Gold At Our Fingertips on the Last Day

by | Jul 23, 2022 | The World Fly Fishing Championship Masters | 1 comment

Team-USASleep was hard to come by last night.  Today our USA Masters Fly Fishing team entered the last session of the competition in first place by one point over the Belgians, seven over the Czechs and nine over the Italians.  Yeah, things looked good for a medal, but all we wanted was Gold.  Over forty years of World Fly Fishing Competition, and the USA adult Teams have never won the Gold Medal.


World-Champs-FlyfishingEveryone on our team had to do well because our lead was feeble.  I headed for the dreaded Lower Noce River.  Dreaded because the Sector has produced the fewest number of fish throughout the first four days of the competition and the highest number blanks.  If I blanked, Team USA would not win Gold.  I needed to catch a fish.


flyfishg-ItalyThe 1.5 hour bus ride seemed longer.  It’s a winding road through the Brenta Dolomites.  Normally a gorgeous ride, it was dark.  I daydreamed, envisioning what my beat might be like and how to catch that difficult trout.


Noce-RiverThe bus arrived at a narrow bridge on the Noce.  Instead of dropping us off at our beats like most days, our bus driver told us to exit and our controller judges were waiting for us with their cars.  The Lower Noce is like a jungle and the dirt roads are too tight for the bus.


“Team USA – You have Beat 3”, the head Sector Organizer announced.


Currier-World-ChampionWithin seconds my controller came forward and shook my hand with a smile.  He rattled away in Italian a few things then read the expression on my face.  He knew I didn’t understand a word and laughed.  I climbed in the passenger seat of his small Euro car.  He kept talking in Italian anyhow.


flyfishingWe bounced our way through the bushy under growth of the river bottom.  There was sort of a two track for my controller to drive on but he took his own path several times.  Finally, we stopped and I set eyes on my beat.


TeamUSAFlyfishingThough my beat looked challenging, choked with weeds, there were a few likely fishy spots.  They were obvious though which means one thing, all four contestants ahead of me this week fished them hard.  This wasn’t going to be easy.


ItalyThere was a classic brown trout trough against the upper-current side of a small island right near where my controller parked his car.  Sure, this spot was drilled the last four days but sometimes you get lucky.  Undoubtedly on day one it held a hungry trout.  I prepared my three rods and when the 9 AM kick off bell rang I started here.  I wasted no more than two minutes hitting the spot with a streamer then a nymph.  Nothing.


Then I went into action.  I’d made a plan during set up time.  It was to dry dropper my best hole near the bottom of my beat.  After that dredge the deepest part of the same hole with two nymphs.  If I caught fish, I planned to race upstream to my one other spot that looked similar and try for another fish.  If not, then I would assume all easy fish were gone from previous competitors and it would be time to get creative.


European-NymphsAn annoying thing happened when I started on my best hole.  I was called in by another judge – the big boss I would later learn.  He simply wanted to check three things.  He measured the distance from my dropper to point fly.  The rule is they must be 50 cm apart.  I was legal.  Then he checked the bead size of my nymph.  They can’t be a certain oversize.  I was ok again.  Last he stuck both my flies into a soft cloth.  My flies are all barbless.  I passed all three tests.  I lost a good three or four minutes but I understand.  When you are presumably on the best team, everyone wants to be sure you aren’t cheating.


Noce-RiverUnfortunately, there were no easy fish in my best pool and at 9:30 it was time for plan B.  My beat truly was overgrown with river weeds but between many of the long weed strings were one foot wide open chutes where with a perfectly accurate cast I could drop my dry dropper and let it drift down through.  It was a challenging casting plan that during the first 15 minutes I undoubtedly hooked more weeds than got good drifts.


marble-troutAt 9:55 AM one of these deep slots between the weeds stood out as a superb trout spot.  I made that textbook cast.  It wasn’t more than two seconds into my drift that a sizeable marble trout rose for my Caddis Dry.  I set and he was on.  The hard fighting trout species attempted to dive into his trough but I was too fast for him.  On the hook set I kept pulling and heaved him from his home.  There was a short battle but in seconds he was in my net.  YES!


catch-and-releaseMy marble measured 31 cm.  No blank for me.  You would expect I could tell you how relieved I was.  But it wasn’t like that.  Somehow I knew I wasn’t blanking all along.  I took a good look at this trout when I released him and watched the beauty swim away.  Then I hustled back to the spot I caught him hoping for more.  Nada.


wild-brown-troutMy plan worked so I continued with it.  Less than ten minutes later I saw my next fish unfold.  As my nymph sank below my dry a trout showed from down deep and followed it.  Seconds seemed like minutes and it appeared my fly wasn’t good enough for him.  But just as I was running out of space before hooking weeds, the trout engulfed the nymph.  The trout was barely of size and when I set he flew through the air my way.  I stuck out my net like a bobcat snatching a bird from the air and he landed in there.  Yes!  Fish number two measured 21 cm.


It seemed like I was going to catch ten at that moment.  I had high hopes.  But its never like that.  Always remember in fishing, the second catching seems easy, luck goes the opposite way.  Over the next 90 minutes I would see exactly zero more trout.


Currier-Team-USA-flyfishingThat’s probably why I would have a major screw up with ten minutes to go.  It was 100°F again.  I was feeling the heat, sore back, knees and you name it from a week in battle.  Not only physically spent, but my concentration was wandering.  I was pumped to have two fish on the board and knew I was sitting pretty.  I could taste that Gold Medal.  I could envision that Gold Medal going around all our necks.  But imagine a third fish?  I’d probably win the session which in turn might guarantee that Team USA Gold.


ItalyWell, that third trout came and he caught me fantasizing.  He crushed the nymph below my caddis.  I set and he was on.  I was quick to get him close and he was thrashing wildly as I reached for my net.  I got him in the net but my line was tight and as I bolted for my judge the line pulled him out again.  On my next attempt the trout hit the edge of my net and fell off.


Oh God.  What just happened?  I was in shock.  I could hear my controller groan from the bank.  I had the third fish in my freaking net!  I felt sick.  But you can’t look back.  I fished hard the next nine minutes but had to settle for two fish not three.



As long as I beat the Belgian, the Czech and the Italian – all would be good.  As I broke down my rods for the final time and peeled off my wet and sweaty waders, my mind was spinning.  I’d know how I scored in the next few minutes but at that moment I could hardly take that lost third fish.


Jeff-Currier-Team-USAMy controller had been texting away like a madman.  He knew where my mind was.  Then he held up his phone with a smile (He also wanted a picture).  The Belgian caught only one.  The Czech caught only one.  Amazing news!  But the Italian, Milanesi Lorenzo, a longtime competitor and one of Italy’s most formidable, caught three.  Ouch!


flyfishing-DolomitesThe truth however, beating the Belgian was most important because to start the day their team was only one point behind us.  Italy was behind by nine points so losing to Milanesi by one point would probably be ok.  But it was a long long long bus ride back to the hotel in Madonna di Campiglio.  The stunning Dolomites helped take my mind off the suspense of – “Did we win?”


The Lower Noce was the last bus back.  I keep my phone off while in foreign lands, so my team was anxiously awaiting my arrival just like I was anxiously waiting to hear how they had done.  They were in our group room sipping beers.  Everyone was tense. I held up two fingers and said, “Two fish”.


Stefano, Loren, Pete, Bret, Mike and Jerry all shouted, “Yes!  Yes!  Yes!”


flyfishing-Champions“Holy ****!  Did we win?” I exclaimed back.


Stefano and Pete were calculating all results.  They did it at least four times after my group scores officially posted.  “Yes, no doubt, we won over Italy by three points.”


Bret-Bishop-flyfishingNot only did our Team kick ass today and win the Gold Medal, but Bret, who was quietly tearing it up all week, Bret won the individual Gold by one point over legendary Irish angler, Michael Twohig.  Not only did we adults bring home the first Gold Medal ever, but Bret took home two medals and both are Gold.  UNREAL!


flyfishing-gold-medalsThat’s about all I can write after this amazing 16 day run through Italy.  We received our medals under the setting sun with the Brenta Dolomites behind us earlier this evening.  As you can imagine, we have been celebrating all night.  Congrats to all my Team for fishing like Rockstar’s.  We are the Champions.


Jerry-ArnoldOne more thing, a very special thanks to Jerry Arnold, our Team Manager who sponsors us every trip.  And also, to our fantastic guide and host this trip, Stefano Sabbatelli.  This dude can fish and you want him as your Italian guide!


World-ChampionsOnce the champagne dries up – I’ll be back with a full report on the Gold Medal ceremonies.  For now, we will enjoy truly being Rockstar’s!


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

1 Comment

  1. Janet Holmes a’ Court

    Congratulations to the Masters Team USA
    A terrific result !

Welcome to the Blog of Jeff Currier!

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!