By Martin Musil
The very same team which won the World Champion trophy last year both in teams and individuals (Luboš Roza) was nominated for this year´s senior World Fly Fishing Championship in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The team was very experienced including the young predators - Luboš Roza, Pavel Chyba, David Chlumský, Antonin Pešek and Tomáš Cieslar. The Team Coach was Tomáš Starýchfojtů and I was the Team Manager. With respect to very successful previous years, when the Czech team was dominant at the home World Championship in Frymburk and last year completed the hattrick, therefore also this year´s expectations were high.
Nevertheless, we knew very well that fishing of wild fish in very clean and often also very deep and unwadable rivers with a single fly will be very difficult for us. So clean and similar rivers with its character, we simply do not have at home. Moreover, the limit of fishing with only one fly while using the nymphing techniques definitely does not correspond with our habits and we could hardly show anything better than to do our best. Yes, when the fish is rising, one fly is not a problem. The problem is crystal clear water and the need to fish with the thinnest possible lines (often even 0.08mm) and when there are relatively big and strong fish and you must get them from water… And the same applies also for nymphs. The smallest flies, however, well weighted to get to the bottom even in deep parts, when especially wild graylings were not willing to swim for flies higher or even to the surface …
But the conditions are the same for all and of course, we were determined to do our best to achieve the best result as possible. Simply as always. It needs to be said that for the teams of countries, where it is normally fished his way (Slovenia, Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro, etc.), such a structured championship was definitely an advantage.
The entire team departed on 8 June 2015 for a training week. The journey, which was about 850 km long, took almost all day and in the evening we accommodated in the tourist resort of the company LTG near the Pliva River not far from the “izvor” (a place, where the river springs to the surface from the rocks and it´s crystal clear water flows on the stony bottom to the valley and after some meters it is a hefty river full of water). Most rivers on the Balkan are made like this. The river is made somehow “from nothing”.
The Championship itself took place in four rivers and one lake. The competition rivers were the Pliva, Vrbas, Sana and the Sanica. The competition lake was the Plivsko Lake lying on the Pliva River downstream of the competition venue near the town of Šipovo. The centre of the Championship was the town of Jajce on the confluence of the Pliva and the Vrbas rivers. Already, the first training days confirmed that fishing of graylings and trouts in such rivers will not definitely be easy. It was not so bad in wadable parts where the fish has no time to check the bait, but as soon as the river got slower – deep transparent clear aquariums were created and there was a possibility of observation of huge beautiful graylings and trouts … And there – it was a school for us. There were really lots of fish and also big ones, but to make them take our bait when we are used to fishing dozens of fish in our rivers, was an incredible adrenalin experience.
Despite this, we were able to catch some fish from the very first day. With a dry fly on very small flies of the Quill type, stillborns, Dry Olives with size 16 – 20. Not bad was also a very tiny CDC beetle, called the Rocker, in size 16-18. Our most successful nymphs were two types of imitations of olive mayflies and our long-term proven Hare´s Ear threaded with pink thread in size 14 and 16 and mainly with copper tungsten bead (3.0-4.0mm). As I have written, it was necessary to use very fine lines. More or less, we were satisfied with our trainings. And we were able to observe the work and success rate of other teams and we were persuaded that our way is the right one …
When we watched competition sectors, we were really sure that this time it will be about the draw than any other time in the past and if we want to succeed, we will need a huge piece of luck at the draw to be assigned good beats. There is no wonder. Twenty-seven complete teams and one team consisting of individual competitors took part in this Championship. Therefore, 28 competition beats were marked and especially for fly fishing with the average length of the beat of about 150m this means almost 4.5 km of competition water on each river. And this starts to be insoluble problem for organizers. Then comes the idea to reduce the number of teams at the Championship, e.g. to about a half and creating two divisions of the World Championship – A and B.
Probably, the most difficult for us was the boat competition on the Plivsko Lake. The only training, which we had there, showed that this will be purgatory. The most fish in the first round caught Phil Dixon from England with 5 fish, when he was in the boat with Pavel Chyba from our country (the same situation like at the Championship in Italy in 2011). In other sessions, 2 fish and also 1 fish caught were great results. There were many blank competitors from the first sessions. Englishman´s fishing showed us that our way is good – meaning relatively fast sinking line Di-5 with 2 -3 lures (unlike rivers, fishing with 3 flies was allowed on the lake). We did not catch many rainbows in the training and then the next option was fishing of smaller brownies near the bank in grass and under trees and on the fault from shallow to deep places. Only Luboš Roza used this tactics in the second session. With respect to the fact that the competition part of the lake was not too large and rainbows were seen (and in no small numbers), they were not willing to take the flies offered and thus catching them was more of less a lottery. Most of competitors went from the second session to the bank with the same tactics as we did. A few fish were caught, but then all fish were scared and the bank fishing of brownies was practically even worse than waiting for a take of a rainbow trout on “free” water…
So, the lake became a graveyard of not only our chances, but also chances of many excellent competitors who otherwise would have great chances for a trophy in individual competition if they had caught a fish in the lake competition. It´s necessary to be said that all our guys got their chance on the lake and all had a take and a fish on the rod. However, this time, we had to drink the bitter cup to the bottom and all luck we might have used in the previous years. Three guys were blank from the lake contest which finally proved to be the most fatal from the point of view of the Czech team´s result. Pavel Chyba and Luboš Roza caught their fish in the 1st and the 2nd session. Unfortunately, others did not get their fish into the net. Only one team – Finns – caught at least a fish in all sessions. Traditionally, the English and Irish had very good results on the lake, and both teams were blank once as well as Spanish and Americans, for whom it was the most important step in the success in the team competition.
The Pliva, Sana and Sanica rivers were relatively nice and clean, only the number of fish varied from beat to beat and as I have written, the beats were very unbalanced. But this has been quite often recently. I think that from the point of view of fishing and tactics, we had no principal problem. Probably, only on the Pliva, we had quite unfavorable draw, because none of the guys managed to get over 5 fish caught. They were quite average (for us more or less under average), results around the 10th place in the sector and worse. Simply said, none of guys got into an easier wadable place. All parts were very deep, where you could see also many fish, but it was almost impossible to get to them and make them take the bait.
On the Sana and the Sanica, we changed better results with average and worse ones, simply according to the draw as it has been said above. I think that what guys were performing, were very good results and nobody else would catch more fish in the beats. However, some results of individual competitors and various beats were simply understandable for us after the competition. It´s hard to comment, what influence had the art of these competitors or visible “kind-heartedness“ of Bosnian controllers and willingness to help “their competitor” for any price. I do not want to make any comment on it any more to avoid the suspicion that the Czech team is not able to lose.
The river which I want to mention at the end was the Vrbas River. Unfortunately, this was the biggest trouble. I will say only one word: “MORDOR”. For those who know the films about hobbits, Lord of the Rings, this word is definitely known. Already training on this river was an unpleasant surprise for us. In the paid section of the fly fishing club of the town of Donji Vakuf, there were fish, but ... this section is in the urban regulation and thus nothing nice. However, what´s more. What kind of disgusting mess was in the water – we never had seen anything similar before. Plastic bottles were probably the best, but all other municipal mess from sewerage system which you can imagine, including excrements and other similar biological waste was over our understanding. Even if water was so dirty after rains, it stank with all possible. The option of organizers to use this section of the Vrbas River for the World Championship was a total failure and we strongly believe that this will never happen again.
Moreover, we were assured by locals that in the competition “public” river section downstream of the town there are almost no fish. One afternoon, we were going for a little moment to check the situation and train downstream of the competition section. What I described about the urban part applied there many times more. This all disgusting mess was there multiplied. On the bank tons of PET bottles and other unidentified mess. Moreover, water really without fish. Our team during the training downstream of the competition sector did not catch a single eligible fish.
As the most important thing proved to be lucky at the draw and get to one of the top beats – beat in the highest competition part – beats No. 1 - 5. The only lucky was Luboš in the first session, when from beat No. 2 he brought 1st place in the sector with 22 fish. Just behind him a Polish competitor Marchewka got 2nd place in the sector with 10 fish from beat No. 1 and then it was only about 4 fish (3rd place), but more or less about blank scoring cards or about 1 fish for majority of competitors in the entire sector. This was similar in all five rounds. Who was lucky about the beat, he could thought about a fish and the rest was trying to “survive” and catch at least one eligible fish. Our guys, except Luboš, were not lucky. Therefore, we brought two zeros from the Vrbas (David Chlumský and Tomáš Cieslar) and Tonda Pešek got one little trout which was the smallest of all “single-fish scores” and even this fish was no significant help for the total team result.
If I omit a very badly selected sector and the section of the Vrbas downstream of the town of Donji Vakuf, because no fish practically lived there, but I cannot omit this sector just due to the mess which does not really cast a good light on inhabitants of this part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. And I do not mention the experience of us, participants to this World Championship, who pay not low fees to be able to take part.
As it is seen from my assessment of this year´s Championship, we were not very successful. It´s better to say, strongly unsuccessful. Unfortunately, the result from the World Championship in Bosnia is the worst result for us for the last 15-20 years. We got a lesson, but we know very well that many factors which fatally influenced our results, we are not able to influence. I am persuaded that we still belong to the world class and we will confirm it in the upcoming championships (either this year at the European Championship in Italy or next year at the World Championship in the USA).
We congratulate to the winners. The team of Spain which has been fishing in a great way in the last many years. At last championships, it was really difficult for us to beat this team. The Spanish confirmed their rising trend and this historical success and they really deserve the first trophy of World Champions in team contest. Also the American team started a systematic work with youth in the last years and now they harvest the fruit of their good job. Their possibilities (both material and financial) are from our point of view practically incomparable and they will definitely belong to the stable icons on the highest ranks of world fly fishing. It will be very difficult to keep pace with them already in the next year in their country. The third team of Bosnia and Herzegovina fully took advantage of the home environment and they definitely deserve our congratulations. Their result is the outcome of their knowledge of home environment and specific ways of fishing. We will see how they cope with maintaining this trend and quality also in the environment unknown for them.
Fourth French team deserves recognition. Their finish and fight for bronze medals which they lost by just only one placing. The start for them was worse than for us, when they were somewhere behind us, lower than on the 10th place. Despite this, they were working hard for the entire competition and they made good use of a better draw, when they managed to fish with their art with one fly many more fish than anybody else in the same beats. Unfortunately, we did not manage to overcome the unfavorable position of our team for the entire course of the championship and this finally resulted in the total 10th place. The best position in individual competition from the Czech team reached the defending champion Luboš Roza with his final 11th rank. The World Champion in individual competition was Piotr Marchewka from Poland, on the second place surprisingly finished Nikola Trebjesanin from Montenegro and the third was Devin Olsen from the USA.