My name is Austin Shoemaker. I grew up in a small town in Western North Carolina, one the fly fishing havens of North America. I am a competitive fly fisherman and fly fishing guide on numerous river systems throughout the Southeast.
I started fishing at a very young age with conventional tackle up to the age of about 13. Then I picked up fly fishing… and my world has never been the same. It opened my eyes and made me fall in love with fishing all over again. Fishing for smallmouth, crappie, carp, catfish, and my all time favorite, trout, has been my passion ever since.
At about the age of 21, I took up the art of fly tying. Coming up with new patterns to see if I could increase the amount of fish per trip became a constant challenge and motivation for me.
I’ve enjoyed attending Trout Unlimited meetings, which have helped me learn more and more about the art of tying and fly fishing from the local experts. I was also lucky enough to start helping stock my home waters here in the Blue Ridge Mountains with my local Trout Unlimited chapter.
As I learned more about fly fishing, I wanted to see where my abilities stood alongside other experienced anglers. I proceeded to reach out to my future teammate about competitive angling. Because of this, I have learned a lot in a short amount of time about various factors that lead to successful fishing, including bead selection, fly size, time of day, and where fish will be holding.
When I was ready, I finally signed up for my first competition. Today, I can’t get enough of competitive fishing and it’s community of well-renowned anglers. I’m forever grateful for what fly fishing has given to me and I look forward to furthering my talent and career alongside some of the country’s best. My hope is to one day be nationally-recognized and respected in the eyes of anglers of all ages and disciplines.
Maintaining the health of our river ecosystems is vital, and I can’t wait to see the next generation of anglers continue to help us restore the well-being of fish species and hatcheries wherever they may be.