Source: Trout Fisherman , Issue 461 (2014)
John Horsey reveals his and Team England's tactics on the beautiful rivers and lakes of the Czech Republic
THE 34th FIPS-Mouche World Fly Fishing Championships were held in Frymburk, Czech Republic, with three river sessions and two lake sessions — one from the boat and the other from the bank.
The England Team consisted of Howard Croston, Phil Dixon, Andrew Scott, John Tyzack and myself, with reserve Mike Dixon and manager Paul Page. Paul also booked us a top local guide in Vit Misar, whose knowledge of the area was astounding.
We were to practice for eight full days, staying right next to the Vlatava River in the village of Rozmberk. This was official practice water.
The Vlatava was the venue for all three river sessions, but it might as well have been three different rivers; such was the diversity of this incredible river. The Upper Vlatava was known as "The Devils Stones" and was very fast flowing, narrow, up to five metres deep in some places and ankle deep in others — but the entire stretch was strewn with the most incredible variety of rocks and boulders. Most of us had to jump from rock to rock to fish the venue effectively — fall in and you could be washed into a swirling pool of water or risk bumps, bruises or breakages by falling against the rocks. This was the only venue where an ambulance was on-call throughout all five sessions!
The Middle Vlatava was fast flowing and powerful, with a good mix of wild and stocked browns, some grayling and a liberal stocking of rainbow trout. The Lower Vlatava was the widest stretch of river and flowed steadily through the valley. This section had the biggest quantity of stocked rainbows, but there were also plenty of wild browns, grayling and lots of coarse fish. The rainbows fought like stink and we calculated that the time taken to land these fish meant you could quite easily catch two of the smaller wild browns and get similar points.
We could not practice on the bank lake, but were allowed one boat for a three-hour session on the boat venue. Both were frequent competition venues and stocked with mainly rainbow trout, with some browns. However, there were also pike, perch, chub and roach on these venues. The two lakes were similar to waters back home, but came in for even more pressure from local and competition fly anglers.
All the venues had a mix of wild and stocked fish. Due to severe predation from cormorants, the Czech authorities not only stocked grayling, rainbow and brown trout, but also perch, chub and a host of other indigenous coarse fish. So for the first time in my experience, all species of fish caught and landed in these Championships would count, provided they were longer than the minimum size of 18cms. This put a completely different slant on our approach and I personally felt it was a very positive move.
DAY 1 SESSION 1
I drew the Lower Vlatava on Session 1 and wanted a decent draw to target fresh stock fish left quiet for a few weeks. What a shock to find the river chocolate brown due to heavy overnight rain.
With poor clarity, I started at the beat's top end and planned to walk downstream fishing a Di-3 with Streamers. I had an orange lure on top dropper and a Black Streamer on point, five feet apart on an eight-foot leader. I had no idea of water depth or the terrain.
I fished tight to the bank and thanked God when I caught a rainbow within five minutes.
I then stayed in that area hoping for more rainbows but sadly that was my lot. So I nervously waded out and covered more water.
I could wade to the middle and reach the far bank with a decent cast and in so doing had another hit — a wild brownie; again on the Black Streamer. I replaced the orange lure with another Black Streamer and finished the three-hour session with five browns and the rainbow.
Those six fish earned me sixth place overall and in those conditions, with no knowledge of that piece of river, I was delighted!
DAY 1 SESSION 2
The Devils Stones. This was the only session where we switched beats after 90 minutes. I was drawn on Beat 2 and had to switch with the competitor on Beat 1. My first session was on a beautiful wide, rocky but shallow length of water with the odd rising fish. All trout here were wild — and there were lots of them!
I started with double nymph, pitched into every conceivable hole, run or pot. However, I quickly swapped to 'duo' with a dry Sedge on the dropper and a light weighted nymph on the point. This pulled loads more fish and when my controller shouted time, I'd measured 22 fish.
I had 15 minutes to move beats and found the terrain completely different. Lots of slower, deeper runs and a gorge that cascaded through at breakneck speed — if I fell in there, I'd never get out. It was also unfishable and my 80-year-old controller would not follow me through that area in case he slipped into the water!
I didn't fish that session very well, ending up with 29 browns for the three hours. However, that was my biggest ever catch in any World or European Championship, so I was still happy — until I managed only 16th place. The top rods both had over 60 fish with several on 50 plus and lots over 40. At the end of the day, England were in bronze, France silver and Czech Republic gold.
DAY 2 SESSION 3
My boat session was planned to team orders — a clear intermediate with an Orange Blob or Streamer on the top dropper, a Hare's Ear Nymph on the middle and a Black Streamer on the point. I had a fish first cast, another second cast and a double up on the third cast—sadly they both broke me on 9.4lb fluorocarbon! My boat partner Julien Lorquet of Belgium, last year's individual bronze medal winner, did exactly the same but landed both his double-up fish. He then went on to land fish after fish while I lost fish, missed takes and went through barren periods!
At 13 fish to four down with an hour remaining, I had to do something. I switched to a Di-3 sinker and two all-black small Streamers and asked my controller to take us to the take's top end. There were bent rods here and the target areas were along the banks, casting toward the shoreline.
In the next 40 minutes I matched Julien with 15 fish apiece, but beat him on total points, which earned me third place overall and just one fish off winning the session. Probably the best comeback of my fishing career to date.
England were in silver medal position with France bronze and Czech Republic still gold.
DAY 2 SESSION 4
The middle Vlatava was my penultimate venue and I drew an amazing stretch of river. A long, shallow run with rising fish, followed by a fast, deep run and culminating in a deep pool. Along the entire length of my beat was a shallow backwater but it looked fishless and featureless.
I started on double dry and soon hooked into the wild browns. They swallowed the fly on many occasions, so landing them was a doddle. I got to 20 then felt I had to try the deeper run in case there were some stocky rainbows present. In hindsight this was a mistake, as most of the other anglers had fished this out. I had only one rainbow in 30 minutes.
So I decided to try a single dry into the slow back water and instantly caught a roach — excellent. Sadly this was my only roach, but I did prise out over a dozen more browns and finished with 34 fish for the session and eighth place — almost every fish on dries.
England were now in bronze medal position with France silver and Czech Republic gold.
DAY 3 SESSION 5
My last session was off the bank on the lake. I'd borrowed Andrew Scott's slow glass line, which he had dyed black — confusing to everyone I know! Team tactics were small black or orange Streamers and sometimes even the bung! We had to move pegs every 45 minutes, so on my first peg, I managed to get one rainbow and lost one at the net — both to the bung!
From then on, I used the slow glass and landed two from my next peg, three from the next and one from my last peg.
England held on for bronze and a place on the podium. Andrew Scott, fishing in his first ever World Championships landed the individual bronze medal and John Tyzack received a prize for the longest fish of the Championships.
Other placings: Phil Dixon seventh, John Tyzack 21st, John Horsey 26th and Howard Croston 54th.
The Vlatava is the best river I have ever fished for learning every conceivable tactic and technique for river fishing. Everything can be practised to perfection here and the fish never stop taking a fly. Czech Republic is a wonderful country, with friendly people and great hospitality—and all at incredibly cheap prices.
Last year I was critical of FIPS-Mouche and their organisation and choice of venue, but this year I salute them for a superbly organised and very friendly event.