The International Fly-Fishing Federation FIPS-MOUCHE authorized Slovenia to organize the European Championship this year. Because of specific managed rivers in Slovenia fishing clubs Bohinj (top organizer), Bled, Jesenice and Radovljica were organizing the Championship. Individual competition sectors were marked out on Sava-Bohinjka river (sectors I-III), Sava-Dolinjka river (sector IV) and Sava river (sector V) – below the confluence of the above mentioned rivers.
Czech team competitors were: Lukas Pazdernik, Daniel Svrcek, David Seba, Vladimir Sedivy a Jaromir Sram, captain Jiri Klima, manager Martin Musil. Beautiful Slovene rivers were totally unknown for the Czech team. Just Lukas Pazdernik has been fishing on Sava-Bohijnce river a couple of years ago.
To get familiar with the rivers we went at the end of May to practice for three days. We choose 6 km long section of Sava-Bohinjka river above Sector I and also section between sectors I and II, about 5 km long. Water was very clear but after two days of permanent rain about 50 – 70 cm higher than usually. The Streamer, particularly zonker in black shadows, but also natural brown colour (muskrat) and surprisingly also dark olive green marabou streamer looked like the best method of fishing. Rainbows took them very trustfully and emphatically. It was not a problem to catch more than 20 fish in one pool.
The Rules on Slovene rivers allow you to fish with one fly only. That’s why we were forced to use as heavy as possible nymphs with tungsten beads 4 mm in diameter. We used various models of Pheasant Tail and a very good nymph was the PTN with the collar of peacock flashbrite. With this fly some very nice graylings over 40 cm were caught. Further important nymphs were: tungsten-goldhead with body of peacock flashbrite, pink or violet tip and body of the palmer of dark ginger (red) hen, tungsten-goldhead with body of peacock flashbrite and collar of pink or violet flashbrite.
Dry fly was not useful those days at all. It was probably because of higher water level. The only exception was the second day of practice where a massive hatch of olives, size 12-14 happened. In that time it was possible to catch a large amount of fish on the upwings close to the riverbank. After three days of practice this was our experience and knowledge very good.
Our next arrival in Slovenia was on Tuesday, 30 May 2006, late afternoon. We scheduled practice on Sava river in Trzic region for Wednesday and we had enough time left to go to look at about 35 km far Sava-Dolinjka river above the dam in Jesenice and Hrusice region.
We were very surprised because the colour was reminding more fat milk than the crystal clear mountain river. As there was a lot of snow still in the mountains, typical water with snow was flowing. The river there had a strong flow and we could not see any fish. We recognized that this venue would be the most difficult one for us.
Returning around Sava-Bohinjka river we saw a couple more teams practicing there and we were very surprised. French, Italian and other teams did not respect the restriction of the organizers at all. English team, e.g., did respect the fact that practicing was prohibited on competition sectors and went to practice to Soca – about 100 km far away. Not earlier than on Thursday 1st June 2006 morning it was decided that on rivers where competition would be held it was allowed to practice legally, with exception of competition sectors.
We concentrated now on the Sava river below the Radovljica village and Dolinjka river in Jesenice region. One very nice and very rich fishing practicing day we spent on the sector C&R on big Sava river below the confluence. Most of us caught beautiful big fish, we can mention graylings over 45 cm. Some of them were caught on dry fly (olives of size 12-14). On Dolinjka river we found, on the contrary that it is a huge difference between sectors above and below the little dam.
It was difficult to understand why organizers divided sector IV into two completely different sections. Numbers 1-10 were marked below this little dam where there was a strong population of browns 25 – cm long but also where fish over 40 cm could be caught. On the contrary, beats 11-19 were marked high above the dam and there were many rainbows there.
Looking at this sector we found out another unbelievable fact. Beat # 19 was marked above the tributary of the strong and clear Bystrice river. From this confluence down was Dolinjka river almost the same up to the dam. Number 19 was in a wide riverbed practically without water.. And without any stones and hides, water was 20 cm deep in average. There was one little weir there and at least under this weir some fish could be expected.
All the preparation before the Championship was evaluated by all Czech team members and found considered as successful. The tactic was clear: in first period to try to catch fast active and not hurt fish on streamers, then try to fish graylings and trouts on nymphs because they would not react on streamers any more. In further rounds to use smaller and smaller flies with gentle way of fishing, or even use the dry flies.
Monday, 5th June was moving, registration of all teams and opening ceremony. First meeting of captains was held before the opening and the participation was 19 teams from 17 countries. Next two days official practice was held and this time only on the stated practice sectors – Radovna river, big Sava at Kranj city and on Bohinjka river below the Bohinj lake. Czech team took a chance to practice on the big Sava river only. Competitors had time to regenerate the energy and tie all flies as necessary.
Thursday, 8th June arrived and this is the first day of competition. Wake up at 05:45, prepare all things necessary for competition, breakfast and the first group goes to wait for buses going to far sectors IV and V. Buses should be ready a 07:00 but the first one showed up at 07:35. This time other buses going to sectors I – II were supposed to be there. Competitors and guides were getting really nervous and the atmosphere did not look good at all.
Chaos got even worse when the organizers did not check who entered the bus and left for the competition sectors. Guides did not know to which sector they should navigate the bus. Bus going to sector V (Sava river) found out that there is flowing high water from the power plant and they started to find a solution where to go and what to do. Suddenly the organizers decided to move this first competition to completely different river! And if competitors from France and Italy would not protest, maybe they would do so.
Bus going to sector II arrived to sector III and had to go back because there was a competitor from Croatia on it and this one was a member of another group. Return, changing of people, in one word – chaos as big as could be. Without the resourcefulness of some competitors in all the buses the competition would never have started. As for example – Dan Svrcek, Czech competitor started to navigate the bus to sector IV. Finally all competitors got to their sites at least, though late after the scheduled beginning (9:00).
Globally about the first day: almost all had a wonderful fishing in 1st period. Especially on Bohinjka river sectors where to be at first places needed to catch significantly more than 30 fish. Considering the size of fish, some lost and wadding back and forth to measure the fish – it was definitely an easy walk. Results of 1st round: sector I – winner was Kazimierz Szymala (Poland 1) with 37 fish, second one was the Czech competitor Jaja Sram with 33 fish and third one Janus Edvard (Slovenia) with 25 fish. Winner of Sector II was Dusan Zuntar (Slovenia 1 with 27 fish).
Sergio Silva (Portugal) was a winner of the best fishing sector III on Bohinjka river and he had 41 fish. Second one there was Tony Curtis (England) with 38 fish. Third one was Daguillanes (France) with 36 fish. The Czech competitor Vladimir Sedivy caught 30 fish there and he was surprised he was the fourth one because he did not have any time delay there. Slovene competitor Kons was a winner of the Sector IV with 26 fish and first five competitors had over 20 eligible fish.
The dumb spot on 19 in Sector IV draw Czech competitor Dan Svrcek. With extremely excellent output he caught 7 rainbows there. Luckily he did not lost any fish and he finished after the first competition on the 12th place and this was really maximum result. Experienced Polish representative Lach went to this spot after him and he got only 1 fish there and he was with this fish as far as sector 18. In the third competition was at this bad spot a real good Italian Edguardo Dona on the 15th place with 2 fish and other 2 competitors could take just the hopeless 19th place.
Sector V – Sava river was also a big lottery during drawing spots. David Seba (Czech) entered the pit where wadding was not possible and where couple big fish occurred but he was not able to get any of them, unfortunately. He had a giant rainbow over 80 cm on his rod and he was playing him for about 5 minutes. When this Mobidik decided to skip away with the stream, he did not give any chance to the competitor. Those who had good luck in drawing were walydding comfortable all over their sector and caught more than 10 fish without problems. David finally ended up at 13th place with 4 trouts. Winner of Sector V was Ville-Antti Jaakkola (Finland, 19 fish), second one Dave Parker (England, 17 fish), third one Massimo Valsesia (Italy, 14 fish).
Total results of 1st period showed giant differences – not between competitors but between individual spots. After first round was Slovene Team 1 on the first place (total placing 23), second one England (28), third one Slovenia 2 (30), then Italy, Poland 2 and Czech Republic was on the 6th place with placing 38. Surprisingly, French team had no success in the first round and ended up behind us with placing 40.
The second period in the afternoon was also affected by time pressure caused by morning delay and chaos and so that no big difference between morning round was obvious. Competitors with luck in drawing got to the “hot spots” and confirmed that to catch fish there during first couple round would not be a problem. Czech team was on average or even worse in the second round and we were very disappointed when the first day was over.
We have to note that David Seba and Dan Svrcek were fishing after the French in the afternoon and the French did hurt fish a lot. After 2 rounds Slovene teams were on first two places (Slovenia 2 – placing 43 and 1 (placing 46), on the third place got France (56) with excellent afternoon results, fourth was Italy (60), followed by England (68) and Polish and Czechs (77) were sharing 6th and 7th place. Belgian team was not successful and they were behind us (89).
On the morning competition of the 3rd round, I watched Slovene competitor Edvard Janus on the spot 1 (Venue IV). For the whole competition he was fishing on very heavy nymphs. As I had a very good field-glass (binocular) with me, I succeed in seeing also the types of his flies. He had only goldheads (tungsten) in dark or even black colours. He had just a very short leader with one fly (80 cm - 100 cm).
Competition started exactly at 09:00 and Edvard was not significantly successful. In one hour he got just 1 fish. Around 10:00 a.m. the water level got higher (in 10 – 15 cm) and got more white. They had some failure on the dam and they had to increase the flow for 30 minutes.
When the Slovene competitor got to the end of his beat to number 1 (all sectors were numbered contrary to the water stream), he had 2 trout. He got exactly to the border of his number and he started to fish below him, i.e. outside his beat and sector. When I told the controller that he was out of his sector, he answered (unbelievably) that this is decision of the sector judge.
Their explanation was that his sector is 30 m shorter because there were bushes on the river bank and gentlemen marking the sectors had just tennis shoes on and that’s why they were not able to move the number. The same bushes were practically along the whole spot 1 but here it was a problem. The competitor was not allowed to cross the border of his sector with his body but he was allowed to fish below him as far as he could. Edvard caught with nymphs 2 trout during 10 minutes and he even lost one more. During such a top competition to let something like this happen is something really unbelievable. In a couple more minutes though, something even more unbelievable happened.
The competition continued and Edvard had fifteen minutes left until the end. He had 5 fish and he returned to a nice quiet place below a big rock. Fish started to be very active around noon and he caught from this hole another 4 fish during last 15 minutes. One was beautiful brownie about 45 cm. He should finish with 9 fish while 2 of them were caught outside of his beat.
How shocked I was when he continued to fish because the sector judge decided to extend the round by 30 minutes. The reason was that water got high during the competition. But this fact affected just the half of competitors fishing below the dam! I just could not believe my eyes! It was something totally understandable for me! Edvard caught in over time another 2 trouts and ended up on the 6th place with 11 fish. Considering that 2 fish were caught outside the sector and 2 after the time limit, he should end 3 places lower.
Winner of this sector was Kazimierz Szymala (Poland) with 30 brown trouts. Results of the third round did not really change the running placing. In this competition significantly Succeeded Belgians which won (21), second were Italians (27) which were going up slowly followed by Slovenia 1 (also 27). Czech were again on under average 6th place with placing 37. After three round Slovenia 1 (73) was still on the top, Italy second (87) and France third (91). Our team was still on 7th place with total placing 114.
Only the 4th round finally shewed that Czechs still belong to the world fly fishing top teams. Dan Svrcek did win his sector I on Bohinjka with 35 fish. He performed a concert on small goldheads – olives stillborns (14 – 16). Second one was Irish fisherman Drinan and he caught 23 fish. During increasing rounds we got more gentle, both in flies and breaking strains and also drawing spots turned to be better for us.
Similar way made beautiful 4th place in sector II David Seba and Jaromir Sram got wonderful 2nd place in sector II (21 fish). He was beaten only by Belgian Haas (28 fish). Vladimir Sedivy got through the trouble in sector V on big Sava to 7th place with 4 fish. Winner here became Italian Sgrani with 10 fish.
I and captain Jiri Klima waited in Sector IV for Lukas Pazdernik. He went to spot 1 after Slovene Janus. We tried to calm him down with all ways to concentrate to this following competition because he was still very upset about events happening in the morning during his competition. If only he knew that he was the first in the sector! He would start this competition in much better shape.
Lukas started at 4:00 p.m. very nimbly and during first hour he got 5 brown trouts, 2 of them on streamer (Orange Muddler). Good sign was that fish reacted on this streamer also in 4th round to have something on hand if the nymph would stop working. I walked above a couple of spots where our biggest rivals were fishing. On the beat 2 was Belgian competitor Gigot. He was not successful at all during my about half an hour watching. French competitor Briois fishing above him was fishing and doing great and during 20 minutes he got 2 fish.
On beat 4 was Slovene competitor Zuntar again very lucky (!) in drawing because he went to the best spot full of fish where Kazimierz Szymala won with an unbelievable 30 fish in the morning. And I have got an idea for the first time what could be the right reason of this “success”. There could be just my ideas but they were confirmed in last round.
Slovene competitor Zuntar was after first day with total placing 4 on the 3rd place, still playing for medals. So why would not organizers “prepare the beat” for their competitor and help him to keep the hope for best placing in individual’s competition. Finally the home country competitor won with 19 fish, followed by Italian competitor Sgrani and another Slovene competitor Bukovec.
Our competitor got all 12 fish just inside his sector and we did not allow him to go outside, though his controller encouraged him to do so. At the end of the competition Lukas had a problem. Fish did not react even on nymphs and Czech captain ordered him to use streamer again and try to wade the river in the place where Slovene competitor even did not try in the morning.
As Lukas is a tall guy, he succeeded. He pushed himself to the right river bank into the deep and strong stream. On the third trip a nice big brown trout took it under the branches. After five minutes of a tough fight he succeeded to lead the trout to himself and put him in landing net. Controllers measured him and he had 45 cm. Lukas ended up there on nice 6th place and he had one more fish than local competitor Janus.
Results of the 4th round finally dramatized the Championship. Italian team proved that they had top competitors and even with great knowledge of local conditions. No wonder because it is very advantageous and easy to get into this Slovene region. They did win with total placing 15. Excellent result were finally achieved by the Czechs, they took the 2nd place (20), third was France (30), Slovenia 1 was not better than 5th (37) and Slovenia 2 at the eights place (47).
Big change in total results caused results of the 4th round. Italy got to the first place with total placing 102, second was team Slovenia 1 (110), third place kept French team (122) and Czech team (134) jumped on to the fourth position. Loss 12 placings on the bronze medal was still not hopeless but to get it we would have to fish without failures and French would have to have some “blanks”.
I do not want to say we did not hope at all but we stood down on earth. We concentrated more to keep the 4th place. There was a question why suddenly both Slovene teams fall down in their results? Was it because Czechs, French, Italian and Polish teams put their people to individual Slovene competitors? Or just because they had just first day so excellent and not so good second one?
To get the gold medal in team competition should fight Italian team and Slovenia 1 during the closing fifth round. We believed that Italian will keep their first position but again it was clear that with 5 competitors and big participation of teams in the competition anything can happen and no loss is too big.
Saturday, 10th June all buses left without any major problem and we could see that organizers get more and more experienced. Quick agreement between captains and managers of Poland, France, Italy and Czech Republic stated who would go to individual sectors to watch local competitors.
I asked for the possibility to watch the local favorite Dusan Zuntar. He went to Sector III, spot 1. And I did very good because what I saw on my own eyes, I would not believe even in my bad dreams. Dusan had very nice section above on bridge in Bohinjka river. A couple of spectators already occupied the bridge, captain of the Slovenia team being one.
I took the binocular, pencil and piece of paper to show that somebody from the other teams is watching and I stood on the bridge with other spectators. I saw a couple of rainbows and also some graylings in the river. Fish were really many and in crystal clear water were very visible. Though, it was the last round and fish had to be hurt already a lot. I was really curious how Dusan will deal with this.
Five minutes left to the start of the competition and suddenly my eyes stopped at 10 m long and 3 m wide quiet place at the left riverbank, under branches of trees. Just about 25m above the bridge. I became little bit familiar with this river already and I knew that 2-3 m deep holes were there with many experienced fish all kind of sizes. Usually fish prefer darker bottom and deep water with stones or pebbles.
This hole though had a very pale sand on the bottom and water was just to the waist. But in it were about 50 – 60 trout crowded in lines and all had about 35 cm. “That’s impossible” I told to myself but the competition started. Slovene competitor waded without any thinking right to this hole. On the flowing line he had 1 m long leader and he sent his fly to the beginning of the hole.
It plopped loudly and I saw something bright orange. It was not the signalizer but a fly – imitation of roe. “Fly” was immediately falling down to the bottom. Competitor shook with his rod and lifted it and shook with it. Shoal of trout started to get it like fighting for life and the fastest was immediately hanging on the hook. My forehead got sweaty. Is it possible? In the fifth round on hurt fish when we are going as much gentle as we can?!
This happened fifteen times during the first hour. To throw 1 – 3 times, big catch, fight, putting into the landing net, big applause of spectators, going out, measuring and quickly back to the same spot. Sure that some fish fell down as well. After some time fish stopped to react on the same colour, so he replaced the old fly by a vivid green and yellow, light pink etc.
When it was necessary to give some rest to fish in the hole, he tried to fish right below this hot spot. During 20 minutes fishing outside this hole he did not catch any single fish with his “wonder flies”. When he got close to our bridge I could see that fish are almost escaping from this “fly” and not fighting for it like their more “hungry” brothers and sisters a couple of meters above.
He returned back to the hole and again he got about 10 further fish during one hour. I was also very surprised that most of those fish were not rainbows but so called Italian brown trout which we did not see during last 14 days at all in such a shoal.
To my ironic comments if by chance was it not a little bathtub with an air system there, Slovene captain replied (like he did not get my joke) that this is standard status on this place. For me it was clear enough. Maybe competitors themselves were not so guilty but the organizers wanted to win so much that they made a very bad mark on this Championship.
After the end of this competition Dusan threw his rod far away into the stream and enjoyed real big applause of the spectators, he jumped into the river, made dolphins and boozed by the feeling to get gold medal. Finally he was in this sector at the 2nd place with 29 fish. Polish competitor Artur Trzaskos had 33 fish and became a winner here. Both “jumped” from others in the group with more than double number of fish. Third was Nilsen from Norway with 14 fish.
Very bitter after this experience I went to Bled to Casting center to have lunch. I was waiting impatiently for Lukas Pazdernik coming back from Sector II. When bus arrived and I saw Lukas’ depressed face, I recognized that in this competition Lukas, who was twice European champion, had really bad luck.
His spot number 12 was marked up exactly in the middle of the pass under the road bridge. Lukas was fishing there a couple of years ago visiting Sava-Bohinjka and so that he knew that there were deep and not reachable spots good just to catch a stray big fish. No road is going there and no regular stocking fish is possible there.
Looking into deep dark pools he could not see any single fish with exception of one 85 cm hutchin standing in the quiet place behind big stone. Lukas’s spot was exactly in the territory of this predator and he could do whatever, he did not catch more than two rainbows about 30 cm. And just in the beginning of his spot on the stream coming into the pool. His neighbour, Arto Pikkarainen (Finland) had almost the same spot and he just tried couple times and then he laid down on the river bank and resigned with Zero in this round.
This fact again showed the lack of experience of organizers which marked up the competition sections so badly that in one sector they totally passed some competitors out. Good luck in drawing was affecting the competition more than any other time.With bad feelings I was going back from lunch and was thinking about situation of our team. Will we keep the 4th position or not?
After my arrival to the hotel I saw that guys from Sector I and II were back as well. Happy David Seba smiled and he announced to me that he was definitely the first in Sector I. It helped my spirit little bit but Jaja Sram immediately put me down again with 4 fish from Sector II. He did not know his placing but according other information there were not many fish caught there. Finally we found out that Edvard Janus (Slovenia) with 10 fish was a winner and Jaja was on still good place 7.
Lukas ended up on place 16 in Sector III and this was not good at all. But later we found out that also French got bad results and most of them. We were waiting all excited for competitors from both far away sectors. After their arrival we learned that guys were fishing very good there and it looked very optimistic for us to keep the 4th place.
Vladimir was under supervision of Jiri Klima and he finished the competition with excellent 4th place with 11 fish in Sector IV. French competition Daguillanes was first there with unbelievable 41 fish, second was Slovene competitor Cebul (20) and third the Italian competito Alessandro Sgrani (12). Dan Svrcek was the first one in Sector V, on big Sava with 13 fish, followed by second one – Slovene competitor Konc (12).
We stopped to be nervous and we were sitting together on the terrace of our room. We had a couple of drinks and I was telling guys story from today about watching the Slovene competitor Zuntar. Suddenly the phone was ringing. I picked it up and the owner told me that organizers are asking me to bring Czech flag and anthem for the closing ceremony.
Would it be possible that finally we would obtain a medal? I could not believe it and so Jiri and I quickly jumped into our car and drove to Jezero Hotel where total results were prepared at the reception desk. Carefully but in a hurry we looked onto last pages for the results. Total results in team competition were as the very last page. Immediately it hit my eyes: 3rd place – Czech Republic!
I do not want to look very sentimental but to express the feeling and happiness is very difficult. All our boys were waiting for us and results and they were all excited. Happiness was so big and everybody had probably similar feelings like me a couple of minutes ago. The best and most emotional moment never can last long but I would wish to everybody to experience it. Everybody who ever competed in any discipline and who compared knowledge and ability with strong rivals.
And now back to total results:
1st place – Slovenia 1 – total placing 129 (Konc, Bizal, Pivk, Janus, Zuntar)
2nd place – Italy – total placing 131 (Cotugno, Adreveno, Sgrani, Dona, Valsesia) – very good performance
3rd place – Czech Republic – total placing 164 – after very difficult start and tough finish in last 2 periods
4th place – France – total placing 173 (Riviere, Desplain, Briosis, Daguillanes, Idre) – fishing very good like usual, keeping high standard, they paid back for “blackout” in last round and according to my opinion also for very high number of stocked fish – this is never good for them and their way of fishing.
Other results: 5th – Belgium, 6th Slovenia 2, 7th Poland 2, 8th England, 9th Poland 1 and first half closed Finland with 10th place.
1st place – Dusan Zuntar (Slovenia 1, placing 10, 90 680 points)
2nd place – Massimo Valsesia (Italy, placing 10, 70 080 points)
3rd place – Branko Konc (Slovenia 1, placing 13, 85 200 points)
Best of the Czech team was Jaja Sram on the 8th place, with total placing 26. He was fishing during all the competition on very high level, he did not hat any “blackout” and also no very bad spot. Dan Svrcek (15th , placing 29) had really bad luck and loss in points from the terrible beat #19 in Sector IV where he lost his hope to get the best position. David Seba (20th, placing 33), Vladimir Sedivy (22nd, placing 35) and Lukas Pazdernik (38th, placing 41) – I think he will try to forget this Championship as soon as possible.
To summarize the Championship, I would tell: XII European Championship 2006 in Slovenia was definitely not without significant failures and unpleasant situations caused by organizers and controllers, probably because of lack of experience to organize such a big fishing event. Competition itself was very dramatic and location was in beautiful nature of the region below Julskian Alps, on wonderful Slovene rivers, full of fish, event giant fish. Final success of our team helped to forget about our bad feelings from the competition.
I think that all reasonable representatives who can affect the International rules of FIPS-MOUCHE should try hard to include couple elementary changes in rules of competitions.
I mean some basic things, which can prevent any roumers about local competitors. Mainly it is the duty to assure presence of international controllers at local competitors.