2023 European Fly Fishing Championships

The 27th FIPS-Mouche European Fly Fishing Championships was held in Covilha, Portugal, from the 22nd-28th May, 2023.

Competing Teams

Belgium – Czech Republic – England – Finland – France – Ireland – Netherlands – Norway – Portugal – Slovakia – Spain

AT TEFF was represented by Bernie Maher (Captain/Manager), Joel Beeney, Del Spry, Mark Withyman & Andy Taylor.


Session 1

In the first session Del Spry scored a 3rd place on the Upper Zêzere River, with Andy Taylor coming 5th on the Paul River. Mark Withyman saved a blank with one fish on the Lower Zêzere River to come 7th, ahead of Andy Croucher, fishing for Norway, who blanked. Joel Beeney blanked on the Alva River, while Bernie Maher also failed to catch on Rossim Lake. England were lying 10th out of 11 teams. France were in the top spot, with 15 placing points, ahead of Finland 2nd with 25pts, and Spain 3rd with 26pts.

Session 2

In the second session Andy Taylor came 3rd on the Lower Zêzere River with 2 fish, while Joel Beeney came 4th on Paul River, and Bernie Maher 6th on the Upper Zêzere River. Del Spry came 11th on the Alva River, despite catching, while on Rossim Lake Mark Withyman was one of five competitors who failed to catch. England moved up one place into 9th (out of 11 teams). France remained in 1st place, with 34 placing points, but a good performance saw Spain move into 2nd with 44pts, with the Slovak Republic 3rd on 49pts. Nicolas Abadia (Spain) led the Individual rankings, with two 1st places, ahead of Lionel Fouvier (France) in 2nd with 3pts, and Erlend Vivelid Nilssen (Norway) 3rd with 4pts.

Session 3

In the third session Andy Taylor saved a blank at Rossim Lake to come 7th, while Bernie Maher also scored a 7th place on the Alva River, and Del Spry came 8th on the Paul River. Mark Withyman caught on the Upper Zêzere River but still came 11th, while Joel Beeney failed to catch on the Lower Zêzere River. England stayed at 9th, while Ireland, who had been in 5th place, dropped back to 7th. France remain in 1st place, with 55 placing points, with Spain still at 2nd with 66pts, and the Slovak Republic 3rd on 72pts. Individually, a 2nd place in the session saw Nicolas Abadia (Spain) remain 1st with 4 placing points, with Lionel Fouvier (France) still in 2nd with 5pts, and Daniel Martin (Spain) moving up into 3rd place with 6pts.

Session 4

The fourth session saw the fishing pressure apparently start to affect the results. Mark Withyman scored a 5th place on the Alva River, while Bernie Maher also came 5th on the Paul River. On the Lower Zêzere River Del Spry was one of six competitors who failed to catch, while Andy Taylor was one of the seven who blanked on the Upper Zêzere River. On Rossim Lake all 11 competitors in the session failed to catch, which included Joel Beeney. England dropped one place to 10th, while the French held on to their lead with 86 placing points, with Spain remaining in 2nd place with 96pts, and Finland moving into 3rd with 106pts. A blank on the lake saw Nicolas Abadia (Spain) fall out of the top three, which was now led by Lionel Fouvier (France) with 8 placing points, with Vincent Mathieu (Belgium) 2nd with 11pts, and Daniel Martin (Spain) remaining 3rd with 12pts. Unlike Vincent and Daniel though, Lionel was yet to fish his lake session, so the final session could see these positions altered once again.

Final Session

In the last session Andy Taylor came 4th on the Alva River, Mark Withyman came 4th on the Paul River, and Joel Beeney came 5th on the Upper Zêzere River. Bernie Maher failed to catch on the Lower Zêzere River, and Del Spry was one of the six competitors who blanked on Rossim Lake, where only seven fish were caught in the session. One of these was caught by Lionel Fouvier (France), which gave him the 4pts he needed to become European Individual Champion, 1pt ahead of Vincent Mathieu (Belgium) in 2nd with 13pts, and Daniel Martin (Spain) 3rd with 15pts. England finished the competition in 9th place with 194 placing points, behind Ireland in 8th with 185pts, whose team member Robbie Phelan won the final session on the lake with 2 fish. France ended up European Champions with 111pts, getting four of their five team members in the top 15, with Spain in silver with 130pts, and Finland bronze with 139pts.


Sector 1 – Upper Zêzere River
The upper sector of the Zêzere is a typical mountain river. The sector has an approximate extension of 8 km. Composed of wells and currents, a fish community mostly of wild trout, as well as repopulated for this event. The river passes over an essentially granite soil, embedded in a pronounced valley.

Sector 2 – Alva River
The river Alva also has its source in Serra da Estrela. The typology at the championship site is a river regulated by a dam. It presents a great diversity of water types and requires fishermen to know different techniques.

Sector 3 – Paul River
Ribeira do Paul is a tributary of the river Zêzere. From its source, also in Serra da Estrela, it presents a great diversity in terms of water type. It has an approximate length of 7km. In most of your catches, although they are small/medium sized trout, don’t be surprised if you get the trophy of a lifetime!

Sector 4 – Lower Zêzere
The Baixo Zêzere sector is a larger version of the Alto Zêzere, but with increased difficulty for competition. Clear waters, with different types of structures and current speeds. Very scary trout, with some trophies there! It will also take population reinforcement with farmed trout exclusively for the test.

Sector 5 – Rossim Lake
The Lagoa do Vale do Rossim sector is the lakes sector of this competition. Located at an altitude of more than 1000 meters, it offers stunning landscapes in the heart of Serra da Estrela.

You can find more information at the Championship website here>> and also on their Facebook page here>> and on their Instagram page here>>

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