Ryley Batewell – Fort Mill, SC
Ryley started fly fishing when he was 13 years old, but he has enjoyed fishing since he was first introduced to the sport at the age of 5. When he was 13, he was fishing in some local warm-water impoundments in South Carolina for bass, bluegill, and other fresh water species. He thought it would be fun and exciting to catch fish that he would usually catch on spinning gear with a fly that he tied on his own. As Ryley said when asked how he got started in fly fishing, “There is so much more effort that goes into fly fishing than fishing with conventional gear. Fly fishing is much more rewarding and I became addicted to that feeling from the very first time I caught a fish on the fly. For my 14th birthday I went on a guided
trip to the Davidson River in North Carolina where I caught my first rainbow trout. It was an experience that I’ll never forget which has grown into the passion I have today to participate in competitive fly fishing.” Ryley’s fishing guide from that first trip on the Davidson, Charlie Downs, suggested that he attend the week-long Rivercourse Camp on the West Fork of the Pigeon River sponsored by NC Trout Unlimited the following summer. He did and was awarded Best Overall Fly Fisherman. It was through that experience that he learned about Team USA Youth as well as competitive youth fly fishing opportunities and, he says, “It was “game on” for me to challenge myself to be the best fly fisherman I could with the hopes of someday making Team USA Youth.”
There are a few things that Ryley likes about being on Team USA Youth: “First would have to be the fact of having the opportunity to represent my country while doing what I love and do the best – fly fishing. Secondly, I love being on Team USA Youth because I get to fish and be around other guys my age that share the same passion to the extent that I do. Since participating in my first USA Youth Fly Fishing Clinic in April of 2014 on the Nantahala River in North Carolina my skills have improved as I have learned so much about different fly fishing techniques from the other boys on the team as well as the coaches. It is exciting to see the team atmosphere that exists, the willingness everyone has to encourage each other whether it is in a competition or just practicing on a weekend together. It creates an attitude with the goal to improve individually and collectively as a team. I feel fortunate to have been selected to participate on Team USA Youth and look forward to not only competing but also providing the same support to others that I have been shown which has enabled me to excel in the sport of competitive fly fishing.”
When asked about his future plans, Ryley states that he sees himself attending Clemson University, majoring in Fisheries Biology. He would also like to be guiding, competing, and fishing on his own during the weekends to continue to improve his fly fishing skills. A future goal of his is to fish competitively for the USA Men’s Fly Fishing Team.