Crawling for Fish on the Upper Sarca – Session 1

by | Jul 19, 2022 | World Masters Fly Fishing Championships | 1 comment

flyfishingThe 5 AM alarm I set wasn’t a welcome sound to Pete and I went it blazed off.  But each of us and the rest of Team USA had buses to catch at 6:15 AM to head for Session One in the World Masters Fly Fishing Championships here in Italy.  It wasn’t only us that had a late night, but every contestant in the 20 Team event was tired.  Pete and I wadered up in our room while drinking instant coffee then wished each other luck and off we went.  The rest of our team was doing the same.



The way the tournament works is each team has five members.  The competition fishing consists of five three hour sessions.  There’s an extra teammate and extra session this year.  In the past years the Masters has been four anglers and four sessions.


The session venues are Upper Noce River, Lower Noce River, Upper Sarca River, Lower Sarca River and the Chiese River.  Each team member is assigned a letter – A, B, C, D or E.  I’m A and today I competed in a session on the Upper Sarca against all other “A” folks from other teams.  Meanwhile my four team members, Pete, Mike, Lauren and Bret fished against their matching letters from other teams.  There’s another new thing here also, we used to fish two sessions a day and compete over two days.  Now it’s one session a day for five straight days.


flyfishing-ItalyIn order to score a fish, he must be 20 cm long and each fish is measured by your personal judge/controller.  It’s best to catch lots of fish rather than a couple big ones.  There are 17 teams so scores after each session range from 1-17.  One being the best you can score and 17 the worst.  The idea is to have the fewest points at the end.  So, if you win your session amongst your group you score a 1.  If you’re second you score a 2 and third scores a 3 and so on.  If you’re the big looser you score a horrible 17!  And if you don’t catch any fish, even if half the contestants don’t catch one, you score a 17.  All session blanks score a 17.  Don’t blank!


The team with the least number of points in the end wins and the angler with the least number of points wins the individual.  This is an Olympic style event so winners receive medals with grand champs receiving gold.  It’s an incredibly challenging yet fun event.  And I can tell you, I competed against many of these competitors back in the day and some are the best anglers in the world.


fly-fishingAs I traveled on my bus with the other 16 contestants to the Upper Sarca the sun began to rise.  The forecast was for another hot one.  Lucky for us our fishing time was only 3 hours – 9 till noon.


ItalyThe bus dropped me and few other off at the same place.  We met our controllers and they walked us to our beats.  I drew beat 14.  It looked really nice and as I studied it I rigged three rods.  A dry dropper rig.  A Euro nymphing rod with two flies.  And a streamer rig.  I doubted I’d use the streamer rig but I had time to set up an extra rod so I did.  The last thing you want to do is waste time during the competition.


Team-USA-FlyfishingWhen the bell went off at 9 AM I made my first cast with the dry dropper on my 4-weight Winston.  I was hunched down on a rock dressed in full camo.  I can never state enough how spooky these little wild browns are.  There is no way you can allow yourself to be seen.  Three minutes in and I netted my first fish.   As small one but a counter of 23 cm.  On the boards!  No Blank!


World-champsI was on fire the first 20 minutes of my session.  I crawled up my bank edge, feet barely in the water casting to every nook and cranny.  I picked up two more measurable fish and was doing very well.


Little did I know but those three fish were the only easy ones I’d come by.  As temps got higher the trout must have started to hide under rocks.  During the next 1.5 hours I only found one more measurable trout.  At 11 AM with and hour to go, I thought I may be stuck on four.


salmo-marmoratusI took the treacherous wade to the other side of the Sarca where there were shady trees lining the banks.  I crawled my way along and nailed another fish quickly.  It was nice marble trout that ate my dry fly.  Back across the river I went, very careful not to slip and lose my precious scoring trout.


I landed two more trout up the far bank and ended the session with a total of seven.  I had my eye on about a dozen after the first fifteen minutes but things slowed dramatically.  And seven would end up being a decent score of 6.


Jeff-CurrierUpon return from my morning session, I gradually learned the scores of the rest of my team.  We’d done very well.  Pete scored an 8, Loren a 6, Mike a 4 and Bret got a 1 on the hardest river, the Lower Noce.  Team USA is doing well but there a long way to go.


We took the afternoon to re-assess our gear and trade stories and tips about where we fished.  We all move up a Sector tomorrow.  I head for the Chiese River which should be good for me.  It’s a good place to toss the dries which I intend to do.


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

1 Comment

  1. Kristen J. Sorensen

    Sounds intense!

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Contact Jeff

I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!