This past summer, my partner Deb and I toured through Eastern Europe, and I sampled some of the fly fishing available along the way. In earlier blog articles, I recounted my experiences in Estonia and Croatia. This article will focus on Slovenia. As far as I can tell, Slovenia is Europe’s version of Montana. There are a lot of waters to explore and there is also a well developed fly fishing culture.
I should also mention that Jan Heidel has already posted an excellent overview of angling opportunities in Slovenia.
Region I Fished:
Lake Bled, with its blue waters and cliff-top castle, is a bustling tourist destination within striking distance of several trout rivers. It is in the heart of the Julian Alps in western Slovenia. We stayed at a small hotel in one of the rural villages a short distance from the lake. Travelling the country lanes to and from the hotel was a pleasant experience by itself; walking was actually preferable to driving.
Extreme Angler Bled and Fauna Fly Fishing are both located right in the town of Bled. The latter was very helpful and supplied with me my license, a few hot flies, and some getting-started advice. Both shops maintain websites that are helpful to the traveling angler. Guides and even lodging packages are available.
We purchased licenses to fish the beat of Sava Bohinjka River that was two minutes away from our hotel. It had been wickedly hot so I headed out solo shortly after dawn one morning. I parked the car, rigged up, and crossed the river on the bridge that divided my beat of river from what is known as the “trophy section.” The day before I had decided that a license for the trophy section was out of my price range, but now I was doubting the wisdom of that choice.
Trout were rising freely in the trophy section, including a solid 16 incher clearly visible just downstream of the bridge. The river was perhaps 100 feet across and very clear. Its flow was placid and deliberate. Upstream of the bridge, in my beat, the rises were few and far between, and only the odd tiddler showed itself.
The fellow at the fly shop had said that deeper, rippled water was a key to finding fish, so I set out along a rough lane that paralleled the river. Eventually, I heard the gurgle of flowing water and honed in on that, cutting through forest to the river bank.
A short walk later, I what I found what I was looking for; a tiny creek bubbled into the river and created a slot of deeper, rippled water flowing alongside a log. Fish rose all along the slot and all over a neighboring flat. “Small and dark and on the end of 7X!” was what the fly shop guy had said, and I knotted one of his recommendations onto my longest, lightest leader.
A short while later, the black Klinkhammer disappeared in a subtle swirl and a good-sized fish cartwheeled a solid 6 feet across the river’s surface to the right. Then it did the same thing back to the left, landing heavily and breaking the tippet. I was elated. It had been a while since I had hooked a trout capable of breaking even a fine tippet.
In the next hour, I experienced another break off, several strikes, and 3 decent rainbows brought to hand. As I called it quits around 9 AM, the rises were starting to get sporadic. Surprisingly, I had not seen another person fishing all morning.
Later in the evening, both Deb and I returned to the river. Wanting to see more of it, we skipped past the spot of the earlier action and focused on some narrow and rocky runs further upstream. However, any resident trout in those places were being particularly shy. We wound up back where the creek poured in by the log.
Anticipating good action, Deb held the camera and I waded into range of some very dense feeding activity. There were a few small, dark mayflies in the air, and I knotted on the morning’s magical Klinkhammer. Unfortunately, the trout were not interested in it this time around. On a couple of drifts, it was completely surrounded by rising fish but never touched.
I started changing flies… And kept changing flies… Until aging eyes, small hooks, fine tippet, and fading light forced me to stop. I think the only action I had was an eager but selective trout bumping into my leader.
The town of Bovec is a couple hours away from Lake Bled on the other side of the Julian Alps. It feels a little more off-the-beaten-path and is a great base for hiking, whitewater rafting, and also fly fishing. The Soca River, a well known fishery, runs right by Bovec. I didn’t get a chance to fish the Soca, but hiking alongside it and trying to spot fish was still great sport.
Because of limited luggage space, I packed a pairs of Korkers wading shoes with felt soles but no waders. As far as I’m concerned, wading without felt soles, or some grippy equivalent, is a guaranteed soaking. A few rising fish – even uncatchable ones – tend to render cold water and a lack of waders quite unnoticeable.
Don’t forget to read my other blog articles about Estonia and Croatia, and also Jan Heidel’s piece on Slovenia! They all expand on this one.