Wales WIN Gold in Scotland

The 29th of June saw the Rivers international hosted on Scotland’s River Tay. Four teams of five anglers represented England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales to competed for the honour of International champions.

The Welsh team consisted of six anglers, Dean, Allen, Mark, Bushy – Manager, Terry http://taffdiaries.wordpress.com – Reserve and I Captain.

Preparation is everything

When fishing such competitions I always find things run more smoothly and you get more out of practices if you prepare as much as you can. Weeks before hand I like to sort my kit out – get out fishing and see what you’re getting low on.. or what needs re-newing. Nylon, fly lines, gink etc, all the small things you or other could run out of through the week. I also stock up on hooks, beads and flies before so I know if patterns need to be tied I know the kit is there to do it. There’s noting worse than falling short of a few hooks night before the when your favourite pattern is working.

Thanks to Phil @ http://www.flytyingboutique.co.uk for quick delivery and great stock!

One thing I’ve learnt over my years of competition fishing is that you can’t have too many flies. Patterns are not so important in my book, but plenty of the same patterns in different sizes can make your tying sessions in the evening before any match much less stressful.

The Practice

 The Tay is a big, tough river, wide as 130 yards in place! There’s a lot of water to cover and a week really wasn’t enough. Some pools were the length of some small club waters here in Wales and covering the whole of the competition beat was going to be a challenge. It helped that we took a trip in May to check out a couple of sections otherwise we wouldn’t have covered the complete sections.

To cover as much water as possible it was obvious we couldn’t just ‘go off and fish’ where we wanted, and fishing the methods we would usually try. That would have meant most would be French Nymphing and the others probably fishing the dry fly. We decided that practising as a team all in one section would give us the best idea of where the fish were and what method was best. I believed that 6 anglers fishing 6 different methods in one area, alternating methods each day, would give us a greater idea of what methods were taking most fish, and show the guys on other methods where on that section the fish were caught if they happen to draw that section.

One tip I was given before the match was to locate the fish and the easiest way to do that is to find rising fish. Spend time locating them and then if on the day their not rising, at least you know where they are. The only thing to do then is catch them.

Practice went well, our plan seemed to be working out with the methods we thought that would work, did. Spiders and wet flies worked at the start of the week, the water was low and casting across to let the flies swing around seemed to be the way forward. Swinging as we call it covers much more water than you would if you fished bugs, swinging the flies around in a 45 degree angle – across and down – covers a wide area of water, quickly.

Dries didn’t seem to work so well, with very sporadic and light fly hatches the fish were spending more time down, than up! Allen fished dries the first day and took just one fishing them dead drift. First cast letting the fly swing around along side an eddy it locked up, he took a further three fish doing the exact same thing.

As the week moved on the rain moved in and the river started to rise, by the Thursday the river had risen around 6 inches and some places where we found fish were inaccessibly. As we walked the beast the day before it was obvious a lot of ‘fishing water’ had been lost. But still, it was what it was and its the same for everyone.

The night before the match we had our final meeting, many comments were passed and we were all buzzing and ready to hit the river in the morning. As captain, I treated to team to some fishing shirts for their effort and commitment. I hope they fit!

The competition

Friday morning the reports were that the river was flooded – risen around three feet just overnight. I can see why they call it the mighty River Tay! As we headed to the car park to meet our first controllers we crossed the A9 road bridge to a heavily brown, swollen river.

A quick chat and a few good luck handshakes later we were off to the river.

Terry and I headed to my section for the morning and was completely lost looking at the river, where I was there was a large shingle bank and a run on the far bank, well, there was the day before! Now, it was bank to bank water, with just one small noticeable crease.

The first session I fished as much of the pool as I possibly could, with three anglers above me I wanted Terry to ‘Run’ and check out what they were doing.. If I was struggling and them catching he could come and tell me what method their using and where they were catching. But with the river being high the first session was a write off. With no angler taking a fish within my section. Session two I could see two anglers coming downstream, an obvious visualisation that fishing was tough all through. I stuck at it in the pool as Tony Baldwin from England come behind me.

He worked his way down the pool fishing wets, without a take he swapped to a heavy sinking line and a taddies, a black, goldhead lure which he pulled close to the bottom. To my surprise he netter 3 fish trout and two seatrout! The seatrout of which didn’t count. After seeing this there was only one thing I thought I could do and was get in front and copy him as I was still blanking. Rod tip in the water and my stripping arm in gear, I threw a heavy, dark fly with plenty of movement across the river and within two casts and I was into a trout which 24cm, at least it wasn’t a blank! This is a method which isn’t used so widely in the UK but is very effect in Europe, I think its mostly down to the sheer number of stockies which are hauled into the EU rivers. But, it should be practised more over here when the rivers are up and coloured as it does provoke takes when dead drift doesn’t.

After grub in a nearby pub and a gathering of teams for a chat and to discuss how sections fished we were back to the river. I learnt that I was 2nd in the second session and other team members were either 1st or 2nd in their sections too… great news, and what brought our spirits up was that Scotland had blanked completely in the first two sessions, and Ireland taking just one fish.

By the third session the river had cleared but was still rising, I was pretty happy with my draw but couldn’t imagine reaching some of the places I caught on that section. My outlook on the next two sessions was to fish anywhere I could as hard as I could and just hope for a take. As the session started I stepped foot into a great looking run which certainly looked fishy. A light band of rocks which were usually out of the water were submerged, blending into a dark bank just a little further out. Each pool we found like this through practice held fish, on the ‘black and amber’ our code for colour change. I worked my way along the black and amber with the stimmy, a method which is devised from the Trio, fished with heavy bugs, 2 x 3mm+ and stimulator dry fly on steroids. Something that will hold heavy bugs up at distance.

Two cast, two salmon parr, third cast a trout measuring 27.8cm. It was great to see it swim back with the relief that there was a score on the board not another blank. I fished the rest of my way along the black and amber, returned to the bottom of the stretch and worked my way upstream further out to no avail. Jim, the Scottish angler on my peg passed me from above and with the Irish angler below I worked my way up into a pool where Jim had passed. Just as my controller said it’s time to move, the indicator shot forward and I landed another trout 20.4 cm.. a cracker, but all I wish is that it came just a minute later! I ended up with two fish to take 1st position in the third session but unfortunately blanked in the fourth. This put me on a total of 11 points throughout the comp.

As we arrived back at the hotel the results came flooding in. As the team gathered we only had two blanks to record between the five of us –  six blanks overall. Things were looking good as we all gathered to pack the car for the following morning… It emerged that we were over 20 points ahead of England who were in Second place.

Results as followed

Fish Points Placings
Winner: WALES 31 1435 43
2nd place: ENGLAND 18 829 64
3rd place: SCOTLAND 9 401 66
4th place: IRELAND 7 330 67
Geoff Clarkson Trophy: Wales
Moc Morgan Trophy: Allen Hughes (Wales)
Mike Childs Trophy: John Tyzack (England)

It was a great honour to Captain a Gold winning Welsh team – It’s actually my first International Team Gold and what a bunch of guys to do it with? It was a great experience and a pleasure to be your captain. Well done guys, and a huge congratulations to Alien on taking top rod!

Below are a few images of the river and international night..

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