Slovenia is a small country in Central Europe that is known for its stunning natural beauty. The country is also home to some of the best fly fishing in Europe. The pristine waters of its rivers and lakes are home to a variety of trout species of interest to the fly fisher, including rainbow trout, brown trout, marble trout , Hucho and grayling. I’m lucky that my brother lives there so I get to visit relatively regularly. This summer we decided to have a family holiday there so we booked a few days in Ljubijana, the capital and a week in Bled camping beside the Sava Dolinka river.
A wet and moody morning at Lake Bled
The temperatures were very high for the first few days but my son Rory and I escaped the city for a few hours fishing on a small river not too far from Ljubljana. We cranked up the music and enjoyed the drive through beautiful countryside. When we arrived at the river the water quite low but fishable and the air temperature was a whopping 36 degrees centigrade! We wet waded in shorts in the lovely cool water and thoroughly enjoyed a couple of hours fishing together.
Beautiful little Slovenian Brown trout- I don't think I've ever seen red spots on the dorsal of a brown trout at home in Ireland
Rory and I really had fun during our time on the river and we caught a few rainbow trout and a couple of brown trout each on Dry mayflies in a couple of hours. Rory particularly enjoyed casting his Humpy dry fly into the fast water at the head of the pool and the rainbows would attack it with vigour. Unfortunately our day was cut short as it had become so hot. We had to go and collect Jane and the kids from the pool as the they were overheating.
We moved to our cabin in Camping Sobec at Lake Bled. I had in my mind to try and catch a big Rainbow trout and had set aside a day to fish with Rok Lustrik but unfortunately I was delayed and we didnt’ get to meet. Rok very kindly left flies and rig for me in a petrol station and sent me to where he felt there was a chance of a fish. There had been very heavy rain the night before and most rivers were a torrent or with zero clarity as a result of glacial silt. I arrived to find this river was no different. A small tributary running into the main channel was running a little clearer creating a seam of glacial water and clearer water for a couple of hundred metres.
Heavy Rain led to very poor fishing conditions
I fished hard for hours with no result and a fisheries officer had kayaked up to check my licence and gear was within the rules. He told me what I already knew, that conditions were dire. I was about to call it a day when I took a notion to try the really dirty water mid river. The first cast was met with solid resistance, I knew immediately it was no ordinary sized fish. The strength and runs the fish made we extraordinary. After a serious battle I landed a very cool double figure rainbow trout. Just what I’d hoped for! Unfortunately I’d left my camera at the campsite so the photos aren’t as nice as I’d like.
Dwarfing my 5 weight rod
So disappointed not to have a good Pic of this one. A screen shot from a video will have to Do
She Swam away without a bother.
Over the next couple of days the water dropped and cleared on the Sava Dolinka which was just 100 meters from our cabin. I got out with the streamer and caught some nice rainbow trout. It is a stunning river and I found the fish to be very localised. The local fly shop confirmed that a couple of fish in a session was a good result for this river. One evening there was a biblical hatch of blue winged olives and not a single trout rose to them. At home it would be the hatch of your dreams.
Sava Dolinka beside our Cabin where I got a couple of nice Rainbow trout on the Streamer.
Flood on the Sava Dolinka in crazy heat. T shirt and shorts were the only way!
Bled has a very cool fly shop owned and run by Matej Gartner. Matej is super helpful with information, maps and booking fishing trips. He helped me a lot via email with a previous autumn trip to Bled. I dropped in to the shop after another night of heavy rain and Matej determined that the best place to get some streamer fishing would be on Sava Bohjinka. He kindly marked some pools on a map to check out and I set out full of excitement as I had fished Sava Bohjinka before and got some big trout and it is a really stunning river.
Matej in Fauna Bled Fly Shop. A very cool shop and he Ties beautiful local Fly patterns.
It was raining cats and dogs and when I arrived and I could see that the river was beginning to rise. I put on my 6ips sinking line and a mcminnow streamer on and fished my way down for a few kilometers through the valley. The fishing was magic with each pool producing solid takes from beautiful rainbow trout and a couple of browns. Nothing huge but wonderfully consistent streamer fishing. I lost count of the number of fat, perfectly conditioned trout that came to the net. In the late afternoon it switched off like a light. The river had become dirty and dreaded river fog had crept in, the fish were no longer responding but I left with a big smile on my face having been able to try lots of flies and fish really magnificent pools.
The MCMINNOW one of many flies that worked well for me in Slovenia
An Italian angler determined not to be beaten by the rising river and fog.
In Slovenia it is really important to check the rules for the fishery you are on. There are Hucho present in many rivers and because summer is the closed season for them, there can be a limit on the length of fly you can use. Almost all rivers require barbless hooks and some don’t allow 2 hooks on an articulated fly. In my case I snipped the back hook at the bend as trout are more often than not hooked on the front hook.
I am very grateful to Rok Lustrik https://www.lustrik.com/ and Matej Gartner https://faunaflyshop.si/ for their generosity with information. Be sure to drop them a line if you are going to fish in Slovenia.