The Welsh Youth World fly fishing team headed off to Sansepolcro, Italy on Friday 26th August to compete in the Fly Fishing World Championships along with another 11 countries. The Youth World fly fishing championships was just a small part of the Sport Fishing World Championship being held in Italy, along with 24 other disciplines and 51 countries competing. The categories ranged from Disabled Carp fishing through to long distance casting with beach casters, and every thing in between.
On the Sunday, All the teams competing in the Youth Championships, headed off to Florence for the opening ceremony. This is where everyone, or some members of all the Countries and discipline’s who were competing met up and marched. This was to give the Country a presence and play each anthem, welcoming everyone to the start of the world games.
After all the teams had walked, and the anthems played, we headed to a buffet to talk and meet others competitors, from our own and other countries. Talking to some of the other competitors from Wales it was great to meet others who were as enthusiastic about fishing, as all of the Youth.
We were left with a great sunset over the Italian hills which seemed to relaxed everyone before the hard and physical days ahead.
Five sessions on 5 miles of the Tail Water Tevere were to be fished by each competitor. What made the competition more interesting, was the river was Catch and Release only, One fly, and one session dry fly only. This was going to be a test for everyone!
Throughout the competition, none of the team captains or managers were allowed to use cameras to take pictures or videos, other than Official press. As a result, there are not many pictures freely available until they are published. Below are some of the images I took whilst fishing/practising, before and after the competition.
After a four hour drive from Rome, we arrived at Sansepolcro late Friday evening, and decide to get some shut eye before we headed to the Tevere for our first practice day.
All in anticipation, we turned up at a beautiful river, an aqua blue sort of colour, but perfectly clear. The weather was hot and sunny, somewhere in the high 30’s! We tackled up at the van, and headed down towards the river. The first pool we arrived at, set us off, there were fish rising, swimming and jumping out of the water. Down along one of the creases of the run, we could see fish in access of 40cm, flashing, lifting and picking off nymphs as they drifted past. Great to see feeding fish in a new river!
The fishing was good, with all the boys taking fish, but quite bizzarly, all on the same method, the French Leader. The fish seemed to have held up in the shallow waters of the pool, just like the water above. Ankle deep.
With the water so clear, the fish could be spotted under the far bank, in my eyes, making them easy prey! If the fish was stationary, it would be pretty well camouflaged so a decent pair of polarised glasses would gain you an extra fish or two. Fishing the French leader with flies as small as 22’s unweighted, and 1.5mm tungsten beads was the way forward. Casting to spotted fish, not necessarily watching the fly, but the fishes actions; if it moved off station or lifted in the water he was yours, if it darted, it was spoked. Surprisingly many fish were spoked by the fly or nylon.
The takes were very slight, if you were watching the indicator in the leader and it moved, you were too slow! It was moving ever so slightly, maybe not even a CM! By the time the slack in your tippet (it was only 2 ft long!) was taken up with the flow+fish to move the indicator the fish would spit the fly out and spook. This is why watching the fish was so crucial, striking at any movement of the fish itself, as long as the fly was in that sort of area.
Nymping the deeper holes we caught a few trout, but nothing compared to the shallows. Judging by the takes we were getting in the slow water, more than likely we were missing the takes in the fast, with the leader not even registering with the slight takes.
The last session of the competition I was drawn on the Dry fly only section of the river, a cracking weir pool – perfect for nymphing!! Looking at the pool, I only had around 15 yards of fishable water, the back end of the run, were the water flattened out off the run slackened off.
This was the pool, the day after the comp - the water dropped 6 inches!
I took 11 fish off that section on a variety of dries, but a spinner being one of the best patterns. It was a perfect copy of a crippled olive. Olives live and hatch in fast water, a weir pool being perfect. But the faster the water, the harder it is for the olive nymph to emerge, dry its wings and fly off. The turbulent water would trap the olive and ‘cripple’ it causing its wings break in a sense.
Before and after - the after one looks even more tasty!
We fished this pool the day after, just for a few hours before the closing ceremony and prize giving. The boys all tackled up with nymphs and headed off up and down river to try and tempt some of the fish that hadn’t been caught on dries previously. Disappointingly, it didn’t seem to pay off! I tackled up with the dries and fished the same pool and approached it the same as the previous day in the comp.
Within a few minutes of waiting, 2 fish moved onto the gravel bar at the back end of the pool, not rising, but they were there.
These fish are super spooky, a cast from below covering the fish with the nylon and fly would spook the fish and cause them to stray off into a less accessible bit of water. The club which run the Tevere river, sell over 6000 tickets a year to guests, that’s 500 a month! So these fish knew flies and nylon!
I moved to above the fish, spooking the larger one in the picture. Sitting on the gravel, I changed my nylon to 0.80 kg.
Lets stop and talk about my kit.
Tackle was key! Light fly rods and fly lines were essential, the new Airflo Streamtec Nano 9ft 3/4 weight was my choice, the softness of the rod allowed me to use tipper as light as 1.5lb and not get broken off by big lunges off the fish. Accompanied by an Airflo Ridge supple technical fly line, it would allow me to cast 20yards plus, covering rising fish at distance with great presentation. The fly would seem to turn over however far I dare to cast, catching me bonus fish.
Another important aspect of my fishing gear were my waders. Purchasing a pair of Simms G3’s before heading out was one the best ideas I’ve had for a long time. The use of breathable material and Goretex, would allow the waders to breath, not causing me to sweat, which is a hard task in 30+ degrees! Sweat building up in the usual areas, around the ankles etc, would cause rubbing and itching and being out fishing all day, walking miles in blistering heat does become very uncomfortable! Thank’s to breathable waders I was very comfortable and could focus on the fishing. Imagine fishing in neoprenes in that heat?
Back to it.. I waited 5 minutes, and the larger fish appeared in the same lie. Giving it a few more minutes to settle, I threw my first cast over the fish, landing it around 5 feet above the first fish. The fly came down gently and drag free, up he rose in the water, getting a better look at the fly, it’s mouth opened sucked the fly in and gently lowered back down into the lie. I lifted and he was on. A pretty hefty fish of around 2lb, 45cm.
Each time I caught a fish, I changed the leader, the fishes teeth would rip shreds into the nylon and curl the end near the fly, not good on spooky fish, any fish in fact!
I sat in that same position for nearly an hour, taking the best part of 6-7 fish of that gravel bar, working the near and far side. Some cracking Italian trout.
This was my favourite fish of the whole trip. The day before, when I was on this stretch of the river in the competition, being modest I walked across the weir into the corner on the far left. Behind the small bush in the water in the slack, I spooked 2 fish, which I was pretty gutted about, but I thought I wouldn’t have caught them on a dry anyway, there were just milling around.
So now, I crossed the weir gently, and crept up behind the bush, to revel another fish lying in that same area! I swapped the dry for a 1.5mm tungsten nymph, dropped it in and up he came, taking the nymph at about mid level. Within seconds he was in the net, if he ran he would have come off!
Behind the bush!
Personally, I had a great competition, the years I’ve spent on the water in all different fishing situations seemed to have paid off getting me a 4th place Individually. Winning two of my sessions a 2nd a 5th and a 6th getting me just 15 place points in total, Just another two higher, and I would have been in with a medal! Maybe next time.
Below are the results of the whole competition.
USA 1st - Italy 2nd - Poland 3rd
Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did fishing it! Tightlines!