Athletes to Watch: Audrey Wilson
Photo: Jeremy Allan

Athletes to Watch: Audrey Wilson

Posted by: Shauna Farnell

A member of the USA Casting Team, 38-year-old Audrey Wilson has become the fly fisher to beat at the Yeti 2-Fly X-Stream contest at the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado. Growing up in Roy, Utah, where she fell in love with the outdoors as a small girl while camping, hiking and canoeing with her parents and brother, Wilson initially became intrigued by fly fishing after she saw the film “A River Runs Through It” when she was 8 years old. It wasn’t until her early 20s, however, that she dedicated weekends to learning the art of casting on the Green River below the Flaming Gorge dam, then tried her skills at the ocean and on rivers throughout the west, her most memorable catch in the early days being a 26-inch cut-bow trout snagged with a big cicada fly pattern from a drift boat.

Audrey Wilson is a member of the USA Casting Team and will be competing again at the 2022 GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado.

Wilson began competing in Vail in 2016, landing on the podium at every attempt, winning the past two years of the X-Stream competition and beating everyone – all women and men – in 2021’s casting round.

In addition to running her own casting instruction business, At First Cast, 10 years ago Wilson began volunteering for Casting for Recovery (CFR), an organization offering free fly fishing retreats for breast cancer survivors and helping them move forward with their lives.

“Not long after I started getting involved, my mom passed away from a different disease. I learned how important it is that people have emotional, physical and social support through severe chronic illnesses,” Wilson says. “Although I’ve given a lot to CFR, it’s given me so much, too. I believe fly fishing provides so much opportunity to connect to others and to nature. For the breast cancer survivors of CFR, fly fishing also helps to build mental and physical strength all while providing opportunity to overcome new challenges with confidence.”

Wilson is looking forward to returning to Vail to defend her title this summer, as well as continue to meet fellow practitioners and help others grow in the sport.

Audrey Wilson and former NHL centerman Brooks Laich enjoy a selfie at the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado.

“Fly fishing helps us to slow down and find our rhythm, it helps to identify and learn about how we address changing conditions,” she says, adding that she learns every time she teaches. “If I can help one student learn or fix one element of their cast and they walk away knowing they have the steps they need to continue to be successful, it’s very rewarding for me and I believe rewarding for them as well. It hooks us both.”

Later this summer, Wilson has been invited to represent the U.S. at the World Championships in Fly Casting in Norway, for which a friend has set up this GoFundMe account to help her get there. She hopes to stand on the podium and reach yet another benchmark in the sport that continues to deliver a unique connection to others, confidence in herself, peace and solace.

“There’s nothing like watching a beautiful cast unroll as the fly lands on the surface of the water then leads to a surface eat by a beautiful fish,” she says. “I love the places fly fishing takes me. I cherish and love the people who I’ve met along this journey.”

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