My first venue of the WFFC was Dedinky Lake. I knew from practice that it would not be easy.
6 weeks before the competition, my friend Raul and I finalized the last training session. After a full day of fishing with not-that-bad lake conditions (cloudy, steady wind, lower temperature and a bit of rain), I got only 4 fish. Quite a low number, considering we were the only boat fishing the lake that day. But we discovered a fly pattern that fish seemed to be keyed on, which gave us hope for a satisfying result.
Fast forward to the morning of September 13th. The bus to the lake departed at 5:55 a.m. from the competition headquarters. The trip took about 1h 45m and about 30 minutes before we arrived, the draw for boat partners was announced on the bus. I was lucky enough to be paired with Christian from Belgium. The gods decided he would be captain for the first half, and I would take over for the second 2 hours of the 4-hour long session: the captain chooses where to fish.
Arriving at the lake, I had enough time to prepare the equipment, so I took 30 minutes to observe the lake, to look for rising fish and see what the water clarity was. With my boat partner Christian, we agreed to work together to locate the fish regardless of who is the captain.
Unfortunately for us, the weather was not favourable for fly fishing. We "enjoyed" a sunny day with zero wind and a temperature of over 26°C.
I decided to use the new Arcay Otter 7wt rod. My strategy was to start for about 20 minutes with a fast intermediate line with a 3-fly setup and 0.19mm leader, hoping to find some active fish just below the surface.
Christian and I decided that the best initial strategy would be to stay close to the Slovak boat, expecting that the competitor from the host country knows better than anyone where the fish are. At 9 o'clock sharp, the game was on and the first flies touched the inert surface of the lake. My boat partner and I tried different retrieves without success while keeping an eye on what was happening around us. It was quiet in all boats. After about 30 minutes, seeing that Slovak angler had not hooked any fish, we realized it would be a very tough session. Normally, in the first 30 minutes, the fish are on fire. We continued to look for fish, some were still rising occasionally, keeping at an untouchable distance.
In the meantime, the lack of cooperation from the fish and the lousy fishing conditions led me to change the strategy. I switched to a Di5 line with a set-up of 2 flies on a 0.17mm leader, the top dropper a pink leech with a golden bead (as an attractor). On the point was the one that produced fish during practice: a black leech with a chartreuse bead. Christian used a Di3 line at the same time. Immediately after we started chasing the rises, Christian had the first attack and a fish on for about 5 seconds without success to land and score it. We kept watching the neighbouring boats without seeing any activity or fish caught.
After about an hour, I saw the first fish caught and put in the net for measuring. Together with Christian, we immediately decided to go to the area where there were probably more active fish. Meanwhile, a light breeze started to slightly raise the gloss of the water. Arriving in the "hot zone," I also saw a second fish caught in a boat about 80 meters away from our boat. I felt the first light tap on my first cast in that area. A persistent fish continued to give me light taps during the retrieve, but I kept calm and didn't set the hook until I felt a slight weight on the line. When I knew it finally had the fly in its mouth, I set the hook, and in about 5 seconds, a fish of 28 cm was lying on the measuring troph. A small yet very significant one considering the fishing conditions and the number of fish caught. It came 1 hour and 20 min into the session and took the black leech with chartreuse bead. I felt a total relaxation in my whole body, knowing that this fish can be decisive and make a big difference for me and my team.
We had no single touch for the next 2 hours and 40 minutes. My boatmate Christian tried everything he could. I changed flies and alternated between lines. We moved and tried to find fresh fish, but nothing produced results. In the last half hour, I found out that they were competitors with two fish caught, information that led me to try with a D7 line at depth to capture a larger lake trout that would give me the edge over others. Unfortunately, it didn't work, and I stayed until the end with one fish.
In the end, the lake session was won with 2 fish. 5 fishermen had two fish, and 8 had one. I placed 12th with my 28 cm "golden" trout, followed at 13th place by an angler with a smaller fish. The remaining 15 fishermen in the group blanked, including the competitor from host country Slovakia. Considering the general evolution of the session and fishing conditions, I was more than satisfied with the result.