On May 15, 2024

Stockbridge resident makes World MastersFly Fishing team

Courtesy FB—Matt Stedina holds a large brown trout he caught in a favorite local river.

U.S. team of five will compete in the Czech Republic May 19-24

By Katy Savage

A Stockbridge resident is casting up to test his fishing skills at the 2024 World Masters Fly Fishing Championships.

Matt Stedina is one of five people who made the U.S. team. He’s currently in the Czech Republic preparing for the competition, where he’ll go head-to-head with participants from 15 other countries May 19-24.

Stedina will be joined by teammates Sean Crocker of Pennsylvania, Roman Matusinsky of Pennsylvania, Christopher Smith of Colorado, and Glade Gunther of Utah. Together, they have 50 years of experience.

“We’ve curated a talented and accomplished group of anglers to represent the U.S. at the upcoming World Masters,” Gunther said in a press release. “This championship attracts the finest masters anglers globally, and we’re confident in the abilities of Sean, Christopher, Roman, Matt, and myself to deliver standout performances.”

Stedina, 54, started fishing when he was 10 years old and growing up in Pennsylvania. 

“That’s kind of all there was to do in North Central Pennsylvania after school,” he said. “There wasn’t much going on but hunting and fishing.”  

He also found solitude and peace in fishing. 

“There’s nobody around, you pretty much have the river to yourself,” he said. 

Stedina moved to Vermont in 1992 for skiing. He drove his truck through a snowstorm to Killington with $200 in his pocket.

“I took off and never went back,” he said.  

He now has about 30 years of experience teaching fishing on the White River. He started working at fishing schools for Orvis before starting his own guide business. He guesses he’s taught 20,000 people over the years.

“After 30 years of doing this, I’ve established quite a clientele,” he said. “I don’t even look for new business or post a lot of information.”

He tries to keep the waters in the area a secret.   “I certainly don’t want to see lots of people here fishing based on my big mouth, so I don’t have my name on my truck and I don’t release much information,” he said. 

Stedina said most of his knowledge comes from helping others.

“It’s been a pleasure to learn on this river for the last 30 years or so — that certainly has helped,” he added.

Regarding the upcoming competition, he said: “Being a teacher, I like to make money when I fish, but this forces me to fish more. You fish more and become a better guide.”

Stedina has taught many locals, like Mark Stugart, the owner of the Clear River Inn, who became a client of Stedina’s about 15 years ago.

“He’s obviously an excellent fisherman, but he’s also a great teacher,” Stugart said. “I’m relatively inexperienced in fly casting, so it helped to have someone with Matt’s patience and knowledge to help me get the fly in the right spot and land some trout. He knows a lot about local rivers and streams as well as the mountains, where he is an avid hunter.”

Stugart was excited to see Stedina make the world team.

“He’s been involved with the U.S. Fly Fishing team for a long time and it’s been on his bucket list to get a chance to represent the U.S. in the worlds,” Stugart said. “It’s a great accomplishment for him and well deserved. He’s also one of the most competitive guys I know. So I know he’s going there with the attitude that he’s going to do very well.” 

While in the Czech Republic, the anglers will compete in three river sessions and two lake sessions (one on a boat and one on a bank). 

Each person competes in their own 300-gallon area of water for three hours and tries to catch as many fish as they can. 

“I used to be able to not stand lakes but now I’ve learned to have a good time out there and I’ve got some giant trout and had some great days fishing on lakes,” Stedina said. “There’s a lot to it and that’s been part of the learning processes, how to figure out how to keep up with the other guys on the lakes, but it can be a lot of fun.”

Stedina said in addition to catching fish, he’s in search of “the medals that hang around your neck” while in the Czech Republic.

For more information or to follow the action at the Master’s Fly Fishing event, visit: ffch.cz.

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