Dear North Jersey Trout Unlimited,
Thank you so much for picking my ticket in your drawing. The flies and extra goodies are so cool! There is no one that loves to fly-fish more than I do. I go with my dad and our friends every chance we get. I have been a fly-fisherman for more than half my life.
I started when I was 5 years old and I caught my first trout on my very first cast. It was a native brown that took an Extended Body Green Drake on Kettle Creek in Potter County, PA. I didn't even know I had him hooked until my Dad yelled down to me from the bridge above where I was fishing. I have been hooked on fly-fishing ever since.
For the last 2 years I have tried out for the United States National Youth Fly-Fishing Team. Although I am still too young to be selected I have made it my goal to be picked for the team. They have been very nice to me and let me come to the clinics even though you have to be 14 to be picked. I have made a lot of good friends through the team.
Me and my Dad are very active in our local Donegal Trout Unlimited chapter. We have some fantastic projects going on this summer to help restore 3 creeks in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. I will be helping do some of the work. We are also conducting a First Cast Clinic this year and I plan to help other kids learn more about our sport and how important it is to protect our streams for the future. I am attending a program in April called "Wayne's Cold Water Kids" on Spruce Creek near State College, PA. I was nominated by Donegal Trout Unlimited and accepted to participate. We will be learning about fly-fishing, entomology and conservation. I participate in "Trout in the Classroom" at my school, Martin Meylin Middle School. Our trout are about 3" long and we will be stocking them in Shearer's Run on April 13. I am in charge of cleaning the tank and testing the water. This summer I will be going to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to attend Teton Science School and learn more about habitat restoration and conservation.
Take a look at the pictures I included. One is of me with a big rainbow I caught last summer on Kettle Creek. He took a Gold Ribbed Bead Head Hare's Ear. The second one is a big rainbow that was my first trout in 2010. He took a Red San Juan Worm. Both fish were released unharmed. We always release our fish so we can catch them again some other day. I always tell other kids that catch and release fishing is the best.
So thanks again for making me your winner. You could have picked anyone's ticket, but North Jersey TU can feel good about picking mine. You would have a hard time finding anyone that appreciates it more than me. By the way, does the prize include any invitations to catch a striper in Montauk?
Sincerely, Grayson K. Hirst - Age 13
Donegal Trout Unlimited