After qualifying for the irish team back in September 2013, I could not wait to take part in the European Championships with my fellow team mates. eventually the time came after alot of preparation, fly tying, and buying the last bits of kit and tackle required for the competition.on the first day after alot of travelling from 3am we were eager to get a cast in the sarca river that evening. At first glance the river looks so nice but when you get down to wade and fish in the river it was abit intimidating because of the force of the flow and the milky tint in the water due to previous rain.It would be hard to find a river back home with the same character, fast flowing and bolder strewn, I knew I was out of my comfort zone.
The irish team consisted of John Willis(team captain) , Hubert Smith, Michael O Driscoll, Albert Mulhall and myself, also Morris Willis the team manager.all top irish flyfishermen. We had plenty of time for practice prior to the competition for testing flies and getting use to fishing this new river.we had two great guides working with us Alessandro freeshe and Roberto. these guys were amazing, we could not have been more lucky to have these guys on our side.
The river had a great stock of brown trout and marble trout and a few grayling few and far between.
Competition time came and on the first morning we woke up to heavy rain which was not welcome, there was fears of big floods and very hard fishing. My first session was tuff going with only landing three trout and dropping two, it was not easy with a coloured rising river and a flow that could sweep you off your I was questioning my ability for dealing with this river. I was happy because I didn't blank.The second session started abit slow but I eventually got into the swing of things landing 7 trout and 1 grayling.I managed to drop 4 trout in this session but still happy to land 8 fish.The third session also started slow but I finally started to meet trout, this session took alot of work wading and searching pockets in the river. at this stage of the competition the water cleared up so I had to be alot more sneaky and cautious when approaching potential lies,not only that the fish had been caught so many times.I ended up with nine trout for that session and I was very happy with that.For my next session it was going to be on sector 4 where big numbers were coming off the beats so I knew I would have to work hard to do well.The fishing was abit tricky with the water really clear and skinny and the fish with sore mouths. I managed 20 trout and dropped close to 10 fish, I think with the fish being caught so many times they were weary of my flies and they may not have took my flies right so they were badly hooked, that's the only reason I can put the losses down to.
Finally my biggest fear came session 5 on laga nembia, the lake session. the fishing has been hard on the lake all week and I was afraid of blanking due to amount of people blanking during the competition and lake fishing is not one of my strong points. The water is that clear you can see the trout swim past you and it's hard to know where to cast and not only that they can see you too! on my first peg in that session I had nothing, there was no ripple so I could see everything swim past my fly and it was terrible to watch,my next peg looked terrible with bushes all round it made casting difficult, there was a nice ripple on the water in this corner where I was so I started retrieving two nymphs slow and next thing you I got a take, all I could think was don't get off, don't get off.Safely landed I was delighted I didn't blank and I could relax. The was pressure is off.In the relaxed state I managed to land two more trout in this peg,for my lake session I just had 3 trout and they were all welcome. I was happy to finish the competition on a good note.
The winners were the czechs followed by the French then the polish, these guys are serious fishermen and are hard to beat no matter where they go. I'm not sure what makes them so good its hard to know or will we ever know. it's hard to come close to these guys they have my full respect. The irish team came a respectable 8 th place.we were piped for 7 th by the English they had equal placing points but a greater number of fish than us. all in all we had a good competition and we as an Irish team performed to the best of our ability and I am proud to have the honour to fish with these guys and represent my country in the 21 st European Championships. I hope to achieve this prevelige again in the future, tight lines Eamonn c