written by Ivan Vančura

01This year’s European Fly Fishing Championship was held in Portugal between 14. 5 – 21 .5. 2017.

The Czech team consisted of Lukáš Starýchfojtů (Lukyn), Tomáš Adam (Ogar), Lukáš Jahn, Miloslav Hosenseidl (Milda) and me - Ivan Vančura. With respect to winter turbulences in our National Fly Fishing Committee, when both the Manager, Martin, and the Coach of the National team, Tomáš, resigned, we went to this Championship without these two important officials and I was forced to take over their responsibility. The flew to Portugal without any bigger problems. The only obstacle was the pick-up of booked and paid cars in Porto. This cost us almost 3 hours of time and nerves.

The Championship itself was held in a destination unknown for us. Two previous Championships were held in Southern part of Portugal and definitely they were not competitions where many fish were caught. Therefore, we were curious about this new location. Competition sectors were marked on the Vez River (upper and lower section), Coura River and Olo River and on the Falperra Lake.

02At the official hotel, we picked up permits, which Antonio Rodrigez helped to arrange and prepare. After having been accommodated in the town of Arcos de Valdevez and our dinner, we agreed on the first training for the next day on the Coura River, upstream from the competition venue.

If I should briefly describe venues selected for this event, I would say they were rivers with crystal clear water which were in the upper sections, similar to the Devil’s streams on the Vtava River, under the Lipno reservoir, and in the lower sections, there was very slowly flowing water to pools with still water which were divided by a random stream or small weir. Fish population, probably in entire Portugal, is very limited – it’s barbel, a kind of chub and brown trout. I intentionally mentioned brown trout on the last place, because it seemed to us that it is the least abundant in rivers. Paradoxically, it was the only eligible fish species (200 mm). It’s pity that organizers in these countries strictly follow this rule and ignore catches of two remaining non-salmonid fish species. For example, in Czech republic all legally caught fish is scored.

03In fact, on the first training day we were trying what came to our minds with an intention of selection of the most successful fly patterns in the evening. I drove the guys along the river and we met again after three hours. Number of catches was not awesome. I caught 1 fish, Lukáš 1 fish, Lukyn 6, Tomáš 5 and Milda 4 fish. We were fishing mainly with a nymph, because none of us saw fish rising.

After a short discussion, we moved to the Vez River downstream of the competition venue. The Vez River is a really big river and several cascades looked promising for nice fishing. After two hours of fishing we realized a total opposite. In fact, we caught only 2 eligible fish in five people. In the evening we were tying flies and discussed where we will fish the second day. We decided to go to the Vez River upstream from the competition venues.

The upper part of the Vez River reminded me of Devil’s Stones on the Vltava River at home. We left Ogar and Milda and the rest of the team drove upstream. After another hour and a half we returned to the original place, where we left the guys. We got by car to places where very few local people and even less foreigners and tourist get, but we really did not manage to find the river and get to it. By the way, this was a huge problem on almost all rivers – their poor access. In the meantime, guys were coming back to the car and each caught a trout.

04From the third day of our unofficial training, weather forecasts were not very favourable – it was raining almost three days non-stop. Also, despite this fact, we decided to set out to the most distant fisheries – the Olo River or at least to see the Falperra Lake, where fishing was prohibited. Both fisheries are about 135 -145 km far from Arcos de Valdevez, so it was an all-day trip.

We had to buy permits for the Olo River in the town of Mondo. After about an hour of discussion with someone who almost did not speak English, we could set out to the river. We were fishing again upstream from the competition venue and everyone caught several brown trout here. Forecasts fitted really well, it got really cold and there was permanent rain. Wet into the skin, we moved to the lake, where we walked all around. Fish activity was visible there. According to the information, which we managed to get, only brown trout was stocked here. At the bank, we found several dozens of trout which was just after stocking and struggling for survival.

Due to the permanent rain, we spent the two following days by fly tying. The only moment when we left our accommodation was shopping for some food in the town. And during this walk, we were sadly watching rising water in the Vez River which rose by almost a meter in three days. My Portuguese friend Antonio was calming me down by saying that if the rain stops, the rivers will get back to normal soon and we will have great fishing.

On the last training day, we got to the Azere River, which is a tributary of the Vez River. There we managed to test tied flies and catch some trout. After two hours we moved to the Vez River again, where it was worse again.

05On Sunday 14th May, we moved to the official hotel again and after an hour of discussion we were finally accommodated. At the first meeting, especially trainings and their organization were discussed. After the meeting, official ceremony was held in the town centre, where 12 European teams were introduced and the Championship was declared as open.

For the official training, we decided to go mainly to the lake, which was closed by then and we did not have a chance to test something. Lukyn in the morning and Lukáš Jahn were there in the afternoon. The rest of the team moved to the lake by car and was watching. Brown trout which was stocked here for this Championship was caught. In fact, the best worked fishing with slow intermediate line and after the cast immediate fast retrieving of the line with the roly-poly method. Especially, natural patterns of flies worked here.

After rather complicated return of both guys called Lukáš from the training, a meeting and draw was held. I was hoping to have a lucky hand and the draw will finish well. On the second day of the official training, we were only tying and completed preparations for the main competition. In the morning we met at the first bus which was going to the lake at 5:30 a.m. This way we were meeting every morning a man who was leaving as the first one.

A system of two rotations on the lake was applied on the lake – meaning three one-hour rounds. I started on a rather closed beat, where an Italian competitor was standing next to me on the tip of the peninsula and I was casting to the distance, where he was standing. It is needed to say that the drawn beat was very important. Fish were caught only in several beats and if you were lucky, you could catch some. I was rotating a bit out of these places, thus I finished the competition with twenty fish and this was enough for the 4th place in my group. At the beginning what we trained worked well, but at the end I was looking for fish deeper. Ogar, who went to the lake after me, was already fishing with sinking line # 3.

Lukyn was doing the best from our team, because he finished as the second in the sector on the upper Vez River with 23 trout and Tomáš was the 3rd on the Coura River with 9 fish. In the first round, the most successful was Mika Ylisoni from Finland on the Olo River (41 fish). All in all, after the first round we were on the third place behind the French and Spanish, but the results were relatively equal.

06For the second round I moved to the Olo River, where newly stocked brown trout were stocked. The competitor before me caught there 18 fish and I managed to get 35 fish there and this brought me the 1st place in the sector. I fished really well in a calm pool. I was moving here very slowly to avoid making waves and casted nymphs on the French leader as far as possible and I managed to get brownies one by one.

The second round was a bit worse for us from the point of view of results, nevertheless we were still on the third place after two rounds and it was clear that the French and Spanish will fight for the victory. Both teams knew the place very well and their competitors were training here several times before the Championship.

In the third round I was fishing on the lower Vez River. This was about a 600 m long section, where only about 100 m was with some fish and it was possible to fish there. After three-hour long struggling, I managed to get two brown trout there. I was very afraid of the result, but to my surprise I found that I had finished as the third, of course behind the French guy (14 fish) and Spanish guy (11 fish).

The best from our team was doing Tomáš who won with a catch of 38 fish on the “our” Olo River. After three rounds we were still on the 3rd place. The French were a bit more ahead and behind us the Finns and Italians were approaching.

In the fourth round, I was fishing on the upper Vez River, which was a cascade river. After two hours, however, I was still without an eligible fish. I was fishing only with one nymph and I was looking for fish in every place and I was shooting the fly under branches. Finally, this round finished with four fish. I guessed it is a disaster and this will not be a good result and finally it was the 6th place in the sector. From the Czech team Ogar was the best, who did finished on the first place in the lower Vez River for the second time – this time with 9 fish and also Lukyn was doing well on the Olo River, where he finished on the second place with 20 fish, only one centimetre behind the winning Italian guy Pirone and also after four rounds we were still on the third place.

In the fifth round I was fishing on the Coura River. The draw sent me to the beat, where a French guy caught 6 fish in the first round, then 1 fish and then nothing and a round before me the domestic Portuguese competitor was also blank. My chances were low, nevertheless after ten minutes I had already the second fish. Finally, I ended with 4 fish on a beautiful 4th place. Moreover, I managed to catch the third biggest brown trout 42.5 cm which I really did not expect here. Milda finally did well. He usually has the best results on still water and this time he proved it with a third place on the Fallpera Lake, where it was really difficult to catch something in the last round.

After posting of total results, the team competition finished: 1. France (64), 2. Spain (79), 3. Czech Republic (108), 4. Italy (133), 5. Portugal (156), 6. Finland (164), 7. Slovakia (183), 8. Belgium (203). Last year’s European Champions from Poland failed and finished on the 10th place.

In individual competition the winner was Sebastien Delcor from France (8), followed by Pierre Kuntz from France (9) and the third was Ruben Becerro from Spain (12), followed by  Francisco Rocha (Spain), who had the same number of placings. From the Czechs, Lukáš Starýchfojtů was the sixth (13), Tomáš Adam (18) on the ninth and Ivan Vančura (18) on the tenth place. Among the top ten, there were four French, three Spanish and three Czechs.

On Saturday, there was the closing ceremony and awarding of the best. All in all, I can assess this Championship as a good one. Organization was without bigger problems – small delays were always tuned up. Finally, there were quite many fish caught compared to expectations and worries (I would like to remind of the fact that British teams were completely missing this year).  At the end I would like to thank our sponsors and supporters for their support. These are Czech Fishing Union and the Hanak Competition company, but also all others who took part in the support of our national team.

Individual Results after Session 5 (PDF, 196 kB)

Team Results after Session 5 (PDF, 90 kB)