Iain Barr recounts how Team Costa claimed victory at the Airflo Anglian Water International….
After not reaching the Airflo Anglian Water final for four years as a team we were determined to give it our all. Iain Barr Fly Fishing team Costa has three new recruits this year, 18, 24 and 28 years old respectively, with one established angler at just 28 also. It’s a young squad led by myself and the hugely successful and experienced John Buchanan of Scotland.
Practice was tough but slowly we developed a method and it was all coming together – only to be interrupted by very strong winds the day before.
It’s a two day event and the wind looked more settled albeit still a little breezy. We had two methods working using Airflo Super-Dri 3 and 6 foot mini tip fly lines with Iain Barr Fabs, red nemos or my infamous cut throat crunchers.
The other option, favoured in the strengthening wind was the Airflo ridge clear fast intermediate or the Di3 with a Two Tone Coral Booby on the point, two of my black flash dabblers in the middle and a pink two tone fab on the point. The same one I used to win the brown bowl on Mentieth! (More on that story here.)
Both the very top of the south and north arms were not producing and fish seemed concentrated from the north tower to the basin and from New Zealand point to the basin.
I drew a friendly Irish man who opted to take me up the north where it was grim. I managed 3, short lining a Di3, ensuring the booby plopped on the surface to draw them up. I took 2 on the booby and one on the dabbler.
Five of my six man team were either in the basin or around the sailing club and none had ventured north, so at 12 o’clock when I had control of the boat we made the short trip to Normanton where a host of boats were gathering. I saw three team mates there with one on 3, one on 7 and another had just finished but it had gone hard. Typical! I stuck with the Di3 using my impressive Airlite V2 fly rod. Fish were strong and having had several double ups and hearing of treble ups in practice I toughened up using 13.1lb G5 fluorocarbon. Difficult to beat for its diameter a day superb strength.
I ground it out ensuring I had fresh water in front of my boat and by 16:20 I had my 8 fish limit. The booby, fab and dabblers taking all my fish. A long slow draw was imperative as we found fast pulling or short stabby pulls resulted it too many hits with the fish not sticking. The long draw allows the fish to get a proper hold.
At the scales we had 4 limits backed up by a 3 and a 2. The lower positions had their chances but failed to convert them.
Day 2 dawned and Iain Barr Fly Fishing team Costa sat just 3lb 14oz behind Gateside Fly Fishers from Scotland. Hot on our heels were previous winners Team Change of Scotland – It was all to play for.
After a team debrief the night before it was agreed for all of us to fish between the lodge and the dam and grind it out. We knew the fish were there and opted for more subtle tactics following a pasting of lures the day before. We kept a boobies or fab on the point and fished dabblers and red nemos on the droppers.
It was a slow start for me having had four offers before finally connecting with my first fish on the clear intermediate and dabbler. Boats were tightly packed so myself and boat partner for the day decided to fish in front of the sailing club in the open water, as it was very apparent that the fast limits from Tuesday were not going to happen on day two.
It often pays to fish open fresh water and for four hours or so we did just that picking up 6 fish each which was very respectable indeed for day two. We should if had our 8, but we dropped several fish each. A plopped boobie with dabblers fished right in the surface and two Fabs and two nemos fished at short range on the 3 foot tip did the damage. My partner had almost all his fish short lining an Airflo slow glass and all took nemos, whereas mine all ignored my nemos and took the brightly colour fab or booby. Very strange!!!
The boats headed in and I was looking for my team members to see how they had fared. Leaving them at appropriately 13.30 they had 0,2,2,3 and 5 respectively. We gathered in the car park with what I considered a great achievement with 32 fish, just 5 less than the day 1 total. Richard Cooper came in with 8 on the tougher day, managing 3 when it seemed easier. This proved his grit with local knowledge certainly paying off for him. Being an out and out confessed puller it left us bemused how he caught 6 on nymphs, all red nemos! John Buchanan, Graham Hayward and myself weighed in 6 each followed by Ben Race with 4 and Paul Runec with 2, both bagged up the previous day.
Gateside had admitted defeat with 22 for the team and Team Change had 25. We sat comfortable until team Airflo came to the scales with a very impressive 3 limits and also 30 fish!
A relaxing, enjoyable presentation dinner went by, as we shared tables with Team Airflo – either of us not knowing the final results! What seemed like an eternity it was finally results time.
With four lads under 28 and one just 18, we had the taunts of Iain’s Youth Club etc. which was quite entertaining but we had the last laugh as the famous quote of football pundit Alan Hanson once said ‘You don’t win anything with boys’ was put to bed as Iain Barr Fly Fishing team Costa were announced the new 2017 Airflo Anglian Water Champions!! Airflo were 10lb behind in weight with Gateside staying in the medals in 3rd place.
I was absolutely delighted to have won this championship for the 3rd time, but this was special to have done it with three new youngsters in the team, with two of them also getting their first England Caps with us this year too.
Next year we’ll be out to defend our title with my youth club.