“This is the tournament that determines who goes to the World Championships and represents this country,” Stephens said. “It’s not easy. The competition is strong.”
A total of 60 anglers on 12 teams competed at the 2012 National Championship, which was hosted by the U.S. Fly Fishing Team.
Stephens posted a personal best when he caught 63 regulation fish in three hours during the fourth round. That catapulted him into third overall, before a final round of lake fishing dropped him out of individual contention.
Stephens was sponsored by the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail at the event and promoted the local trail by handing out trail maps and wearing the trail’s logo on his fishing shirts and jacket.
“It means a lot to say our local flyfishing trail here in North Carolina sponsored me. It’s something I’m very, very proud of,” said Stephens. “People were impressed and saying what a great idea it is. All you have to do is open the map and everything you need is right in front of you. It sparked a lot of interest.”