The 2019 International Bank Fly Fishing Championship took place on Wednesday 23rd October at the Laois Angling Centre, County Laois, Ireland.
The four home nations fielded teams of six anglers, with a travelling reserve and manager to make up the squad of eight. Those representing England had come through the previous year’s qualifiers, semi-finals and final to make the team.
The AT-TEFF team, consisting of Gareth Tilley (Captain) Phil Shaw-Browne, David Neilson, Andy Taylor, Andrew Taylor, Graham Willis, Mark Harrison (Reserve) and manager Paul Page travelled out to Ireland on Saturday and managed to squeeze a few hours practice on the lakes prior to darkness. This short session proved to be a good starting point to the following three days of practice.
The match was fished to full catch and release with barbless hooks to be used throughout. It was to be fished over two, three-hour sessions, AM/PM, with anglers fishing for forty minutes on a peg before moving five pegs, to ensure that they covered the two lakes to be used. Place points were to be used over each session with the overall winner decided by the team which had the lowest points score. The fish were measured by a controller and returned to the water with the length recorded on the angler’s scorecard.
During the practice sessions the teamed developed and refined their flies and techniques. It became clear that distance casting was going to be a major factor as the angling pressure moved the fish out into the middle of both lakes. This impacted on the choice of lines they used with 40+ floaters and slow glass lines being their preferred fly lines. The fish were keen to feed on the surface and just under and again this impacted on their fly choice and tactics. The team over the three days narrowed their tactics down to the slow glass lines and Zonkers, the bung with Shammies and Blobs fished at 3ft and dries with Shipman’s and small F-Flies catching those fish willing to feed late on in the day.
On match day the teams were piped in for a 10am start. As expected, the first two sessions were going to be critical and getting off to a good start was essential. Plenty of fish were taken in the first two moves with only a handful of fish caught in the final two. At the end of morning session England were slightly ahead of the other home nations by just seven place points. A superb lunch was provided by the staff at the Laois Angling Centre before the second session.
The afternoon session also got off to a good start with rods bending across both lakes. However, the action soon slowed down, and it was the red hats of England who were now catching consistently as the match drew to its conclusion. The second session score cards were handed in and the results were announced.
In first place with 112 place points were England, Wales were runners-up with 149 place points with Ireland third with 155 place points. Scotland were fourth with 185 place points. England also had three anglers in the top five with Andy Taylor crowned International Bank Champion with 12 fish, with David Neilson runner-up with nine fish and Andrew Taylor fifth with eight fish. Andy Taylor and Phil Shaw-Browne shared the longest fish with both anglers catching a fish of 58cm.
In total 129 fish were caught for a rod average of just over five.
The AT-TEFF bank team would like to thank the Trout Federation of Ireland (TAFI) for organising and running this years international, John and Enda Phelan of the Laois Angling Centre for hosting the competition- the venue and hospitality were first class, the controllers who gave up their day to control the match, the staff and management of the Abbeyleix Hotel which was the base for all the teams, Lee Cartmail and those anglers who supported bonus ball raffles to raise funds for the team and Greys FlyFishing for the shirts.
Paul Page, England Bank Manager said: “The team started well in practice and kept up the performance in all eight peg rotations, winning by a healthy 37 placing points. This was a tremendous performance and the first ever clean sweep of all trophies.”
Gareth Tilley, England Bank Captain said: “We had a great time representing England, we had a great set of lads in the team and we enjoyed our time as a team in Ireland. The fishing and hospitality at the Laois Angling Centre was first class. I would like to thank Ireland the hosts of the competition who made us feel very welcome. The week was complete when we won gold and took full honours with Andy Taylor as top rod and Andy and Phil Shaw-Browne with the longest fish.”
1st England, 40 fish, 112 place points.
2nd Wales, 34 fish, 149 place points.
3rd Ireland, 33 fish, 155 place points.
4th Scotland, 22 fish, 185 place points.
1st Andy Taylor, England, 12 fish, 4 place points.
2nd David Neilson, England, 9 fish, 9 place points.
3rd Matthew Pate, Wales, 7 fish, 14 place points.
Andy Taylor and Phil Shaw-Browne – 58cm.