A teenage Co. Armagh fly fisher has said he has big dreams for the future after putting in a respectable performance at the World Championships in Bosnia.
Despite being only 16-years-old, Thomas Grew from Armagh has hooked more than his fair share of fishing medals in recent years, including being named Youth Angler of the Year in 2022.
He came back from Bosnia recently after having taken part in the World Youth Fly Fishing Championships, a contest he dreams of winning some day.
There’s no rest for Thomas however, as only a few days after his return he had to head off to Wales to compete in the Four Nations competition.
Thomas began fishing at the age of 5, before moving onto fly fishing at the age of 7. Before his professional career, Thomas was fishing in Glenkeen in Aughnacloy and the rivers Callan and Blackwater.
He credits his success to the tutorage of his dad’s friend Vaclav Preissler, a Czech fisherman who took Thomas fishing when he was younger.
Said Thomas: “He used to teach me different styles of fishing, and it made a big difference. He helped me achieve some of my biggest achievements.
“I noticed I started getting better, so I started entering competitions and Vaclav was helping me along the way, just helping improve me and my fishing.
“Vaclav showed me basically everything I know. Then I went on by myself to try and improve on the things he had showed me and that’s how I got to where I am now.”
Thomas has picked up a number of wins and medals over the years, including winning a gold medal with the Irish Youth Team at Lake Monteith in Scotland in 2019.
Thomas’s success eventually led him to the World Youth Fly Fishing Championships, which took place in Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina from July 17 to July 21. Competing against 12+ teams across the world, Thomas took part in five day sessions, which consisted of four river sessions and one lake session.
He says that it was a “really great experience”, adding: “I’d only fished the Four Nations before so going to Bosnia was a really big jump. It was a really good experience. I learned a lot when I was over there.”
Out of everyone, Thomas came 40th in the contest, which he admits is “alright, but not too great”. However, Thomas has his head held high and is currently competing at the Four Nations in Wales, with the hope to qualify for next year’s World Championships in the Czech Republic.
“My big dream in the sport is definitely to win the World Championships someday,” he explained.
“I have to be fishing pretty regularly just to make sure I’m on top of everything and I’m fishing well. You have to have a passion for it. I love it so I don’t mind having to go out fishing every day.”