Match tips

Eng­land In­ter­na­tional John Horsey makes the case for com­pe­ti­tion fly-fish­ing

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents -

IN my 24 years as a fish­ing guide, I’ve fished with hun­dreds of an­glers and many have gone on to reg­u­larly fish in com­pe­ti­tions, with plenty rep­re­sent­ing their coun­try. It’s fish­ing for Eng­land that drives me and I en­cour­age oth­ers to fol­low this lead. Com­pe­ti­tions are an amaz­ing way to im­prove. Fish­ing with ex­pe­ri­enced an­glers and not­ing their meth­ods is the per­fect way to learn new tech­niques and catch more f ish. All mod­ern meth­ods we use to­day have been weaned and de­vel­oped by match an­glers. I f irst learnt about mod­ern dr y f ly f ish­ing from Bob Worts of ‘Bob’s Bits’ fame while fish­ing a Ben­son & Hedges Fi­nal at Loch Leven. Bob was happy to share his meth­ods and ideas with a fel­low com­peti­tor – and I was happy to share the ‘Bris­tol long line’ tech­niques, which had made our team the most suc­cess­ful match outf it of the time. With­out Gareth Jones de­vel­op­ing the A irf lo range of sink­ing lines, where would we all be to­day? Gareth is still a mus­tard-keen com­pe­ti­tion an­gler and uses his ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge to de­velop so many lines for dif­fer­ent depths of wa­ter, speed of drifts and keep­ing the f ly in the right feed­ing zone for longer. The Bewl com­pe­ti­tion an­glers started the ‘wash­ing-line’ style of hold­ing nymphs above weedbeds us­ing one or two Boo­bies with nymphs sand­wiched be­tween them. This was fur­ther de­vel­oped and is now a stan­dard ‘go to’ method on still­wa­ters. The Blob was de­vised by match fish­ers and now fea­tures in al­most ever yone’s f ly box. Blobs evolved into Mini Blobs and FA Bs, while Fritz be­came Jelly Fritz. I al­ways f ish a sink­ing line with a Blob or a FAB and the grown-on trout love them just as much as stock­ies! Even the hum­ble drogue was de­vel­oped to slow a boat down dur­ing com­pe­ti­tions to stay in the best ar­eas for longer. To­gether with Den­nis Moss and Bruce Vaughan of Wy­ch­wood more than 20 years ago, we changed the de­sign of a stan­dard square drogue with a hole in the mid­dle and four cords into the ob­long, paradrogue de­sign al­most uni­ver­sally used to­day. But com­pe­ti­tion f ly-f ish­ing is also great fun. It gives peo­ple the chance to share a boat with a stranger, then f in­ish the day hav­ing made a friend. In the 1990s I started the Trout Fish­er­man Euro­pean Open, which went on to be spon­sored by Lexus for 14 years and is now the An­glers World Fly fish­ing Cham­pi­onships. It was my aim to make it a friendly event, but to pro­vide the com­peti­tors with the best prizes ever of­fered at a f ly-f ish­ing com­pe­ti­tion, any where in the world. There’s plenty of com­pe­ti­tions worth en­ter­ing now and I en­cour­age any­one who loves still­wa­ter f ly-f ish­ing for trout to give one, or all of these events, a go next sea­son. And most im­por­tant of all, have fun!

2018 An­glers World Fi­nal

The hottest sum­mer since records be­gan made many of the 14 heats for the An­glers World Fly fish­ing Cham­pi­onships tricky. Wa­ter tem­per­a­tures top­ping 75 de­grees is never con­ducive to good trout fish­ing and many lakes ei­ther turned off com­pletely or the f ish went deep, es­pe­cially if there were aer­a­tors in that area. This was true of Chew Val­ley and even though the wa­ter tem­per­a­tures had dropped rad­i­cally prior to the f inal, the best area of the lake was the Dam; par­tic­u­larly Whal­ley Bank. This was also one of the only parts of the lake that held a lot of daph­nia – prob­a­bly the main rea­son so many fish were hold­ing there. Lead­ing up to the f inal, trout were stocked all around the lake, never at the Dam. But most seemed to make their way back to the deeper wa­ter within days. I don’t know why trout seem to have this hom­ing in­stinct, but at Rutland a few years ago, they con­stantly stocked thou­sands of fish near the Trans­former at the top of the North Arm to tr y to get that area of the lake f ish­ing. Some­times these stock f ish were caught later in the day – over a mile away in the main basin! So dur­ing off icial prac­tice, plent y of boats headed for all four cor­ners of Chew to search out pro­duc­tive ar­eas other than the deep wa­ter near the Dam. The only lady an­gler f ish­ing the f inal was Joan Rus­sell and she found fish in Herons Green Bay. How­ever, these were some of

Chew’s big­ger, res­i­dent fish which were feed­ing ir­reg­u­larly on small buzzers and corixa. This bit of knowl­edge would ser ve her well. The in­tense weedbeds off Strat­ford and More­ton meant that these ar­eas were not hold­ing fish, but there were some to be found in Vil­lice Bay and off the reedbeds at Wick Green. How­ever, come match day, most boats headed off to the Dam area and as the aer­a­tors had been switched off, the en­tire basin was f ish­able.

Ir­ish hol­i­days

The 85 f in­al­ists were f ish­ing to a three f ish kill then un­lim­ited catch-and-re­lease us­ing bar­b­less or de­barbed hooks. A ll re­leased f ish would count as 2lb. This year there was not one, but three f ish­ing hol­i­day prizes up for grabs, cour­tesy of An­glers World Hol­i­days. The 2018 Cham­pion, the cap­tor of the f inal’s big­gest fish and the per­son who caught the most fish through­out the cham­pi­onships would all be go­ing to the su­perb Mount Fal­con Es­tate in Ire­land and f ish­ing both loughs and lakes in Ire­land next May. Jim ‘Dig­ger’ Rigby was cur­rently top of the leader board and his three f ish in the fi­nal amassed him an un­beat­able 72 trout to take the f irst hol­i­day prize. Joan Rus­sell tar­geted the bet­ter f ish and her big­gest at 3lb 15oz won her the sec­ond hol­i­day prize. Geert Janssens had made the long jour­ney from Bel­gium and had prac­tised for sev­eral days – that prac­tice, along with in­put from boat part­ner Dave Franklin, meant they man­aged a to­tal of 26 fish to their boat. Quite an out­stand­ing per­for­mance by both an­glers. But it was Geert’s 16 f ish that pushed him into f irst place ahead of Cornwall’s Alex John­stone who had 12 fish and lo­cal an­gler John Braith­waite with 11. Geert and Dave fished wash­ing-line tac­tics for most of the day, al­ter­nat­ing from f loat­ing lines to 3ft and 7ft midgetips, chang­ing f ly lines due to boat pres­sure and changes in weather con­di­tions. They con­stantly tried to f ind open wa­ter and if they felt the f ish had dropped deeper, switched to fast glass in­ter­me­di­ates to get the f lies down fur ther, while f ish­ing it faster. Their best f ly was a Red Holo­graphic Di­awl Bach, but they also caught on pulled Gin­ger Hop­pers, Hare’s Ears and twotone yel­low and pink Mini Blobs. Both used White Boo­bies or Woofta Boo­bies on the point.

“They con­stantly tried to find open wa­ter and if they felt the fish had dropped deeper, switched to fast glass in­ter­me­di­ates to get the flies down...”

GeertJanssen­sre­ceives­thewin­ners'tro­phy from AWH'sMart­inFounds(right)andJohn Horsey

Jim Rigby caught the most fish over­all. JoanRus­sell­re­ceivedthe biggest­fishaward.

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