by Jiří Pejchar
At the beginning of June this year, I was asked to travel to Kuusamo, Finland, with the Czech team for the World Championship as their team manager. I agreed and preparations began immediately. I have known the international organizer Illka Pirinen for many years since the 2009 Youth Championship in Chotěboř. I contacted him with initial questions and Illka very willingly answered everything and recommended us great accommodation for a preparatory training camp, right next to the Kuusinkijoki River.
After the flight from Prague to Helsinki, we continued by a small plane to Kuusamo, where we arrived on Thursday evening, August 5. Our team consisted of Antonín Pešek (Fishing Captain), Franta Kouba, Vojta Ungr, David Chlumský, Tomáš Adam and Tomáš Langer (substitute). Yeah, and I arrived with them, too.
In the morning, Tony and I went to visit Illka and bought permits for the Varisjoki and Kuusinkijoki rivers. In the afternoon we went to try the Varisjoki River, which was very close to our place of accommodation. We ran down to the river and Tonda and I went upstream to find some good beats to fish.
After a short walk we found a nice place and went for it. Tony chose the upper part and I the lower inlet into the lake. Tony caught a lot of grayling, both smaller and bigger, but it was different with me in my inlet. I caught only seven, but they all were 35+ cm long. There must be roaring pike at the inlet to the lake, I thought as I watched Tonda getting one grayling after another. You must be wondering what the handful of grayling ate - it was a Pheasant tail with a big pink ball. The other guys fished better than me, but some did as poor as I did.
On Friday morning, August 6, we set off for the Kuusinkijoki River downstream of the competition sector. A Slovak team was already deployed on the section of the river near the car park. We walked along them a little bit of downstream. David Chlumský, Kouba and I started fishing in streams under rapids. In a moment, however, we moved down to quieter parts, because we fished only brown trout that unfortunately this species were not evaluated at this Championship.
The concert started and we got a lot of grayling back and forth - simply great. Later, I crossed the river and went upstream. As I climbed up to the rapids, the graylings were gone and so I returned. I'll tell you, it was beautiful. Yeah, and they ate the same Pheasant tail again, but it was supplemented very strongly with the Chenille earthworm at the end of the tippet. We all fished on beautifully and them we went home. We had dinner and the boys went to tie flies.
However, it didn't work for me and I went with Franta Kouba to Kuusinkijoki once again. The sun sets here much later than in our country, so there was plenty of time. Franta was fishing clink and dink method and he was getting one grayling after another. I was fishing with a dry fly and graylings took Olive Dun in size 16 and Rose Dun in the same size. We really enjoyed it.
On Sunday, August 8, we set off to a training lake called Illka’s lake. Illka lent us boats and he even lent me his personal carved boat seat. Tom Adam and I set out on the lake, and later Tony joined us. We were fishing with intermediate and sinking lines. We tried all sorts of flies to find a recipe for those whitefish there. Over the time, we found that they liked little black lures with red beads. The next day we were here again honing our tactics. Tomas Adam even caught a whitefish over 60 cm long. Unbelievable fish!
On Tuesday, August 10, we went to the second training lake – Ajakka Lake, where, however, there was only one boat available. We all took turns in stages. This lake wasn't very nice, I must admit. A completely different nature of water than yesterday. There were far fewer fish takes and we didn't catch much of eligible fish. David and Vojta stayed longer and fished the most fish for the evening outside of competition hours.
Wednesday, August 11, the last training day. And hurray for the largest Kitkajoki River, which flows in a deep valley and the way to the river means a march with a high elevation. Just go down to the hole and up again, a trip for the whole day. Everything was already marked down in the hole, so we marched along the competition sector. Beautiful large river with a brighter bottom than Kuusinkijoki. I found a place where I sensed grayling and in fact, they were there. Everywhere and in multiple layers. Firstly I started fishing with two nymphs, earthworm in the first line and Pheasant tail was above. Then I took the earthworm, exchanged for another Pheasant tail and fished in the same place again. Lots of grayling again, so shortly after the break I decided for another round in the same place.
This time only with one Pheasant tail, not so strong. There was a lot of fish again, like when buses arrive. So a good break and the fourth round and the same place and the clink and dink method. As a float, my favourite was the Peacock Beatle in size 12 and a nymph below it. This time the nymph no longer scored, but the beetle dominated even in strong and deep currents.
There was no shortage of fish, so again a break and now only a dry fly Rose Dun 16. And it enchanted them. Five circles in one place and maybe 100 fish of eligible size. The boys were in the same situation, they also got graylings all over. We thought, it will be a massacre in the contest, because we are just above the competition section and that looks exactly the same.
I don't like packing and moving to an official hotel, but one can survive that. We arrived in Rukka, first we successfully passed the Covid-19 tests and then we were accommodated. Finally, familiar faces from other teams, I was very happy to see them finally. The Captains' meeting followed, we made a draw. The opening ceremony took place on the square directly in front of the official hotel. We were sitting, listening to Illka, and suddenly three reindeers came between us and the stage. They looked at us at Illka and walked on slowly again. The evening opening banquet, team meeting, fine-tuning of everything you need and set alarm clocks for 5:30.
On Friday, August 13, the first buses left for the Kitkajoki River, where sectors 1 and 5 were marked. Tony went to number one and Vojta to number five. David drove in a while to Koverrusjarvi Lake, where was Sector 2, where boat fishing took place. Tomas Adam went to the third sector, the Kuusinki River, and Franta Kouba went boat fishing to the Kylmaluoma Lake on the fourth sector. In the team we agreed that I would go to help the boys into the hole as the official captain, so sectors 1 and 5 and the Kitkajoki River. Tomáš Langer had the task of observing what was happening on the second sector, the smaller Koverrusjarvi Lake.
The competition started and suddenly everything was different. Fish on the floors? For some competitors, maybe yes, but unfortunately not for us. I remember the feeling of standing with Vojta in place 10 of the Kitkajoki sector five. Vojta was carefully preparing and looking forward to the contest. Start! The beat was very deep and it was a bank competition with a little wading on the edge of the river. Vojta began fishing upstream the water in a single stream in his section, where it was possible to wade.
With the first cast, he immediately caught a grayling and in a moment another one. It will be great, fish on the floors. But the current was fished out soon and the fish takes stopped. Vojta loaded with heavier flies and went deep. But the fish did not cooperate there, so the entries in the scorecard increased only very slowly. Vojta waded as hard as he could, but it was only a short distance and then the current took him away. End of the contest and 12 graylings recorded on the card.
We packed and went to the lunch place. There we learnt that it would be enough for him only for the ninth place in the sector, because others and especially those from lower numbers had more fish. In the afternoon, Vojta went to number one in the Kitkajoki sector and just went upstream after lunch. I wished him good luck and went up out of the hole to the bus to help Kouba. The bus arrived in a moment and Franta reported number one from Kylmaluoma Lake. He was in a boat with a Finn competitor and beat him 4:2. Great! But I had no idea that it was the first and also the last time we showed our back to the excellently fishing Finns.
I didn't have time to meet Tonda Pešek, because the distance between sectors 1 and 5 were quite long and I would have had to walk for maybe two hours during the contest. Tonda caught 24 graylings and was on the sixth place. Unfortunately, David Chlumský was blank on the Koverrusjarvi Lake duo with one fish 4 mm below the whitefish limit (20 cm), Tomáš Adam - Ogar was on the 12th place on the Kuusinki River. The ninth place in the teams from the thirteen participating countries and it was possible to improve it in the next round.
The international judge read number 7 for Franta, where a Polish competitor caught twelve fish before him and that was enough for him to take the 10th place right behind Vojta’s beat. The river revolves around in the forest and you can't see anywhere except a short distance from the next beat, so I didn't even know what the number 7 looked like. Unfortunately, the depth was like crazy again and the bank competition was waiting for us again, like in Vojta's case. Although one place seemed to be possible for wading, Franta tried it later, but he was carried away by the current. The competition started and there were no fish takes. Kouba fished everywhere possible, but for nothing. Only after an hour and a half the first fish arrived. In a moment the second and at the end of the competition the third one. Franta was working hard and tried all he could, but without success.
I saw a Belgian fishing upstream from us, who was pulling fish and finally he had 13 pieces. I felt sorry for Franta, but it didn't work out. What are we doing wrong? We asked each other and went to the bus out of the hole. It was only enough for his 11th place in the sector. Vojta caught 18 fish at number one in the sector and he was ninth. There was finally a signal up near the bus and we learnt more results from our boys. Unfortunately, Tonda blank at Koverrusjarvi Lake, as well as David did. He caught 17 fish in the Kuusinki in the afternoon and was on the seventh place. Tomas Adam brought our best result of the round from Kylmaluoma Lake, where he caught two fish from the boat and was fourth. In teams, we finished ninth again in this round and we were in overall table on the same place as well. In the evening, there was a team meeting without much fun we just needed to forget about it and in the morning we had to go again into the water or on the boat to fight and move up in the table.
This time, Tomáš Adam, came to me to the fifth sector and I wished him the higher beat numbers, which were far better for wading. But the international judge said number 9 that I saw from Vojta's tenth beat. Damn, depth again. In the first competition, a French competitor was fishing here and caught 14 fish, that was enough form him to narrowly defeat Vojta, and in the afternoon there was again an Italian who caught 5 graylings. Tom and I went along the whole beat, we talked about everything and the competition started. In the wading parts by the bank, however, the fish no longer cooperated and in the scoring card there was only one fish.
Tom decided to wade to the other side. There was one edge where it would be possible and Tom isn't that small. He went upstream and ran through the water at an angle to the opposite bank. Great, he may not even take water, but suddenly there was a splash, and he was in the water up to his neck. Various words could be heard, but our competitor was already full of water standing on the other bank. He ran down to the end of the beat and in a moment the grayling was moving in the landing net. Great guy! And now back. Up to the head in the water again, measure and back again. He repeated it like this four more times, and the river didn't give him more. Six fish and the eight place in the sector. Well, what to add - he was fighting like a madman!
Kouba made the tenth place with 11 fish in the first sector, Vojta was blank on Koverrusjarvi Lake. Damn that! Tony brought eighth place from the Kuusinki for 15 fish and David was unfortunately blank from a boat on Kylmaluoma Lake with one grayling 5 mm below the limit (that was 25 cm). We finished on the 11th place in teams in this round and in total we dropped to the same place. What the hell is going on? Why did everything work for us in the training and now we can't do anything at all, and we were almost blank from the lakes? Well, let's go on, it will definitely break and we will get higher! We said to ourselves while having our lunch.
I went up out of the hole for David to take his tackle down. The international judge read the number 5 for him and the number 10 for Tom in the sector one. And look, I'll be close, I'll catch them both during the round. Before David, there was a competitor from Montenegro who caught 7 fish in the first round, then the Slovak competitor Igor Hribík won the sector here with 31 fish and in the third round the Italian competitor with 20 fish won here. Finally, a place where a lot of fish is caught and you can also wade everywhere. In a moment, he wrote me that he needed help with translation. David and I talked about the place and I went away.
Tomas also had a beautiful place that was easy to wade. In the first round, the Lithuanian competitor caught 17 fish, in the second round Italian with 20 fish and in the third round Igor Hribík won here again with 32 fish. Statistically, the beats were good and now we have to fish here well. Although not so many fish was caught, David managed a beautiful four place for seven fish and Tomáš made the seventh place for the same number of fish. Kouba brought a blank card from the damned Koverrusjarvi Lake, Vojta finished fourth at the Kuusinki for 22 fish and Tony brought the second place from Kylmaluoma Lake where he caught two fish. "Guys, it needs wet flies without balls, that's what these bitches eat", he just said. We didn't even have a single take with this during training. How surprising! This round finally brought the opposite direction in results. We finished on the sixth place and moved up in total to the eighth place in the teams. Guys, we'll show them in the last round and will move up again!
On Sunday morning, August 15, we all believed we would go higher again. Tony and David went to the Kitkajoki River with me. Tomáš went to the damned Koverrusjarvi Lake, where we did not catch a single fish yet. Vojta did not feel very well, so he took turns. The premiere was for the team's newbie Tomáš Langer, who went to Kylmaluoma Lake and Kouba went to the Kuusinki River. And there's an envelope with tickets - for Tonda it was beat 3.
What about David? Where can I find him? On the beat seven. I came to him and a beautiful wading place. In the first round Pablo Castro won, in the second round the Montenegro competitor finished the last with three fish, in the third round there was an Englishman who was the second and in the fourth round the Italian competitor finished third. David flew into the water and in a moment he had his first grayling. In a second and he was doing well. I watched him how well he was doing, and I had thoughts of why the other rounds it hadn’t worked. After all, we still fished with the same flies as during training. David swam here a few times. He took the opportunity of this place and was third with 16 fish.
Tony was also doing well and finished fourth. Ogar (Tom) was given a clear order: Excel on the lake on our behalf, and he did so, and twice at once! He brought a beautiful fourth place from here! Kouba caught twenty fish on the Kuusinki and he was second. Tomáš Langer fulfilled his role at his premiere and caught a fish on Kylmaluoma Lake, which was enough for the fourth place! Wet flies without heads were the hit! All rounds we should have fished this way. In this last round we finished second and jumped to the total final sixth place.
Looking at it after some time, I wonder what we could have done differently. On the lake in the first round, Kouba defeated Kinnunen from Finland with our tactics. Then, David was twice blank on the lakes when he had a fish always a few millimeters shorter than the eligible size. In the last rounds, we included wet flies without heads on the lakes, which were completely ineffective in training and then scored points. But what about rivers? We were fishing there in the same Czech way and it only brought results in the last two rounds. We were struggling we must admit. But we were fighting to the end in all rounds – at least that is the way how I saw it. Sometimes it just didn't work and the Finns won their dream by two levels, we take our hat off to them! The second were the French and the third the Spanish.
Maybe next time in Spain no one will break the mirror...