Back in 1991, there was a proposal from Geoff Clarkson that the International Fly Fishing Association (IFFA) hosted a ‘Rivers International’ which would be held once a year and rotate around the four countries, with a team of five competitors from each country. The proposal was accepted at the AGM and the first rivers international was decided to be fish on the River Dee, here in Wales in 1992.
How does the Rivers International work?
The match venue is divided into five beats with a competitor from each team competing on each section. Prior to each match a draw takes place to dictating where an angler starts and what sections they are fishing throughout the day. The match itself consists of four hour and a half sessions throughout the day with the angler changing sections dinner time. The day before the actually competition day the rivers are usually angler free to give the water a rest, but anglers are allowed to walk the river to see what sections they’re fishing once the draw is out.
11 years after the first Rivers International the international came back to Wales, this time down south on the River Taff. Four years previous the competition was fished on the same stretch of the river Taff where Wales took Gold! So there was much pressure on the current Welsh team to follow up with the results.
The Welsh team consisted of three previously capped river international anglers and two new caps, a strong team with a number of great results from all competitors in different competitions.
The competition officially started Wednesday 26th June, but being so close to home for the Welsh boys we fished almost every weekend leading up to the competition to give us more of a feel for the river and learn what methods fish best on each section of the river. Most of the teams turned up the Saturday before to get the most out of the weekend and practice on the river. Most other teams wouldn’t have fished here before unless they were in the 2009 team.
Personally I use my practice sessions to refresh my mind of the competition system, taking a controller along with me on pleasure days to measure the fish and record on a score sheet. It’s also a great way of locating the head of fish and learning what sort of numbers you’ll need in each session from each area. The problem is there’s only a handful or river comps throughout the year and it’s difficult to get your head around the system without doing it a few times previous to refresh the mind.
Monday and Tuesday of the competition week was spent strung up in our chest waders walking the whole section of the river, chatting among us describing where each of us has caught fish and on what method. It’s a great way of creating a plan between us all just in case one of us is drawn on a section of river we haven’t recently fished or struggled on previously.
The draw for the beats takes place two days before the competition, giving the anglers time to think about their draw and also walk their beats the day before, usually at the same time they’ll be fishing that section. Terry and I both drew section B1, I was following him onto that section after the interval so we traveled to that beat early Thursday morning for a look. Unfortunately it was a tough section of the river and we failed to see any activity the time we were there. But we were confident to get fish there from the information we’d gathered from our practice days. My other section was the lowest section of river, right at the bottom of the competition water, a couple of pools which in previous comps proved successful.
Thursday night was coming to a close, as a team we were called into the captains room for a final team meeting and a small presentation to the manager and captain for all their hard work. Allen the team captain, presented the team with a set of TF Gear fishing tops to fish in during the international. As a team we were also lucky enough to be sponsored with fly lines from Airflo at trade price and Atom Six fly rods.
Competition day come and we were all set, everyone had their fishing tackle set up and waders on, raring to hit the river for the first session. Each session is an hour and a half long, one of the quickest hour and a half sessions of a competitive anglers lives, not much is remembered as all most are interested in is getting the next fish in the net.
As we approached the interval at dinner time, I couldn’t wait to get back to see how the rest of the team had fared. Personally my sessions went very well. I managed to land 5 fish in both of the morning sessions which put me in 1st position for each session. Turning up at the car park it was clear that Wales were the leaders so far, clear of England by 8 place points. Welsh Team member Terry Bromwell was said to have taken a 64cm Brown Trout which looked almost certain to be biggest fish of the competition!
The team was doing well, with the fishing only set to get better in the next few sessions as the fly usually come on and the fish look to the surface for food. After lunch we all set off back to the river ready for the last two sessions.
Terry managed to take 2 in the first session and 3 in the second session from section B1, so I was in for a tough last couple of hours. The fishing was certainly tough, and I managed to take a respectable 2/2 in each session. Coming 3rd in the third session and 1st in the last.
Throughout the competition my best method was certainly dry flies, delicately presenting small flies in calm water using the Airflo SuperDri Elite. For the past few weeks my best fly had been the baby sun fly, a cracking pattern which works well in fast and slow water, along with a red spinner pattern for the tricky fish.
Me and my controller headed back to the hotel in earnest of hearing the rest of the boys results. I was hoping that we’d all taken first or second positions to keep us ahead of the other teams. As each angler came in the results seemed to be getting better and better with talks of 1st’s and 2nd’s in each session. Last to come back was Terry, we’d heard rumors that he had a 2nd and a 1st in the last two sessions, but couldn’t count on it until we’d spoken to him. Terry was certainly in line for top individual rod.
As Terry arrived back he confirmed his positions and it seemed we had climbed the table, keeping us in 1st position taking the Gold! The team was over the moon with the result, along with Terry taking both Top Rod with 5 individual placings and largest fish. Well Done Terry and The Team!
Quick overview of the results:
1. Wales 43 fish 2010 points 36 placings
2. England 25 fish 1249 points 55 placings
3. Ireland 20 fish 1031 points 60 placings
4. Scotland 19 fish 907 points 61 placings
Top Individual: Terry Bromwell (Wales) 5 placings
Largest Fish: Terry Bromwell (Wales) 63.4cms
At the presentation the teams and trophy winners were all presented with their medals and trophies. Terry taking most of them!!