Martin Musil Jr.
If somebody had told me before this year´s championship that we would win both in teams and individuals, I would only smile. I had a feeling that any kind of medal would be a great success. Before the start of the competition I set my goal to fight until its very end and enjoy the atmosphere of individual competitions as well as the entire championship as much as possible, because this time it was my last chance to represent the Czech Republic in youth competition. I must confess that despite the fact I took this event very seriously, my preparations for it were not too intensive. Permanent persuasion of myself to tie a fly, I gave up after some time.
Our departure was planned on the day of the end of the school year. The school report finished well, and therefore I decided to celebrate this success properly. After my arrival home I started to pack my bags, unfortunately, the expected result did not appear. A small discussion with my daddy followed and he finished it with words: “You won´t be the champion in this way!” Well, I packed my bags the second day in the morning. With full of remorse and with permanently repeating this sentence I set out on the way to France. The Championship should have taken place in the area of Lozere and the centre of this event was a small town of Mende. The team manager was Jiří Pejchar, a new captain was Martin Grün and competitors were Lukáš Starýchfojtů, Martin Musil, Tereza Rutová, David Suchánek, Míla Trousil and a reserve was Dominik Švub.
We arrived in France on Sunday, July 1 early morning and our one week long practice camp was built near the village called Les Giraldes. We all were very sleepy, when after a quick accommodation and breakfast the captain ordered to prepare tackle for the river. With a bit of reluctance we set out for the first training to the Lot River, where we caught some small fish. In the evening we were tying pike streamers for the following day and after this activity the desired sleep followed. The practice on the lake Lac Charpal was definitely the best of all and most of us caught also some little pikes. Míla caught a pike that was missing less than a centimetre to be one meter long. After the training, we knew that fishing of perch and roach will be definitely faster and more efficient than pike fishing.
On the way to individual trainings we were stopping at competition venues, walked along and carefully watched them. The training on the Allier River was very similar like in other rivers. Search for individual fish in the most beautiful or on the contrary the least striking places. We had information that also salmon can be found in this river, because salmon regularly spawns there. All of us wished to catch one, even if in the competition salmon and their smolt were not scored for reason of their protection. After catching my first salmon in my life, meaning a little smolt, I did not expect that another surprise would happen to me. This practice was getting to its end and we all started gathering in one interesting stream which was disappearing in the darkness of some deep bush. We were waiting only for the captain who was trying to find something and thus we all were patiently waiting for him for some time.
We were trying to kill these waiting times in various ways. This time we were permanently fishing in this interesting stream. Jirka Pejchar was killing his time with catching minnows into the net and suddenly I got an idea! I wanted to bring a bit better mood into the team and make all laugh, thus I asked Jirka to bring me a few minnows. I hooked a bigger one on the lower fly´s hook and one smaller up as this all has to be well balanced. I waded into this stream and casted both fish on the leader under the bush. All guys were laughing and did not believe that I would be able to catch something. Of course, there were discussions with others in the spirit: “You will be starring when I get a salmon!” After about a minute of talks and jeers I felt a take. I was waiting and … then I strongly stroke and started to demonstrate the play with a fish. They still did not believe me that something is there. However, when the fish swam from under the bush and the moving leader with an indicator was spotted in free water everybody´s smile froze. I really thought that this is a hooked salmon or at least a huge brown trout. Finally, it was a huge chub - definitely over 60 cm. A bit of play and then my hook broke, but even despite it, this was a great entertainment.
After the preparatory week and intensive trainings, we moved to the official hotel. A bit of fly tying, and then the ceremony followed. Another day of official trainings – me, Lukáš and David should have gone to the upper Lot river to try the dry fly. David lost two fish and caught one. Lukáš and I did not have a single take. Well, I have to admit that “zero” in the official training does not add much confidence.
In the afternoon we were tying flies again. The second day, I set out for the afternoon´s training to the lake Charpal, where we observed the entire venue with our coach and Lukáš and set the strategy. Finally, we had to train a bit of physical condition, when our battery on the boat went flat. In the evening we were only endlessly waiting for the end of the Captain´s meeting and subsequent team meeting. Then I went to prepare things for the first competition day and finally we could go to sleep.
My draw finished relatively well, because for the first session I went to the lake Charpal as I secretly wished. I was looking forward to it, because I caught there the most fish with Lukas at the training. I was very nervous, because I did not know who would be on the boat with me. Finally, a Spanish guy who I knew from the Championship in the Czech Republic was there with me. He let me lead the boat as a captain as the first, and thus I wanted to use my knowledge from the training and went directly to the place, where we expected some perch. I took Airflo sinking line #5, so-called sweep. A while after the start of the competition I had the first perch. Unfortunately, it was undersized. The next seven perches from 16 to 17.5 cm followed (minimum length of scored fish in all sectors was 18cm). After about 40 minutes of the competition I had about eight eligible perch. I did not see other boats and thus I did not know what my chances look like. My colleague in the boat had only 2 perch and I thought it couldn´t be so bad.
But then during the drift near the bank I noticed that Jirka Pejchar had been showing me that I had not many and had to speed up with fish. I got a bit nervous and uncertain. I changed flies from perch to test small rudd lures and ordered to sail to the bank to grass fields. The Spanish guy was supposed to take over the control, but because he saw that we had been fishing well, he had let me lead the boat. I finished with 22 fish and the Spanish guy had 10 fish. We arrived at the port as the last ones. I was worried that the number which I caught would not be enough. However, when I heard numbers like 8, 10 and the most 15 and the stone fell off my heart. Finally, I was beaten only by one Polish competitor who had 21 fish, but he had there one pike of about 55cm and this was enough for winning the sector for him. I was quite satisfied with my performance and I lost the victory in the sector because of a pike of about 80 cm which finally broke my leader, when I was playing with a rudd, which would be definitely enough for me to win.
In the second period I was fishing in the Colagne River. After finding that Míla won the sector with only two fish, my smile started to freeze on my lips a bit… I came to the place which we walked along during the practice and I also wished to get this beat as well. There was a small bridge and in the training we saw there about 20 fish. As we later found they were trout from the only one stocking into this sector. However, when I looked there from the bridge, there was not a single fish! This was caused by changes in varying flow from the upstream located reservoir and overnight most of the fish finished downstream of the venue, where they were moved. The lower drawn number was, the better result could be expected. I had number 3. Before me in the morning, there was not a fish caught. However, I was self-confident and I did not believe that in such a beautiful place, fish cannot be caught. Nevertheless, after 2 hours of fishing and testing of almost all I found this would not be so easy. Three times I walked along my beat and without any contact or frightening of a fish.
There was nothing else left than try it for the last chance. At the beginning of the beat I chose the most beautiful hole along such a little wall. Simply said, such a classic place for a brownie. I knelt and took a biscuit and I was waiting for about 10 minutes until water calmed down and with a line of diameter 0.08mm I tried to nymph it again. After about 15 casts and lifting nymphs at the end of the hole, I suddenly had a trout. With such a thin line I did not want to risk anything and immediately led it to the landing net. However, the trout was bigger than I thought in the middle of the flight the fish fell off the hook. All happened in a fraction of a second. I had my landing net ready in the hand and how the trout fell into water about a meter from me and I jumped instinctively behind the fish and grabbed with the net into water in the place where it fell off. Water was incredibly cold and I was all black and blue from stones. When I lifted the net, it was there! I was full of incredible euphoria and I knew that this fish will be very important! I finished as the fourth in the sector, but I had a fish and this was great. In the evening I went to make sure what our position in teams is, and I can tell you that it was a pleasant look. We were the first and several of us were very high with a chance for individual success. However, there was still a long time till the end of competition…
The second day we had only the morning competition, because we had the afternoon off. And I went to the lower section of the Lot River. The place was not bad, but there were no fish. In the first session only one fish and in the second session the home competitor caught only three fish there. I knew that for a good place in this sector at least 5 fish would be needed to be caught and this was my goal. I caught about 12 ineligible fish and 4 scored. I also had a trout whose size was 17.9cm. The judge was permanently measuring the distance between flies and he absurdly measured the tungsten beads diameter on my flies. He was measuring my 2.5mm tungsten beads if they are not bigger than allowed 4mm. Finally, in this difficult place I finished on the third place. In teams we were neck to neck with the guys from the USA. I knew that they could not always get only good places. Sometimes they also have to come to worse places. In individuals I was continuously on the third place and thus I started thinking about the individual success, but I was trying not to think much about it. I preferred the team success and you have to work permanently at really full power.
The last day was there. In the evening before we were really psyched up as much as possible. We couldn´t have been beaten by some “steelhead fishermen”! I have never experienced such a team spirit. Only my nervousness was a bit spoiling this situation. I have to admit that this time I was really nervous and this does not happen to me often. Then I went to the dry fly period and I did not have a good experience with it from the last year´s World Championship in Italy. Fortunately, the substitute, Dominik, and the team captain went with me and a bit of their faster music helped me as well. The tactics was clear. Spend as much time as possible in the lower part of the beat which was really beautiful and furthermore, we saw some fish there. After proper preparation the competition started. I carefully walked on huge boulders into water and hid behind one of them. For a few minutes I was waiting until water calmed down. I can tell you that this is really demanding for psychology to sit on water during the competition and do nothing and wait when fish which might be there calms down. I casted couple of times and waited again. One eye I liked very much and I changed it for natural CDC sedge for other sedge with an orange tip on the hook No. 14 (H-130 Hanak Competition).
The first cast into this eye and suddenly I saw a trout, like a nice “dolphin” jumped after my fly. Careful strike, fast play and it was in the net. Incredible scream after about 10 minutes of fishing or not fishing rolled out along the valley. Measuring, slapping with hands with the captain and hurry up for another one. I set down into the same place and was waiting again. Immediately during another cast and taking sedge out of water from the edge of the stream seemed to me as if there was a small wave. I thought I had really gone mad of it. Another cast and the same scenario. With a third cast I was holding the sedge just under the surface and the second brownie was there. However, this was not so easy to get, because it got stuck in stones and started hanging there...
I was already okay with losing the fish, but despite this I made two quick jumps to the place, where the line was stuck. At that moment my brownie jumped from under the stone and directly into my landing net. Second fish! Our captain was not recovered from the first catch yet and I had the second fish. Then he departed with words: “You don´t need me there any longer. “ After 20 minutes I added one more eligible trout and then I did not meet a fish. When I was getting on the bus, I found that only the American has more fish than me. I was very nervous of it, because I had completely no news about the rest of the team.
After the lunch we set out for the last period to the Allier River. I was speaking to the captain who explained me that earlier than after the half of the session he would not be there. There was some chaos on the lake, where guys did not pass on things to each other as they were supposed to. I came to the beat which we also observed during training and I wished this place. I must say that I was really lucky, but it is necessary to have a piece of luck in such a competition. I skipped a very bad place just above my beat. When I found that there is an American I rejoiced and calmed down.
I started with a nymph, because this stream was created for standard nymphing. After about 25 minutes, I had again no eligible 6 pieces of trout. I was not nervous of this, because I knew that there are fish and they like my flies. After 40 minutes, the captain appeared on the bank with Jiri. Maybe, they brought a bit of luck for me, because I have just stricken quite a nice grayling and without bigger problems I got it into the landing net. And another huge scream again. I knew that for a good place 3 nice fish should have been enough. After a while I had a nice grayling and this calmed me down. At this moment the captain said again that I did not need him and went away.
Only Jiri remained there by the very end and he was incredibly supportive to me and I thank him for his support really very much. At the parking place, not far from me, there were 20 other people standing. Already from the 3rd period I had fans with binoculars, video cameras and cameras behind my back. I added another smaller grayling and a brownie and one really big trout about 40cm fell off the hook. At this moment came to my mind that this is a fish which might decide all. Fortunately, it wasn´t so…
Four fish in the last session meant that the result would not have to be so bad. On the bus there were completely all and one Polish competitor had also 4 fish, but they were smaller than mine. Although the American was just one beat upstream from me, he was getting on the bus as one of the last. When he got on and showed “ZERO” to all, Jiri and me jumped out how mad. In the last session I was first and my fellow American had zero, meaning 11 penalty points extra.
Now, I was incredibly nervous how the others finished. We arrived near the hotel and when I was getting off the bus, guys were already waiting for me on the balcony of the second floor of the hotel and victoriously were shouting. I ask them: “Have we won?” And they replied: “Yeah, for about 98% and Máca, you are the winner and Lukáš will be probably second or third.” I did not understand how this is possible, when on the lake, where most of fish were caught, there was an American who was the first until now and it was sufficient for him to finish until the fifth place … I learned in the room that my biggest rival totally had failed on the lake and had finished as the last with only 2 fish and his total score suffered with unpleasant 11 points.
No matter how we calculate, we think we should win, but we are not sure, because Tereza and David were also blank in their sectors. We were counting and counting, but we were getting lost in our numbers. Suddenly, laughing David entered the room. I was looking at him for a while and asked him: “Did the American catch a fish in your sector?” And he replied that none. This meant that this had been voided, because I knew that in my sector the American had nothing as well. However, David with a stone face says: “But I have got one! I wanted to tease them a bit so that they could think that they have a little chance. Thus on the bus I told them that I had no fish as well.” At this moment we started an incredible celebration, but it was clear above all! And one more happy news at the end, our girl Tereza was the first girl who won a medal in the entire history of FIPS-Mouche...
But how it continued makes no sense to analyse. The final ceremony and party does not deserve to be mentioned, because the organizers did not manage it well at all. We did not get any prize or a plaque, while the youngest participant and many judges received many souvenirs. Nevertheless, I would say that although there were very few fish in rivers, for our team it was a very good championship and despite my nervousness I enjoyed it a lot.