Updated: Nov 29, 2019
Hello Everyone, Thanks for joining me as I go through my 4th Session at this year’s World Championships, held in the Comano Terme Region in Northern Italy. With the final day in sight, this is where things get very interesting, especially for those guys in the hunt for a podium position. Spain held first place, followed by the home team Italy. Czech Republic and France continued their usual close rivalry, being separate only on fish points after 3 sessions. England sat in 8th place, having been in a similar place throughout the match.
For the 3rd day in a row the alarm buzzed at 4.30am and I crawled out of bed. I was rooming with Phil who never moved, I put together a couple of sections of spare rod I had next to my bed and started prodding him. I got a response but the words aren’t fit for pre-watershed. It’s the strangest feeling not being able to get out of bed to go fishing. I’m normally up well before my alarm goes off on a normal fishing day but tiredness just rules you at this point. Anyway, a good strong brew ( with PG Tips brought from home ) and the 43rd Ham and Cheese Toasted Croissant of the trip soon had me on the way. We all got our gear in the van and headed over to the main hotel to jump on the coaches. The atmosphere was a lot more tense than it had been that morning, the teams around the medals in particularly doing their best to keep themselves focused.
I was fishing the Pinzolo section of the Sarca in the morning and the Noce in the afternoon so just had my river gear with me. The Pinzolo had proved more difficult than the Tione section but easier than the Arco so far, but as with the Tione section a lot depended on whether or not your peg had sunshine on the water. It was also the closet section to the hotel so we were last away. Usually by now you can gauge what the draw biases are; Are the top pegs in a section better for example. You also have all of the details of which nations have fished the peg before you, so your looking to avoid the teams at the top of the leaderboard. Ideally your looking for what we call a ‘sleeper’ which is a peg fished by the those nations toward the bottom end of the table in the hope that they have caught less fish than an angler from a top team had done. Most teams have very good anglers in their ranks, after all this is the World Champs, so these are few and far between. This year you also had the Sun factor to bear in mind too, a good angler fishing on a morning peg was very regularly catching fewer than an angler from a lesser fancied team in the afternoon.
I drew peg 25 which had produced 8 fish on Session 1 to France, 10 fish to Norway in Session 2 and 1 fish to the Individual angler from Malta in Session 3. These results prove the point of the difference between the morning and afternoon sessions. As good as the Norweigan anglers are, I think they would agree with me that in any other championships they wouldn’t go on to a peg after a French guy has fished in the morning to catch more than them. Peg 25 was quite similar to the peg I had on the Tione section, very straight fast water through the middle with pots on the side. There was a slower section for the last 20 yards which looked real good to be honest, definitely the best place in the peg. Although there wasn’t a cloud in the sky the sun wouldn’t get above the mountain until we were into the last half hour of the session.
My plan was to have a few exploratory casts into the good bit at the bottom to see if anything was up and feeding, after which I would hit the edges on each bank. I knew the fishing would be slower than on Tione so I decided to take more time up each bank, changing flies to run through each pot. Obviously this would be more time consuming but I wanted to leave myself 30 mins at the end to hammer the good bit and the bottom once the sun was on it. From what we had learned, fishing this bit when the sun wasn’t on it was just a waste of time. I gave myself 1hr 15min for each edge, leaving 30 mins for the bottom. I only rigged up 2 rods, both nymphing as there was little point in anything else. Again I opted for the level leader rod, double nymphing on .10mm tippet. Although the water was milky, I had been using 0.10 almost exclusively throughout the trip so I was well tuned in to not striking to hard and new this would give me better presentation anyway. I opted for a squirmy on the point and CDC French Nymph on the dropper as I wanted something black to stand out in the white stained water.
Coming off the back of a blank session on the Lake, I felt the need to get out of the blocks quickly and put something on the card early, hence my decision to take a few shots into the best looking bit first up. I could do this without getting into the water so I was confident that I would spook anything that wasn’t on the feed.
As the controller gave the thumbs up I proceeded to fire a few casts into some great looking pots but nothing responded. The water was deeper than I thought and I remember thinking anything down there would be tucked up under the stones this early on. I started to work the bank, making sure I stood well back as I was casting right into the bank side. Thankfully, within the space of 10 mins I struck into a small trout, about 23cm which was my blank out of the way. It had the squirmy lodged down the back of its throat so it wasn’t going anywhere! This was a welcome boost as in truth I wasn’t expecting much this early in the day, everyone I’d spoke to really struggled on first thing. I persevered up the edge, trying everything that I’d caught on in practice, it felt like I was flying up the edge but by the time I’d got to the top I was half way through the 3 hour session. All I’d had to show for it was a small undersized trout that was well undersized, again with the squirmy doing the damage. I’d re rigged 3 times already as I was changing flies that regularly.
I crossed the river at the top of the beat which was the only bit of the beat I felt I could cross. I probably could of got across at the very bottom but that would of meant walking straight across the best bit of the peg. I ran down the far bank to the top of the slower water and start working my way up. I didn’t go right down to the slow bit, as again I was leaving this for when the sun arrived on the scene. So far, everything I’d hooked had taken the squirmy so I’d left this on the point and had the brown and white nymph on the dropper at that point. I covered about 10 yards before I hit another measurable fish which luckily hit the net just as the nymph came out. I ran back up the back and crossed the river as quickly as I could, it was probably only a 70 yard dash in total but doing it with wading boots on, then crossing a river, carrying a rod and a net gets the heart pumping let me tell you! I got back across and carried on up where I took trout no.2 in the space of 5 mins. The water over here did look better but the bank was heavily tree lined, so presentation was difficult and a lot of casts where only possible by ‘bow and arrow’ casting underneath the branches. Approx 30 yards from the top of the beat, I hit into something with a lot more weight than the first two fish which instantly decided it now liked peg 26 better. It was sat right on the edge of some really fast stuff and as soon as it got itself in the current I had no choice to follow it down. I hit the deck once trying to jump over the stones, and lost the tension in the line twice so god knows how it didn’t come off but luckily the fish stayed on and eventually hit the measure at around 39cm. This was a real boost as it would mean I’d most likely beat another angler who caught the same number of fish as me. I landed the fish about 100 yards downstream of where I hooked it from, so after the run down to net it, I had to do the same run back up, dipping the net in the water all the time to keep the fish wet and across to get it measured. I was knackered!
The remaining 30 yards or so to the top of the beat didn’t yield anything so with about 40 mins to go I headed back down to the bottom of the beat where the sun was now touching the top 20 yards of peg 26 and the last 5 yards of mine. I had been watching the Spanish angler David Arcay on peg 26 where I could and hadn’t seen him go back with a fish to that point but as I was running from the top to the bottom of my peg I’d seen him go to the controller with 2. I got back to bottom of end of my peg marker and made a quick change to a heavier fly on the point, and a small hackle French on the dropper. Whilst I was doing this, David below me who was now working the last 10 yards of his peg had been across with another fish but I think it was too small to count as he didn’t sign the card.
I started working the best looking bits of the water where the sun was now on it. You could see the water was white, apparently this was caused by ice melting from inside of the mountains way way upstream. I don’t know how true that is but dam was it cold! Within the space of 15 mins I’d measured 4 and had a smaller one just fail to reach the 20cm limit. I quickly went from 3 to 7 and with 10 mins to go I felt confident of reaching double figures. Unfortunately as quickly as it started, the fishing stopped as I got to water that had only been in sunlight for a few minutes. I did throw a squirmy around again at the bottom of the peg and hook a trout on the very last cast but again it just fell short of 20cm so I ended with 7.
I was relatively happy with this result considering and 8 and 1 had come off the previous morning sessions but you walk away knowing the place will come alive once the sun gets through the whole beat. One of your aim’s is to come away not leaving an easy ride for the angler following you on to the peg but in situation the river completely changed in the afternoon, much like mine did on day 1 when I had 17, following on from 1. To further prove this, the French angler in my section recorded a blank, and the Czech angler caught 3. In the afternoon the angler from Japan caught 3 from where the French angler fished, and the Australian caught 9 from behind the Czech. To put that in perspective the Japanese team finished 26 out of 28. You can only catch the fish that are there so the saying goes!
I met up with David from Spain who fished below me on the way to the bus who told me he had 7 aswell, and with 30 mins to go he was blanking. I did have that High 30’s kicker on my card so I’d beat him on total length. Looking through the previous scores I expected a mid-table finish so I was pleased enough to come 10th, that bigger fish helping me save a few places. Elsewhere Howard finished mid table on the Tione sector, Phil caught 1 from the lake, which was the biggest ‘1’ and so he came 7th. Simon ended up 11th on the Arco section which was now fishing very tough and Scotty produced a fantastic 3rd from the Noce on a peg that produced next to nothing before him. Those results saw us drop a place to 9th. At the top, it literally couldn’t be any tighter. Spain and Italy were locked on 164 points each, separate by only 300 fish points which is about 15cm in fish length. It was amazing that after 4 sessions, so little could separate the Gold and Silver medal positions. France, having recorded 2 blanks dropped down the field and the Czech Republic had moved into 3rd.
We had a few hours to recover before the final session and I met up with Scotty who had just taken the Noce apart on the squirmy. The Noce was a good hour away from where we met for lunch in some factory car park that was about 40 degrees! Luckily it was long before we headed off however, the thought process of everyone on the coach was the same, SLEEP!