This year´s European Fly Fishing Championship took place in Spain in the area of Cantabria. I took part in this Championship as a Captain of the Czech team together with Jaromír Šram (Jája), Filip Apjar, Víťa Pavlacký (Keňa) and Roman Jorka. Then there were two of our individuals more – Milan Čubík and Luboš Roza. However, one month before the start of the Championship it was not clear, whether it will take place or not. The original term of filing the applications was moved by 2 weeks and therefore we were unsure.
After the second term of applications, it was clear that it will finally take place. Surprisingly 20 teams applied. Milan and Luboš have chosen the flight and our team was travelling in a Transit on our own. Our route lead through Germany and France to Spain – together 2,190 km. Our departure was planed for Wednesday (7th May) in the morning.
The journey in Germany was relatively all right, however, at the borders with France we were stopped by the customs inspectors and they asked us to leave the car on the side. We were a bit afraid, when they wanted to see our passports and they asked where we travel and what the purpose of our journey is. The problem was that Keňa left his ID card in the car in the garden. When I was taking my ID card the customs inspector noticed a few flies which I had in my documents. Immediately he got softer and started to ask about fishing. He even did not pay much attention to our documents and therefore Keňa´s driver´s licence was without problems.
I was changing in driving with Jája, who stopped the car in the morning at the lonely parking place at a hotel, but on the Spanish side. When we woke up, two rarely dressed darker women came with a red lamp from the hotel and they wanted something from us. We were rather going on, because according to our navigation we needed only about an hour of drive. We got in touch with Milan and Luboš, who were waiting for us at the hotel in Santilana del Mar.
With respect to the fact that in all Cantabria fishing is prohibitted on Thursday we decided that at least we will drive to have a look at three venues. With respect to the long distances between them and bad road connection across the tops of the Pyrenees we would not manage more.
First and largest river was the Ason, where there were two competition venues. We started with the inspection on the lower part of the river. The Ason was wide between 25 – 30 m. Fast places were interrupted by long planes with deep pools between 2 to 4 meters. Fish were active and they were rising. From time to time some of theem showed themselves at the bottom. In the upper parts we watched beautiful brownies of about 50 cm from a bridge and from time to time some rainbows of about 30 – 40 cm in length. The upper stretch was more streamy and more ragged and with especially a half water flow. There we saw significantly less active fish.
The second river was the river Pas, future venue IV. It was a mountain river of about 10m of width, where streamy places were interrupted by deep pools. With respect to the fact it started raining we decided to go for fishing permits to Torrelavega – the official place of accommodation during the whole championship, where we had prepared them at the reception. After the return to the hotel we assessed the situation together and agreed that on the places of the first training and then we went to sleep and looked forward to the first casts.
In the morning we were woken up by rain. After breakfast we travelled in two cars to different places. Milan, Luboš and Filip drove out for about a half an hour earlier. When the rest of our team was on the way, Milan called me that their river had the increased level and it was a bit muddy and therefore we had gone to see the competition lake. When we decided to travel to the practice river and we were hoping to be a bit more lucky. Unfortunatelly, also our river had much higher water and it was more muddy. We decided to travel to see one of the tributaries of the Ason and then we continued for about 25 km more. River was narrower and narrower, but it was also cleaner and cleaner.
After getting significantly higher to a plateau, where water was higher, but crystal clear. During the walk we noticed few trouts and this made us to prepare our tackle fast. Keňa had the first rod ready – dry one. I saw a fish to rise and I persuaded him so that I could have the first cast with his sedges. We did not have to wait long. It was a trout of about 20 cm, which took the sedge. After a strike I had given the rod to Keňa, who got it from water and released. Jája and me chose nymphs and Keňa with Roman were fishing with dry and wet flies. After 5 hours of fishing Jája caught about 25 brownies, I caught about 15 of them and others were similar. Even if this place was not too much adequate to those competitive ones, at least it was a nice fun. Return to the hotel was a happy one and therefore there was something to talk about.
It was raining all night and in the morning it was the same. All day we spent with tying flies.
Finally it stopped raining. However, we stayed at our hotel and we carried on in tying. In the evening we walkked round the town. After our come back we decided that before checking in the official hotel we will go for one more practice. We divided the stretches and hoped that the rivers would be better and it would not rain any more.
In the morning we woke up early, put all tackles into the car, had a quick breakfast and set out for training. Milan was faster again and therefore he called us that water upstream the venues is clear and we can fish there. After arrival on the spot Jája, Roman and Filip got off at the river Pas upstream the venue and I drove on with Keňa downstream of the venue up to the confluence with another tributary.
After an hour and a half of training I had two eligible brownies, but Keňa had nor a take. Suddenly the river turned muddy and therefore we went to see the other guys upstream the venue. As water was really clear and I caught 3 brownies and Keňa 4 brownies for not the whole hour. Other guys had also caught something, but only Filip had a bad luck, because after about 5 minutes of angling he broke the tip of the rod and had to fish with a broken rod.
After completion of angling we moved to the hotel in Torellavega. After cheking in we went with Luboš for the first Captain´s meeting, where details were discussed, JURY was elected, some details were specified and trainings were drawn. At first, we did not want to go to the official practice, but with respect to the fact that we were training for only about 4 hours then we had also applied. After a short team meeting there was a peak in tying flies and preparation in training and opening ceremony that took place at the sqaure in Torrelaveza.
Sith Day: Official Practice
Jája, Roman and me we went firstly to the river Saja and Filip with Keňa went to see the lake to get some knowledge from the training of the first half of teams. On the river, each team got about 400 m long stretch, where we managed to get 2 small fish each – no wonder. The guys focused on the lake for us to give us some information. Then they moved to the river for a practice downstream of the reservoir. Quite many fish were caught on the lake – about 6 per boat. We managed to catch only two rainbows and one brownie in three hours of drifting. I caught a brownie and rainbow, Jája caught one more rainbow and Roman was bravely driving the boat for all the time. This practice did not say anything and we were frustrated and returned to the hotel, where there was the second Captain´s meeting. Allocating venues and beats was on the program. After the draw and solving all details I passed the information to the guys, who were completing the last flies and according to the draw they started to prepare tackles for the next day.
Seventh Day: First day of competition
Departure from the hotel at 7:00. The draw was made on the previous day:
1st Period – Venue I. – lower stream of the Ason - Filip´s placing 8 + Luboš´s placing 1
Venue II. – upper stream of the Ason - Roman´s placing 5 + Milan´s placing 4
Venue III. – lake Alza - Ivan´s placing 19
Venue IV. – river Argona - Víťa placing 7
Venue V – river Pas - Jája´s placing 1
Luboš caught 2 small fish for streamer in the venue I and Filip managed at least one small fish. Roman equalized Milan, when both of them caught 3 fish each. I did not meet any fish on the lake and started blank. In my sector only 4 competitors caught a fish. Víťa managed to get 2 measurable trouts in the Venue IV. The best fishing was Jája, who caught 10 trouts. Our fish were caught mainly for nymphs, except Luboš, who was fishing with streamer and Jája caught them also on dry fly.
2nd Period - Venue I. – lower part of the Ason - Jája´s placing 1
Venue II. – upper part of the Ason - Filip´s placing 2 + Luboš´s placing 1
Venue III. – lake Alza - Roman´s placing 19 + Milan´s placing 19
Venue IV – river Argona - Ivan´s placing 7
Venue V – river Pas – Víťa´s placing 9
Jája was fishing well in the Venue I. again, when he managed to get 6 pieces and he did not find anyone better in his group. In the Venue II both Czechs were competing together, when Luboš caught 4 and Filip 3 trouts. Milan and Roman were unhappy on the lake. Roman lost the fish at the landing net and Milan lost the rainbow trout in the distance on the sinking line. Both received 19 penalty points for the blank scorecard. I had 3 measurable brownies. Víťa got three fish in the Venue V. It was fishing mainly for the nymph.
In the evening we all met around ten in the evening at the dinner and exchanged their experience and knowledge and after dinner they went tying again – to about two o´clock in the morning. After the first day we were the second and in individuals Jája was the first and Luboš second.
Eight Day: Second day of competition
Today we had only one competition and the afternoon was free. Departure was at 7:00 a.m. from the hotel.
3rd Period - Venue I. – lower part of the Ason - Víťa´s placing 19
Venue II. – upper part of the Ason - Jája´s placing 5
Venue III. – lake Alza - Filip´s placing 11 + Luboš´s placing 1
Venue IV. – river Argona - Roman´s placing 1 + Milan´s placing 3
Venue V. – river Pas – Ivan´s placing 6
Víťa was in the Venue I, where he did not manage to catch a measurable fish, because he had a beat that could not be waded across at all and he got wet there as well, but he was not lucky. In Venue II Jája caught 3 fish. On the lake there were Filip and Luboš. Their main task was to catch at least a fish. The only situation on the lake has changed and they really started to fish. Filip managed only one, but Luboš caught 4 and it was enough for the victory. When Roman was fishing well in the Venue IV, where he caught 8 fish and was the first. Even Milan was not behind, who had 6 brownies. I managed to catch 2 measurable fish in the Venue V.
We all welcomed the afternoon´s free time. Somebody spent time by tying the lost flies. After the third round we dropped to the fourth place. In individuals Luboš was still the first with the sum of 3 and second was Jája with the sum of placings 7.
9th Day: Third competition day
The last day of competition and two decisive periods. We had no chance to reach the first team of Spain. Nevertheless our goal was to return among the first three and in individual competition to keep excellent results of Jája and Luboš.
4th Period - Venue I. – lower stretch of the Ason - Ivan´s placing 4
Venue II. – upper part of the Ason - Víťa´s placing 3
Venue III. – lake Alza - Jája´s placing 4
Venue IV. – river Argona - Filip´s placing 2 + Luboš´s placing 1
Venue V. – river Pas – Roman´s placing 13 + Milan´s placing 11
I was fishing in Venue I and had great experience there. My beat was about 50 meters of streamy and wadeable water, however, the rest was the long and deep pool. For the third cast I hooked a brownie on my nymph of about 50 cm, which took about 15 m of line and then it broke all my leader of 0.16 mm in diameter. In streams I caught only one and then I went to see the pool. Crossways accross the river was the top of the rock, on which I was wading. On both sides it was about 3-4 m deep. I noticed rising fish at the bank. I had quickly changed the line and started to fish with a dry sedge. First take was from a small chub that came in a moment. I stroke and on the surface a large splash and I lost a brownie of about 40 cm. I was trying to get another active fish, but these did not want the sedge on the tippet of the diameter 0.12mm. I used a more gentle nylon of 0.10 mm in diameter with a small upwing on the hook #18. At first cast I lost one brownie, which had broken the line. The second cast brought me a brownie 42.5 cm. Finally I lost 2 more fish and other 2 fish I got and finally I recorded 4 pieces.
In sector II. Víťa caught 4 fish. There were 3 competitors with four fish, Víťa had those smallest ones. Jája managed to catch 2 fish on the lake. Venue IV was ruled by the Czechs again, when Filip and Luboš caught six fish. But Filip had the smallest, so Luboš made placing 1 and Filip 2. In Venue V Roman did not managed much and had only one fish. Milan was fishing on the place after me and caught two more trouts. During wading with fish Milan badly hurt his back, when his feet had slipped and he fell down. There was a suspicion for the broken ribs. When I saw him before the last period, I thought that he would not be able to complete fishing. After four periods we returned to the second place. Jája dropped on the 3rd place and Luboš was still the first with really amazing sum of 4.
5th Period - Venue I. – lower stretch of the Ason - Roman´s placing 6 + Milan´s placing 4
Venue II. – upper strech of the Ason - Ivan´s placing 1
Venue III. – lake Alza - Víťa´s placing 12
Venue IV. – river Argona - Jája´s placing 10
Venue V. – river Pas – Filip´s placing 13 and Luboš´s placing 10
In the last period Roman and Milan were fishing in Venue I. Both of them were fishing well and Roman had 4 fish and broken Milan had 5 of them. I was fishing in Venue II. Final catch of six fish nicely surprised me. Víťa caught only one brownie. Jája managed to catch 2 and he was really curious whether he will keep the 3rd place. Filip as well as Luboš caught one fish each. But Filip had the smallest fish again, so Luboš finished before him. As well as Luboš was very curious whether he was leading in the competition. We, the others, were waiting whether we kept the second place.
At about half past ten in the evening finally the results were posted and we could celebrate. In teams we finished second, when first was Spain 1 and third Spain 2. In individuals we could also congratulate and it was immediately twice. Jája kept the third place and Luboš was first and got the trophy for the European Champion. Czech flyfishing school has proved again that it belongs among the best ones. Other total results were: Filip 14, Ivan 15, Milan 22, Roman 29 and Víťa 41. after publishing the results we got many congratulations from other teams. Almost all were saying that we are the champions and not the Spanish, who were blamed that the judges added on their cards also smaller fish than the eligible ones. If Luboš were the member of our team, we would defeat them. This all was nice, but the history does not ask…
The final ceremony took place on Saturday evening in the square. Firstly the individuals were rewarded. A bit of disappointment for me was that only a part of national anthemn was played and this was not only of our masters, but also the second Spanish competitor. The same was repeated also during the team award ceremony. After the ceremony the farewell party of five dishes took place. In the morning we loaded all things into the car and at 10 o´clock we set out on the way home with 2,200 km ahead of us. On Monday we all finished safe and sound home – some of them at 7 in the evening.
Finally, I would like to say that the championship was prepared well. There were no obstacles as well as no protests, but from the point of view of time all was managed well. The home team won due to its skills or if differently it is only a speculation and it depends on everybody what he believes in. Nice championship was also underlined by the great result of both our team, and both individuals Milan and Luboš.
The sad moment of the championship was only the fact that some teams were robbed of some tackles. The Frenchman was robbed of five rods and a bag with reels and all things, Milan was also robbed of the bag, where he had many lines, reels and personal things. They threw all one competitor´s things into water and the Polish was taken all rods from the tube, they broke them and returned. These are all events we have learned about. This should be a memento not only for organizers but also us – the competitors.