Back home again after a hectic, sometimes tiring but certainly a full on programme and one of the most enjoyable fishing trips I’ve had - this year’s 5 Nation Fly Fishing Championships were quite simply, fantastic.
Hosted by Ireland the venue choices were excellent and the waters all fished very well indeed, although I must admit I felt a wee bit sceptical when they had included the statement of ‘There will be no blanks’ in the initial invitation, but as it turned out they were true to their word. Each water produced lighting fast, hard fighting beautiful browns happy to take a well presented fly, in fact so much so that I felt right at home. Add to the fish a warm and friendly welcome, excellent organising, breathtaking scenery and excellent beer and food, what more could a visiting angler hope for?
Loch Leane caught a few of our advance party by surprise, especially those more familiar with Scotland’s very own Loch Leven. Loch Leven is estimated to be a mere half the size of its Irish cousin but having just returned from a foray on Wester Ross’s mighty Fionn and Maree Lochs I felt a wee bit more comfortable with the scale. ‘Break it down to smaller sizes and concentrate on the features, if you can’t see the bottom then I’d suggest you might be too deep,’ was the advice offered to the team and something that proved spot on.
Gougane Barra was a smaller stunningly beautiful choice for the bank venue, and where yours truly shone through winning the event with best basket caught over the four sessions held there, ‘Treat it like a Highland Loch’ was my initial thoughts and it certainly lived up to this.
River Allow, a tributary of the famous Blackwater, was the location of the river sections of this competition and another beautiful rugged wee stream full of character and trout. My section was pretty heavily tree covered but, not daunted, I worked away producing some fine fish happy to accept the ‘Dirty Duster’.
In the end Scotland A lifted team Gold ahead of Ireland C and Belguim with England’s Ben Bangham the individual Gold winner ahead of Irelands very own John Buckley (Silver) and Scotland’s Dick Logan (Bronze). As for me I ran them all close finishing a mere one place point behind Dick for a personal best and very proud fourth place. Satisfaction increased with two session firsts in my return and the fact I pipped Ben on the final session when we were both placed head to head in the boat on Loch Leane.
But medals or prizes aside I felt it didn’t matter, the place and people will live long in my memory. It is somewhere I would love to return to, especially as a whistle-stop tour of what’s on offer merely gave a glimpse to the angling potential in this part of Ireland. All that’s left to say now is a huge thanks to all who gave up their time to put this together, all the sponsors who helped the event go ahead in the first place, all the controllers and officials for giving up their time to oversee and guide everyone over the trip and all the visiting anglers for coming along; I hope each and every one enjoyed it as much as Team Scotland did.
Finally a huge thanks to Partridge for the donation of hooks to Team Scotland they were gratefully received and played a part in our success. Ok time to plan my next trip, although I know it’ll have to be something really special to live up to this one.