During my stay we also made an impromptu stop by a lake that Stephan and Paulo used to fish in the early days of Fly Fishing Nation. The modest lake had narrow overgrown openings where you could just about present a bow and arrow cast into some of the hot spots. I was using a 9-foot 9-weight with a floating line and a stupendously large tube fly tied by FFN in one of their ‘Beers & Bobbins’ sessions. The fly flew through the air like a missile and landed by the side of a submerged log. I let it sink and two strips later a pike came rocketing out from beneath the murky water and grabbed it. My hook set wasn’t the best, (as Stephan kept reminding me that evening) but, thankfully, it stayed on and we were able to net it, take a photo and release her quickly back to her lair.
It was now time to travel a little further afield. Austria, a land of mountains and glacial gin-clear rivers and lakes full of wild fish awaited us. It was hard not to fall head over heels in love with this enchanting place, with its valleys full of wild- life, its snow-capped mountains and unspoilt landscapes. We stayed in a charming chalet hotel in Mittersill, Hotel Braurup. There we enjoyed Austrian comforts such as home brewed beer, goulash and kaiserschmarrn (a rum-soaked shredded pancake) served by friendly staff, suited and booted in lederhosen and dirndl, the region’s traditional dress.
In summer the area becomes an epicentre for hikers and fishermen alike. Access to the pristine, meandering rivers and emerald green lakes can be arranged through the hotel and are unquestionably some of the most exquisite places to fish on the planet. It was very convenient to be able to pop into the hotel’s fishing shop and buy our licences, enabling us to fish any of their water during our stay. This included 130 miles of running water and four alpine-fed lakes, including one high mountain lake situated at over 2,000m above sea level. The drive to each of our fishing spots was magical, especially the regular sightings of the colossal waterfalls with their icy white water leaping over the rocky ledges.
My number one quest was to seek out my first brook trout on the Krimmler Ache River. I also wanted to catch some high altitude brown trout and grayling. Keeping a low profile, I was able to tempt my first brookie and thereafter a few more. I noticed that they were more apprehensive than the other species and each one would keep me entertained by darting out from behind a boulder and snatching at the flies. As for the grayling, they were the prettiest I’ve ever seen. Don’t ask me how, but I am convinced that they are definitely, somehow, distant relatives of the banana. Just take a look at their shape and colour and you’ll agree.
Wherever we fished, be it there on the Krimmler Ache, other rivers, or on the Finkausee and Hintersee lakes, cowbell chimes would follow us. The Alpine atmosphere is incredibly soothing and healing for one’s body, mind and soul. We all know that getting outside and immersing yourself in nature is both mentally and physically beneficial, especially if you are feeling stressed. Fishing in such places can be the perfect antidote. I was delighted to discover that Austria is a fisherman’s paradise and, being so close to the UK, it is easily accessible and relatively inexpensive.
Above all, there is so much pristine water and such a variety of species to discover that it’s a place you’ll want to return to time and time again. I know I will.
For the rest of Marina Gibson’s story, including the German leg with giant browns in the tampon migration and hefty barbel, check out The Mission Issue 23 below.