Callum Learmonth’s prowess with a fly fishing rod will see him take flight to Europe next summer.
The Fleetwood-area teen has been named to the Canadian team that will compete at the 2020 Youth World Fly Fishing Championships, to be held in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Learmonth, 17, is currently the top youth competitor in the B.C. Fly Fishing league and finished 12th overall in the senior competitive division across Canada.
He also won first place as an individual at the Canadian Youth National Fly Fishing Championships last spring in Maple Ridge, and his team took first place overall in the same event.
The teen was taught fly fishing by his father and coach, Mike Learmonth, who is ranked just two positions above Callum in the year-end points standings for the B.C. league, shown on the website innovativeflyfisher.com.
Callum, a Grade 12 student at North Surrey Secondary, began fishing on local rivers and lakes at around age six, and got competitive four years ago.
“I’ve always been an outdoors kid and this has been my biggest outreach to that, if that makes sense,” Callum said. “I just like everything about it, the atmosphere. I like the teamwork side of it as well, working alongside others, because everything comes into play.”
He learned about his selection for the Canadian youth team at a season-ending ceremony held in Maple Ridge on Sunday (Nov. 17).
Regionally, he’s a member of Team Kingfisher, along with his dad.
“There are different levels of competition,” Callum said, “so there’s national events and local events too, and international ones. For the local ones usually you’re teamed up with maybe one person or by yourself, and for nationals that’s five or six people, and it’s the same for internationals.”
As for a preference while fly fishing, Callum said he can’t pick between rivers and lakes.
“Rivers are active so you’re always moving around and trying to find fish in different areas, and with lakes you’re in a boat and you’re dealing with different depths. I like them both, for different reasons.
A favourite spot of his is Mill Lake in Abbotsford. “And I really enjoy the Skagit up in Hope, but that’s open for just the summer months, and the Vedder River as well, in Chillwack.”
Between now and summer, Callum will have plenty of practice to do prior to Worlds, including tying flies.
“That takes the majority of time, and it’s done at home,” he said. “And I’ll just be talking to the other team members about strategies we can use.”
The event next summer is sanctioned by FIPS-Mouche, International Sport Fly Fishing Federation. Details are posted to fips-mouche.net/championships.
Others selected to youth team include B.C. residents Finnley Goodliffe, Nolan Neufeld, Jessie Tierney and Rylan Treloar, Albertan Slate Spooner and Nova Scotia’s Jakob Lorefice.
Todd Oishi, president of Fly Fishing Canada and head coach of the youth program, said Callum has come a long way in the sport.
“He’s really good, and fortunate to have a father who fly fishes and competes, so he has an excellent mentorship there,” Oishi said. “That’s a huge asset for youth in any sport, and especially fly fishing.”
Also of note, Mike Learmonth will travel to New Zealand next March for the Commonwealth Country Fly Fishing Championships, as a member of one of two Canadian teams at the competition.