By Pavel Chyba
My fourth participation in the European Championship was this year on the Vltava River in our country and the Květoňov Reservoir. I did not like premature opinions that we are fishing at home and the result is clear and you will only see who will be the first, who the second, etc. As I also remember the World Championship 2014 in our country, when we really worked hard and we had a great piece of luck and nothing was clear until the very last round. Nevertheless, extremely strong Czech team consisted of four individual and four multiple European Champions in teams and this filled me up with optimism that this time I could touch the European gold medal in teams. This was the last medal which I was missing in my collection.
Two weeks before the Championship my new fan Matthew was born and I could not take part in the first trainings. I chose classic practice before the Championship. I arrived as the last one of our team, but some guys went home to see families and we somehow changed during the trainings. I will not describe in detail what all we were testing. Simply said, we tried all fly fishing styles and with all styles we caught something. Who knows the Vltava River, must know that the river is full of fish and you can fish with anything. However, it is important to choose the important things. And now to the competition itself …
In the first round, I was fishing in sector 1 – Vyšší Brod. For all the years of fishing and competitive fishing I can say that I know it here well. Immediately on the bus after the draw I knew that my beat will be nothing special. The rotation might help, but it was from one plain to another one. I prepared altogether five rods, two nymphs (lighter and heavier), dry fly, streamer and dry dropper, because I did not want to leave anything to chance. Due to the rafters, the competition started at seven in the morning, but I have to say that it was not bad even for fish. Sometimes even trout was rising. It was not typical rising, but such a splash and nothing for long time.
But I started in a classic way with two Orange Tag Nymphs and I changed various colours of beads. I walked from the lower part of the section upstream and I was casting to places, where I saw rising fish in the grass before. After a while I managed to land the first fish. It seemed to me that it was better not to cast strictly upstream, but cast ahead of me upstream the place where I expected a fish, let the flies fall to the bottom and when there is no take, hold the rod so that the flies would rise from the bottom again. After half an hour of fishing I had 6 or 7 fish and the main fishing place ahead of me. A beautiful deeper stream at the second riverbank where the fish always wait. I followed the tactics which I set before, but I could not catch anything. Therefore, I decided to change the fly. As the place seemed to dark to me, I used my favourite Red Tag Nymph with a silver bead and I added two fish. But it was all for a long time. Altogether in this first part I caught 11 fish. It was no miracle, but also no failure.
I knew the second place very well. There are a lot of fish, but because the water is slower, it is more difficult to catch them. During the break I saw rising fish at the other side and so I started with a dry fly. With Sedges I added about three fish. But after a while, the fish stopped taking and I had to take the nymph again. I waded across the upper part of the beat and walked along the opposite riverbank. I noticed that in the places where the sun was shining I had no takes. I took the use of the fact that there were quite many of them and I paid more attention to them. It was no massacre, but step by step I added a fish after a fish when I finished with final score of 23 fish. Next to me, a Finnish competitor had by one fish more, but my fish were longer. The Italian competitor had 25 fish and in the upper beats, the Irish and Spanish competitors had more and the Spanish guy won the sector with 34 fish. Finally, I got out of it with an acceptable fourth place.
The afternoon round I was fishing in sector 2 – Devil’s Rapids. From the morning, I had some information what to fish with and I was only waiting where my beat was going to be. Maybe, I like the Vltava the best, many fish, difficult wading and very often technical fishing. I have to admit that I did not know my first beat at all. In the lower part there was still water, where sometimes a white fish rose and in the upper bigger half there were standard stream. I started with the nymph in the lower part. Yet from the bank with the first cast I caught a nice roach and a dace with the second cast. A good start to calm down. A moment later, in the same place I added two dace, but it was time to set out into streams. I did not know what happened, but it must have been half an hour I had no take. I was fishing deeper streams, but also shallow places near the bank, changed flies, but no result.
In the Devil’s Rapids I was fishing at many contests, but I had never experienced such a thing. That the trouts were pricked and only touched flies I had experienced many times, but this time they even did not touch the flies. Shortly said, for an hour of fishing in beautiful places I had three eligible fish and I did not get more opportunities. I rotated with seven fish which made me anxious. However, if the result should have been good, I would have had to have a piece of luck. I knew another beat, but only one part of it. From the controlor I knew that Tereza from the Czech ladies team was fishing there in the morning and she caught loads of fish. I took the opportunity that in this place is big island and Tereza and all others after her went on the other side. I had no other chance than to going to the visually worse part full of wooden sticks in water. But after the spring the training I knew that it is also full of fish. With the same flies as in the previous round I was adding some fish and in one and a half hour I had 24. Altogether 31 fish which meant the first place in the sector and a big stone fell off my heart. After the second round we took the lead in teams.
The third round was the easiest from my point of view – sector 3 from Herbertov to Rožmberk. In this only river sector rainbow trout was stocked. And I was lucky for probably the biggest rainbow hole in this section. I prepared 5 rods again, but this time it was not necessary. I started with a streamer, two black ones and a sculpin on the line DI 3 and 95% time I did not put it away from my hand. I started in the upper part of the beat where streams were changing into vaster and deeper water. After a while I started getting one by one. I was casting diagonally in not an acute angle across the stream to the second bank and with slow pulls I was pulling flies to me. Fish were taking it just after casts, during pulls, but I got many of them when I had the line almost in the rod tip and I was holding flies only in the stream. There were so many fish that when I lost five in line, it was no problem. For about last ten minutes I took a nymph and caught two more fish. Altogether 35 fish and there was no doubt about the first place. But in teams we dropped to the third one.
We had free afternoon and it was time to tie successful flies and prepare for the last two sessions. The Květnoňov Lake was ahead of me. We were not doing very well there in the first three rounds – we were not doing well both from the boat and from the bank. But Ivan brought an important finding from the third round for me, because he saw the French fly which the French successfully used. Green bead, body from black chenille with blue-purple glitters and a black marabou tail. The drowning man will clutch at a straw and so five “similar” ones were tied.
I was fishing the fourth round from the bank on the Květoňov Lake, three one hour sessions with rotation. On the bus I learned the draw and the information to my beats were not very positive. On the previous day, no fish was caught in my first two beats, but the last beat should have been good, so I should have survived it. I prepared rods with lines from the floating to the DI3 and based on the previous experience it made no sense to fish deeper. For all rods I used the same flies, on top Hare´s Tadpole Nymph with a green bead, that “French“ fly in the middle and a little orange blob on the upper dropper. I started fishing with fast intermediate line. Nothing happened.
After about twenty minutes a Polish guy next to me caught a fish. He measured, recorded, untangled, and he had another take. For myself, I identified his line as slow 40+ with heavier flies. He casted, five times quickly pulled, stopped, pulled quickly again and this was again and again and again. So, I took my favorite slow intermediate and started to copy him. After a while I had the first take, but I missed the fish. But the fish was nice to me, followed the bait and I had the first record. After a while I had the second take, got the fish to the bank, but unfortunately it fell off. The Polish guy had three rainbow trout. Nothing could have been done, I did not have another take until the first rotation.
My next beat was under the road, where quite many fish was caught in the first part with fast intermediate and slow pulling. I do not like it very much and moreover I had not done it in the first part. I said to myself that I will be pulling for about 10 minutes and if there is no take I will come back to the slow intermediate line. I had the first take after about five minutes and within 10 minutes I had another fish. Well, and then 45 minutes of silence. When it was about three minutes before the end, I saw a fish jump on the opposite side of my beat. I moved there and with my first cast nothing. The second cast was in the last minute, but I regarded as a bad on so I pulled the line quickly back to have time for a better one. It probably fell into the same place, but when I started the roll and I immediately felt the resistance on the second side. Fourth fish just before the signal, great! Only the French and the Italians had four fish.
In the last rotation, I got into the best beat for met me that day. However, nothing had been caught there that day. I started with the same tactics as the previous round, but it seemed to me that I was too deep, so I tried slow intermediate as well as subsurface line, but no takes were coming. Across the lake I saw that the French guy added fifth and immediately sixth fish. I was saying to myself that I have no chance to equalize it, but it needs at least one fish to stay on the second or the third place. After unsuccessful attempts I returned to the fast intermediate line for the last ten minutes and the take came. I measured my fifth fish and I was satisfied. I casted and sixth fish in the net. That time I started to think about the French guy and suddenly the seventh fish came and all was resolved. Six out of seven fish I caught with that “French” fly and it paid off. In teams we were still third. In individuals I had a small lead and I decided not to let it go and went on the boat.
The fifth round - Květoňov and a local speciality - anchored boats. I was afraid of this session the most. When the boat, it should be drifting. But here you are tied somewhere on free water and you must hope that fish will come. Moreover, competitors are casting on the opposite side of the boat and it is necessary to choose the right side and hope that the wind will not turn around. I had a good first place and I was supposed to catch some fish to lead. After ten minutes I had two fish and the start was good. But then it stopped. I did not respond to two nice takes and by the end of the round I did not have more takes. I knew that this was bad, because it was not good on other buoys except the number nine which gave 10 fish to each competitor and four other contestants should have come to this buoy yet. Immediately, it was a fight for the seventh place for me.
On the next place I had no take even after 20 minutes, but no one around as well. I decided to test other flies. For the moment of the big despair I had prepared a big black streamer with an orange tungsten head 4 mm. I put it to the back with a vision that it could attract one of the bigger rainbow trout. It was almost impossible to cast with it, but it finally brought the effect in a form of one fish. It did not take this streamer, but it took flies to the right depth. This was the only take for the whole hour.
I had time enough to watch the last beat. An Italian and an Englishman were fishing there. The English guy caught two fish and had once more take. I knew where I wanted to cast that hour. I was waiting to the last minute to be able to sit on the right side of the boat and casted where I wanted. The session started, the wind turned around and I was casting where the Italian guy was casting. Finally, after half an hour I got a take and got the fish into the net with Hare’s Tadpole Nymph with gold tungsten bead, but it still needed to add one more fish. About five minutes before the end I lost that “French” fly. I took it like a signal that it needed a change. I put there Hare’s Tadpole Nymph with a green bead, which worked the best in previous days. In the boat opposite of me somebody caught a fish, and with the second cast lost another one. I did not hope much, but I casted in direction to the boat and with slow retrieving I was pulling to me. There was the last minute, almost all the line was pulled and I was getting ready for the last hang. At that moment I had a take. The fish almost snatched the line out of my hand, but the strike was good. I felt it is a larger rainbow trout. It immediately swam to the line to which we were anchored. There was a signal marking the end of the competition. I knew that this is the decisive fish and I must not hurry up, but I must not let it swim to that anchoring line. We were playing for a while, but it finally got to the water surface and I could have landed it and could gave screamed. I heard an applause from the bank and all was over.
The counting started. We will see if it finishes well or not and especially how it finishes in teams, because our biggest competitors from France and Spain were blank in Květoňov in the last round. Even on the river the guys were fighting well and won over their competitors. It was long waiting, but it pays off waiting for the good end. You are never tired of gold in teams and in individuals.
And finally I would like to pay one more paragraph to the Czech ladies team, even though they would deserve the whole article. It was expected they will win the category of women, but that they will be first, second and third in sectors and they will chase even the best teams to finally finish on the fourth place in the final ranking – even the biggest optimist did not expect so. Even if unfortunately the fourth place does not get any medals, in my eyes, the value of their result was higher than the success of our men team. Girls, hats off and congratulations again!