Harrison Douds Wins England Youth National!
I recently took part in the English Youth Loch Style National, a competition for anglers aged between 12 and 17. It is a great way to start off or to make a name for yourself in the world of competitive fly fishing… after all, who doesn’t want to become ‘National Champion!’. This competition is also used to choose the following years Loch Style team for the Youth Fly Fishing International.
The match was fished to full catch and release rules, where a boatman would measure and score the anglers fish. The match consisted of two sessions fished over one day. The angler would be scored 1-20 points in each session depending on their cumulative fish length. At the end of the match, the session scores were combined to give each angler an overall match result. For example, if you were third in the morning session and then second in the afternoon session you would have a total of 5 points.
The morning session started and the boats all set off from the jetty. I headed straight to the dam wall as I had caught fish there in practice the previous day. Once we arrived and the drogue was all set I took my first cast. Bang! A fish took my Fulling Mill Cocktail Blob on the top dropper, but unfortunately, it came off. The rules of the competition state that only de-barbed or barbless hooks were to be used. I carried on fishing and very soon I had another fish take, this time it was on the Fulling Mill Black Dabbler – a killer fly and one of my favourites especially at the midland waters! For the following few minutes as I played the fish, my heart seemed like it was pounding out my chest! I longed to get that so important first fish in the net… It took long runs, high jumps and was all around the boat but finally after what seemed like an eternity I netted the fish.
I continued the method of pulling a Di3 with a Cocktail blob and a Black dabbler all morning and netted 4 more fish. This gave me second place in the morning session with first place netting a very impressive total of 8!
The afternoon session was very similar to the morning, I stuck with the Di3 line but upgraded my leader to the Fulling Mill 7.12lb Masterclass Fluorocarbon, my preferred leader when the fish are hitting the flies hard. I am happy to say that I gave 100% all day so no matter what the final result, I was proud of my five fish in the morning and my four in the afternoon.
As boats arrived back at the pontoon, the tension was high as rumors quickly spread. Although I was fairly confident I would be somewhere in the top five, as the manager stepped up to read the results I was very anxious. Firstly they announced the biggest fish, caught by Rob Edmund’s son, Albert Coles, a wonderful fish of 55.5cm.
First place was announced and to my surprise, it was me! I was so happy not to mention quite surprised as nobody had ever won the National two years running before so it is safe to say my smile was rather large. Second place was Issac slack, he has been in the England squad two years already and is a huge asset of the team.
In conclusion, I would just like to show my appreciation to all the organisers, especially Grafham water for hosting such a fantastic competition. Also to everyone who got me to where I am today including Fulling Mill and Chatton Trout Fishery who both help me massively in my fly fishing career, and finally to my parents who taxi me around the country with no hesitation, if it wasn’t for them I couldn’t do what I do best.