It has been a long fifteen years since the Czech became the world champions for the first time. This happened on the river Dee and Llyn Brennig reservoir and until today we remember this with a great nostalgia. When we arrived here at the beginning of October, the witnesses of this world event, where the term "Czech nymph" appeared, were numerous. This term includes general patterns of the fly, then the fly fishing technique – today better called the "short nymph".
All this I kept in my head when we were driving at night from Birmingham to Llangolan, where we had next morning an appointment with the main organizer who had promised to show us the river, where the European international competition in grayling fishing will take place. Ken Bathers, this was this chap, welcomed us very warmly and immediately took us to the Dee, where the guide Peter Davison, who was to help us, was waiting for us. We have known him since the World championship in Slovakia, where he was fishing for the team of England. Outside his fishing abilities, he is also an excellent camera man and this he had proved many times during this competition.
As a part of our practice we also had training on Llyn Brenig, where we had to split, because this reservoir is located about 40 km North-West of Llangolan. In case of high water on the River Dee this reservoir would have been the substitute venue and this happened several times in the past few years, this year´s competition celebrated its fifteenth birthday. We left the car with Jaja, David and Josef on the river and we followed upstream on the Dee to the village with a hard-to-pronounce-name Cerrig-y-Drudion.
After the half-an-hour drive we accommodated ourselves in a small village called Cefin Brith on a farm called Tyddyn Bychan in Northern Wales, where its is only about four miles to the reservoir. We have known this place very well since the year 1999, when we were the second in the Welsh part of the boat competition Perregrine. The owner of the hostel Lynda Parker was surprised that it was six years ago when we stayed there, but otherwise all was the same, only in the courtyard there was such a circular summerhouse around the neat fireplace.
We were accommodated quickly and then we drove to the largest trout reservoir in Wales, which is well stocked. As we were three, we shared a boat, but the weather was nice and so we did not have any big problems with it. We did not waste our time and we aimed directly to the island at the end of the lake. Six years ago this was a "hot spot" and it has not cooled down yet, because several more boats were sailing there and on both banks there were some fly fishermen. We remembered with Vladimir how he lost the victory in that competition here, when he had as the first one, the limit of eight fish caught and he did not check that one rainbow was under the limit.
This time there was less water and so behind the island it was possible in the sunny autumn weather to see the bottom. Vladimir started with his favourite hare lures and so he had the first strikes and catches. Also Martin was very successful with other attractors and I really wanted to catch something with a fast glass intermediate and started with the fry lures, because October is their time. This tactic totally failed, probably because we did not meet any fry and there is likely none in the water, which is a rare exception on the similar lakes in Great Britain.
For a while I tried floating mice and different large flies, before I tried to change the tip for the finer one and changed for gold head Stick Fly. The Fly sank quickly and at the second cast it was taken by a nice rainbow with nice fins and violet sides. This was a resident and not a freshly stocked fool. There was not much time left to end of the day, but even so I got two similar fish about 45 cm long and one rainbow I lost. This happened while this fly was jumping on the bottom. I tried various natural patterns as the droppers and the success I had was with a small Black Buzzer, with the basis of the wings made of CDC feathers. The boys had more catches in the boat than me but only until I changed tactics and my using of finer fluorocarbon.
The river team arrived in the farm after sunset, because Jaja could not find the turning to our village and for about an hour they were looking in the surrounding hills, until a man showed them the correct way. Even so we learned from them that the Dee was high, but they had had enough catches mainly from the bottom, because it was not possible to fish in a different way. Next to the graylings there were enough brown trout and pars, but these fish were not eligible during the event. The first conclusion was that this will not be an easy competition, but this will be a hard work with the nymphs.
The next day was Thursday and the last allowed for training on the venues, where Vladimir and Martin went to try, so then we were four in two boats and we were travelling zig-zag around the island. The direction of the wind had changed and blew crossways from the dam and so the fish were very near in front of the island. I was in the boat with Jaja and the second crew were Josef and David. These drifted on the rear area of the lake just before the tributary, The final area is closed for the fishing and so we did not see much. At noon the high waves moved them to the island so badly that a fast powerboat had to rescue them, without its help they would have died miserably there.
In the morning I noticed that chironomids hatched and so I used yesterday´s tactics. At the end of the four-meter-long leader I placed the gold head Stick Fly and on the both droppers I used small CDC Black Buzzers. The first fish took the nymph with a green tip and then there was one which took the midle dropper. I did not cast more than ten meters before the boat and I increased the productivity of this method which was similar to the fishing with a Czech nymph, but from the boat.
Jaja caught a couple of freshly stocked rainbows on the lures and after lunch he asked me whether he should change for the surface, where the fish rarely appeared. I told him that I had been thinking about this for a some time and I advised him to use the Shuttlecocks. He hungd two similar to a Lake Olive and during the time he caught two resident fish. Before the third also I decided that we would try it. Before three o´clock I decided to try my luck and tied on a smaller Daddy Long Legs. I cast the leader on the surface and I was arranging the line in front of me, the water splashed and I was so shocked that I broke on a nice fish.
This take amazed me so much that I was fishing with Daddy Long Legs to the end. I had eight more takes but only one fish, I played it for a short time, but its was maybe hooked outside the mouth area. I cast no longer than 10 meters from the boat and so I could watch how long the rainbow watches my fly on the rising wave, but I did not strike it. I did not strike early, but they did not like something on my flies, because they were different from the first one which I lost. My friend caught a couple of rainbows but he did not have as many takes as I did.
The boys who returned from the river were also reporting some nice fishing. There were not as many catches as the local fishermen predicted, but this was caused by the increased water level. Slowly we started to sort out our tactics and it was clear that the gold-head nymphs are too well known and so we would have to find out something less bright. Overnight it was raining heavily and the rain did not stop in the morning and so we have announced a relaxing day, because it looked as though it would rain all day. Somehow we forgot that weather can change very often. So we had to cancel our day off and we had to call off the emergency, because the rain suddenly stopped.
Jaja, Vladimir and Martin went fishing to the river and the rest of the expedition set out on the lake again. It was overcast and the wind blew from the dam again. Josef wanted to try the bank fishing and so I stayed on the boat with David and we were sailed directly to the island. David was at the rudder and I cast the drogue and we were drifting from a quite long distance directly to the island. We did not always manage to drift to the ideal track, but when we managed it, it was a "deadly" one.
I did not try and change anything else that day and it resulted in six rainbows in the landing net and three lost near the boat. David was fishing first from the boat and then he tried to imitate me, but he did not have anything so heavy to work well and so he caught only two fish and sometimes lost fish. At one moment the waves brought us dangerously near the island and while manoeuvring I lost the end of the fast intermediate line, which rolled around the propeller of the boat engine. I changed it for the floating line and this was good as well. After arrival at the Lodge, we found out that Josef caught one rainbow trout from the bank and lost one as well.
The river team returned in an optimistic mood, because in the stretch below the road bridge upstream of Corwen they caught several graylings around 45 cm in length. The river, however, after the night rain started to rise and get brown. This was visible also in the stretch round the Chain Bridge Hotel in Llangolan, where there was the draw in the evening. The competition officials gave a specific name to each team, so our first team in with Jaromír Sram, Vladimír Sedivý and Martin Droz was named "The Coachmen" and the second team was called "Corixca´s", it seemed to me that it should have been more like Corixa´s. The second team was created in a hurry, because two reliable competitors could not drive and so there was David Seba and brothers Josef and Frantisek Hanák.
During the evening meeting before the competition, it was revealed that there were fifteen, three-member teams present. Next to our teams there were two teams from Belgium, six teams from England, four from Wales and one from the Isle of Man. Among the English there were also two Junior teams, whose members were in the Czech Republic at Rozmberk in the summer and including Miss Lisa Isles. In this difficult competition these juniors did not have too big a chance, but this must have been a kind of reward and the next stimulation for the future events. During the next two hours of our night´s meeting the level of water in the Dee rose by other twenty centimetres and was even darker. All were anticipating what the situation would be like in the morning and there was another question whether the competition will be transferred to Llyn Brennig.
Fortunately there was no more rain in the night and we could watch the increased water level of sixty centimetres compared to the normal level, and also the water colour was still acceptable. A specific feature of this competition, is the control system which is managed by the competitors of other teams. Each team got a stretch of about 300m long and there were two team members fishing and the third was the controller of the neighbouring team. With respect to the system – three rounds of fishing by three hours each and each competitor fishes twice and once he/she is a controller. Fishing was done in the way – fish as you can, only the barbless hooks were the mandatory and only grayling of the minimum size of 20 cm was recognized as the eligible fish.
With respect to the big distances involved, I had to decide which Czech team I would watch, I chose the Corixca´s because their place was located under the stretch where in the afternoon our first team of The Coachmen would fishand I could get some experience to tell them how to fish. Our morning stretch in the sector B was marked by the sector judge as a youth training water with big grayling, so a very good place, where David and Josef started, while Frantisek was the controller of one of the English team.
This beat started with a typical tree branch above the water and then there was about 50 m of stream which flew into a long pool with a little bend, where there was a stream again at the end. After the inspection of the place our team, started in the upper fast part. David had chosen a heavy top jig and two Czech nymphs as a droppers, Josef was fishing not far downstream of him with three Czech nymphs. All were leading with the pink colour, size of the hooks was normally 12 and the strength of the fluorocarbon was 0,16 mm.
The beginning was not too encouraging, because David lost a nice grayling after five minutes and then there was nothing for a long time. After about twenty minutes Josef´s rod was bent and he had his first grayling in the landing net. This was in the ideal place, where the stream was getting calmer and flowing into the pool and in five minutes there was another catch. However, these were no giants, but probably two-year old fish about 28 cm in length. After an hour we had two fish and this was not bad at all under these conditions. Except this there was a brown trout, many one-year old graylings and also salmon par.
Then finally David started his success, and he got a large grayling from the pool, but Josef took the lead again and again for the "Pink Gay" just under the surface. I was checking the English fishing upstream of us, who were blank, when the organizer ran to us and saying that our team clearly takes the lead and they wanted to take of photo of them with a fish. Unfortunately this was not managed, because both competitors were in the deep pool and there were no takes. I told them to speed up and fish in the stream at the end of the stretch.
This was the task for David, which had proved to be bad decision, because his way of fishing the nymphs for the graylings was something what the they did not like and so he caught nothing there. In the afternoon one Welsh team caught two graylings in here which we should not have left in there. Our competitors came back to the upper part of their stretch and with Josef above the branch, lost one grayling and the next two he caught in his favourite places near the old mill. As I later found out they lost one grayling each in the time when I did not watch them.
The English from the team Blue Charms, were not blank and Gary Hedges caught a grayling 39 cm long, which was a very important one for them. Corixca´s won this sector B, but The Coachmen were blank in sector A. They drew the beat No. 2, that was a deep salmon "holding pool", where it was not possible to wade and they did not cope with it, because in the two following rounds there was one fish caught in each session. Despite all this, I am sure that Jaja and Vladimir tried everything for a catch but they did not meet any eligible fish. Sometimes it is necessary to be lucky, but this time they were unlucky.
After lunch, the water started to decrease by centimetres and from time to time the sun started to shine. I remained in the sector B and was waiting for the arrival of The Coachmen, who were not in a good mood after the morning round, because on the place below them there were the Welsh (Coch Y Bondhu), second with three graylings and below them Belgians from the team May Flies who had won this sector with four catches. Their mood did not improve even aftern they heard about the morning troubles of the English, on their next beat and when Martin found out that they had drawn the beat where they were practicing on Thursday.
During 48 hours, however, the situation changed and the nice fishing beat turned into a difficult-to-fish stream and a deep pool at its end. When they were blank halfway through the competition, they decided to wade and the long-legged Vladimir took Martin across the deep stream. He had just run to the favourite places at the end of the beat, but it was still not possible to fish in there. I drove him upstream to the edge of their beat, where there was a short sandbank, where Martin caught a 35 cm long grayling at the third cast and this was all at the second bank.
The boys were running in the streams for some time, but the fish did not react and the only chance was in some deeper water near the bank. At the end of the competition they got to the places, where the English had a catch in the morning and they changed in two small bays. After long begging Vladimir persuaded one grayling, which after he struck, lifted to the surface and lost. Then Martin tried there and was fishing every square centimeter and continuously changing flies. He also tried the system of a fly-float and when he put on a black micro nymph, then a little grayling took it. This meant the second record on the scoring card and this was all and the third place in the sector, because the Welsh team Coch Y Bondhu fishing below us had one more fish.
Our Corixca´s got into the deep stream, where they were blank after three hours as well as the other teams in this sector and where only the Blue Charms in the beat C 1 were successful with four catches and the Greenwell Persuaders England with one fish in the beat C 4. This was acceptable news for us, because just the beat C 1 were supposed to be fished by our "The Coachmen". After two rounds there were the competitors of May Flies Belgium with two wins in the sectors, followed by the colleagues of Iron Blues Belgium with sum of placings 3.
On Sunday the sun was getting through the fog when we were on the way alongside the stream of the Dee into the sector C. We had to go under the high stone bridge, which was getting stretching across about a kilometre over a long open river valley. However, it was shown that this was not a bridge but a kind of an aquaduct, where a small river was flowing and there were sailing barges with tourists who were travelling in a sophisticated system of canals connecting many places in England and Wales.
From a small parking place, we walked quite far across the neighbouring grasslands, with the flocks of sheep and we got over a couple of fences, before we got to the place where we liked it a beat .Today there were Jaja and Martin fishing and Vladimir was controlling the team of Coch Y Bondhu Wales, where there were a number of his friends, who he had guided before the last year´s World Championship in Slovakia, where they got the lessons of the Czech nymphing. Their place was the same where our second team fished yesterday blank, and so we were curious as to how our rivals would succeed.
At the beginning I went to the place where the Belgians were, to find out their system of fishing. It was very far before, I got to their place, across several grasslands, but it had paid off. In water there was Christian Jadouille, who was fishing with the top heavy jig, in the middle there was a small nymph and on the top dropper there was a parachute upwing as a float. Downstream of him Tony Perin was fishing and his set was a very surprising one. Under the upper fly – float he had two small nymphs, which were very close to each other, distance between both flies was about 20 cm, because it was not necessary to keep the minimum distance of 50 cm, which is known from the International rules. I was watching them for a while, how they were walking up the stream, and since this had been so from the beginning of the competition, it was possible to suppose that they started with the same tactics which they had proved the day before.
So I came back to our team to tell them this news and waited for them to catch the first fish. Jaja was somewhere upstream in the river and Martin was fishing near the bank, so he modified his tactics and soon the caught the first grayling. During the competition he was changing this gentle fishing with the fly-float and gentle Czech nymphing with the line of diameter 0,12 mm and managed to get 5 graylings, while his colleague had the classic short nymph and had three catches.
With eight fish we finally won this venue, the second were the Belgians, when Tony Perin had all five catches and the third were Coch Y Bondhu Wales with five catches. There were two hours blank and then they prayed, and caught one grayling in the last half-hour. After the fast drop of water, the graylings moved to this stream and they caught four more fish. Vladimir thought that this might have been the result of the Welsh tactics because they were moving in a couple of meters only and they moved some food from the bottom and this attracted fish from the lower part as well.
Also Corixca´s won they sector A and in a very interesting way. Frantisek Hanák had eight records in the scoring card and seven graylings he caught on the dry fly! He found them under the surface and managed to "cast" small CDC Sedges . David Seba had three catches on the nymph and together they had 11 fish.
The competition was clearly won by the May Flies Belgium with sum of placings 4 and 12 fish. The second were the Blue Charms England, with sum of placings 6 and 9 fish and the third were the Iron Blues Belgium with sum of placings 6 and 8 fish and on the fourth place they were followed Corixca´s CZ with the sum of placings 7 and 17 fish. The second Czech team finished the seventh with the sum of placings 9 and 10 graylings.
Among the individuals was the best Tony Perin (Belgium) with 8 fish, the second was Frantisek Hanák (8) and the third was Martin Droz (7). The fourth place was taken by another Czech, Martin Musil (7), who started in the team Teal Blues Wales, the fifth was the first English competitors Kieron Jenkins (6) (Wales), 6th Clive Chatwin (6) – England, 7th Josef Hanák (5) and 8th David Seba (4). Placings of the individuals shows the good position of the Czechs, but unfortunately this did not reflect the main team competition.
On Monday morning we drove to a small town St. Asaph, where we visited a very well supplied fly fishing tackle shop of Foxes and then we drove via Llangolan to the English Birmingham, where our plane started. When we were last driving across the River Dee, water was after all night´s rain maybe two meters above normal and its colour was dark brown. If this disaster was there one day earlier then probably we would have had to fish on Llyn Brennig. Good bye river and may be see you next year ...