World Fly Fishing Championships, Norway 2013 Summary
It is disappointing to travel this far and get such poor fishing. For the Aussies, the planning starts more than 18 months before the event and you can’t help but feel a little deflated once everything is over. A ninth place finish was not what we had hoped for and although a ‘podium’ finish might seem a long way off, it is certainly achievable. There were many lessons learned from this year’s event.
It was thought that river levels would be very high and we were told that life jackets had to be worn at all times. As it turned out, the levels were terribly low and falling every day. As is the case with most places in the world, this makes the fishing more difficult.
There has been a lot of talk about how bad the beats were and how few fish have been caught. There were ‘death’ beats and certainly it was totally unfair on many individuals. However, this is a team event and always will be viewed this way by Australia. With five competitors, you are bound to get good and bad beats but in the end, this evens itself out over the course of five sessions. This is not the case for individuals but hopefully, over the course of a few competitions, individuals will also get great draws and poor draws. The chance of an individual doing well does in part depend on the draw he gets but as a team, that can not really be said. Why? Because the Czechs, Italians and French still finish on or very close to the podium no matter what. The individual medalists may change from year to year due to the draw but the teams always come out on top. We have plenty of work to do but it is not insurmountable.
The current exception to this is the Italian who has just won the individual gold medal. Martin Droz was second again. Valerio Santi Amantini won the gold medal three years ago in Italy, the silver last year in Slovenia and now gold again in Norway. Is that coincidence? Does he get a great draw every year? Even if he did, it is still a pretty good effort.
The competition in Italy was soured somewhat by allegations of unfair conduct by the host nation when adding up the points. There will always be a cloud hanging over that result when others appeared to have it won only to find out that some Italian competitors had caught miraculous numbers of fish while other countries had fish left off their scorecards. The same can not be said for Slovenia and now for Valerio to have won gold here in Norway, it puts him up there with the best of all time. Yes, he did have an outstanding draw and fish very productive beats but you couldn’t win without that. You still have to catch the fish even if they are in front of you. He is clearly a magnificent angler. It is very easy to simply say that “he had a good draw” but no fish is easy to catch and you must still fish very well to catch them.
No superlatives could fully explain the quality of Martin Droz. He is incredible. Some of our management had the chance to watch him fish and loved every minute of it. He could probably sell tickets to some of his performances.
I apologies for not giving the bronze medalist much cue dos here but I had never heard of him until the final results were tallied. Julien Lorquet from Belgium was his name.
For those who are unsure, the competition consisted of each angler fishing five sectors over three days. The fishing times were 9:00am – 12:00pm and then 4:00pm to 7:00pm. I would like to comment briefly on this. What a fantastic idea to have four hours between sessions! We need more of it. I have never known a competitor to complain about having too much time to prepare, look at his beat and set up multiple rods as well as eat lunch, etc. The four hour time slot also gives fish more time to settle down after being waded through. This was a huge tick for the organisers. I hope that in Australia, we can learn from this and hold our sessions with more time between them. It may be slightly more difficult logistically but there must be a way. Rushing around and running to beats, throwing lunch down and hurrying to set up is not the way to do it.
Transport worked like clock work and there were very few issues. Those that arose were sorted quickly.
By the time I arrived in Norway to be with the team, they were fishing very well and were confident in the techniques they were using Our guide, Bent, was very helpful and showed us some new techniques to use. The one that stood out the most was the use of a caddis on the top dropper and a trailing nymph. This doesn’t sound like anything new I hear you say. Bent would fish this set up in crystal, crystal clear water on a very short line much like French Nymphing. He would cast slightly upstream and across a fair way. As soon as the flies touched down, he would start to skate and skip his dry fly along the top and the fish would rocket up from the bottom and engulf the flies. This would all happen in broad daylight in the middle of the day. The fly patterns were nothing special. It was about the technique. The fish over here have been very, very small. The smallest I have ever fished for. I would have thought that small fly patterns were the order of the day but in fact, many flies were size 10’s. They floated high and skated well. When a fish missed the fly, it was simply a case of dragging the fly past it again and again and it would come back up and eat the fly. You could do this four or five times until eventually it would hook up. They were committing suicide on the hook! It is the best guiding scenario I have ever come across. The instructions from me would go something like this…”I want you to cast very, very short and across the current. Make the fly land hard on the water and then start dragging it back towards you, making sure that at no stage you get a proper drag free drift. When the fish eats your fly, don’t strike and in fact, if you don’t watch your fly, it will actually help! It doesn’t matter if you miss a fish because he will keep coming back. There is no need to change your fly if he misses it, he isn’t that clever.” How much would I like to say these things to my clients?!?!!?!
Best of all, you can fish through the water (no more than knee deep) with dry flies, then fish nymphs and then swing back through with dries, streamers and nymphs and catch as many fish after seven hours in the same place as you have been standing all day… literally. It sounds too good to be true! I was gob smacked.
Unfortunately, the competition venues were nothing like the practice venues and the fish not quite as suicidal. The lower the water got, the tougher the comp waters became.
Before we left Australia, I always thought that our biggest advantage over the rest of the field was that we know how to catch wild brown trout where as the others catch more ‘stocked’ fish raised in hatcheries. After one practice session I was getting a little concerned. The behavior of these fish was more like a pack of hatchery bread rainbows than anything I had ever seen from a wild brown. Our advantage was well and truly gone.
The reason for this behavioral difference seems to be the weather. It is so cold in the Vefsna Region (more than 50 degree below zero in winter) that the rivers totally freeze over. By the time everything thaws out, the fish have a very short window of opportunity to feed and do so with gay abandon. Even in the weeks we have been here, it went from not actually getting dark at all, to now being dark by 8:30pm! What a massive turn around.
Only one river had Grayling in it and they too were surprisingly co operative. These are a fish that are very finicky and as they have under slung, small mouths, they eat small objects. We caught these fish on large streamers and huge nymphs while the Americans were catching them on size 8 Chernobyl Ants!
Gear selection was interesting and critical. When it comes to small fish, there is no arguing about the fact that softer rods are better. The reasons are many and varied but to list a few:
1. A soft rod bends more and therefore protects the lighter tippets we need to use. This means fewer break offs and a greater margin for error.
2. Stiffer rods have less give and therefore when swinging, small fish ‘bounce off’ more easily. That is to say that the lack of give in the rod means you get a lot of ‘plucks’ and ‘taps’ at your fly without hooking up. A soft rod alleviates this problem. A long soft rod is even better.
3. When fighting a fish, it is the ‘bouncing’ of the rod tip that contributes to a fish coming off. A soft rod does not bounce like a fast rod. Again, it softens everything and the fish do not come off as easily.
4. A soft rod is easier to make a negative curve cast with and as we are using long leaders, negative curves are easier to throw than positive curves.
5. When a fish takes off quickly downstream during a fight, you have more time to respond and react to it as your rod acts a bigger, softer shock absorber. A stiffer rod is more likely to rip the fly out of a fish (especially when it is downstream from you) on that quick run.
I chose to use a few different rods depending on the circumstances I was fishing in. It is clear that no one rod will do for all situations and in fact, different rod manufacturers rods have different strengths and weaknesses. The expectation of any angler to find one rod that does it all is unrealistic.
I chose to use my Sage ESN 10’ #2 for in close, dry fly fishing. I used a Scientific Angler Presentation Taper DT if it was a little windy or I would use a silk fly line if it was calm or with a following wind. The presentation you get with silk is far superior to any ‘plastic’ line but it is terribly difficult to fish into any wind.
My Hanak 10’ #3 was a great rod and had a lot of ‘guts’ down in the butt. It’s soft tip allowed me to not pull the hook on fish while at the same time, put plenty of pressure on the bigger fish without fear of breaking them off.
A 10’ #2 Maxia was my choice for windy Nymphing and small fish. This rod is relatively stiff but very soft in the tip. It handles a DT3 well and a silk line for French Nymphing. It is light and easy to use all day. A big fish can cause some minor issues with this rod but as it is a #2, it is not designed for huge currents and massive fish.
As I said, there is no one rod. You have to be specific. Close enough is not good enough. Sage has the largest share in the world fly rod market but even they can not produce a rod for every scenario. It would send them bankrupt as most fly fishermen are not interested in the absolute fine points of fly fishing and think that when the fish ‘bounces off’ it was because it hadn’t taken the fly properly. It would be wonderful to be able to use a single manufacturers rods but when river fishing, this is simply not possible unless you are willing to compromise in many areas. When I am socially fishing I am happy to compromise everywhere but when fishing for my country in an international event, I can not afford one compromise.
These rods have Ross Evolution reels on them, which performed very well and are quick and easy to change the spools on. The spools also come in different colours which made it easy to know which line was what and the lack of weight in them was good for keeping baggage weight down. I did however also have a semi automatic reel from Peux called a ‘Fulgor 03’. In the right circumstance, these are great as they can pick line up off the water at an alarming rate, making playing fish easy when they are downstream of you (the line is wound onto the reel by pulling a lever which gets all slack off the water surface). They are not cheap but are the best of the Semi Auto reels available on the market. I use mine for close in work but prefer the standard set up for any lengthy fishing and spool changes due to their being a rim on the reel housing of the Fulgor which means you have to feed the line under the rim before you clip the spool in place. This can take a few extra seconds, which is not desirable. If you are not changing line types though, this doesn’t come into it. The Fulgor has not got a large arbor, which makes it perfect for the use of silk lines, which have absolutely no memory at all.
For swinging, I used my old Sage XP 10’ #6, a Maxia 10’8” #5, A Christian Launstorfer 11’ #3 (purpose built) and a Hanak multi length (9’, 9’6”, 10’, 10’6”) #4/5. I did also have an 11’6” Sage One Switch rod with me, which would have been very handy for reaching the far bank, but as the rivers were so low, it did not come into use. I am glad I had it as if the rivers had been their normal height, it would have been very handy. I also trialed a 10’ #4 Marryat.
Again, I will say that it is too much for one rod company to make every single rod for every set of conditions. As comp anglers, we are very fussy. If it is not perfect, it won’t do. For most people, the do not have to worry about exactly how parabolic an action the rod has or whether it will handle a silk line or not. Most people would find that they could do most things using a couple of rods. It may cost them a fish or two from time to time but that is no big deal. If one of those fish costs the Australian Team a world championships, it becomes a big problem for me.
For lake fishing, I still used my Sage 10’ #6 as the fish were again, tiny. Normally I would be on the Sage One, Z-Axis or Hardy Zenith depending on conditions but the size of the fish made my mind up for me.
I would be happy to enter into any correspondence about ‘equipment’ if you have any specific questions.
All of my floating lines were from Scientific Angler except for the silk, which came from Julien Thomas. This includes my lake lines, The SA Expert Distance went onto my switch rod along with a Rio Outbound for extra distance and depth. The sinking line I used the most was a Stillwater Taper from SA. It does have a little bit of memory but it is still the only truly clear line on the market and worth the hassle of being a little springy. Many other companies have a clear line but they all seem to have a brown or green hue to them. In the sinking line department, it was mostly non stretch lines. These have been the industry leaders for some time due to their castability and sensitivity. In Norway, I would have preferred lines that stretch. This is because once again, the fish are small and the extra stretch allows a little more give in the line and less ‘bounce offs’. It seems slightly pointless to use a soft rod to make sure the fish does not ‘bounce off’ only to spool up a non stretch line that puts you in too much direct contact with the fish. The final line in my armory was the fast sink tip (200F/S) from SA.
Almost all of my flies were tied on Hanak barbless hooks with the odd exception. Much like the rods, there is not one hook manufacturer who has all of the hooks in the exact weight, profile and shape you want. For this reason we used TMC 2499 SPBL’s quite a lot for swinging and Skalka Nymph hooks for many long bodied caddis dry fly imitations. The long point on these hooks keeps them in well once the fish is hooked and the extra weight is good for faster water currents as they are less likely to straighten with the weight of the fish. Devaux D166 BL has a very unique shape and once it goes in, it never seems to come out. It is a very specific hook and not to be used for all scenarios. As I said though, most flies were tied on Hank H200, H260 and H130’s. The Hanak fluorocarbon was also used in the finer diameters and interestingly, this is the same stuff that the Czechs use. In the lakes, I used Rio Fluroflex in the larger diameters. While for the rivers and dry fly fishing, I used Devaux ‘Tiger’ and ‘supertippet’. Powerflex would also do this job well.
My waders and wading jacket came from Aquaz and John Stagg used exactly the same. Wading boots and soles are a huge problem most of the time. As I knew we would be fishing a boat session (rubber soles best), a bank session on the lake (rubber with studs best), a smaller river (felt best) and a large river (felt with studs best), I could not afford to carry four different pairs of wading boots. There is too much weight and buggering around with four pairs of boots. I got hold of a pair of Korkers with the interchangeable sole. Having owned a pair or two of these in the early days, I was a little skeptical but they have now clearly ironed out their initial teething problems and they were fantastic. They are light and allowed me to change soles for the appropriate water. They have been given a hiding (I am not good at looking after my gear) and are still working very well.
I usually get a lot of questions about all of the gear. For this reason I have tried to be as specific as possible and hope that your questions have been answered. If not, send me an email!
It was very obvious that there were not going to be large numbers of fish caught in the competition venues as the beats were so tiny. FIPSMOUCH recommends beats greater than 200m long and ours were between 50m and 70m on the lakes and every beat I saw appeared to be under 100m on the rivers.
This is the jewel in the crown of the region. It has been regarded as one of the greatest Salmon Rivers in Europe up until they poisoned it two year ago. It is a large river with a sandy bottom. Although there are rocky areas, the sand base makes it difficult for insects to live in the water. This is another reason why, when presented with the chance to eat the fly, they do so without hesitation. Most of the river can not be waded across and although it is gin clear, polaroiding is out due to the depth and speed of the water.
If the correct pace of water was present, big grayling could be found. They ate the fly very well and large dry flies were a favorite of theirs. Joe managed to catch one in the competition twitching a Di 5 alongside a large boulder and this had also happened a few times during practice. These were not hard to catch but they needed to be in the beat. Sinking dry flies on weighted fly lines was surprisingly effective and something I will experiment more with in Australia.
One side of the river had a shallow gravel shelf while the main current ran along the other. With beats on both sides of the river, tactics would have to be different depending on your draw. The Shallow sides produced more fish as the slack water often contained small grayling that were willing to rise or eat tiny dries in the calm weather while swinging and Nymphing tended to be the only way of fishing the deep, fast side. Those on the gravel could also wade out and cast into the deep channel. One of the French competitors was seen swinging nymphs on a floater, intermediate, di 3, 5 and then 7 with success in the same deep hole. The fish were often schooled up in the deep pockets and this was even more apparent as levels dropped.
Access into the water was tough on the deep side and at times impossible.
The Vefsna also held some good sized brown trout.
Our tactic for this river was to fish dries at any rising fish first and foremost. We wanted a dry fly rod on us all of the time and therefore carried two rods throughout the session stuffed down the front of our waders. We knew this would be the case and have been practicing fishing in this way for two years. If one rose, it was not hard to catch so being ready at all times was paramount. A nymph under dry rig was used for pocket water with induced takes being the norm. Finally, swinging nymphs and streamers (if you had a deep hole) would be employed and this was surprisingly successful. Normally, the hook up rate is poor using this technique but the fish were so hungry that they would keep chasing the fly if they missed the first, second or third time, ending in a good hook up rate. We did not lose many fish at all in this river. Most of us caught some trophy sized Grayling here including Mark Bulley’s 47cm fish caught at the same time as I caught one the identical size!
I do not remember the exact details of everyone’s Vefsna beat. I do recall that Craig had a very tough beat and was on the deep side of the river.
Chris also had the deep side and fished it in the first session. He caught on dries. His beat did have some rising fish and in fact in later sessions, this beat won a couple of sessions. Apparently fish were rising freely in the backwater and ate the fly well. It may well turn out that more fish dropped back into this hole as the competition went on and the water levels fell. It was the sort of water that you would walk past when socially fishing and if you were to draw it in a ‘normal’ river, you would feel hard done by. But, with the levels low, the fish were searching for deeper water and these sorts of backwaters ended up being very productive.
Joe’s beat was over a shallow gravel bar and into some deeper water. He had most of his success swinging on a Di 5 and even caught a big brown on a dry fly that he was swinging on the fast sinker. As the flies hit the water, the fish rolled over the fly and a strip strike was all that was needed.
A Norwegian caddis imitation called “the animal” seemed very popular with the Vefsna fish.
Fighting the fish was not always easy with strong currents in every direction you looked.
I can not remember anything of Staggy’s Vefsna beat or what happened. I am sorry. I know that he did very well on it and no doubt caught them on dries and swinging. I feel bad about this but it was day one.
My beat on the last afternoon was very poor. I was fortunate enough to have Mark Bulley accompany me to the sector so as that we could swap ideas as to how to fish it. Once the three hour session starts, we are no longer allowed to talk or exchange anything.
The beat was on the fast side and as the river narrowed tremendously, the water was extremely swift and getting out 2m was almost impossible. The current was even too fast to swing a Di 7 in, no matter where I cast! Two 4mm tungsten beads on a very short leader didn’t even get close to deep enough. At the very bottom of my beat, just inside the buffer zone, there was a single large rock. The pressure point at the front of the rock was in my beat and I fished a dry fly in here on the edge. I hooked a small fish second or third cast of the session and it only measured 17cm. Bugger! I tried wading out and casting a fast sinking, sink tip fly line so as that I could throw stack mends to get depth on my flies. The full sinkers were simply being ripped down stream. Even with the sink tip, the current was much too fast and in fact, my controller later told me that the people on the other side of the river had not caught one fish in that area all competition anyway. It was just too fast.
A downstream wind started to blow so I headed to the top of my beat. Armed with a ten foot six weight XP, I decided to fish a floating line and two dry caddis imitations, five feet apart. I fished these dries down stream, not up stream, as we would normally do. I felt as though the current and depth was sufficient to hide me from the fish’s sight and I would get more control fishing in this manor. I held my rod high and let the wind blow and skip my flies across the current from side to side as if I was ‘dapping’. At no time did I make an actual cast as we know and think of it. Working down the current (which was making waves stand up like a 25 knot wind would do on a lake) I cast perpendicular to the bank on a very short line and simply swung, twitched, tweaked and annoyed the water surface with the dries. After an hour and a half of painstaking fishing, a big brown rolled over the top of the fly and I promptly missed it. I let the fly skip back over it and this time it rolled over the fly again. This time I had weight on the fish. It was very important not to strike on these fish and instead, simply let the weight come onto the line. I fought the fish for what seemed an eternity and in fact, it ran me the entire length of the beat and actually went into the buffer zone between my beat and the one below me. This is perfectly legal. Eventually, after a little bit of cursing, I finally got the fish into the net. At 45 cm, it was a great fish and would give Australia a few points but more importantly, I had not blanked on a beat that had already seen its fair share of blanks. I was over the moon and seem to remember hugging my controller at some point. I was using 0.16 tippet material but after playing this fish, I discovered a small nick in the leader. This was a good opportunity to change my tippet to 0.22. As I was not letting any tippet touch the water at all as only the fly was making contact, I felt as though I could have used a winch cable and the fish would never know. The stiffer material would also give me better control in the wind. I did not want to go through another long and drawn out fight in such strong current again. I also changed flies. With stronger tippet material, the weak point would now be the hook. As we use such fine hooks on our dry flies (you get better hook penetration) I needed to change flies and use the exact same patterns but on heavier gauge hooks. The added weight of the hook would also hold my fly in the water better. I changed my point fly to a bead headed nymph for the same reason. I knew that I would fish the area very slowly and systematically so the need for two different dry flies had now gone. I knew what dry they wanted. By putting a nymph on the point, this would sink and ‘anchor’ my leader, giving the wind less effect on the line and giving me greater control again. I chose a 3.5mm tungsten black nymph but really it as sacrificial and not designed to catch a fish. Moving back to the place I had landed the last fish, I felt more in control and more comfortable with what I was doing. It also helped, having had a fish on the scorecard. I could relax a little more. Fifteen minutes later, another brown rolled over the dry and once again, there was no weight. Repositioning the fly, it copied the last one and ate a second time, on this occasion coming up tight. The fish was a littlie smaller, measuring 35cm but I didn’t care. Catching two fish and one non measurer from a beat that only had one fsih come off it in any session was a great confidence builder.
The rest of the session went without incident apart from losing my footing a few times in the strong current and taking a brief swim.
The Austervefsna - (Upper Vefsna)
This river possessed more charm than the Vefsna and had a rocky bottom with some bedrock protruding into some beats. There were reasonable hatches on the river and depressions could be seen in the substrate from time to time. It looked fishier than the other rivers. The clarity of the water was excellent and hatches had occurred from time to time. We had fished a tributary with very little success apart from a sea trout that Craig had hooked and lost and a few small fish that Chris and I had caught swinging.
Staggy fished this river first and drew the second last beat of the sector. He caught a couple early, which were rising on his beat and then moved across the river to a hole on the opposite side. Fishing dry flies blind, he saw fish coming up from the depths to eat his fly. He extracted a few fish this way before swinging a leech pattern into a hole to catch a few more. A great effort indeed. Don’t rise in front of Jonathon Stagg! I think he won that session. Again, caddis imitations were the best flies.
Chris fished this river last and with Jason and Glenn trying to spot a rise or two for him, he fished the beat thoroughly over and over with only one take from a small brown that did not measure. Dries, streamers, nymphs…. nothing worked.
Joe’s beat was in an area that everyone expected many fish to come out of. He saw a fish rise before his session started but it did not rise again and he was unable to get it to eat his fly. He did not get any form of hatch and hence, went fishless. Some other sessions did see a few fish come off the beat but in my session for example (I was stationed only a hundred meters above Joes beat), this beat had fish rising all over it. No doubt Joe would not have blanked if he had fished it in this session!
On this occasion, it is Craig’s session that I can remember little about. Sorry Craig! I will find out about it again and when I am next speaking to you, I will give you the run down.
My session on this river was my second last. It was bright and still and nothing moved. The controller told me that he had seen a fish rise on the other side yesterday. That was good enough. I had to get across. What was a blessing was also a curse. I could get across my beat almost everywhere. That meant I had more water to fish but none of it was very good, as it did not have channels or depressions. It did have a few rocks though which were bound to hold fish. A Frenchman had caught one fish off it on the first day.
I did see a fish rise to my dry and refuse it about half an hour into my session. I tried to sit on it and change to light nymphs and small dries but I could not get it to come again. I fished dries downstream and then tried to induce a take with a small skating caddis and eventually a fish liked the movement and I landed a 35cm brown. I continued to nymph and swing after I had fished every inch with a dry but I could not get another fish up. A had to be satisfied with one fish.
Interestingly, this beat produced three fish in the afternoon session to an American angler (Lance Eagan). I hunted him down at the closing ceremony and asked him how he managed three fish out of the beat. It turned out that they did get a good hatch of small green mayfly in the afternoon and the fish were rising. He got all three on dries from the rocks in the middle of the river. Although I did not get to see rising fish when I fished there, these fish must have been in the beat while I was fishing it. I had not managed to get them to eat my flies and this is disappointing for me. I will revisit my tactics and techniques for this beat on the long flight home.
Again, tippet diameters were small. I used 0.10 due to the bright, still conditions, knowing that I may not get many chances. I would rather get the take and take a long time to land it than to not get the take at all because my tippet was too thick for such small flies. This was my most disappointing session and I will return to this beat tomorrow and fish it again.
Another interesting point was that Lance had also hooked another fish while Nymphing a small hole early in the session. When he explained to me exactly where it was and that it was a brown in the mid 30’s (cm), it was clear that he had actually hooked the same fish I had caught in the morning session. The hole he hooked it in was exactly where I had released the fish after it had been measured!! I will store that in the memory bank for next time.
The Fiplingdelsilva aka the “Desilva”
This was a disaster and was even referred to as the river of death at the closing ceremony. It was running out of a massive mountain lake and was almost totally sand in parts. It was practically void of fly life in areas and was totally in appropriate for competition fishing. The head of fish was never going to be in there and even if the levels were higher, some beats would still have been void of fish. It was terrible. The surroundings were magnificent but let’s not forget that we were not here for the surroundings! A clearer river you would be hard to find but when coupled with a sandy bottom and knee deep water, the chances of fish being there was zero!
In the practice sessions before I had arrived in Norway, the guys had managed to catch a good number of fish, fishing along the edge of the river. Wherever there was grass in the water or on the edge, schools of small fish (mostly 18cm) were congregating. They ate the dry very, well. The game plan was to fish these edges. We had also seen fish rising in the small depressions and this gave us hope. Fly life could also be found under rocks, which often lay along the edge of the water. The access to what was to be beats 1, 2, 3 and 4 was excellent and we had walked the edge in this area. We also went down to beats 21, 22 and 23. These looked equally good although 21 looked the best beat by a long way. Apart from beats 1, 2 and 3, the water actually looked pretty good. We could not see the middle beats but we assumed they would all have broken water in them. We were wrong. By the time the competition came around, our tactics had already been foiled. Water levels had dropped alarmingly and the grass / reeds along the edge were more than 3m from where the river actually started! I have never seen so much water drop out of a river that was not in flood. It was astonishing. The tactic was always going to involve using dry flies and only going subsurface if we had broken water. This side of it did not change but going under was going to be even more difficult with low water.
As it turned out, the beats that Joe, Craig and I fished did not have one fish come off them during the entire competition. Five blanks! There simply were no fish on these beats. Joe did have some lovely looking water that he thought would hold fish but certainly on my beat there was nothing remotely like this. Not even a ripple or run or depression. I can not write or comment on these beats as there is nothing more to say and they don’t bare thinking about.
Mark had substituted for Chris in this sector and fished a beat on which one fish had been caught. Now, that is not saying very much is it? One fish in the entire competition. From what I saw, there were no guarantees that this fish would even have been caught in the sector. Many anglers seem happy enough to fish the buffer zones if the controllers don’t stop them but this is one place we would not have fished.
Staggy did see a fish rise in his beat. The fish was in a small back eddy and it only rose once. He spent over an hour casting into the area, which sounds excessive, but under the circumstances, it was the right thing to do. The rest of the beat appeared void of fish. The fish that had been caught on his beat had risen. It was spotted and caught by one of the previous competitors. Again, it is very difficult to comment on the fishing in this sector. We have probably discussed this sector the least as it was so disappointing and had the potential to put someone in a bad frame of mind.
The Americans apparently had a few opportunities in their sessions here. Their tactic turned out to be the one that we came up with after the competition was over! The idea was to set up one rod and one rod only. This would have a single dry fly on it. The Captain would also come down to the river for every session and sit in the bushes, looking at the water. The Captain is the only person allowed to talk to an angler during the session. He would look for a rising fish and the fisherman would do likewise at the end of the beat. If nothing rose, the fisherman simply did not cast. What this means was that rather than get in the water and fish, fish, fish, you simply wait, wait, wait! It is a dangerous tactic and one that goes against the grain of competition normality. We practice tying knots quickly, changing lines, preparing fly patches with the flies we will need, etc. in order to save a few seconds here and there and maximize our time with flies on the water and this idea flies in the face of all of that. On this occasion however, it may have paid dividends for some of our anglers. I have no doubt what so ever that in some beats, even this would have meant simply sitting and watching the water for three hours and then packing up and going home without making a cast! There were no fish in some beats, I keep saying it. The highlight of my session on this river was the coffee I shared with my controller half way through my session when I was employing a similar method to the Americans! It is my belief that all fish caught on this river were on dry flies except for one which was caught on a nymph around sector 8 or there about and a few on a streamer in a deep hole around Sector 21 or 22. Martin Droz caught a fish that was rising in his beat and told me that he saw another couple of fish in his beat but they were over 2 kg (four and a half pounds) and would not eat the fly. Again, he had some water with a little bit of depth to it but was skillful enough when others weren’t.
This river was a total disaster.
Storvatnet – Boat Lake
This was a very shallow, silty bottomed lake with huge deep holes in the middle. The boats had no drogues and no engines. We were assigned oarsmen. Again, the water was crystal clear but the fly life was minimal as was the weed and structure. The fish were tiny and all brown trout in the shallows although some large Char were caught in the deep, open water. The lake was simply too small and too sterile to hold a world championships on. Again, the scenery was great but you already know my thoughts on the importance of scenery when I am in a competition!
You may remember that I mentioned Craig, Mark and I seeing a competitor not doing the right thing during our practice session and actually fishing in the competition water when it was out of bounds. This person was from Chile, not Spain. I want to clear that one up.
Many fish could be seen in the little bay in which the boats left from. They would rise quite freely but as the boats literally had to row through it on the way out, it perhaps did not get much attention in the early rounds. By later on in the competition, fish were coming from this area. Most teams used sinking lines but intermediates were the norm. I have spent this morning talking to one of the Norwegians who came 20th over all. He told me that their tactic was to fish with a floating line and use two loch style flies. They simply pulled these even in the flat calm and bright conditions. This tactic in Australia would end in tears and fish spooking left, right and center. The fish here are hungry! The long winters make them much less spooky and more opportunistic. This worked along the edge and even out in the middle of the lake.
Those who chased Char out in the deeper areas did so on Di 5 and 7 lines with large streamers. These fish are schooling fish and once one was caught, the others had to be caught quickly. They were big fish. The tactic was fraught with danger, as you would have to be fishing out over seep water with nothing under the boat, simply casting into an abyss. Psychologically, this is a very difficult tactic as we are programmed to look for structure, edges, drop offs, etc. and this is chucking it out there and hoping for the best. Being cold water fish, the Char were deep. The tactic worked for some anglers but not for others.
In places, the edges were full of small fish. Many were under 18cm but there were enough over this mark to make it worth while fishing. After some fishing pressure, a lot of these fish moved off shore to the depressions (four feet of water) and could be caught here employing the same tactics.
After Joe drew the Frenchman in the first session and was shown where the fish were, we knew where to go. It was simply a case of getting the right tactics and flies. Intermediates fished quickly were effective after casting two bead heads towards the banks. The small fish liked the sound of the ‘plop’ of the fly and would often race over to it. As the sessions continued, the fishing got harder. Occasionally a fish might rise close to the grass in some bays if you were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. The English relied quite heavily on catching the Char as they had done so during their practice.
Joe managed 2 fish while the Frenchman caught 7. This put Joe in the top few placing’s.
I had the lake second and Joe passed all of the information on to me at lunch time. This session was to be a real eye opener. I drew the Czech Republic as my boat partner and this was Thomas Adam. He was the silver medalist from last year and the bronze medalist from the year before. He is truly one of the very best that competition fishing has ever seen. A quiet, unassuming man, he speaks little to no English and simply goes about his business. As we were tossing the coin to decide who would captain the boat first, I informed him that I knew where the fish were. He immediately said that I could control the boat. I took us over to the bay in which I wanted to fish. This was a long process as our oarsman was not the best and went the long way at the pace of a sloth. I rigged up with a clear intermediate and when Thomas saw this, he did likewise. Two flies went on. I had a small bead head spider on the point and a balloon caddis on the top dropper. The leader was around 16’ long and I used 0.16 fluorocarbon. After about 5 minutes of casting and retrieving, I hooked a small brown, which measured on the rolly polly. It ate the balloon caddis. I watched the fish get measured and signed the sheet of paper, agreeing to the measurement. Thomas stopped fishing! He then sat and waited for me to recast. He recast at the same time. When my line hit the water, so did his. He watched me put my rod under my arm and did likewise. As I started to retrieve, so did he and he continued to copy the pace, etc. of everything I did. After a few casts, he was off. He started catching fish after fish after fish. Some measured and some didn’t but he was smashing them. I could hardly get another touch. It felt like I was being beaten at my own game. If pulling wet flies from a boat in competitions had KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators), they would be:
1. Make sure you cover all the angles and don’t simply cast straight ahead.
2. Cast further than your boat partner to get the flies out into new water first
3. Have as few false casts as possible to make sure your flies are in the water for longer.
4. Fish with intensity so as to cover more water
5. Concentrate hard
6. Don’t lose any fish!
The most important point of them all is CATCH THE MOST FSIH.
At the end of my session, Thomas had caught 7 fish and I had caught 2! It was the same result as Joe had had with the Frenchman. What was going on? As it turned out, I got fourth place but the man in my boat was first. If It had been a one fish difference I would not have given it a second thought. A shoot out is a shoot out but 7 – 2 is an ass whooping!
I looked at the above KPI’s:
1. I covered all of the angles and was very aware of it. Thomas did not. He sat there casting straight almost all of the time. The angles of his casts would not have varied 20 degrees through out the session.
2. I consistently cast further than he did
3. I had one less false cast than he did every cast, meaning my flies were in the water for more time than his!
4. I was intense and covered more water
5. I concentrated hard while at times, Thomas was looking around him and up into the sky while his line was tightening in front of him.
6. He lost plenty of fish, had plucks and pulls while I caught every fish I hooked bar one. The one lost was hooked on the top dropper while rolly pollying and the point fly got stuck in the weed. As I lifted my rod out from under my arm, the point fly went tight in the weed and the fish was then suspended above the water, flipping around and came off.
It is the same as playing a footy match where you have more inside 50’s, more tackles, more handballs, more kicks, more clearances, more marks, more free kicks and more contested possessions but you get your back side kicked in the only statistic the counts, the score!!
I changed my flies regularly as the oarsman rowed us back out to a new spot. I had managed to get a look at the flies he was using but I had nothing similar in my box.
John Horsey was drifting in the same area with his boat partner and had caught nothing. He eventually filed in behind us, cast at an angle, tweaked his fly back on a fast figure 8 retrieve and caught a fish after it attacked the fly three times. After a couple of hours of watching Thomas catch fish after fish, he told me later that he was getting far too intimidated and had to leave the bay in search of other water. I couldn’t do that. I was in the nightmare!
When the session was over, Thomas told me I was “a great captain” meaning that I am a much better guide than I am a fisherman! Praise indeed… bastard. I made it clear that after the competition I wanted those flies! He laughed and agreed. I have never been a believer that flies could make that much difference. I may be wrong.
On the final evening of the competition, I ran into the Czech team at a café and spoke to Thomas through Lubos Rosa, another one of the Czech competitors. Lubos spoke great English and translated for me. I asked him to get Thomas to tell me where I had gone wrong. Why had he caught so many fish when I couldn’t? “Don’t pull any punches, just tell me straight where I went wrong. No sugar coating!” Thomas had two things to say. Firstly, he said that I had the wrong flies. My flies were not bright enough and the small fsih wanted bright flies. He had noticed one fly that I had tried but said it had too much red in it and was too bright. This was a “Bitch” that I had tied small and plucked half of the marabou out from the tail. Then he dropped a bomb. He asked me what tippet diameter I was using. I proudly said 0.16 (knowing that this was really fine, especially when rolly polly fishing). He then said that he had started on 0.14 and then gone to 0.12 when he realized that the fish were all around 20cm. In fact, he only caught one fish over 20cm and the others were under 20cm. 0.12!!! You must be joking! When I told John Horsey about it later, he said, ”What the hell is 0.12?” which sums it up really. If you look at that stuff the wrong way it will break! Having such a straight pull on the line, the chances of break offs were huge. I had not even considered using line that fine. Why would you need it when rolly polly fishing? He thought this was critical. At least I was using the same Hanak fluorocarbon as he was. There is some consolation. The French fisherman with Joe had broken one off in the morning and I had been warned not to go too fine. I thought I had gone too fine! Can you imagine rolly pollying on Penstock with 0.12? You may as well drive the boat out into the lake, tip you fly box upside down in the water and drive back to the ramp.
A huge lesson was learned. Massive. He was then very complimentary of my fishing (probably unnecessarily as he might have been wanting me to feel better about things…it didn’t work).
I also had the chance to speak to John Horsey at length about my experience. John actually agreed with me that from his perspective, I seemed to be ‘winning’ the KPI’s. Bugger the KPI’s. The score is the only thing that matters in the end of the day. Thomas had actually caught one of his fish, casting at the back of John’s boat, landing the fly where a drogue would have been had we been able to use one.
An interesting side light to this story is that the Czech captain (whose surname is so hard to spell that I could simply throw letters at random in there and be closer than if I try to spell it) whose first name is also Thomas was also there. He was sitting on the edge of the lake watching proceedings and not saying a word. He didn’t have to!
Thomas, the captain, is a very highly decorated angler and has won world championships, European champs, etc., etc. He is a man held in the highest regard and respected by all. His relationship with Thomas (the angler) was one of mutual respect. It was clear to see. The way they discussed tactics before hand, the way the captain let the angler make his own choices and the embrace at the end of the session were all signs of a very harmonious and settled team of individuals. Had the angler broken off a couple of fish because he was using 0.12, he would not have been asked to ‘please explain’. The respect was clearly evident to see but no doubt earned.
At the closing dinner, Thomas handed over the fly that had given me so much pain. He was smiling. I was faking a smile and could finally ask him to remove his wading boot from my arse (excuse the expression). He is now the very proud owner of my Acubra hat. The hat may be worth more in monetary terms but I have piece of mind, a fly that will always remind me of that day and a friend for life.
Chris Dawson fished the lake on the third morning. He drew Howard Croston from England to be his boat partner. They both blanked. Howard was keen on fishing some deeper water while Chris wanted the shallows and the boat never really got going. The fish in the bay had become very spooky and few fish were caught through the session.
Staggy then fished the lake on the last morning, catching a fish or two on the balloon caddis pulled under as well as the fly that I had tied for the team the night before. The fly was what I thought closely imitated what I had seen Thomas catching with on the previous day. Thank heavens it worked. I feel much better about it. Rolly Polly was again the tactic.
The final boat session was that of Craig Carey’s. Craig caught a non measuring fish early on and then went fishless right up to the end. The controller called ‘last cast’ and Craig (aka “Wedgy”) put the fly within a few centimeters of the bank, started to rolly polly and hooked and landed a measuring fish. What an effort that was. It made a huge difference to the over all standing of the Australian team. Wedgy is a star. This is a real lesson for us all. This fish also ate the fly that I had tied from what I had thought Thomas was using.
Our lake sessions were quite successful in that we only had one blank. Almost every other country faired much worse.
Svartvatnet – Bank Lake
Panic set in the first time I saw this lake and the miniscule beats that were pegged out. Ridiculous. The head of fish was not there and the beats were so uneven that it was laughable. Most people had very silty wading and the water was ‘Norway clear’ again. Fly life appeared non existent while we were there but the occasional caddis would hatch around the grass edged beats.
General tactics were to fish the grass and rushes along the edges with a dry or nymph dry combination. It was so important to do this carefully that even though we only had 50m to fish, this should have taken an hour or more. Don’t get into the water unless you have to! After that, sedges, dries and loch style along with small streamers on slow sinking lines were the tactics. As it turned out, if fish rose in your beat or you drew a good beat, you could catch them easily. If not, you were stuffed no matter what you did! You can’t fish the grassy edges when you have no grass!
I had this lake first. My beat was beat 12. It was on the other side of the lake to that which we had looked at it. The beat appeared ok at first glance. There were some reeds in the top right hand corner and it was very, very shallow and silty. I was in the bottom corner of a tiny bay, which was in the lee of a hill. Perfect for rises if there was a hatch or if fish were present.
My controller established the boundaries of my beat with me, lining up land marks in the distance with my beat markers so as that I knew where the buffer zones were. He could clearly see that the beat was unfair. As I was in a bay and the markers are on the bank, the line out into the lake is taken at 90 degrees from the marker, perpendicular with the shore. On a straight shore line, that is fine but in a tiny bay, the two lines from either edge of the beat will cross! This means that you have a small wedge of water out of which you can not cast.
I started fishing and immediately, the South African Captain (who was helping his angler in the beat next to mine) started to complain to my controller about where I was wading. He felt as though I was in the buffer zone. I was well, well within the area my controller had given me but another controller may not have given me that water to fish if his judgment was that it was in the buffer zone. The location supervisor (chief controller) was called over and he sided with the South African Captain, meaning that I had to fish in a tiny, tiny triangle. I could wade out to the point of the triangle and fish back to shore as if I stood on the shore and cast out, I would be casting out beyond the tip of my triangle and into the buffer zone!! My controller had clearly seen that the organisers had made a mistake with this beat and tried to make it closer to “fair”. The chief controller was only doing his job and to the letter of the law, he had to do what he did. It was not the fault of anyone but those who pegged the beat to start with. I was given extra time to fish at the end of my session due to the balls up but it was hopeless as I had fished the entire beat three times with each line and a number of flies. At the end of my session, my controller handed me a long branch (around 15’) from a silver birch tree and asked me to wade out and stick it into the silt so as that there could not be any further arguing in future sessions. To my dismay he asked me to put the branch in what was my buffer zone, therefore extending my beat considerably for future anglers. By ‘considerably’, I am meaning an extra three meters, which is a lot of water when your beat is so small. The controller knew that with the branch in the water, there would be no protest from other anglers and captains as it is clearly defined. He was right. One fish came off that beat in a later session and this does not surprise me. Where the beat had been extended, it went into a patch of weed that had been in my buffer zone. The angler who caught the fish was again, a Czech and he confirmed with me that indeed, this is where the fish had come from. The rest of the sessions had been blanked.
John Horsey had rising fish on his sector and landed three measurers and a few smaller fish. Those fishing around the reeds did catch a lot of fish and this session was also won by Thomas Adam who caught 7. In the afternoon, the session was won off the same beat Thomas fished with 8. This was by far the most productive beat for the comp. I did manage to get some good info out of my session for the rest of the team. I watched a Polish guy catch a fish on a clear intermediate casting out into the lake and using a quick, jerky retrieve, he landed a fish over 45cm. I could also see the plop of two small bead heads whenever he made his cast.
Chris fished the lake in the afternoon and drew a beat on which only a few fish ended being caught. He didn’t mange to get a measuring fish in spite of trying the techniques listed above. Staggy fished it the following morning and won the session with three fish. These came as per the Polish angler. This sort of fishing suited Staggy well as he is a very technical angler and works angles and retrieves out very well. Outstanding job Staggy! Although this beat did produce fish in a few sessions, Staggy’s three fish was the most caught from it.
Craig fished the boat lake in the morning on the fourth day and did not manage a fish from another terrible beat. Joe then finished on the lake and had the same experience as Craig.
This place was far from ideal for a competition of this magnitude. It may have had six or seven ok beats but 25 are simply too many beats. All competition bank beats are subject to too many variables and it is my opinion that unless a fair rotation system can be worked out, they are simply unfair and should be outlawed. We saw it in the Commonwealth Championships in Tassie as well as every other bank venue I have ever fished. Yes, river venues are also unfair to a degree but not to the extent as bank venues. Again, when there are no fish to catch in your sector, how can you catch one? In a competition where having a blank costs you so dearly, boats are a far better option.
The competition had its issues but it was tremendously enjoyable. The time we all spent together was terrific. Every person contributed during the three weeks away from home and I could not have asked to go away with a better group of people.
Norway itself is a very beautiful country. Both the scenery and people are very attractive. They are extremely hospitable and for the most part, seem to be a happy and smiling nation. If you enjoy eating fish and in particular, salmon, this is a great place to dine out. The food at the hotel was terribly repetitive but if staying for a day or two, it was more than adequate. The Fru Haugans Hotel is set in a wonderful setting on the banks of the Vefsna River looking across at steep mountains that rise from the rivers edge. We are told that in winter, the river freezes over and the mountain is covered in thick snow. When the snow builds to a certain point, there is an avalanche that runs down the side of the mountain and explodes onto the icy river. As the river is solid, it then travels across the surface and ends up on the lawn of the hotel! Much too close for comfort.
The magnitude of the mountains need to be seen to be believed. The Fjords are also spectacular. Rivers run through every valley and there is no shortage of fishing options. The attraction of the place is obvious. Even a few moose made themselves available to our cameras.
Mosjoen is a sleepy little fishing town that relies very heavily on salmon fishing. The Vefsna River used to bring in more than 150 million Krona annually to the region. Now that the river has been poisoned, the area is suffering but they are hopeful it will be open to salmon fishing again in 2017 or 2018.
Grayling are plentiful in certain parts of the country. There are some big fish in the Vefsna but they are not as plentiful as a fly fisherman would like in the surrounding areas. Apparently there are a few rivers south of here that hold huge numbers of massive grayling. I saw some under water footage this afternoon taken by a Norwegian competitor that showed a school of around 20 grayling swimming around his feet. He was doing the grayling ‘shuffle’ and these fish were literally swimming into him and eating from the soles of his boots! They appeared to be around 35 – 40cm long. Great stuff!
Sea trout are clearly here in large numbers. The guys caught a few off the local jetty early this morning while fishing for Cod and Pollock. I will go and check it out later tomorrow night when the tide is right.
The cost of living is excessive. While writing this report, I went to a local restaurant and ordered a pizza, which cost me 205 KR. That is around $45 for a pizza! I am not looking forward to my hire car bill tomorrow!!!
The final results of the championships were not what we are hoping for. We had high hopes coming here but as I said earlier, the behavior of the fish coupled with the draw we had, made it more difficult. It was not impossible and I am sure that each and every one of use would do something differently if we had our time over. The team is made up of eight individuals, which include the manager, captain and reserve. The practice sessions are all about pooling information and this is critical to the success of the team. Clear communication is the key to getting information to everyone. Our team did this very well and I think that for the most part, we were using the correct methods to win the competition. Some execution issues along with some pretty poor beats (which magnify any issues an angler might have) cost us. We can not say that we were not prepared.
The Czechs won again! The French and the Italians have also on the podium. This did not happen by chance. As I said yesterday, individuals can get poor beats and good beats within a team but in the end, it generally evens out across the team. The team result was a fair reflection of where the countries sit in the world of fly fishing. We are just inside the top ten and have to improve!
I spoke at length with Martin Droz from the Czech Republic after he caught a fish on what seemed an impossible beat on the Vefsna. Martin is one of the most understated men you could ever meet. He never takes credit for anything, always deflecting his success to the help he receives from the team. I wonder how many of us would do that? He is a genius. He managed to catch a fish in the Vefsna after two hours of repeatedly casting to the same set of rocks using various methods, flies and lines. He eventually went above the rocks and lowered his flies downstream to them and while jigging his rod tip up and down, managed to induce a take from a previously unseen grayling. He fished with a calm and confidence that few (if anyone) posses. He is relaxed and at peace with his decision making and skill level. He knows his game and capabilities well. He knows he will catch a fish if it is there. He just has to go through the processes and it will happen.
Joe and I have both spoken to Martin who is a snow maker in the winter time. We are discussing the possibility of getting him out to Australia to help our anglers. To have this opportunity would truly be a once in a lifetime opportunity. He speaks good English and would relish the chance. I will be in email contact with him shortly and try to work through issues to get him down under. Anyone serious about their competition fishing will not miss this opportunity – much like when Yannick Rivierre is down from France!
A potential barrier against learning from some of the better Europeans is that of language. Major population centers in Australia are a long way from a non English speaking country and therefore the English language dominates much more than in other European countries who are multilingual. I approached Valerio (the Individual gold medalist) as well as Julien (Bronze medalist) and both speak almost no English. It may sound excessive and extreme but we could do with learning French, Italian or something like that in order to open up communication channels with these top anglers.
Next years competition is in the Czech Republic. With all due respect to the rest of the world, there is no way the Czechs will go away with anything but gold. They would be the shortest odds favorites in the history of the sport. The Australian team heading over there has a wonderful opportunity to watch and learn. Unfortunately, I was unable to accept my position in that team due to family commitments and responsibilities that I feel I have. Being away fro home now for six weeks with a one year old daughter who learned to walk while I was away has been a tough time. With the Czech Republic competition in late May, this gives me very little time with my family before heading off again and asking them to once again suffer the financial burden. I hope to qualify for selection in 2015 in Bosnia as well as 2016 in the USA.
This year’s competition was the first to be televised live and have live scores go up on the internet. It either has or will be broadcast on Fox in Australia. We need as much support as we can get. Please be sure to write / email / call the TV channel to thank them for airing the production. By doing this, we can hopefully secure every future competition as a TV option and in doing so, growing competitive fly fishing. This in turn brings in sponsors and makes the whole thing more do able for us, the anglers. Financially, these trips are a killer. This could finally be a way of getting more financial support for the competitors but the opportunity will pass unless we strike while the iron is hot.
The future of Australia in the world championships is bright but it is a long road ahead. I will write a separate report to FFA (Fly Fish Australia) outlining a few things that I believe we need to address in order to be more competitive. An increased number of competitions and workshops in order to improve the general standard along with a better selection process will be part of the agenda. It is not surprising that the best teams are quite stable and it is as hard to get into the team as it is to get kicked out. More competitions alleviate any potential problems associated with getting a bad beat in a “do or die” competition. I digress….
I apologies for the lack of photos I have managed to send you. I do promise you that some will be forthcoming. Writing these reports takes enough time and I felt it better to send these than photos with no explanation.
I do hope that you have enjoyed the reports I have sent. They were somewhat born from frustration during past competitions when I have been sitting at home wondering what has been going on at the world championships and hearing nothing. Now that the shoe was on the other foot, I felt it necessary to make sure you were all kept informed. I am sorry for the lack of specifics in my emails before the comp but the need to keep team ‘secrets’ in house for the duration of the competition is vital and can not be compromised. As I said, if anyone has any questions about anything at all, please feel free to email me with them or give me a call. Don’t bother calling me before next week as I am, planning on some quiet time with my family when I get home late this week. Six weeks has seemed like an eternity and getting home to Tasmania (still the best place in the world) is now in the forefront of my mind. Norway is a long way away.
In September I will be doing a few talks at various fly fishing clubs in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. I will be discussing the trip in depth and will bring the gear and flies that I used. I hope some of you can make it.
All that is left to do is to thank those of you who contributed to making this trip possible for me. From the board of FFA and selectors to those sending letters of support before and during the campaign, I thank you. A huge thank you too to those who helped contribute financially. Without this, fishing in the world championships is an impossibility for me. I will never forget your generosity and hope that if the selectors see fit to put me in a future world team that you are equally as supportive.
I have three more special people or groups to thank.
My great friend, Tim Strong who travelled with me through Europe has helped me above and beyond that of a normal friend. To cap it off, he leant me his computer after mine broke in Europe and that has made these reports possible. Without it, not a one word would have reached you. Thanks mate.
Thank you too to the team. I have said it all already. I would travel away with each and every one of them at any opportunity in future.
Finally, thank you to my beautiful wife who is the most understanding person I have ever met. Not only does she put up with fishing, fishing and more fishing throughout the summer, but now she has had an absent husband through winter. Practice sessions took me away from her in between times and she remained supportive. I have not heard one complaint from her and while some people may start to resent their husband’s fishing, she encourages me to follow my dreams at any opportunity I get. I am a very lucky man!
That is it everyone. I am now going to sleep to the sounds of Vangelis, Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli rather than the dulcet tones of Staggy snoring in the bed next to me. DJ Bassano is at it again!
Take care everyone and I look forward to seeing you all on the water or at my house for a coffee.