Friday the 19th of May saw Team England competing in the annual Spring International Match against Scotland, Wales and Ireland. I was very honoured this year to be selected to be part of the England Team.
As the preparations got under way with three practice days match day fishing was going to be tough with the trout having seen numerous flies in the previous days.
Over the three practice days we found several ‘hot spots’ which could be relied on to produce fish whilst other areas of the lake seemed to be totally devoid of fish. The conditions didn’t help too with bright sunshine and wind to suffering a months rainfall in 48 hours. Keeping careful records of our practice day catches helped us narrow down our fly patterns with a ‘shaggy’ hares ear being in number one position. Very much a change from the ‘skinny’ diawl backs that the locals use.
Come match day I drew top Scottish angler Kevin McCabe and we decided to head off towards Herons where a lot of fish had been showing in the practice days and we had both previously caught there. Bright sunshine and wind greeted us, it wasn’t going to be easy! I opted for a floating line set up with two damsel boobies and muskins either side as the fish all week had been high in the water. After an hour my line tightened up into a 3lb rainbow that had taken the pointed booby. Safely netted, thank you, the dreaded ‘doughnut’ had been avoided. A short time later Kevin’s rod arched over and a rainbow had taken his damsel booby too. One a piece.
Then nothing. Boats were moving about the lake a sure sign that no one is catching. We decided to give the front of the island a look and thankfully I took another on the first drift in. Then nothing again. A change of drift to the seat on the north shore produced one fish for Kevin. Then nothing, we swung by the rear of the island to see how the boats there were doing. It was evident that England were on four and fives, a great score compared to others. We took a couple of drifts in, but nothing we had missed our chance in this location. So with an hour left we drifted down the Woodford bank, unbelievably nothing between us, not a single pull. So we ended the day with two fish each, not a bad score considering the conditions.
Well done England, a rod average of 3 on a very tricky day but it was enough to win gold. Commiserations to the Irish who seemed to have it cracked on practice day with a lot of fish taken but it just didn’t happen on match day. Just goes to show in fishing no two days are ever the same.
So it was a gold medal for me, a massive a honour to represent your country and to win gold too. This was down to total team work from top to bottom. The guys working behind the scenes to make sure we wanted for nothing and the lads on practice days sticking to flies and lines they thought probably wouldn’t catch but helped to build a picture of the lake up. Brilliant Captain in Nik Long who was always there to answer a million questions.
A totally awesome experience, I would recommend this to everyone. Better to look back on life and say ‘I did that’ rather than to say ‘I wish I’d had a go at that’.