Unexpected Hurdles in Session 2 – the Chiese River

by | Jul 20, 2022 | World Masters Fly Fishing Championships | 3 comments

Currier-FlyfishingIn 2003 I was on Team USA at one of the biggest World Championships.  It was in Jaca, Spain.  A rare thing happened for me.  All five of my sessions went nearly flawless despite some of the most difficult conditions and wisest wild brown trout in the history of the event.  Our Team finished 8th among 32 teams and I took home the individual Bronze Medal out of best of the best of the world’s fly fishers.  But no matter how good you are, putting together five perfect outings in a row doesn’t happen often.  I was lucky.


Worlds-FlyfishingToday I competed in Session 2 on the Chiese River here at the World Masters in Italy.  The Chiese is crystal clear and full of wild browns.  Though nymphing is the top method to catch enough fish to win the session, there’s always dry fly opportunities.  With this in mind, I boarded my 6:15 AM bus with tremendous confidence.


There was one issue.  I was a little groggy after a night of stomach problems.  But no matter how tired I am at any time, once my rod is in hand and I see the water I’m wide awake.  And that’s exactly how I felt as I set my rods up for my Beat.  I drew Beat 1 which wasn’t exactly a good one during yesterday’s session for another competitor.  But I thought it looked ok and wasn’t worried about how yesterday’s contestant performed.  Today was my time.


Chiese-RiverHowever, things didn’t go as planned right from the get go.  After rigging my three rods, I looked at my watch.  It was 8:30 AM.  I had 30 minutes to relax before start time.  I crawled to rivers edge, staying hidden in the tall grass and watched the pool in front of me.  There was a rising trout and I made my plan on how to catch him.


flyfishingAt 8:50 I crawled out of my viewing point to stretch, sip some water, pee and grab my rod and return to position with a couple minutes to spare.  As I casually moved my non English speaking controller was giving me a funny look.  Eventually he stuck his phone my direction with the time showing.  It wasn’t 8:50 but rather 9 AM.  My session had started!


I had no idea but my watch was dying and had slowed down.  I cancelled my stretching routine, didn’t get a drink of water and skipped the pee and grabbed my rod and crawled as fast as I could back into position.  I was rattled but after a few deep breaths I reset.  No doubt though, I lost six minutes of time.


I made my cast with a CDC caddis fly to the fish I saw rise and got him.  I netted him and brought him to my judge.  The fish was 19.5 cm – less than a centimeter too small to score.  Ugh.  A rough start to this one.


competition-flyfishingI maintained my composure.  I was disappointed with my less than unblemished start but began my crawl upstream.  I spotted another trout rising and I could see he was nicer size.  Its not easy to crawl over rocks at 56 years old but after a couple minutes I was in position.  First cast I nailed him.  It was a legit measurable brown at 29 cm.


CDC-fliesI was happy now and my time miscalculation and 19.5 cm fish were in the rearview.  There was another fish rising and I planned to nail him also.  I made several good casts but he refused my CDC caddis.  I quickly nipped off the fly and pulled out my Mr. reliable, the CDC Mahogany Dun.  I also pulled my readers from my waders and started to tie on the fly to my 5X tippet.  Something was horribly off with my vision.  It turns out the left lens to my readers was missing!


fishing-disastersI did my best to thread my new dry.  I got the tippet through but could not complete my Clinch.  Distraught but without a choice, I crawled to the bank and bolted to my duffle bag stashed a ways downstream.  Here I was losing yet more time, but I carry spare readers and grabbed them and returned to the water.  I re-crawled to position and tied on my Mahogany.  On the first cast, what appeared to be a large brown trout, rose and ate my fly.  I set.  Nothing there.  Nightmare!


The last thing I wanted to do was rest a fish and change flies again.  I’d wasted so much time this session already.  But I had no choice.  I set up an Elk Hair Caddis Dry Dropper system and went back after the trout.  But the speckled fish wouldn’t return so fast.


That was it for that spot.  With a dying watch I wasn’t sure if I’d been fishing 30 minutes or an hour.  I figured upon catching my next fish I’d see the time from my controller.  I backed gently from my pool and went to the next, careful not to further spook where I was.  I had full intention to catch my missed trout before the end of the session.


World-ChampsDream come true; at the next pool I nailed two quick measurable browns.  One passed up the nymph and ate my Caddis.  The next took my nymph.  Things were back in order and upon measuring my third fish, my controller gave me the time.  It was 10:05 and I had approximately two hours to go.  Three fish on a tough beat.  A good start all things considered.


Fishing was far from easy however after the first hour.  The sun got high as well as the temperature.  I’d learn later today that it was 96° by 11 AM.  But I worked methodically through some fair at best water as I approached my next excellent pool.  Unfortunately, I caught nothing.  At 11 AM, as planned, I settled in for my last hour on my best water.  There were two rising fish and undoubtedly I was going to get them and probably more.  That’s when the unbelievable happened.


My controller, obviously an angler himself, hid way back from the streams edge watching out of sight of any weary trout.  I was crouched down on the opposite river bank side getting ready to cast to the first riser.  This was a big fish for Europe.  He appeared to be a nice 15-16” brown.  Just as I made a subtle false cast working towards the fish I heard a crash behind me.  Before I could look to see, a leaping deer glided completely over my head and landed full throttle in my pool.  The splash looked like a small Volkswagen fell in off a cliff!


Startled, I jumped up.  The deer freaked out and ran in a circle thrashing through the pool.  Then she exited straight towards my controller.  Once she saw him hiding in the trees she felt trapped and returned to my pool.  Then she bolted straight up my beat splashing her entire way through kicking up a jetboat like rooster tail before exiting.  Undoubtedly every fish in my beat was heading for the Mediterranean.  I was screwed.


All I could think was, “Did that just happen?”


flyfishing-EuropeFor the first time in what had already been a mentally challenging session, I felt destined for failure.  How could I be so damn unlucky I thought to myself.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to even do.  But then it came to me.  I replayed all the moves the panicked deer made and where she went and picked out a few places where perhaps by some miracle, a feeding trout may not have been affected.  There was one spot about 50 feet up from me.  A small trench below an overhanging branch.  It was about 11:20 by the time I made my cast here.  Sure enough – a happy 23 cm brown/marble hybrid to the net.  Relief!


At 11:30 I had a mere four fish on my scoreboard.  I knew damn well that the pros I was up against were doing better.  The worst of the feeling is knowing that a poor score hurts my entire team.  I put my fly a few other good looking spots but I had no doubt in my mind, the deer spooked most of my beat.


There was on place however I knew a fish lived.  And it was on the other end of my 100 meter long beat and I was sure the fish was unaffected by the “deertastrophe”.  This was the fish I missed on the dry earlier in my session.  Knowing I was down to my last minutes I made a beeline to the spot.


When I got there I eased into position just like earlier.  My judge hollered to me that there were ten minutes left.  That was enough time to be extremely patient and to be sure I got one more fish.  I let about two minutes tick off hoping to see the fish rise again.  Any fish for that matter.  But surely the heat had them low.  I figured the nymph on my dry dropper rig had a shot at this fish or another.  I made my cast.  And like magic, the same fish I missed this morning devoured my Caddis.  This time I connected.


The surprised brown put up an unwelcome battle.  The last thing I wanted was a few jumps then for him to dive for rocks.  All I wanted was the handsome contender in my net.  After nearly a minute of chaos I got him.  Thank goodness!


By the time my controller measured and scored my fish (which was 36 cm) there were three minutes left.  I fished the area just above furiously but no more luck.  I ended one of the strangest competition sessions of my life with five fish on my sheet.  At that moment it seemed like a tragedy.


I’d learn soon that although only five fish seemed hideous, it wasn’t a complete disaster.  I suspected I’d possibly be one of the worst scores, but instead the session was tough for most.  I recorded an 11.  It sucks, but with all the odd things that occurred, I’ll consider it acceptable.  Dang that deer!


flyfishingThe bus ride back to the hotel was a long one.  Not only because the Chiese River is a long ride anyway, but I knew my score would hurt the team.  It’s a lousy feeling.  Fortunately, I have good teammates and they had good news and bad news to share when I arrived.  The bad first – Loren was blanked on the Lower Noce River and scored the worst – a 17.  The other guys however carried us.  Mike lucked into one of three beats in the entire competition loaded with stocked trout.  Supposedly they escaped from a nearby hatchery.  Nonetheless Mike landed 26 and scored a 1.  Pete finished strong with a 3.  And Bret also scored a 3.  Our team took a hit today but it could have been much worse.  As we go to bed tonight, Team USA is in 3rd place.


Tomorrow I head to the Upper Noce for Session 3.  I can’t look back at this challenging day.  Time to kick some ass.  We still have a chance for Gold!


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


  1. Kristen Sorensen

    Great story!!

  2. Lane

    That sucks! I wonder how many points that deer cost you

  3. Jeff

    Thank Kristen. And Lane, the deer definitely cost me two but I’d guess more like four. Things were looking good!

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!