As part of the Stirling International Angling Festival, the Devon played host as one of the venue of the Five Nations Flyfishing Competition where teams from Scotland, Ireland, England, France and Belgium fished the Devon, Carron, Carron Reservoir and Lake of Menteith over two days.
The DAA provided volunteers to act as controllers on both days under the supervision of the SANA organisers.
Conditions on the Devon were far from perfect, with the river at bare bones level, but I understand that some competitors had very successful sessions. We await the “final scores” with interest.
I was able to assist on Saturday and was allotted beat nine approximately a kilometre upstream from the Black Bridge. With my first competitor Richard from Co. Cork representing Ireland we spied three or four fish of about a 1lb right at the bottom of the beat before the official start time, by the time he could start they had disappeared. He was able to catch the inevitable salmon parr but was not able to catch a regulation fish.
Richard’s approach would be completely alien to the majority of DAA members, casting teams of three “spidery but not spider” wet flies upstream and keep constant contact by rapid retrieves. His casting was astonishingly accurate and he only once got tangled in the undergrowth. He was fantastic company for the morning
After a short break while the morning’s Devon anglers headed for lunch and to the Carron, the Carron anglers made it to the Devon.
My afternoon competitor was Claude from Luxemburg who was representing Belgium. Claude took an almost scientific approach to preparing his cast, carefully measuring the distance between droppers. His approach to the river would be even more alien to DAA members, than Richards. Using a 10′ #2 rod and very small nymphs (size 22) his casting rarely involved any fly line (occasionally he might use 3 or 4 foot of the fly line) he probed every bit of water without disturbance. He was a dab hand using an 8′ rod and dry fly. Sadly he met Richard’s fate catching only parr but came within millimetres of a regulation catch. I suspect that a kinder beat his approach would have been extremely successful.
Claude was in truth quite frustrated at his lack of success on the beat, which I can completely understand as I am certain that on other beats he would have filled his pockets! To spend three hours watching his approach to trout angling was a pleasure and education.
Having delivered Claude back to the meet point, it was interesting to exchange opinions with the other DAA controllers. I think we were all impressed with the standard of angling, learnt a lot from watching the French and Belgium anglers alternative approach to casting, learnt from the skilled traditional anglers and at least for the moment thought about investing in a set of skateboarders knee pads beloved by these guys!
A long but interesting day, from which I learned a lot and thanks to Richard and Claude I know have a bundle of new flies to try and copy plus several new casting strategies!