter of letting him know that the team is available.”