A ROSNEATH woman who represented Scotland in the Commonwealth Fly Fishing Championships in New Zealand says the experience has left her hungry for more.

Joy Penrose-Stupart was one of the five-strong Scotland ladies team who competed alongside male and female teams from Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, England, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man at the event on the lakes and rivers of Taupo, in the heart of North Island, in March.

And though she found the three days of competition, on three different sections of river and two different lakes, challenging to say the least, Joy admits that she’d love to have another shot at glory in 2021 – when the event will be held rather closer to home.

“I finished last,” she admitted. “But it was my first time competing in the championship, and it was also the first time I’ve fished competitively in a river.

“I’m used to fishing on small lochs on the Peninsula, and although I had one day’s river fishing practice on the Clyde at Abington in January, these were totally different – they were wider, deeper and faster, and some of the pools were up to 10 feet deep, so quite scary too.

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“I could have done better, but I was unlucky with some of the draws I got. In one of the sessions I was casting against the wind, so I ended up catching trees, bushes – everything but fish!

“But I didn’t give up. I didn’t want to let the team down, so I kept going, and I caught fish in all five of the events.

“I caught eight fish overall, and the winners of the men’s and ladies’ events caught 89 between them – although their whole life is travelling the world in a camper van catching fish.

“They are more or less professionals, whereas I’m a complete amateur who’s only been fishing for four years.”

Joy only just made it back to Scotland before the coronavirus lockdown kicked in – though one of her teammates wasn’t so lucky, ending up spending two weeks stuck in a New Zealand hotel room before being allowed to return to Britain.

And the Scots’ rivals from Canada didn’t even manage to take part in the competition – the two Canadian teams had to turn round and head home almost as soon as they arrived in New Zealand, amid fears they might not be allowed back into their home country if they’d stayed.

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Joy’s fingers, and those of everyone else in the championship, are now firmly crossed in the hope that the 2021 event will be able to take place, as scheduled, on the banks of some of Islay’s fresh water lochs – renowned around Scotland and beyond for the excellent quality of their fly fishing.

“Standing on the banks of a loch is a lot closer to the kind of fly-fishing I’m used to,” Joy said, “so I’d love to go back and do it again.

“The Scotland ladies’ team is quite small and we’ve become quite close. We’ve fished together a fair bit, and held development weekends, and organised fund-raisers around Scotland, so there’s a good team spirit that’s built up there.

“The Commonwealth Games that everyone knows about, with the athletics and so on, is known as ‘the friendly Games’, and that’s true of the fly fishing championships as well.

“The friendly aspect of it is the most important thing – the main trophy is known as The Friendly Trophy for that very reason – and now that I’ve got that bit of experience, I’d love to be part of it next year.”

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