2017 World Fly Fishing Championships Slovakia, Report 2 - Preparation.

By Christopher Bassano.

To read report number 1 first please click the link below:

2017 World Fly Fishing Championships Slovakia, Report 1 - Preparation. 

Report 2

I was met at the airport in Ljubljana by my good friend, Yann Caleri and his girlfriend, Sarah. Yann had been working with the French Youth team at the world championships a few days earlier and they had won the gold medal. He was clearly chuffed and so he should be. Yann was a terrific competition fly fisherman when he competed, having fished in seven world championships with six top ten finishes. I don't think anyone could boast such a consistent record. Unfortunately, he never did win an individual medal of any sort but multiple team medals do sit on his desk at home. As he always says to me, "I am the king of the chocolate medal", meaning he couldn't ever finish in the top three. I wish he had because not only is he a class angler, but he is also a wonderful guy. 

Yann helped me organise my bag delivery but that was not to occur until 9pm. I was now in my favourite river fishing destination on the planet, without any gear. Yann had a spare rod, reel, flies, etc but he is slightly vertically challenged so getting boots that fitted me was not going to happen. After a couple of Espresso's we hit the road and drove through Bled. It is famous for the magnificent, turquoise lake and castles in the area. It is a unique place and although we simply drove around the lake and didn't stop (no time to stop when you are going fishing), it was impressive enough for me to want to come back one day and have a look around. Of course, that would have to be when the fishing season was closed.

We managed to find our way to the accommodation we had booked and buy a fishing licence. While many things are very cheap in Slovenia, fishing licences are not. A quick lunch was on the cards at the local pub where were greeted by a waiter whose first question was whether he should speak in Slovenian, English, German, Italian or Spanish. Yann and Sarah speak French and I speak "strayan" but English seemed to be the closest dialect. He seemed a little grumpy but certainly perked up when a German family arrived.

For the first time since leaving Australia, the meal was not recommendable and being in hurry, we threw it down and went fishing. The Sava Bohinka was the river we were to fish today. I had read about it but this was to be first experience actually fishing it. It is your typical crystal clear Slovenian river with far too many rainbows in it. We looked for grayling but were unable to find them which meant we were to chase "fresh water possums" for the day. It is hard to describe the clarity of the water because gin is far more discoloured. Depth is nearly impossible to judge but simply double the depth you think it is and times that number by five. I can remember a little bit of this style of fishing from my last trip to Slovenia. The rules in the country are that you can only use one fly at a time and that fly must be barbless. I only have barbless hooks so that was not a problem. Getting one fly to the depth required when fish don't want to move to take the fly is not an easy task. Basically, you have to make the cast a long way in front of a sighted fish and get the nymph to the correct depth when it reaches the fish. Most fish are only eating small nymphs at this time of year which increases the degree of difficulty. I do love this style of fishing. It is very challenging but all sight fishing. The fish are not at all spooky but again, the depth is so hard to judge along with the multitude of currents upstream of the fish which your fly has to navigate in order to find its way down to the fish.

I decided to wet wade and put on my black, compression pants from SKINS. I like to travel in these as they are good for blood flow when on long haul flights. I could not wear any socks as Yann's shoes were so small. I had a pocket with some tippet in it and a lanyard containing flies and everything else I might need. The sight of me wearing SKINS is not one I would wish upon anybody. I scared a few small children and brought some humour to a couple of other anglers days but I kept telling myself that it was better than wearing a pair of budgie smugglers.  

I polaroided a fish or two sitting on the bottom of the river and moved into what I thought was a good position. I made a lot of casts and drifts without getting any reaction from the fish. Of course, I blamed the fly and changed it. That one didn't work any better so I blamed it again and used a different one. After a while it was clear that my entire fly box was to blame for my lack of success. If there had been a mirror there, I would have needed a good hard look at myself. I swallowed some pride (a big piece) and moved my position, changed my leader and my cast and all of the sudden, the drift felt better. The fly drifted close to the fish I was eyeing off, the leader seemed to twitch, I struck and yes! A bent rod. Much to my surprise, the fish jumped and was off down stream in a flash. I say 'surprised' because the fish I was casting to was still sitting on the bottom, totally oblivious to what was going on. I had hooked a fish a meter away from the one I was trying to catch. I had potted the pink ball when I was aiming for the black. I didn't care as it was my first Slovenian fish for the trip. If I kept fishing this badly, it was likely to be my last. The fish are very strong in spite of missing a fin or two from the hatchery. Fighting these strong, cold currents builds fit and fast fish and this was as good a fight from a rainbow as I had had for sometime. If it had been a brown trout, I would be speaking even more glowingly about it. I took a 'selfie' for the first time in my life and released the fish.

Yann arrived just in time to see me release the fish. He had lost his phone which he had placed on the roof of the car when we left the restaurant. A cyclist had picked it up and Yann called him from Sarah's phone. All was now well.

Yann assumed I had been slaying them as the fish swim away to rejoin what appeared to be a school of rainbows. I must have looked proud of myself because he had a smile on his face that suggested he was happy for me. Now that I think about it, I was wearing those SKINS.

I had done some sight fishing for trout and grayling before with Yann and he is a master. I don't mean that he is good, he is exceptional. Catching them on dries is one thing but nymphing without an indicator in water like this is another. To say he putting on a clinic would be an understatement. He was awesome. I stopped and watched him on many occasions, choosing to stand alongside him and quiz him about what he was doing and why rather than fish to fish myself. It all made sense but I still had to do it. Sometimes people make things look so easy when in fact, it is extremely difficult. I videoed him catching fish after fish and of course, the video does not do justice to the skill I was witnessing. I will try to post some of the video but if I can not do it now, I may be able to do a better job when I get home. Well, my wife is the tech savvy one in our house. The world lost me when they started selling bread that was already sliced.

To see the video please click the link below to go to our 'Rainbow Lodge Guided Fly Fishing Tasmania' facebook page:

Rainbow Lodge Facebook Page

To say that I had learned something that day would be a gross understatement. I started to catch at regular intervals and every time I found one that was proving a little bit too challenging, I would call in the master and its demise was about as much fun as you could have when catching rainbows. Most fish weighed between 1.5 and 2.5lb with the odd larger specimen and all fought very well.

Remind me once I get home and I will be happy to write at length about how Yann is so successful with this technique. They eat the dry fly so well over here when they are rising. It is 'candy from a baby' stuff. Which reminds me, whoever came up with that saying did not try to take a lolly pop away from my oldest daughter!

Catching as many fish as we did is one thing but learning what I learned on this day made the experience unforgettable. 

Back at the lodgings I had wifi for the first time on my trip and it was delightful to talk to my family on video link. While these things make you a little bit more homesick, they are important times when you have a young family and are leaving your wife at home for a few weeks to look after them and do everything else.

After a good nights sleep, we drove further into the north west of Slovenia and the Soca River valley. What a place it is. Again, we headed straight for our accommodation which this time, was at Villa Nobles. It is run by Branco Gasparen and his wife, Vlasta. The small houses which we stay in, over look a typically green, tree filled valley with wonderful view in every direction. It was not the first time I had stayed here and was quickly reminded about the steepness of the staircase when I entered house. Going upstairs is like climbing into a tree house. It is a good thing that each room has an ensuite because you wouldn't want to be heading downstairs in the middle of the night.

In a hurry again, we bought fishing licences for the remainder of the day and dashed into town for a pizza at the only restaurant we could find. The pizzas were very, very good but once again, we were in a hurry to make the most of the 61Euro licence we had bought. We drive up the Soca and stopped on a bridge to watch a plethora of kayakers making around, where it is possible to Polaroid fish from over 100m away when standing on a bridge. We watched big trout and grayling swimming around under the kayaks and go back in station as soon as the kayakers pass. So many of these boats come down the river every day that the fish are now well and truly accustomed to it and don't care. Catching a fish four meters behind a kayak is not difficult. 

We continued until we found some quieter water and set about searching for fish. The river seemed void of fish in areas and then over populated in others. After a stop or two to look at the water, we finally found an area that held fish. Four fisherman, standing in the water was the tell tale sign!

We slipped in behind them and started catching fish immediately. As usual, the fly pattern was not as important as the drift and Yann and I caught untold numbers of fish in a very small area. These fish were free rising and we could Polaroid them. I did get some lovely footage of Yann catching a couple of fish on the dry fly which we could easily Polaroid. Again, I will try to post it at some stage. The grayling were elusive and again, we couldn't find them. That is not because we couldn't see them, it is because they weren't there. I can say that with authority because you could spend your day counting grains of sand on the river bed in ten foot of water. Amazing though it may seem, we actually polaroided fish until 8:30pm! The combination of clear water and mountains rising from the river bed meant we could look into the dark of the mountain and not the flat white light of the sky. They were easy to see.

The next day would be my final fishing day in Slovenia and we decided to fish the Idrija River. I and fished this river once before and it is the river in which I caught my largest ever grayling of 51.6 cm. I was pumped.

River levels are low and clear all over Europe at this time of year and now every river runs much lower throughout the year. This meant we had to stay out of the water as much as possible and switch into stealth mode. That's fine for Yann when he is three foot tall. We parked in the same place in which we had parked a few years earlier and headed across and down the river to a likely spot. Large trout are easily spotted in the most likely spots but it was grayling that we were chasing. Yann spotted a massive grayling and kindly gave me the first shot. We discussed the approach, flies and leaders to ensure that I had no excuses. This was a waste of time because I am a guide so I can always think of an excuse. I am not sure what the barometer was doing or whether the moon was in the correct phase but I just hoped that I shouldn't have 'been there yesterday' when the fishing was unbelievable!

I delivered my first cast well up from the fish but slightly to my side. No doubt it was a nervous cast as I was being watched by the master and I didn't want to spook the first trophy grayling of the trip. The fly drifted down inside the fish and as it did, the grayling swam across the river and opened its little mouth. It reminded me of how I behave when a piece if pavlova is sitting on the table at the other side of the room. I lifted and the rod was met with plenty of resistance. All I had to do now was not break him off. It went in some tearing runs and jumped spectacularly. Yann turned on the video on my iPhone on and started filming. I couldn't blame him for not having it on from the start. Like me, he would have been expecting this to take a lot longer than it did. The fish was almost done fighting when the fly just came out. I had the same sideways pressure on the fish that I had had all fight but it was not meant to happen and off it swam. The disappointment started to manifest itself in stomach pains but before I had the chance to pass out, Yann shrugged his shoulders and walked off. He was probably laughing.

I walked downstream while Yann slaughtered some large rainbows in the original pool. Sitting by the side of the river, I found another large grayling which was clearly nymphing. I changed my fly to one of a different weight and as I began to make my cast, a fisheries officer came out from the bush behind me to check my licence. I duly handed it over and he was not happy! It seemed we were fishing in a 'trophy' section of the river and our licence (another 61euro) did not cover this section. How could 61 euro per day not cover the entire European continent? He had already seen Yann and given him a going over before coming to me. I mentioned that I was from Australia and that the poor signage on both the licence and the areas had led to this unfortunate incident. Once he learned that I lived in Tasmania, his demeanour changed and I was now his best mate. I don't think they like the French because he was still snarling at Yann as we followed him to an area of the river in which we could fish. I gave him a "Trout Fish Tasmania" sticker and we were off and fishing again.

The water obviously did not look anywhere near as good as the previous water and the fish numbers were also down. Water clarity was also at rock bottom. Sixty one Euros doesn't give you much in Europe. This was going to be easy! How many times do thoughts like this come back to bite you on the arse? Unfortunately for my arse, this was no exception. My first cast was eaten well by the fish and I missed it equally as well. Subsequent casts went without interest and this was to be the story of the next two and half hours. Every time a new fly was delivered, the fish appeared to eat it, only to have the fly pulled out of its mouth. I even gave the rod to the the master for a while and watched the same thing unfold. We literally spent two and a half hours on the fish! I absolutely love this fishing. I love it, love it, love it when fish are clearly feeding but you can not catch them. It means that to get it, you have to get everything perfect...usually.

After the aforementioned amount of time, not only had the fish not been spooked, but it decided to rise! This changed the game dramatically. Now it would eat a dry fly! The first fly went on and the fish followed it and turned away at the last minute. A quick fly change and the first drift over the fish was met with that glorious sight of a fish rising from the bottom of the river bed to eat the dry. Somehow, I didn't manage to snap it off on the strike (more luck than good management) and another good fight ensued. The fish was in a tail of a fast run so keeping him in the pool in which I hooked him was a priority but that is not easy on such light tippet. These are the times when you are thankful for good knots and slower fly rods. Well, at least I knew my rod was slow.

The fish eventfully came to the net and I was a relieved man. It measured 45cm and was in as good condition as you could ever hope for. My day was complete. I sat on a few rocks and watched Yann catch a number of lovely little browns and the odd 'possum'. It was a great way to end my fishing time in Slovenia.

We ate like kings as Vlasta cooked us four course meals every night and went to bed with full bellies and smiles on our faces. 

My final day in Slovenia was spent driving back to Ljubljana and catching up on some much needed sleep. We found a lovely hotel close to the airport and I had to say goodbye to Yann and Sarah. They were off to a reunion in France while I was going to Prague early the next morning. On checking in, I found out that we were only ten minutes from the airport. I wanted to be there an hour and a half before the seven o'clock flight. When booking a taxi through the hotel, I doubled the 'ten minutes', and decided to go two hours before the flight in case something went wrong. A wake up call would prevent me from sleeping in  and I went to my room to lie down. Relaxing on the bed, I turned the television on and to my amazement, unlike in Tasmania, the TV here has more than just Peppa Pig, Mickey Mouse Club House and Bananas in Pyjamas on it. Wow!

I found an American channel called something like, "The Outdoor Channel" which was basically shooting or fishing or shooting and fishing or shooting fish. It is as entertaining as it is humorous as guys take their wives deer hunting, hunting with bows and shooting guns large enough to take down a small aircraft. They save the bigger guns for themselves. I drifted off to sleep knowing that my phone would ring in about three hours time.  

As a back up plan (you need these in Europe) I had set an alarm on my phone. It was my alarm that woke me and I jumped into the shower before heading downstairs for my taxi. The man at the desk looked at me and said, "I am so sorry that I forgot your wake up call." What do you say to that? It was one minute before I was to be picked up and there was no sign of the taxi. That is a little unusual because taxis are normally waiting for you. I asked again at the desk about the taxi and was assured that it was coming. Five minutes later the concierge came to see me to say that there had been a stuff up and the taxi was now on its way. It is upsetting that this happened but even more sad that I knew it probably would.

The taxi arrived and sped me off to the airport where I parted with another 75EURO for having a second bag. At least this time I had a three hour wait at Frankfurt airport and my bags would make it to Prague. 

The flight went without a hitch although I was sitting next to a lady who had a one year old on her lap. She screamed for almost the entire duration of the flight and I am talking about the mother! The baby was not happy and this obviously disrupts the poor parent who feels embarrassed about the incessant crying and noise. There was a time when I would have been annoyed by this but now, having two girls of my own (two daughters, not wives), I have a totally different outlook. I felt very bad for the mother and was happy for her when we touched down and the baby settled.

I was reminded of a wonderful story that was once told to me by my good friend, Royce Baxter (next years world team captain) of a Canadian friend of his who was flying next to a lady in the same situation as the poor woman was who sat next to me. As the plane descended and the baby was unable to equalise its ears, the lady put the baby on her breast for milk. The gentleman looked over as this was happening. The lady glanced up and said, "Oh, it helps to settle her", to which came the reply, "And to think, for all of these years, I have been chewing gum."

Prague is a lovely city from the air and on the ground. I had a good look at it last time I was here because Martin Droz had picked me up from the airport and got lost going through town. I had a two hour look at the old city which I otherwise wouldn't have experienced. Martin has a habit of getting lost while driving and I can't think of a time when we simply drove straight to where we were going. Google Maps is missing a customer. Today though, we were going fishing and I didn't need another look at Prague or any surrounding towns.

Walking to get my bags, I was quite excited and my mobile sounded in my pocket. I hoped it was a message from home but assumed it was another message from Telsta to tell me that if I made a phone call on my mobile while abroad, I would have to sell one one of my children to pay the bill. If they had got me at a different moment when I was at home, trying to get them to sleep, we could have made a deal. 

It was in fact, Lufthansa, with a different deal. According to them, one of my bags hadn't made the flight over. One of them? How? Is one bag faster than the other because it has got wheels? According to them, I could simply go on line and sort it out. How do you "simply" do anything at an airport? No, I decided that face to face was always the best way to get things done and I marched to "baggage inquiries."

Once again, the lady was helpful and I was assured that my bag would be delivered to any address I nominated, later in the day. Martin had sent me his home address and phone number which she recorded in the appropriate boxes.

Now, what were the chances of the bag that turned up, being the one that had my vest and wading boots in them? I had split my rods and reels between bags and did the same with my flies but I wasn't keen on tearing my brand new Simms G3 vest in half or doing the same to my net. I was confident, in fact, I was sure that my bigger bag would turn up. My glass wasn't half full, it was brimming. 

I strode over to the carrousel and........ f*¥k it. When I said that my glass was not just half full but was in fact, "brimming" I was mistaken. It must have been upside down. How the hell could this have happened, again? In modern terms, WTF! HTF?

But in an instant, I was ok again. My glass 'runeth over'. At least I had one bag and it was the easier and faster of the two bags to carry. It had wheels!

Martin was waiting for me as I emerged from the depths of another airport. It was terrific to see another friendly face as we exchanged a typical European hug, narrowly avoiding two broken noses and a concussion. We only managed it because his nose hit me on the chest.

All jokes aside (briefly), it was great to see him again. He offered to help me with my bag but I wasn't prepared to let anyone get close to it. He understood and we left the terminal for the car. Of course, the car was parked very close to the exit because I only had one bag and it had wheels. I shouldn't be like that because my glass is full.

We chatted and drove for a while, eating the lovely bread rolls that Martin had brought with him. I was hungry after two flights and we polished off a few along with a couple of litres of water. We had plenty to catch up on and nattered away. After sometime it was clear that Martin did not know his way out of the airport car park. He stopped and asked for directions, paid for the ticket and we were finally away.

He drove me to the outskirts of the city to chase Chub. This is a species of fish that in fact is going to count in the competition. They will only be found in one of the rivers but if you draw a poor piece of water, catching one could be important. Just like grayling, we don't have them in Tasmania so I had asked Martin to teach me how to catch them on the fly. He was actually brought up catching these fish and didn't catch his first trout on the fly rod until well after he had managed thousands of these. It had been a long time since he targeted them but was very much looking forward to it. 

He drove me to a gravel car park below a concrete bridge which had graffiti all over it and we overlooked the weed choked, rubbing strewn river. I thought I was back in Bosnia. I borrowed Martins sandals and decided to wet wade as I couldn't wear waders and his shoes. That's one of the problems with organising to go fishing with a dwarf and your boots don't turn up.

Martin rigged up two rods each with a different rig for different styles of fishing. We waded out about five meters, made a cast and hooked a Chub. The dwarf can explained the feeding behaviour of these fish, where they should be and how they eat. With every topic he brought up, there was a fish on the end to prove his point. Ok, now it was my turn. A few casts in I was already looking for my first excuse because the takes had dried up. A little tweaking here and there and all of a sudden I was catching fish. Not Chub, but fish. These things were tiny little silver things that wouldn't last one second in Weipa. But, we were certainly not in Weipa. Finally, I broke the duck and brought my first Chub to hand. I was surprised how chuffed I felt about catching one. It was a far more skilful technique than I had given it credit for and whenever you are learnings something new, life is good. Occasionally I would hook a pair of socks or a random cloth but try as I might, I couldn't hook a pair of size 13 wading boots. It is probably the only thing I didn't hook. 

We fished together and caught and lost fish, having an absolute ball in a three hour period. Finally I reached that point in the river that we all dread. It was about mid thigh deep. I was on my tip toes now and welcomed Martins suggestion to move spots. We hopped out wandered back, having to cross the river one last time. A few more fish fell to the fly. Back at the car we reflected on a session which had yielded at least five different species and a lot of laughs. I was hooked on chub! We drove to another spot which and a lovely weir extending across the wide river. Boaters, kayakers and fishermen were up and down the river but we slipped in quietly and extracted dozens more fish including a Chub of 2lb. Just before going back to the car, I made a cast into a shimmering disturbance on the clam water surface which was met with an almighty splash. I was hooked up and this was no ordinary Chub. The fight lasted a minute or so as the fish surged on long runs. All of a sudden, Iggy seemed to reduce and I brought in a small roach of around 20cm. A large Pike had eaten the roach the moment the roach had eaten my fly and the poor little fish had some serious battle scars and a great story to tell the kids as I released him.

There is no point counting fish numbers on days like these because the numbers blur. I don't care, it was great fun.

The expected phone call at 2pm from the driver who was delivering my bags had not eventuated. In fact, now that I think about it, we weren't out of the airport car park before 2pm. We had been given a number to call and of course, it rang out. Time and again it rang and rang and nobody answered. Normally, I might have been fearing the worst but why would I when I have a glass that is full as mine?!

It was decided that we would drive to Martin's house and settle in for the evening. Martin lives just over two hours north of Prague with his girlfriend, Kate and Kate's grandmother. Kate's mother owns the house but lives elsewhere. This is all quite common in parts of Europe as houses are not easy to buy with low wages. I had not seen Kate since I was last in the Czech Republic and I was looking forward to it. She will be joining Martin later in the year when they come to Australia for Martin's fishing seminars and it will be her first time that far away from home. To make it a little harder, they have recently bought a dog and guess what sort of dog it is. Yes, it is a blue healer and its name is Hug Hope. We will make an Aussie out of Martin yet. Even the name suggests it should be in a race somewhere.

Kate was her usual chirpy self. Typically, her English is better than she thinks it is and she has no trouble communicating to a mono lingual person such as myself. She kindly offered to wash all of my dirty washing and had dinner waiting. As was the case every time I sat down to eat at the house, it was spectacular. Clearly, Martin is punching above his weight. Kate had been to work at 6am (as she does every day), come home, ridden her horse, taken the dog for a walk and cooked dinner. Most of the food we ate over the next three days was home grown as the house has a lovely garden adorned with fruit trees, vegetables and berries. The tomatoes and little cucumbers are sensational!

Finally, I was also connected to wifi and was able to talk to my wife and kids again. 

I eased to bed and woke again at 7am which seems to be where my body clock has got me at the moment. I had the choice of going fishing for chub again or chasing grayling and trout. I loved the chub but grayling and trout had to get the nod. We drove to a river that I had previously fished and was only around forty minutes from Martin's house. Martin had already arranged licences so for once, that was not a saga. We had also found an old pair of Martin's boots that I could wear with my waders as long as I didn't wear any socks and didn't complain about them being two sizes too small. 

Without going into tremendous detail, we had exceptional fishing after a slow start. The following three days were to prove carbon copies as the mornings were slower than the warmer afternoons. Trout and grayling were plentiful and of a very, very good size. My previous fishing on the river and yielded tiny Browns (around 20cm and smaller) with the odd grayling of about 30cm. This time, the grayling numbers far exceeded trout and most were 35cm. We hardly caught a small fish for the entire time we fished together. The fish seemed to be schooled up in any likely looking spot. What tremendous practice it was for catching and landing fish while testing flies.  

When we arrived home after our first full days fishing, Kate was digging the new potatoes for the nights dinner. She then presented me with my washing and an enormous apology that the iron was broken and she could only fold and press my clothes by hand. Like my wife, this one is a keeper and Martin needs to do some thing about it! 

More good news was that my bag had finally turned up. The lady at the airport had copied Martin's number down incorrectly but somehow had tracked us down and the bag was there. I couldn't be bothered going into the whys and how's of it all. I had the bag and nothing was missing. Part of my concern was that I was carrying a rod for Staggy as my bag was longer than his. Being a three piece rod, the only way to get it there was in my bag. It had been playing on my mind for the previous 36 hours but again, it proved how full the glass should be.

Dinner was exquisite and we were off to sleep with big smiles on our faces.

Driving through The Czech Republic, there are a couple of things that stand out. Firstly, how small and bad the roads are. If you want to get anywhere, you have to go through a dozen villages. There don't seem to be highways anywhere. Secondly, on route, you will pass dozens of ice cream shops. This place must be the ice cream capital of the world. Everyone sells it. I am diabetic and ice was on my list of dietary requirements the last time I checked but it is my vice. I can so no to anything except my wife and ice cream. Martin was duty bound to show me as many different flavours as he could over the next few days and my insulin doses have never been higher or my taste buds happier. I hope my doctor isn't reading this.

The wildlife is also plentiful in the Czech Republic. Deer can be seen in every paddock during the last few hours before sunset and squirrels, hedgehogs and badgers are all common enough. You are always on the look out.

Martin has recently bought himself another car. He used to own a clapped out old Subaru but has upgraded to a Skoda (Sh-koda). I used to drive a Skoda many years ago when I lived in England and at no point would you say, "I UPGRADED to a Skoda" unless you were previously on a tricycle. I must say though, the Skoda is a very comfortable car which runs on the smell of an oily rag. The only problem with it is that the steering wheel is on the wrong side. A bit of an over sight!

The final thing that can be found in large numbers are "wellness" centres. What exactly is "wellness?" Who came up with that one? I am informed that these places started to become popular around ten to fifteen years ago and were likely invented by the same person who came up with "detox" as a word. According to the signs, they are places where good looking, semi naked women get massages next to relaxing pools and saunas. In reality, they are probably places at which you pay extraordinary amounts of money to use the sauna and pool once or twice during your memberships and feel guilty about not going to the gym and eating enough protein. I think they would frown on my ice cream eating.

Wednesday the 23rd was my last full day in the Czech Republic. I got up early to say goodbye to Kate and already had my bags packed for our long trip towards the Polish border. Today, I was in for a treat. Martin had arranged to catch up with former captain of the Czech team and multiple international medal winner, Tomas Starychfojtu. This guy is a legend. He has always had a real presence at the world championships because he is tall, big and had long hair back in his hay day. The only problem is that he speaks no English what so ever. His son (Lukas) was a member of the Czech team last year in the USA when Tomas captained for the last time. Lukas, won the World Youth Championships a few years ago and is a chip off the old block.

We drove to Tomas's house which took a few hours. I was treated to the usual signs asking me to go to a wellness cents interspersed with different ice cream options. We did visit one of these places but I will leave that to you to decide which one.

Arriving at his house, I was actually feeling a little nervous. There is nothing that this guy has not done in fly fishing and I was hoping he wasn't going to ask me why Australia have performed so poorly for so long.

Please read my next report to find out about my adventure with Tomas. 

2017 World Fly Fishing Championships Slovakia, Report 3 - Preparation.

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Thank you! 

Christopher Bassano

Head Guide

Rainbow Lodge Guided Fly Fishing Tasmania

Australian Fly Fishing Team Member

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