Author: Martin Musil

 This year’s organizer of the World Fly Fishing Championship was Scotland and the organizers have chosen the area of Central Scottish Highlands in the South East part of the Trossachs National Park in the area of the local largest lake - Loch Lomond. The Czech team was a bit different after last year’s world championship in New Zealand, especially, with respect to the end of the competition career of Pavel Machan and Tomas Starychfojtu and also after 15 years Jiri Klima finished on the position of the captain of our national team. He was substituted by Tomas Starýchfojtů. Our team had the following members then: Martin Droz, Antonin Pesek, Tomas Adam, Jaromír Sram, new team member Lubos Roza and I was the team manager.

The organizers have chosen 4 lakes for competition venues: Loch Leven, Loch Awe, Carron Valley Dam and Lake of Menteith. The only river venue was the wide salmon river Tay near Perth. Two largest lakes Loch Leven and Loch Awe were only about fishing of wild browns, reservoir Carron Valley was more like a commercial still water where should have been not only many browns, at least according to the accessible information, but also stocked rainbow trouts. Finally, clearly commercial fishery Lake of Menteith was a classic British still water with a stock of rainbow trouts. These lakes were always a three-hour competition.

 The venue on the Tay River was approximately 30 km upstream from the estuary into the sea. The river was approximately 50-80m wide and it was impossible to wade across it anywhere, even if according to the local fishermen there was relatively low water. Its deep streams and classic salmon pools must have been hiding big browns and in a smaller amount also some graylings. Of course, salmons which were swimming upstream the river to spawn there were not missing. However, salmons would have had no significance for our competition. Even if somebody had managed to get this fish, the fish would not have been scored.

We traveled to the championship centre on 28 May for a standard one-week camp and getting to know the place, and on 5 June we moved to the centre of the World championship - an ancient Scottish village called Draymen. From our practice camp we were traveling daily to various lakes and the Tay river to prepare for fishing in particular waters. It is necessary to add that organizers did not allow trainings in the competition lakes neither within two official practices that is quite unusual. It was strange, because the area of both largest lakes - Loch Leven and Loch Awe is huge. On the other hand on the commercial Lake of Menteith there were several boats with “local“ fishermen every day before the championship. To our great surprise also during the competition itself the entrepreneur was renting the remaining free boats to other “local“ fishermen and during the World Championship there were mixed boats with competitors and other fishermen on one lake.

 We were forced to choose from many various options during our training stay, and we were traveling either to natural lakes or artificial reservoirs trying to find out as many information as possible to be successful in the competition. By using several our local Scottish, but also English guides, advisors and helpers, we visited locations such as Loch Earn, Butterstone Lake, North Third Fishery or Glencorse Fishery. Fishery that helped us probably the most was a large natural lake Loch Earn, with the population of wild browns, who were in the last two years significantly supported by their stocked brothers and we could meet there also nice rainbows. The character of this lake was probably the most similar to those two largest ones. The Butterstone Lake was a smaller commercial still water with a stock of nice and strong rainbow trouts which should have helped us with the competition on the venue Lake of Menteith. North Third Fishery and Glencorse Fishery were small reservoirs, where we could fish both stocked rainbows, and deep in the water there were many wild brownies, which were difficult to catch. These reservoirs should have helped with fishing in the reservoir Carron Valley.

With respect to the character of these waters and fished species it is important to remind that this was not an easy championship for us at all. Our little experience with fishing these wild brown trouts in such huge lakes determined that no place among the six best teams and among best ten individuals would be great. Among the favorites for the best places should have belonged teams of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Our successful performances at several championships lined up our team between the absolute world top of the best competitive fly fishermen, and of course we wanted to be among them. It was not different for our biggest rival from the last championships – French team…

In the practices on the lakes we caught relatively many fish, but all who know local conditions and competitive lakes were saying that Loch Awe, Loch Leven and also the Tay River will be about one important fish in each three-hour round. It is a question why the organizer chose just these two large lakes, when there were other lakes, where probably many more fish could have been fished. The reason was probably to take the advantage for home competitors, and especially their knowledge where and how to catch that important one fish.

The weather for our trainings was not ideal at all. Both for fish and fishing in Scotland in general. It was relatively hot and brownies were at the bottom and did not show any activity at all. As I have already said. In trainings we were fishing in four various lakes, whereas some of them were only about rainbow touts and somewhere it was half and half. For the rainbows our tactics of “washing line“ it means floating line and intermediate – midge tip proved well and the used flies were: Booby on the point, or some very well floating flies such as Daddy Long Leg and on the droppers were various kinds of nymphs such as Diawl Bach, Glass Buzzer or Cruncher. For more aggressive method then fast intermediate line up to Di -3 and blobs in classic colors from yellow-green to orange were used.

 For brown trouts the lake Loch Earn, which was abundant with wild brownies which were taking flies in strong wind and high waves, was the most optimal. In such moments we were using slow intermediate and floating lines fast pulled against waves. We were using traditional flies – such as various palmers either Bibio, Kate McLaren, Snatchers or Bumbles, – this all in very dark colors and the best would have been completely black, mainly with some attractive spots (pink, orange or black tips). However, when the weather was sunny and without any wind that was for most of our training hours, then we were using fast sinking lines Di 5 - 8 according to recommendations of our guides. We were looking for brownies in depths and we used practically the same flies with the difference that as the point flies we were recommended using large marabou lures on the hooks No. 10 and 8 for all lakes with occurrence of rainbows in black-and-gold or black-and-silver versions with tungsten beads of 3-4mm in diameter and the bead should have been in gold, silver or black colors. And these proved very well in majority of competitions. On the droppers there were aforementioned patterns of traditional lake flies.

Leading of the whole set must have been very aggressive, retrieving must have been long and steady, but fast. Rolly-polly method did not prove well for brownies. After pulling of flies from the depth on a very long leader to the boat and then it had to be followed by hang, it means stop, hold and very slow retrieving of flies from water before another cast. Many fish were taking flies under the boat at the last moment. We used rather thicker leaders from fluorocarbon, the most often Airflo G 3 of the minimum diameter 0.18 mm. For example, the English use normally and without exceptions lines of diameters about 0.23 – 0.25 mm for such ways of angling. The length of these leaders for this kind of angling is different compared to our common use. The top dropper was from the fly fishing line approximately 1.5 – 2m far and then every fly was 1.8 – 2.2 m from one another and the whole leader was more than 6 m long.

 On the River Tay, beautiful, however, huge salmon river, we were practicing twice and always upstream from the event venue. If we had managed to find some nice streams among huge salmon pools, we had been able to get some fish. The most successful were various nymphing techniques, especially for us using an inherent French leader and the most successful flies were various Pheasant Tails or Hare’s Ears with tungsten beads 3 – 3.5mm in gold, silver or bronze colors. However, the fly must have been with a attractive poins for example a purple collar or the body with a pink thread, etc. There were relatively few fish, quite far from each other and usually big ones. Therefore we were aware of the fact that all will depend on the draw and which fisherman will be fishing in the beat before us.

If somebody had found these fish and caught them, then it should have been clear that with respect to getting this fish from water and their carrying it to the judge for measuring must have influenced their behavior and acceptance of food. Therefore for the next 3 days nobody else had a chance to get this fish. For example, I got three brownies over 45 cm in a nice deep stream during two hours and the next two between 50 – 60 cm on the rod No. 4 and tippet 0.14 mm in diameter did not give me any chance. The tactics for the river competition was set for the rod size 5 and the tippet of a minimum diameter 0,14 – 0.15 mm, when the fish is hooked, it cannot be lost.

On Friday, 5 June, we finally moved from our camp to Drymen, where we met known faces of our friends – competitors from all over the world. The same day was the opening ceremony, where for the first and last time we could see real Scottish rainy weather. First captains meeting in the evening hours did not regard only the organization of the official training days and never brought practically anything surprising. Each of the boys from the team have decided to take part in the 1st practice day and this was every day that only a half of our team took part and we got a chance to test our methods in a bit different way. The rest of the team was preparing for the competition by tying flies. As the official practice lakes were known Loch Earn and the North Third Fishery. When we had a chance to watch the performance of other teams, nobody was significantly outperforming and the quantity of fished fish were more or less the same and the used methods were similar.

 In the evening before the first competition day we took part with Tomas in the captains+ meeting, where a draw took place. The new president of FIPS MOUCHE, Mr.Paul Vekemans, announced that his computer broke down and the official draw matrix does not work and unfortunately he does not have it saved on an external medium… Therefore the Scottish system will be used at this championship. Of course, nobody had anything against the it, because everybody supposed that there should have been no problem.

Draw of the boats was really without any problems, common changes of various countries in boats. But on the river... I was filling in cards with Tom for our boys for particular periods and we found that we always follow the competitors from France! We did not believe our own eyes... During the detailed analysis, when we checked all rounds, we found that in particular beats the same countries always change. It means that we followed teams from England, Slovakia, Canada, France, whereas the French always fished just before us. Jája Sram should have been in the second round after the French fisherman that was not any problem of course. This is the draw. But in the third round Tomas Adam should have followed the French fisherman again. In the fourth round Martin Droz should have followed the fishermen from Slovakia, Canada and France and Lubos Roza at the end should have followed competitors from England, Slovakia, Canada and France. And of course, this was a serious problem for us, as it was against Rules and all principles of the random draw for competitive fly fishing. As soon as we found it before midnight, we immediately went to solve it with somebody from organizers.

 However, Mr. Vekemans was sleeping and there were only couple of people from the organization committee of the championship who did not see any problem in it. Therefore I have written the official complaint and disagreement with this draw and required the Jury session, including the solution of the whole situation. It was the only competition day to solve this situation. Of course, I proposed an easy solution for the organizers, when the only auxiliary draw would mix the teams so that it did not happen that any of teams would follow another team twice. I think that this would very easy and fair solution for all. Teams such as England, France, Poland, and Norway agreed with me and they also confirmed that the current draw is completely wrong, nevertheless did not help me during solution of this problem, because the draw was more than merciful... For example, the English followed the team consisting of the individually applied competitors from countries such as Malta, Bulgaria, Hungary and a woman from Sweden.

We were looking for any kind of support and I got the idea to see who should follow us and it means also the French… This was “a piece of luck“ for the competitors from the U.S.A. We contacted their captain then, and he went to see the President of the FIPS-MOUCHE, Mr. Vekemans. As I have later learned, he kicked him out with the question that the only thing he matters is the draw. In my opinion the people from FIPS-MOUCHE probably have no idea what the regular competition should look like. Well and majority of other countries is not interested, because they make no analysis. For us it was a desperate feeling and no chance of any solution. The next 1st competition day nobody solved anything and after the 3rd round it made no sense to solve anything. Then, neither had we solved anything and we were trying to focus on our job. Despite this fact somebody from FIPS MOUCHE should realize that we have paid quite high fees for participation in the World Championship and it was not only a holiday.

 The whole course of the competition and it was the clear reflection and picture of all what we prepared for and what we were expecting. Only few fish were caught in the first few rounds and it was enough in some venues. On the lakes Loch Leven or Loch Awe 1 or 2 fish were enough for the first places in the venue. From first rounds these lakes were visited by the whole groups of 24 competitors with the clear goal to catch a fish that could be scored. On the lake Loch Leven nobody from our team managed it for all five rounds, and from all 24 competitors at the most 6 - 7 people were able to catch at least one. That is not really much... Also in other sectors the number of fish did not exceed 4 - 5 fish and the same was on the river. Of course, there were exceptions, when in the first round on the Lake of Menteith you had to catch 9 fish to win. On the river one Frenchman won the round with 9 fish that was not a good news for us as we knew that there are not many fish which could be caught, Unfortunately, this confirmed when Tomas Adam did not manage to catch not a eligible fish after him…

What was this championship like? You needed a really big piece of luck as never before and whether Saint Peter will help the competitors to catch the dream fish, was easily demonstrated by Martin Droz. Martin went through the whole competition as a defender of the last year’s trophy, very well. He always caught a fish, even if his position was not completely top in the sector. However, in total it looked very well. As the other competitors continuously were losing contact and chance for a medal due to being blank in some of the rounds, Martin became one of the hot candidates for the medal, if not the complete victory and to defend the last year’s success there was the only and the most difficult step. To catch a fish that could be scored in his last round on that lake Loch Leven…Unfortunately, he did not manage it. However, if he had caught the only fish in the last round, he would defend the trophy for the world champion as the first one in the entire history and the team would have finished on the third place. None of these happened. After two days we were third, but this lottery was not finally successful. Final sixth place in teams was the result of the whole unlucky championship. Who knows how it would have finally finished, if the draw was different and we were fishing before the French?

 Teams which finished before us, simply managed to cope with this competition much better. The "isles" teams of England, Scotland and Wales were supposed and the teams such as France and Finland simply surprised me. The French always really know how and moreover their draw is usually very good. The Finns, whose young team has suitable lakes with occurrence of wild browns for preparation, and this shows their excellent 4th place. Regarding our possibilities I can say that we have no still water with occurrence of wild browns. Simply said, we have very little experience with such fishing, and moreover we were preparing for typical "Scottish" weather, when the fish are caught in waves in cold and rainy weather at the surface for traditional patterns of the lake flies. The opposite was true, typical summer and sunny and calm weather. We were using both lakes with only native brownies, and as well as the others, we were using super sinking lines Di – 5, 6, 7 and 8 and large lures. We do not have a fishery where to fish such fish, and it is very difficult for us to find the right tactics on a large lake and catch there at least the only necessary fish.

The fact that many competitors finished in various rounds blank was nothing abnormal. There were many blanks and finally there was the only problem – which will have the least of them. Not to catch a fish in any round could have happened to anybody. For example the World Champion Ian Barr caught his little trout on the lake Loch Awe 5 minutes before the end, and he was happy that it measured 201 mm. And such a small fish was not normally caught. This is the result that luck played an important role in the competition and always during such a competition it played an important role like during this year’s World Championship…

 Finally, I would like to thank to all of those who crossed their fingers to us to achieve the best possible place. I would like to thank to all sponsors on the top with the Czech Fishing Union, as well as members of CFU, whose small part of their membership fees is used for sports activities. Then I would like to thank to companies Hanák, Hobby-G, Airflo, Sage, Hardy/Greys and Hends Products for their material help.