By Karel Křivanec

Bronze teamBetween 6 and 12 August 2018, the 17th Youth World Fly Fishing Championship was held on the San River. This time 10 teams were present, 8 from Europe and one from the USA and one from South Africa, i.e. altogether two teams less than in Slovenia a year ago. Unfortunately, also British teams were missing this time and therefore the only representative from the islands was the Irish team which takes part regularly in these championships.

After the last year’s failure in Slovenia (5th place), the Czech team changed the coach and now the coach was Martin Musil Jr., a student of ichthyology, who became the Youth World Champion in France in 2012. Jiří Pejchar, President of the Czech National Fly Fishing Committee, was the Team Manager was and a member of more numerous accompaniment was Tomáš Starýchfojtů, former successful Czech competitor and a coach of the senior team.


Czech team went to see the San River before the Championship, but there was extremely high water (water flow 80 m3), so it was possible to fish only in some places and some fish was caught only with Squirmy Wormy.  Also, the training before the competition did not say almost anything, because the water flow was ranging between 30–60 m3 and the water level was reduced to 15 m3just at the start of the championship. We can say that the domestic team, which has significantly improved recently, was a clear favourite. The Poles brought silver medals from Slovenia and gold in individual completion (Darius Ordzowialy). Besides this, they could perfectly use the knowledge of fish in the San River, which was 100 m wide in the town of Lesko.

Czech teamThe Czechs did not have much time to get to know this wide river and when they analysed the water they chose the technique “Klink and Dink“ with a very well-greased dry sedge as a float and one gold-head nymph in size 20 at the end of a very fine fluorocarbon leader of the diameter of 0.10 mm. Also, the increased minimum size for fish to 25 cm was more in favour of domestic competitors who knew very well where to fish. A great majority of Czech catches were under minimum size, especially in the case of brownies.

It needs mentioning that besides the four river sectors, there was a sector marked on the Myszkowce Reservoir, which is an equalizing reservoir under a high dam of the huge Solina Reservoir built on the San River. The boats for fishing were equipped with an engine and the tactics were chosen according to the water flow in this equalizing reservoir with cold and clean water, where a certain quantity of one-pound brownies was stocked. These were caught only in the first round in the upper part of the reservoir before the water changed during the lunch break and after this change local brown trout was caught only randomly. In the lower part of the reservoir, there are cages for breeding rainbow trout who partly escaped and partly these were stocked and they were caught for the rest of the competition.

In the first round on Wednesday on 8 August, the Czech competitors had a good draw and they won also due to the fact that the Czech junior, Jan Bureš, was drawn for the boat competition into the boat with the Polish competitor, Szymon Konieczny. Szymon is the son of the Director of the competition and of a long-term Polish team member in senior competitions, Piotr Konieczny. Szymon took the boat upstream under the high dam and won here with 12 fish and Jan Bureš was the second with 10 trouts.  In the sector 2, Patrik Martinec (CZ) had a remarkable catch – a grayling 486mm long. After the first round, the Czechs had the number of placings 14, second was Spain (20) and third was Poland (21).

In the second round, the Czech juniors were doing very well, when they finished on the second place (19) behind the Poles (10) and before Spain (24). Only on the equalizing reservoir, Radek Gračka did not cope with the change in conditions and caught only one trout and he finished on 8th place and this failure cost him a medal in individual competition in the final ranking. Szymon Konieczny was taking the lead in the individual competition with the second victory in row. The 4th sector was interesting for our competitors, where Jan Carbol caught a grayling 427mm long.

Jan Bureš and huge graylingThe third round of the competition was held on Thursday, 9 August, when the young Czechs had practically nothing to fish for, because there was almost no trout over the minimum size. Radek Gračka saved the team’s honour in the trophy sector No. 2, where he managed to win with 10 fish. And in the sector 3, Szymon Konieczny won for the third time in a row. Ranking in the team competition was as follows 1st France (19), 2nd Poland (20), 3rd Spain (22), Czechs were on the 7th place (30) and after three rounds, the ranking was as follows: 1st Poland (51), 2nd Czech Republic (63), 3rd Spain (66), 4th France (74) 5th USA (85).

After this not a really good round, the Czech were sure that some tactics needed to be changed and maybe a competitor should have been changed too. They had a substitute, who was according to the results the best Czech junior, only 16-year old Antonín Pleskač, but he was not feeling well at the training session on the San River. His good results originated from small domestic rivers and therefore he did not start from the very beginning of the championship. Finally, Jan Cabol was substituted, when he was on the 20th place of the interim results in the individual competition. It needs to be said that this substitution was a not happy one for the Czech team.

In the fourth round, Antonín was drawn into the boat with the American fisherman Ryder Stutton and he decided for a suicidal attempt to fish under the dam of the Solina Reservoir, while other boats remained in the lower part of the sector. After an hour without a catch, he decided to go to the main pool, but after a while he was substituted in boat management by Ryder and he was going upstream again. This decision was tragic, because they both were the only ones who remained blank and got 10 points each.

Olive quillsIn the fourth round, it was necessary to change the tactics completely and focus on grayling fishing with a dry fly. Competitors got an order to fish with the tiniest Olives tied on the hook size 20 and a nylon tippet of the diameter 0.08 mm. Graylings were rising to these flies, but all strikes were blank, because experienced graylings knew that the line was extra there. During this round, the tactics was further reassessed and the coach gave an instruction to reduce the diameter of the Stroft line to 0.06 mm and then this started to work. Radek Gračka was fishing with this tippet for an hour and he caught 9 fish with these tiny Olives and he was the second in the sector No. 3. In the sector 5, Patrik Martinec caught a grayling 446 mm long. The coach got to Jan Bureš with the new instructions just before the end of the competition and he managed to catch 3 more fish in sector 4 in about 10 minutes. He had finally 5 fish and this was enough for 6th place. In the fourth round, the Poles (15) won, 2nd USA (20), 3rd Spain (22), Czechs were on the fifth place (25), but they were still on the interim second place (88), behind the Poles (67) and before the Spanish (88).

Before the last fifth round was clear that the Poles will not lose their victory both in teams and individuals and so silver and bronze medals were in game. Unfortunately, Antonín Pleskač was not lucky at all, because he drew the beat 10 in the sector 2, where only 1 eligible fish was caught in four rounds. Due to the change in tactics and fishing with a very tiny dry Olive and the finest tippet 0.06mm, he had four big fish, but none of these he got into the landing net and loaded his team with 10 other points. Radek Gračka perfectly coped with the change in tactics, when in the sector No. 4 he caught 8 fish and won his sector.

A very bad beat also got Jan Bureš in the fifth sector, because the only one eligible fish had been caught there for the entire competition in his beat. Twenty minutes before the end of the last round he was blank and then the first grayling rose near the left bank. Jan casted his Olive size 20 on a very fine tippet of 0.06 mm in diameter and suddenly a fish rose and his rod size 2 turned into a bow. A huge grayling was fighting like a lion, jumping high and twisting around its axis, but it was for nothing, because it finished in the net of a young fisherman. The Polish controller measured the fish and recorded 440 mm. A fly was changed and in a moment another grayling 38 cm was there. Fish started to graze on small Olives. Young Frenchman caught 3 graylings during the last five minutes. Jan saw one more grayling rising and he caught it in the last minute of the competition. Unfortunately, it was missing two millimetres to the limit and it was not counted. It finished with the sixth place in the sector and if the last catch had been only a bit bigger, it could have been the third place. The ranking of the last round was 1st Ireland (12), 2nd France (18) 3rd South Africa (20) and Spanish finished on the fifth place (24), Czechs on the sixth (27) and Poles on the seventh (36).

Patrik with river San graylingThe total ranking of teams finished as follows: 1st Poland (sum 103/157 fish), 2nd Spain (112/123), 3rd Czech Republic (115/117), 4th France (116/113), 5th USA (128/101), 6th Ireland (147/ 82), 7th South Africa (152/74), 8th Finland (168/ 59), 9th Belgium (169/65), 10th Slovenia (186/49).

In the individual competition, Szymon Konieczny (POL) became the Youth World Champion – sum 8 / 47 fish, 2nd Emilio Saint Aman (FRA) – 10 / 42, 3rd Sergio Heredero (ESP) – 12 / 32, 4th Radek Gračka (CZ)  - 14 / 33, 5th Holden Price (USA)  - 15 / 29, 6th Jack Maher (Ireland) 16 / 33, 7th Roo Berchard (South Africa), 8th Vallat Titouan (FR), 9th Patrik Martinec (CZ), 10th Rodrigo Casado (ESP), 18th Jakub Adam (CZ), 22nd Jan Bureš (CZ).

All in all, we can say that the Poles deserved to win this Championship both in the team competition and individual competition. And this championship was prepared very well and they deserve appreciation for coping with the problems which such a competition brings to every organizer.