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Iain Barr’s re­port on the Bob Church Clas­sic

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents - www.iain­bar­rfly­fish­ Iain Barr: Has fished for Eng­land 24 times across World, Euro­pean, Loch-style and Rivers International Teams.

THIS year saw the 30th an­niver­sary of the pres­ti­gious Sir Bob Church Clas­sic, held at Rut­land Wa­ter. Hav­ing won this Cham­pion of Cham­pi­ons tro­phy for the last three years, I was aim­ing for a fourth vic­tory in a row and my sixth win in to­tal. I was very hon­oured to be handed the reigns of this event by Bob and Jeanette when the or­gan­is­ing be­came too much for them, and this was my third year keep­ing this most im­por­tant an­nual event go­ing. There was a strong field, made up of 106 an­glers with many international and world class an­glers from the UK, Bel­gium and Nor­way. It was go­ing to be ex­tremely tough to make this an in­cred­i­ble four wins in a row. Prac­tice went well as I net­ted more than 40 fish fish­ing the whole of the South Arm and ev­ery inch of the basin from East Creek to Whitwell Creek.

“Al­lan spoke of arm-wrench­ing takes on the Buzzers and the slow tight­en­ing as the fish picked up the Candy FAB.”

How the boats were split

I prac­tised with nine other team mates so had the lake well cov­ered and we pooled our in­for­ma­tion ahead of Sun­day’s com­pe­ti­tion. Match morn­ing saw the split as ex­pected with boats head­ing up the South and North Arms as well as the basin. I tucked in to East Creek with the aim of head­ing to Old Hall Bay shortly af­ter­wards. Two team mates headed for Hide­away Bay at the top of the South Arm with oth­ers head­ing for Nor­man­ton Shore and the North Arm. We had worked out that many fish were very close to the shore line and high in the wa­ter. I opted for a midgetip line, two FABs and two Crunch­ers with the aim of keep­ing the flies high. Many of us fished the same set-up and I sup­plied team mates with my flies. Satur­day saw fish com­ing rapidly in many areas but Sun­day it just didn’t hap­pen. It soon be­came ap­par­ent that the pres­sure of Satur­day had moved fish from the shore­line in many areas. I took two quickly in East Creek be­fore tak­ing one in Spud Bay then head­ing for the best spot which was Old Hall. On ar­rival boats were scat­tered and hav­ing spo­ken to sev­eral peo­ple there it was ob­vi­ous that these fish were just not play­ing ball. The fish had moved from Old Hall and I did a quick search but couldn’t find them so headed back to East Creek to work this area where all boats had since left. While head­ing for this quiet wa­ter, Al­lan McLach­lan – who fishes in Iain Barr Fly Fish­ing Team Costa – fished Hide­away Bay where he and Mur­ray Hunter had caught a few the day be­fore. They had strug­gled the day be­fore with seven be­tween them but af­ter a de­brief Satur­day it be­came ob­vi­ous they were go­ing be­neath the fish. I armed them with my orig­i­nal Candy FABs and a few of my spe­cial Buzzers with in­struc­tions to cast out and hang on. Mean­while I started catch­ing in the quiet wa­ter be­tween East Creek and the Lodge, work­ing close to the banks in the lit­tle bays. I still didn’t think it was enough based on the suc­cess of the Satur­day. The Ap­pleby’s ap­peared with just five each – my nine was look­ing good. The added boat pres­sure soon put the fish off again and my catch rate slowed down. As the wa­ter calmed in East Creek I took a late flurry of seven fish us­ing an Iain Barr orig­i­nal Candy FAB and two of my favourite Cut­throat Crunch­ers fished ab­so­lutely mo­tion­less on a midge-tip. I fin­ished with my 16 fish at 17:12 – just 18 min­utes to spare! Al­lan had con­tin­ued to catch steadily as swifts worked the wa­ter and the fish re­acted to the hatch that was hap­pen­ing in this iso­lated area. He said he saw the swifts so moved across to this area, know­ing the fish would be be­neath and they were. He spoke of arm-wrench­ing takes on the Buzzers and the slow tight­en­ing as the fish picked up the Candy FAB. Al­lan and Mur­ray both used Snow­bee tip lines to an­chor the Buzzers at depths with the FAB sit­ting just a few feet down. Al­lan fin­ished at 14:55 but felt he should have been done at 12noon. Mur­ray and his part­ner Ron Howard (fish­ing his first boat com­pe­ti­tion) weighed in 12 and 10 re­spec­tively. A great per­for­mance on what was a tough day.

Al­lan McLach­lan wins

I as­sisted John Mees at the scales and it was soon ap­par­ent that there wouldn’t be the 12 to 20 lim­its of 16 fish that I had pre­dicted. Many spoke of areas around the whole lake that were ‘dead’ de­spite be­ing full of fish the day be­fore. My 16 was look­ing like enough to win it for a fourth time on the spin un­til a grin­ning Al­lan passed his card with 16 by 14:55. A very im­pres­sive per­for­mance in­deed show­ing his grit af­ter a tough day on the Satur­day. We set off for the tra­di­tional ban­quet meal where Sir Bob was in at­ten­dance for this spe­cial 30th year. Dave Ship­man, a le­gend in his own right, and the an­gler I used to as­pire to be when com­ing through the youth ranks, took to the stage as the guest of hon­our. He rem­i­nisced of his life­time on Rut­land where he caught the first ever limit from the reser­voir in its birth year. With the re­sults in hand I was de­lighted to an­nounce fel­low team mate Al­lan McLach­lan as the new Bob Church Cham­pion of Cham­pi­ons 2017. He had pipped me into sec­ond, with just the two of us catch­ing the al­lot­ted 16 fish. Laurie Tay­lor who caught 15 was third. What was ap­par­ent was the num­ber of Scot­tish an­glers who fin­ished in the top 10 – five in to­tal. Bel­gium’s Chris­tian Bazan took top over­seas rod fin­ish­ing sev­enth, with Peter Eg­gle­ton of Nor­way right be­hind in eighth. But the day be­longed to Al­lan who fished su­perbly to take the fastest 16 fish limit of the day and a de­served vic­tory. As a team mate, I had to tell him the tro­phy was just on loan for a year and to pol­ish it well!

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