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Five Nations Championships: Full of Surprises

Allan Liddle has a trip to remember as he represents Team Scotland in the Five Nations Championships at Lough Leane, Ireland.

The beautiful Gougane Barra.
The beautiful Gougane Barra.

No matter how often or how long you’ve been fishing there’s always surprises, it’s one of the best bits about our sport, something happens you were least expecting, not so good if it’s a nasty surprise, but great when it’s a good one.

Thankfully I can say my recent trip to Killarney, Kinturk and Ballyvourney in Ireland for this year’s 5 Nation Fly Fishing Championships was more than a pleasant surprise, it was quite simply a trip to remember.

Competition fishing can simply be all about the result and often the actual fishing or even the location can be secondary. Not this time however, as the place, people, fishing and even the weather (not to mention the local brew) all came together to make this a fantastic event.

Allan Liddle: a happy and proud angler.

Huge thanks have to go to the event organisers who put together a seamless event, their choice of water full of lighting fast, hard fighting browns were a delight to fish, in fact so good were they that I really didn’t want to come off at the end of each 3 hour session, and official practice days ended with me almost being tied to the car and dragged off. But we needed to get back, run through what we’d learned, plan for the next day and tie up those all important killer flies. Partridge also deserve huge thanks for donating a cracking batch of hooks to Team Scotland, many of which were used up and helped us land more than a few fish.

A stunning River Allow trout.

Lough Leane was the centre piece and made up half of the actual competition with two 3 hour sessions being held there for each angler, paired as we were in boats supplied and manned by volunteers from the local angling club. When we arrived we were faced by news from our advance party that this was a big water, estimated at twice the size of our very own Loch Leven. Undaunted, especially after a recent visit to Wester Ross’s Fionn and Maree Lochs I set out to see if this water would respond to similar tactics, happily it did. Features and rocks abound and the old adage of ‘If you can’t see the bottom then you’re too deep,’ fitted Leane perfectly, and I was chuffed and proud to finish with a third and first place in my two sessions here.

Bite the back of your hand beautiful Gougane Barra was the location of the bank event and my proudest moment to date fishing for Scotland as I was fortunate enough to end the championships as top rod on here. ‘Treat it as a Highland Hill Loch,’ was perfect advice for this water. Better still was the fact my ‘beat’ was directly outside the Gougane Barra Hotel so a quick visit to the bar ‘Après Fish’ ended the perfect day.

Scoring fish on the Allow.

The river session was on the feature rich and character laden River Allow, a tributary of the mighty Blackwater and home of some striking and obliging wild browns. I have to say I felt a wee bit cheated here, not because I didn’t fish as high up the scoreboard as I would have hoped (4 fish and a creditable 5th place) no because I only had a mere 3 hours, twice that would still not have done it justice.

In the end Team Scotland A ended victorious ahead of Ireland C and Belgium, now before you point out my earlier statement of results can I add my team, Scotland B finished 6th however only a mere 5 place points from the bronze medal; close but no cigar.

Bank venue Top Rod Prize.

England’s Ben Bangham won individual gold, Irelands John Buckley silver and Scotland’s Dick Logan bronze. As for me?  A proud personal best 4th overall just outside the medals but with the top bank session prize.

And that, as they say was that, award ceremony meal and a wee night’s celebrations before a recovery/sightseeing day (believe it or not I really was too tired to head out for a cast) and a long drive home. A fantastic event and huge thanks to the organisers, volunteers, sponsors and of course the anglers for making this such a memorable and enjoyable fishing week, and given we only scratched the surface of the angling potential here, I can’t wait to head back here again.

Team Scotland.

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