A Bend teenager is home from Europe after helping Team USA win the gold medal in the International Youth Fly Fishing Competition.
Kage Kossler has two medals hanging around his neck — one team gold medal and one silver medal for his individual second place finish in the toughest fly fishing competition in the world.
How does a young man who just returned from five days of intense competition against the best youth fly fishers in the world wind down?
He goes fishing.
“Everything was working. It felt like nothing could go wrong. We had the right patterns. We had the good beats. Within an hour of my first session I had enough fish to win,” Kage said. “It felt freeing. There was no pressure. We knew we had won. It was just individual.”
In competitive fishing, each fish an angler catches, regardless of species, is measured and released. The total length of all the fish caught is tallied and that determines the winner.
Kage came within three centimeters of winning the individual competition.
“It was cool to go like that with one of my best friends and teammate, Drew. In three different sessions if I had one more fish, it would have been me. But I’m sure it would have been the same thing for him. He lost plenty of fish as well. It’s just good the way it went down.”
Kage’s father, Ian, traveled with the team to Bosnia to support the anglers during the five day competition. He describes the experience as an extended proud dad moment.
“I’ve been watching him competition fish for a long time,” Ian said. “To see the maturity that’s come with it… he was never nervous or flurried. He was calm, cool, collected. When he’s like that he’s dangerous and he proved it.”
Kage has one more year of eligibility with the U.S. Youth Fly Fishing Team and is looking forward to competing next year in the Czech Republic. After that he’s thinking about competing in the adult division.
“I definitely want to work in the fly fishing industry moving forward. I think this will be a great thing to be on my resume as far as places I’ve been and things I’ve seen,” Kage said.
Kage encourages other young anglers to consider competitive fly fishing for the learning opportunities and the friendships.
He invites those who are curious to know more to contact him on his Instagram page, appropriately titled “The Age of Kage.” He credits his grandmother for the title.