Updated: Nov 29, 2019
With the opening Ceremony and draw on the afternoon of Monday 18th, only Si and Scotty decided to have a few hours on the river in front of the hotel that morning whilst none of us fished on the 19th, choosing to rest, relax and make sure all of the gear was ready for the off in the morning.
I drew the Arco section of the Sarca River first, which was the hardest section of the 3 that were on the Sarca. We also had a section on the River Noce as well as a back lake session on Lake Cornisello, some 7000ft above sea level.
Like all of the sectors, we'd had a look at the Arco section the week before, the beats we looked at were wide, slow and shallow and the only fish we saw were Barbel. The sector had been stocked on the 1st September however this did give enough time for the locals to put a dent in the population before the event. Up at 4.45am to have breakfast and get down to the coaches at the official hotel for 6am, the team split up and found there coach. The Arco as about 45 mins drive away so I tried to switch off but at this point your far to excited and pumped with adrenaline to do so. Usually all of the anglers get in one large coach however the Italian organisers split us up into 3 smaller coaches as it was much easier for those to get around the mountain roads.
I drew Peg 2 which Roberto had said previously was a half decent peg. Peg 1 looked gorgeous, starting with a weir with deep pockets below dropping into a fast shallow run at the top of peg 2 which dropped into a small 20 yard run in the middle which was half bed rock, half gravel. This was skirted by a small amount of shallow pocket water which ran into a nice pool at the end of the beat. The whole beat was just shy of 200m long.
I got to the beat with 45 mins to go before the start of the session and started to form my plan of attack. It was very easy to access ( probably not the best thing with the local's freezers in mind ) so viewing the peg wasn't a problem. I decided to rig up 4 rods, 2 Nymphing Rods, both 11’ #3, a Dry and Streamer Rod. The Dry was purely to be used in the case of seeing a rising fish which had been almost non-existent when practicing on the Sarca. I tied on a small black taddy on a Di-3 to the streamer rod whilst both nymphing rods were rigged for the double nymph. With the promise of a few stock fish around, I started off with an Orange Tag on the dropper and a Brown & White Nymph we had been doing really well one in practice on the point.
Like most of the sessions, I planned to start off at the bottom of the beat with the intention of covering the whole 200m with the Nymphing Rod which I budgeted 1hr 15mins for. I then planned to spend 15-30 mins with the streamer rod in the deep slower run at the bottom before running through the best looking bits with the Double nymph again for the last hour or so. The wading looked easy through-out so I wasn’t going to waste much time with that.
I set off at the bottom limit of my peg, just as the water started to shallow and speed up before spilling over to the next run downstream. From the bank, I could see half way across the river it was nice gravel, however it was only a few inches deep here. When I got in I saw that the gravel got more sporadic as the water got deeper and turned into a sand bottom which from experience during practice was never a great fish holding area. Taking this into account, I went through the bottom 30 yards fairly quickly without touching a fish. By now I had switched the Orange Tag to a Quill Nymph and changed the Brown & White for a smaller version and targeted my inside bank where a small run was coming over the gravel in about a foot of water. It looked good for a least 1 fish, however I went through the whole 15 yards run without a take. I moved back down to where this run meet up with the main flow coming down the far bank and struck into my first fish instantly on the Quill. It was a good fish to, in the high 20’s however wasn’t a stockie, or at least one that had been stocked in the last 3-4 months which was a worrying sign. Roberto had said previously this part of the river is almost devoid of wild fish so almost everything we’d catch would be stockies. Anyways, it always nice to get the first fish on the card to settle down the nerves.
I made my back to the same spot and hammered a 2 yard area for 15 minutes with a few different patterns but didn’t connect with anything else. I’d now got to the head of the bottom run which was split up by 2 big boulders. I’d slowed down my approach by this point as this area looked the best bet for a fish in the whole run however it wasn’t until I got right to the far side that I made contact with a small brown which was just under 19cm, just under the 20cm limit. I waded straight back out and took another small brown the very next cast but again it was just too small around the 19cm mark when measured. All the fish had taken the Hackled Quill on the dropper so I changed the point fly to a small hackled ‘French Nymph’ which we’d caught really well on I practice too.
I moved up to the small 20 yard run in the middle of the beat which was half bed rock on the right hand side, half gravel on the left which was my bank. Approaching the run on my knees to keep my presence to a minimum, I slowly made my way up the gravel bar, covering the water infront of me with casts every foot across the run. Covering the water in this grid style formation is super effective and ensures that you cover every fish infront of you. About half way up I struck into a decent fish just on the edge of the gravel / bed rock divide on the Quill again. Luckily the fish swan straight back at me the jump clear of the water, straight into the net! It was a good sized wild fish around the same size as the first. I snuck back into place and continued going up the run with the grid format but never contacted anything else.
Considering I hadn’t touched a freshly stocked fish yet I felt happy enough with 2 and half the beat to fish. I knew the guy above me had a decent peg but from what we had seen in practice I knew the next few pegs downstream of me were complete blank avoidance. Above me I had the shallow pocket water then the really fast shallow run. I went through the pocket water systematically, changing size and weights of flies for each pocket as I had done in practice but failed to make any contact with anything that would measure.
As I approached the fast run I had just over an hour left in the session, the run wasn’t long so I thought I could make 2 passes through it before heading back down to target the area where I had my first fish as that was the most obvious fish holding place that I hadn’t completely pounded. I made the first pass through the run with lighter small flies, double nymphing however I could only get decent presentation right on the side of the run due to the speed of the flow. I doubled back around, changed to a 3.8mm jig with lead on the point which instantly felt better. Half way up, I struck into something big and heavy. I saw a golden flash as it turned in the water before heading upstream, jumping clear of the water twice, it was a barbell about 55-60cm! I was fishing with 0.10mm so I quickly decided to either snap off playing the fish hard to the net however luckily the fish came straight back towards me and I netted it mid water.
I thought the commotion would have spooked anything else in the run but covered the rest to no avail.
With 20 mins to go I headed back down to the first run but again never touched anything. I came off the peg very disappointed with 2 fish but I knew that if there were more fish to be caught then I would have had them. Both the fish I caught were wildies, or at least been stocked a long time ago so I came away thinking I hadn’t missed many. I met up with the Anglers from pegs 1, 3 & 4 and 2 was the top score. Devin from USA had peg 3 below me and also caught 2 but his where a bigger total size, interestingly peg 1 had produced a blank which just proved that there was a very low fish count in this area of river when you consider how good the peg looked.
The decent numbers came from the middle to low 20’s pegs but it was consistent, one peg would produce a good score of mid-teens whilst the very next peg would only produce 3 or 4.
I expected to be mid 20’s in my group as I only heard of a few numbers less than me so I was very surprised to scrape up to 19th in my session. Scotty and Phil had good results finishing 6th & 7th respectively in their groups and we were sitting 9th overall.
Next up for me was the Tione sector of the Sarca, a more rocky section of the river with a higher concentration of wild and stock fish. I was looking forward to fishing the TIone and Pinzolo sections more than any other sector so I had high hopes of a decent score.