Report and images provided by: Glenn Eggleton & Mischa Berndtsson
The 36th FIPS-Mouche World Fly Fishing Championships (“WFFC”) were held in Vail, Colorado between the 11th and 17th of September 2016. Teams from 24 countries competed in this year’s championships.
The Australian team, included Jon Stagg, Christopher Bassano, Brian Hughes, Tom Jarman and Lubin Pfeiffer with Glenn Eggleton as the reserve. Team Captain was Joe Riley and Team Manager was Mischa Berndtsson.
The WFFC were held over 3 days of 5 sessions. Each session has a duration of 3 hours. This year the venues were Eagle River (upper), Eagle River (lower), Blue River, Colorado River and Sylvan Reservoir fished Loch Style from drift boats. For this competition all species caught over 20cm were scored, with the largest fish caught a whopping 88cm.
The individual winners were; Gold Medal: Julien Daguillanes of France; Silver Medal: Jordi Cortina of Spain; Bronze Medal: Lance Egan of USA. The Australian team filled the following individual places; Jon Stagg 16th; Tom Jarman 18th; Christopher Bassano 36th;Lubin Pfeiffer 40th and Brian Hughes 101st.
Australia placed 7th overall with the top 10 team placings were Gold Medal; Spain, Silver Medal; France, Bronze Medal; USA. Followed by Czech Republic, Slovakia, Finland, Australia, Italy, South Africa and Bosnia. The Spanish win made it two Gold Medal years in a row for Spain with the Spanish team having won the Gold Medal in Bosnia in 2015. An outstanding achievement.
After Day 1 of competition Jon Stagg was placed first individually following two brilliant river sessions. Unfortunately, Jon was unable to maintain that momentum slipping back to 14th place following a frustrating third session on Sylvan Reservoir. Sylvan Reservoir is a forty acre lake with many small rainbows and brook trout. Practice sessions were not permitted on the lake before the competition. Some competitors managed to select catching flies, determine the depth at which the fish were holding and discover a retrieve that the fish found irresistible. Those that succeeded in these regards caught in excess of 25 fish for the 3 hour session but many competitors struggled to find these necessary elements and only caught fish numbers in the single digits.
After session 3 Tom Jarman fishing in only his first WFFC was placed 5th. Tom’s solid run came to an end in session 4 when he drew a particularly tough beat on the Lower Eagle River. Tom’s beat had not produced a single fish in the first 3 sessions and Tom did not touch a fish until 5 minutes from the end of his session when he hooked a large rainbow which he could not stop from escaping under a bank.
When several members of the Mongolian team were not permitted to enter the USA the organisers needed to find several ghost anglers to fish in the vacant competition beats to ensure fairness. Casey Mattson, partner of Lubin Pfeiffer accepted an invitation to be a ghost angler. Casey has only recently taken up competition fly fishing through Fly Fish Australia Inc. Now nicknamed “Genghis Khan”, Casey fished very well catching fish in all 5 sessions and ranking ahead of many well-known international anglers. Casey has a big angling future in front of her and it is hoped that her example encourages other female anglers to embrace competition fly fishing.
Placing 7th was a very encouraging result for the Australian team. This was the highest placing by Australia since the year 2000 and eyes are now focussed firmly on Slovakia in 2017.