DAY ONE Session One
Arrive at Menteith, at 7.00AM, having got up at 4.30, for controller’s briefing. There will be 24 competitors in 12 boats. There are 15 controllers. Names are drawn for the morning session (8.00-11.00) and the 3 remaining are free to fish until the PM session due to start at 3.00.
The boat allocation is simplicity itself…….each controller is given a boat number 1-12. This however is not the number on the boat. The actual no. on the boat is determined by deducting the boat no. (not the no. on the boat) from 31…so the actual boat used as boat 1 is 31-1=30, boat 2 is 29 and so on. ‘Simples’.
I was in boat 12, or 17, with Rene from Luxemburg and George from USA, both nice chaps, one of whom spoke English. However, George and I were able to communicate fairly well, my mother being an American.
The bus with the competitors, one from each country, arrived a bit late and it was a rush to get out and be in position to start at 8.00. We got to the Gravel Pit, where George wanted to start, and had just started to fish when, on getting myself organised, I realised the measuring device (plastic gutter) was not in the boat. How that happened I have no idea. I was probably preoccupied with trying to understand the boat numbering system.
All fish had to be measured and released which was going to be difficult. To be honest I nearly panicked, having no other means of measuring fish to the nearest millimetre and fearing reprisals from Rene and George. I managed to phone Quint at the Lodge who waded out to the boat at Kates Brae with the gear.
As it happened neither of my crew caught anything so what was the fuss about?
There were no hard feelings and we all parted company on good terms. Filling in the scorecards was a piece of cake.
I was allowed to go out again with the afternoon session although Jim Law had to wake me, from a rather pleasant sleep in the car, for the afternoon briefing. To let you understand Jim and I, having three hours on our hands, went out in the boat for a couple of hours between sessions and all the fresh air was getting to me.
My crew for the session (3.00-6.00) were Jens from Germany and Terry from Ireland. Terry must have heard that I coped well with panic. All the controllers had their charges except me. His name was called without response and the boats were being launched. No Terry. Then, as I was about to leave without him, Terry appeared out of nowhere. All I can think he is a man after my own heart and was either sleeping or having trouble with the boat numbers.
After the morning session I thought I was perhaps a Jonah but I saw some action at last when Terry and Jens both got fish. The fish got ‘guttered’ and returned and details entered on the competitors' scorecard. The length is entered in millimetres and then again by crossing out the appropriate number in three columns eg. Fish 421mm….cross out 4 in the 100’s column, 2 in the ten’s column and 1 in the units column. Then put a cross on the type of fish, record time of catch, sign and have countersigned. You just about need a lawyer.
Orange blobs seemed to be order of the day, as far as I could see, retrieved at high speed (roleypoley or stripping) on sunk lines. I watched the Italian and Spaniard take ten and six respectively in the best boat of the day in testing conditions.
Only one session today and things are now going like clockwork. Bus on time. Gutter in boat. Boat numbering system cracked [boat 4(26)].
Clients today are Bert from Holland and Michal from Slovakia. Great guys and more chatty than some. Both get one fish with a couple of pike and a few lost.
Apparently Holland has no still water or, probably, river fisheries. Bert compared the Netherlands fly fishing team to the Jamaican bobsleigh team.
Difficult conversations can arise. For instance Jim Law asked one of the competitors in his boat, unbeknown to Jim, the reigning world champion from Czech Republic, if he had ever fished in the championships. Before Jim tells you, at his son’s wedding I asked Gary McAllister if he played football, just after he had been selected for Scotland.
Like my previous passengers, Bert and Michal are very impressed with Scotland and particularly the Trossachs. Michal, however, is not impressed with Scottish food and was going to Callander for a Chinese meal that evening. In fact he mentioned that once or twice. Good news of the day was that the Frenchman in the boat with John Horsey of England gave him a cuffing.
DAY THREE Session one
Manuel from Spain and Jim from Ireland are my cargo. Manuel has first command of the boat and wants to go to International Bay which is flat calm with fish moving. Both anglers have many follows, pulls and lose fish. Manuel ended up with two and Jim with one. In three hours we did not move more than about 150 yds from our starting point.
I heard that when asked by his controller where he wanted to go one of the competitors wanted to go to into ‘Katies Bra’. ‘Don’t we all’ was apparently his unspoken response.
This was a tough session. Everyone was now getting a bit tired after three days of early rises and hard fishing. Christophe from France spoke no English and Mark from Luxemburg who had some English had to translate. Both were quite demanding about the precise positioning of the boat without any particular reason or regard to other boats. Both also seemed to have brought all their personal possessions with them and there was very little room in the boat for the controller.
Even the fish were getting tired. On Monday the fish seemed to recover as soon as they were put back in the water. By Wednesday they were taking several minutes to recover. I suspect that these fish had been caught before and were pretty stressed.
With Mark’s first fish the hook did not come out as easily as usual for a barbless hook and I asked him if it was debarbed. He assured me all his flies were barbless and, when I inspected it, it did appear to be barbless. Christophe thought I had said it was not barbless and at the end of the session asked why I was allowing the fish. I explained my position but this did not satisfy Christophe who let Mark know what he thought and we didn’t part on the best of terms. In any event Mark’s controversial fish made no difference to the outcome of the competition. Mark finished with two, Christophe with one. I subsequently learned that Christophe was lying second in the individual points after the second day and that he and the French team were having a bad day, Christophe finishing 11th in the individual points and France going from 1st after day two to finish second behind England.
So that was that. An interesting and largely enjoyable experience.
On top of that the controllers were allowed to fish (catch & release) in the four hour period between morning and afternoon sessions and all afternoon on day 2 which, I have to say with all due modesty, was not fruitless.
If you ever get the chance to participate in one of these events, take it.