Fly Fishing Slovenia
Slovenia is a unique country for fly fishermen. The majestic Julian Alps cut by steep gorges with crystal clear rivers. The water is so clear that it is difficult to visually judge the depth when wading, and one step too far may cost us a dip in the icy water. Rivers such as Sava Bohinjka, Soca, Savinja, Idrijca and Tolminka are managed by individual fishing families.
The most famous ones are Fishing families Tolmin and Idrija, who takes care of 140 kilometers of rivers, and fishing familiy Bled, which manages Sava Bohinjka and the beautiful Lake Bled.
Contrary to the Polish management model, families in Slovenia are focused on fishing tourism. Their pro-ecological management aims at natural reproduction, protection of native species and promotion of the C&R idea. On clear and legible families websites, translated in few foreign languages, you can quickly read the main goals of the statute, learn about the prevailing conditions, fishing licenses, and protection periods.
The marble trout is a unique and endemic species, whose fate hung in the balance 10 years ago. Today, thanks to the hard work and efforts of the associations, it was possible to restore the population and catching this extraordinary fish is not a miracle.
The Slovenes' response to the high fishing pressure is stocking with rainbow fish. Please note that Slovenia is a relatively small country that shares borders with Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. Also, fishermen from Germany and France regularly visit the fishery and wisely managed rivers of Slovenia. Rainbow trout is being introduced to the rivers, it allows to relieve fishing pressure and protect native species, and at the same time it is very attractive for fishing. Fish stocking with rainbow fish in Slovenia has nothing to do with implementing large, finless, old fish, who have spent most of their lives in the breeding pools. Slovenes often stock rivers with small rainbows, that grow up in the river and become fully wild fish.
Money from licenses, which are not the cheapest here, goes directly to the fishing families. In addition to rich fish stocks and beautiful nature, Slovenian rivers offer us a well-developed infrastructure for anglers. On the banks of the rivers you will find car-parks, shelters for the angler, rubbish bins, signs with maps and markings of fishing sections.
Being in Slovenia, I was impressed by the openness and friendliness of people. In my private life, I was fortunate enough to meet and make friends with Dare Heberle, who is an excellent angler who knows the rivers of Slovenia inside out. His portfolio of fly fish species is very broad and shows great versatility of the angler. Thanks to his innate kindness and openness, Dare will share with us his knowledge and experience about fly fishing in Slovenia's rivers.
MG: Hi Dare, the fish pictures you send me regularly make my heart beat faster. There are simply no such fish in Poland. How is it possible that there are such fish in Slovenia? How do you care for rivers and protect?
DH:Yes, as you already written, Slovenia has many beautiful and immaculate rivers. Rivers are divided into several parts which are then managed by fishing families. Every fishing family takes care of its parts of river differently. A lot is being done on the C&R system. As only in this way do we achieve what we have. Every fishing family invests a lot in the rivers and streams of their farmed fish. Some are bigger, some are smaller. A good example of good management are fishing families Bled, Šempeter, Idrija, Tolmin, Ljubno and of course Tržič where I am member for the longest time. However, there are many other fishing families in Slovenija who are also very successful in their own way.
MG: This year you managed to catch beautiful marble trouts. Please write something more. In what river and how do you catch these fish. I think it could be a topic for a separate article.
DH:Yes, last year at the request of my friend Saša Kladnik I have also joined the Idrija fishing family. The river Idrijca is a Carstal river. The river is divided into four sections. C&R is fished along most of the river. Most of the time I fly fish on the nymph technique whit EGO Competitior 11’ #3 rod. But when the fish starts working on the dry fly, it is a magical day on the river Idrijca. Sometimes when the river rises during heavy rains, the best choice is a large yellow streamer (for predators – big fish I use EGO Custom Crossbow 9’ # 9 rod). The river itself has marble trout, grayling rainbow trout and hybrid trout.(Between brown trout end marble trout). For dry rod I use EGO Competitior 9,7'/3# rod.
My favorite setup for dry fly fishing from EGO.
MG:Pictures with huge rainbow trout give a lot to think about. I can't imagine fighting such a large rainbow trout in crystal clear water on delicate equipment. What equipment do you use and how do you fish for rainbow trout, what thick tippets do you use?
DH:Yes, what can I say. I caught these largest rainbow trout on the Savinja river, which is managed by the Šempeter fishing family. Most of the time I fly fish the nymph technique. The fly rod I use is usually EGO competitior 11,0 #3. End RS reel 56. Yes, the tippets are usually from 0.12 to 0.18.
MG: In Poland, restocking with rainbow trout is prohibited. It is considered an invasive species that competes with brown trout. There is no need to hide that for us anglers it is a sport fish that gives a lot of emotions during a fight. What do you think about this?
DH:It is a very good decision you prohibit input of rainbows into rivers as being an invasive species. In Slovenija, it is not prohibited and most probably will not occur for some time in the future either. I agree to input rainbow trout for C&R but I also strongly support input of endemic species.
MG: In Poland, anglers who publish photos of fish on the Internet often blur the background or show the catch against the shore background so that another angler would not be able to discover the place where the fish was caught. You don't hide any details in your photos. What do you think about this?
DH:I completely understand that some of the fishermen refuse to reveal the place of thge catch. I personally find it less important, as the place doesnt influence on huge catch rate, you need to have other multiple skills as well. On the other side, I have seen that finding the place of big fish (Hucho Hucho/ Danube salmon), cought by C&R, some might use with bad intention and kill the fish.
MG: Please tell Polish anglers which flies should be used for marble trout and rainbow trout?
DH: This is a fisherman secret (we fish on green nymphs, various sizes streamers and dry fly). Marble trout is not a picky species, and accepts all kinds of nymph and big streamers. Of all dry flies it prefers those of light brown color.
Thanks to Dare we can show you amazing photo gallery from Slovenia...
Strong and crazy fighting rainbow.
This rod (Ego Competitor 11'/#3) can handle really big fish.
Deep bend of the Competitor will tire big rainbow during few minutes.
Huch time. In Slovenia you can fish for hucho from 1st October to 25th February.
In winter time.
Took small nymph in the fast current.
Love these colors.
Darko Ržen my best friend with marble trout.
The water is very clear here, in sunny day it,s not so easy to catch the fish.
My box with nymphs and most effective streamers.
Marble trout portrait.
Ego Crossbow for streamer fishing works well.
Hucho flyfishing is very important for me.
Article: Maciej Gałgański and Dare Heberele
Pictures: Dare Heberele
Flies: Boštjan Jakopič
Many thanks to Darko Ržen who is for Dare like father and mentor - these are Dare's words.
Keep on doing guys what you do, you do it the best!