Xth European Championship in flyfishing, which took place in the first week of July in the area of Saxnas in Lapland (Sweden), finished with great success for the Czech Colours. 16 five-member teams Participated in the competition, out of these two Czech and Finnish ones, and the Swedes and the English had women teams. Altogether there were 12 countries and 80 individuals. The Competition is getting bigger and bigger each year. The Polish, French and Italians arrived with their A-teams, other top quality teams sent their substitutes and only the Spanish were missing from the top flyfishing countries.
Saxnas is a small village in the region of Westernbottens, with a beautiful scenery, full of lakes, rivers and forests. Where hills are rising, created by glaciers, a long time ago. The water is so pure that you may drink it without any worries. Although the calender was indicatiog summer, the northern slopes of the surrounding hills were painted with white isolated spots of remaining snow, and the water levels were much higher than normal. Saxnas itself is located in a spit between the lakes of Kultsjon and Stensjon at the meeting point of the Kultsoan and Satsan rivers. We wee amazed at the whitewater on the Kultsoan downstream of Saxnas which was full of water on our arrival. This indicated that the conditions for flyfishing would be more difficult.
The Organisers had the chance to change the venues at the last moment and they eliminated the river Ransaran and substituted it with the river Vojman, however the stretch of 30 kms had changed for one of 90 kms. Unfortunately there was no space for training on the big river. As a representative of a small river the Marsan was retained according to the earlier plans. This river is a left side tributary of the Kultsjan, where it meets in a large lake called Malgomaj. Two venues had been marked on both rivers and the fifth was on lake Stenjon, which was the most fair venue of the championship. However as there were only four rounds, each group of competitors were deprived of a competition on one of the above sectors.
Unofficial training before the championship was a pretty chaotic affair. Most of the teams were thrown by the substituted venues, and the training lake of Gikasion did not correspond with the one which was expected by the competitors in the competition. The large lake was very well stocked with artic charr, however, trout were completely absent here. Official practice on the lake was badly affected by each team having only one space in a boat in two three-hour training sessions. Only two members out of five in the team were able to fish. Apart from this the organisation was excellent, with their kindness and self sacrifice at each stage. Because of the climate, conditions were sometimes very difficult.
Even though the water in the river was higher than normal, the first two rounds were held under fair conditions. However it started to rain heavily in the night and it was raining up to lunch time on the second day, the water rose by almost one meter. In the Czech Republic it would not have bee possible to fish, but in Lapland the water was only a bit darker. If you drew the narrow whitewater stretches, it was not posible for the competitor to enter the river. There was a lot of luck or not in the draw. In the rivers we could fish for brown trout and grayling, in the lake it was wild brown trout only.
Before the competition many of the local fishermen backed the Czechs for a win and they were 100 % right, because in the individuals Lukas Pazdernik won (with a total number of placings of 14), he was a member of the Czech Republic 1 Team. In the team competition there was no real surprise when Czech Republic 2 won (J. Pecina, M. Grun, I. Vancura, M. Susil, J. Hanak). – A total of 134 placings. Silver medals went to Francis Lambinet (14) from Belgium and the Polish Team of (Tondera, Szymala, Walczyk, Konieczny, and Lach.) – 138. Bronze medals were won by John Horsey (17) and the English Team of (J. Horsey, A. Dixon, M. Tinnion, B. Reece, and I. Barr) – 160.
Lukas Pazdernik celebrated his comeback into the Czech team after nine years, by reaching the Gold medal, which Paval Machin won at the European Championship in Kostelec nad Orlici in 2000. Lukas belonged to one of those happy band with very good draws (the second best in the top ten) and he managed to exploit it fully. In the first round at the lower stretch of the Marsan he schocked the local specialists with a catch of 19 grayling on Czech nymphs. He found them in a deep and long pool and proceeded to treat it like a fish hatchery. If he had not to wade in such difficult conditions and carry the catches so far to reach the controller, the score might have been even better.
In the second round he was in a boat on lake Stensjon with Marie Sweden, who almost beat him on two occasions. On the lake he had very bad luck with the boatman, who had no experience in the job and he was not able to keep the boat straight, or move anywhere according to the competitors instructions. The continuously rotating boat and haphazard directions of Mary's line, caused serious difficulties for Lukas. It was not only the line of Mary, but also her stuborn attitude when she was captain of the boat. She insisted in going to impossible places and did not want to understand that there were better spots. His catch of six trout was as big as the catch of the Polish competitor Szymala and both were qualified in the fifth place. Lukas was lucky using our successful gold head fly, which he tied on the Kamasan hooks and the trout did not fall of.
On Sunday's rainy competition, he was on the upper part of the big Vojman river. He could wade along the bank and he caught a trout of 29.5 cm. after quarter of an hour, and this was enough for the fifth place in the sector. 10 competitors blanked in this session. Lukas was fishing with tiny nymphs as wet flies and he caught 10 more trout but all under the minimum length. Which was set traditionaly for 20 cm. So after three rounds he was second and it was clear that he must catch an eligible fish on the Upper Marsan, because in the morning competition there were 11 fishermen blank and the water was still rising.
Even here Lukas was lucky in the draw, and he could wade in a couple of meters. Only Paul King from Wales was also able to enter the water. Ollikainen from Finland fishing below him gave up totally and retired to warm up by an open fire. After one hour of fishing no one had caught anything and it looked like there would be 16 blanks. Then Lukas caught a small trout, and the judge measured it with the assistance of a sector judge. 201 mm and it had taken a classic Czech nymph. Paul King caught a trout of 29 cm and he finished first. All might have been much more complicated with Mary Lagerkvist, who was fishing in the place where Martin Susil from the second Czech team had won an earlier session with 4 grayling.
The Swedes had copied Martin's tactics and they had instructed Mary in this. A big mayfly with a green body and grizzly palmer legs on a floating line, drawn under the surface upstream. Mary obviously did not believe this method and she ended up with more smoking than fishing. After some two hours from the beginning, she started screaming and then emerged from behind a bush with a grayling of more than 30 cm in her landing net. Now suddenly there were three competitors with a catch and if there was a fourth fish , then Lukas could lose the gold. The fourth fish had arrived surprise on Mary's Mayfly, this fish enabled the tempremental Swede to win her sector.
In the team's competition the second Czech team, which was partly sponsored by the Czech Travel agency CK Pepa, and competitors who paid some of their costs themselves, won. They had gone to the competition with the intention of gaining some experience, everything was better than expected regarding a good understand of local conditions by M. Susil and the supervision of and experiences captain in J. Pecina. They managed to outfish last year's European Champions from Poland in the fourth round. The tactics of the second Czech team on the rivers were aimed mainly at trout fishing with Big Mayflies either dry or wet, in the final summary and high water it was the best approach. They were very lucky in the last round when one of them forgot his rods and left them at the hotel! Thanks to the self-sacrifice of one of the spectators, they returned with their car some 40 km back and forth to the Hotel. It cost the competitor 15 minutes out of the match in the lower Marsan.
One fih was caught which was enough to beat the Polish competitor who remained blank on this session. The bigest surprise was that the winners who were only blank twice in all the competition, while the Polish and English teams were blank on four occasions. The first Czech team, Swedes and Italians five times, the French six times and the Belgians nine times ! Even the fact that the Swedes, who caught "not a scale" on the upper Marsan. This resulted in the fact that they did not gain their first medal, even if their fourth place was otherwise their best result to date.
The first Czech team with L. Pazdernik, V Sedivy, K.Vacek, D. Seba, O. Dvorak had different tactics, aimed mainly at nymphing and fishing with smaller upwings and bigger sedges. The theoretical value of the places drawn was practically the same for both Czech teams. In the five blanks of the first team they had two very bad placings in the high water. The competition was a real failure for K. Vacek, who had two eligible fish only in four rounds, and did not imagine such a failure competing in the Czech team for the last time. It is a paradox that even with this situation his team could have comfortably reached the bronze position. If Sedivy in the third and Vacek in the fourth round had managed to hold on to at least half of the trout they caught, which had fallen off their badly chosen hooks and rods in the lake. Well, the first Czech team finished fifth (177), just behind the local team of Sweden (163) and before the Italian team (178).
The Irish fished this year and did extremely well (182) to reach seventh place, however they had uncompromisingly the best draw. The great surprise was surely an eighth place for the Roumanians (182), they get better each year, and if it is fished with a dry fly, you must not underestimate them. They had two competitors amongst top ten. Mihailescu was fourth and Ardeleanu was fifth! Far behind them were the normally excellent French (189), first coached by the phenomenal Pascal Cognard in the captain's position. The Belgians finished eleventh. Both teams together with the Finns were those who had the worst draws. The Slovaks were not successful this time, they reached 13th place, in spite of Miro Zubor finishing in 11th position in the individuals. He established a record catch on the upper part of the Vojman with 37 fish recorded. This was in the first pool below the lake and this was the winning beat in Sweden.
At the end let's give the outline positions of all the Czech competitors in the individual competition: 1. Pazdernik, 9. Susil, 13. Vancura, 18. Grun, 23. J. Hanak, 24. Seba, 28. Pcina, 31. Dvorak, 51. Sedivy, 73. Vacek. It is necessary to say that they all were fighting with full power, and despite the fact that there were big differences between them. I would not be pleased if the fifth place, first Czech team put any blame on Karel Vacek. He did not hesitate to swim across the river to catch at least one eligible fish in the competition on the lower Vojman. The same swimming and fishing performance was undertaken on the upper part in the last round by Martin Grun and that fish was literally a golden one. It is a sport and how must the French and Pascal felt, who were blank in the last round, after four golds in World Championships in a line.
There were 879 fish caught at this year's European Championships, and even if the numbers were decreasing round by round (362, 261, 151, 105). The average for one competitor and round was finally 2.75 and this was acceptable under conditions of such a flood. The best venue was Lake Stenjon, where 281 trout were caught from boats. The best river venue, upper Vojman with 249 and the lower Marsan (190), were also good. However catches from the lower Vojman (87) and upper Marsan (68) were likely to have been influenced by the flood.
The two last places in the team competition were taken by the two women's teams and this clearly proves the fact that women should have their own category if we want to increase the number of female competitors. All wanted to win, but in these difficult conditions the Czechs were those happy ones and nobody distinguished whether they were from Team 1 or Team 2. It is a pity that apart from the medals the best competitors carried away beautiful memories only, because none of the organisers thought about a trophy or a prize for them.