World Fly Fishing Championship 2009 – Scotland
This story I dedicate to Jim Quigley who is no longer with us. Jim and I became good friends and he helped me a lot to achieve these results and showed me Scotland in its most beautiful way. I will never forget what you done for me Jim !
The 2009 World Fly Fishing Championship was held in Scotland in the provincial town of Drymen. The competition during the Championship was fierce and luck played a larger part than usual. 27 countries from all continents participated. Bulgaria was represented by yours truly as an individual contestant. There were other individual representatives from Malta, Hungary and Sweden. I recently came back to Bulgaria and I am anxious to tell the readers precisely what happened before and during the world championship so that there are no misunderstandings and rumors as is often the case.
I went about a week early in order to train on the lakes or the lochs as they call them there. I found a Scottish guide – Jim Quigley, who was very enthusiastic to help me with the preparation for the Championship and really helped me a lot. I can say we became good friends. My training went on for 3 days on a pool with American trout– one day on a lake with Balkan trout and one day on the river. All three spots were similar to the lakes and the river, where we were going to fish in the contest.
I caught fish everywhere, fewest on the lake with rainbow trout – around 6 spotted, but very beautiful and feisty fish. Fishing was done mainly with wet Irish and Scottish flies and was quite interesting. On one of the days on the lake with Rainbow trout, there was a club contest and the person who came first got 7 fish. I got 17 for the same time, because I noticed the feeding brown trout under the trees overhanging the river and I went for dry fly, which was a winning strategy. When I told them that in a lake with rainbows , I had caught 16 brownies and only one rainbow trout, the local fishermen laughed and even the guard was really surprised. But it was the very truth!
On the last day of the training, I was on the river – the River Tummel, an amazingly beautiful salmon river – a principal tributary to the River Tay. I had fished on such a fast river only in Norway, where you get knee-deep in the water and the gravel under your feet begins to disappear! In the three-hour session I made in order to experience conditions similar to these of the competition, I caught 4 fish and lost 3. Only brown trout – very feisty fish. The biggest was about 40cm. I made my conclusions and headed to the hotel where all the contestants were to stay.
Opening and official training
Festive opening, great dinner, many friends and acquaintances and on the whole a good mood. The only dampener was that there was no one to take a picture of me with the flag and it got me down a little that I was absolutely alone the entire time. After the ceremony, we all headed to our rooms. Each day my program was one and the same – fishing during the day and tying flies in the evening.
On the first day of the official training, we didn’t catch a lot of fish in my group, because the weather changed abruptly and the sun came out, which in Scotland is an event in itself – and this sun shone throughout the entire championship, which is why so few fish were caught. On the second day of the official training, I didn’t go, but instead I went with a very good friend of mine – Croatian, to another lake to train together in peace and I believe our training was really useful! In the evening, I tied the obligatory 10 flies for the day and I went to bed.
Day one was only of the best fishing days in my career up to that point. In the morning, I was on a lake with rainbow trout and in the afternoon on a river. On the lake, I was on a boat with an Australian. He told me he knew where the fish are and asked me if I’d like him to lead. I told him I didn’t mind, because I wasn’t acquainted with it. We went to the very far end of the lake. The contest started and on the second time I cast I bagged my first fish– a rainbow of about 44cm in length. In the Scottish and English lakes, rainbows are over 40cm so that the cormorants and the pikes won’t eat them. Catching this fish reassured me and I continued to fish with confidence. In the middle of the round, I caught a second one. The fish were biting on Blobs, which is a typically English way of fishing stocked trout with attractor flies. Even though they stocked them, the fish were quite hard to catch. I caught a third fish and just when I was about to rejoice I saw it was a pike! It didn’t count; quite a few pikes had been caught in this contest. Finally, the Australian caught a fish as well. Ten minutes before the end, I caught a third one and finished with three fish. The first of the E group, where I was, had 6 fish and I, with my 6 fish, came sixth out of 24 people in the group. For those who are not acquainted with this, the contestants of the teams divide in 5 groups and in each group there is one contestant of each team. It is not important how many fish you get, but what your place in the group is. This is why there were people with less fish than me, but who were ahead of me in the final rankings. So 6th place in the sector was relatively good. Keeping in mind that there were quite a few experts in this type of fishing, but I had learned a little something as well – I’ve lived in this country for 2 years.
In the afternoon, they took us to the river and it took my breath away. This is one of the most magnificent rivers I’ve ever fished on – monstrous in size, exceptionally beautiful – the River Tay – the greatest river in Scotland. I drew lots to be in sector 6 – which until the end of the contest was one of the most productive sectors. The Frenchman before me had caught three fish, the largest of which about 30cm and was first out of 24 people. I started to fish on nymphs and I knew I had to be very persistent… I caught about 6 undersized fish in total before I caught the first fish within the size limit. Each fish in the river was precious, because there were dozens people with no catch at all! I’ve never been so happy for getting a 21cm grayling. I netted it and I now had one fish. The norm was 20cm. In 5 minutes, I once again crossed half the river and caught a brown trout, which seemed to me to be 20cm, but after it was measured it turned out to be 19.5cm and the Scot said “No, sir, sorry!” I somehow got over this and went back to the river. An hour before the end, I hooked a good fish, but I lost it. 15 minutes before the end, the rod nearly flew out of my hands. I had hooked a good fish and after an emotional struggle I managed to net a beautiful 41 cm brown trout. This one they wrote down. And 3 minutes before the end, I caught one more 35 cm brown trout and thus I finished with three fish. Which was very good for the river. However, the Czech guy before me got 4. The Pole also got 4. The Frenchman had performed a real miracle and even he couldn’t believe that he had caught 9 fish. All others had 2, 1 or 0 fish. And I ranked 4 out of 24 people. If they had accepted my small fish, I would have been second, because no one else got browntrout such as mine. Anyway, the first day was over and I was 11th in the individual rankings, which was quite good.
Unfortunately, the results from the two lakes Leven and Awe scared everyone – 6-7 fish were caught and there were lots of people with no catch. The fish had hidden in the deep, perhaps scared by the sun.
I had only one session – in the morning. Lake Awe – the largest lake in Scotland – very beautiful. I was in a boat with a Pole. For 3 hours of casting, I had only one bite which was something because some had no bites at all. The Pole fished a pike of approximately 5kg, but there was no trout. Fish were caught by six people. We were 18 empty-handed people, some of us very good fishermen! This score of zero moved me to 29th position because there were very poor results at the other lakes, too. Only 5 fish had been caught at Leven.
Lake Leven – a lake famous around the world for the fact that the fish in it are distributed worldwide and have exceptionally pure genes – fish from this lake are present in New Zealand, Australia, America. Unfortunately, I could not catch one of them. For three hours, I was pulling monster-sized streamers with a D7 sinking cord which cuts through the water. Everyone was fishing in this way and it was pure luck to come across fish. Naturally, the Scot came first. He showed us his house which was less than 5km from the lake. 6 people in total caught fish. I was with a Belgian in the boat and both of us came away empty-handed.
In the afternoon, we were on Lake of Menteith– again looking for rainbow trout. I was with the Italian who won the session with five fish. I dare say that I was fishing pretty well and he surpassed me in nothing but luck. From casting 5 times he caught five fish. I fished 3 and dropped at least 4 hooked fish and had several bites. There was drama with a huge fish which was subsequently fished by the Italian – a 71cm rainbow! The fish was running after my mayfly but it could not catch it and while it was still in front of the boat and we couldn’t see it, the Italian swung and caught it. At the end of the competition, my third fish was 48cm and I remember this very clearly. When I looked at my results in the evening, it was written that my biggest fish was 44cm and that I was at in 13th position out of 24 people. If they had written down the size of my fish properly, I would have moved at least two positions ahead. I wasn’t upset when the Italian caught my fish, neither when I dropped 4 fish that could have got me the first place, but when I saw this I got angry. I tried to protest but they told me that I couldn’t because I had to submit the application within 2 hours after the competition is over! So how can I submit an application when the results come out 5 hours after the end of the competition?! But let’s not spoil my material… Obviously, they did this to enable the Scot to take the bronze, because it was hanging by a thread and if this fish was recorded properly I would have beat the Scot and he was going below me in the rankings! So my final ranking was 47th, though if it was properly calculated I would be 44th or 45th. And if I had had the chance to catch one fish on the “lucky” lakes, I would be world champion! But that’s a lot of ifs.
Ian Bar came first – with one fish each on the difficult lakes and only one first place at the river – a total of 13 fish. The Canadian, Donald, came second. He was in my group – a great fisherman. In third finished a Belgian. Ian Bar was really lucky, because he had caught the fish at Lake Leven in the last minute and that made him world champion. Congratulations! I was expecting him or John Horsy to become champions, but even John came away empty-handed from one of the lakes. Only 5 people out of 120 had a catch in every round. Respectively, they are in the first five.
The team rankings are – England, France, Scotland, Finland, Wales, Czech Republic, etc.
It was a good competition in which luck, however, played a big role and many of the competitors were unable to show their real capabilities at the expense of others who were lucky.
I could have done better, but on the whole I am satisfied, because in the places where one could catch a fish I was catching it, and if I had had some luck my ranking would’ve been completely different.
I want to thank everyone who supported me, above all my parents, then Dr. Misho, Itso – who was calling me every day so I can keep him posted and Stoyan Filipov – who also helped and gave me a lot of support!