Paradise hooked
The Field|February 2021
Searching for a place to rejuvenate the soul and reconnect with nature?
MARINA GIBSON

In September, I packed my bags and headed to Europe to participate in the first ever Fish & Fly Trio. Fish & Fly Trio is a new fishing adventure set in a diverse European landscape. This fishing challenge welcomes enthusiasts of all ages and abilities to participate in a unique three-day fishing excursion, including a three-night stay and a helicopter ride over one of the greenest of European countries: Slovenia. The objective of the challenge is to catch three species – grayling, brown trout and marble trout – from three pristine rivers.

Slovenia is a naturally diverse paradise consisting of snow-capped peaks, emerald waters, thick Alpine forests and interlocking, mountainous alpine tundra. It is without doubt one of the most beautiful regions of Europe and has some great fishing to boot. Although the rivers in the Soca valley are renowned for some of the best fishing, other parts of the country are well worth a few casts, too.

After just a few hours of travelling I touched down in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, where I met the owner of Green Adventures, Matjaž Kuzma, and the Fly Fishing Nation team who were documenting the trip. The following day we would kick off the challenge by fishing for grayling on the Kolpa river and stay in Novo Mesto for our first Slovenian culinary experience.

DAY ONE

Grayling (Thymallus thymallus) are native to Slovenia, though unlike us the Slovenians refer to their grayling as males and not ‘The Lady of the Stream’. Their Latin name derives from their herb-like odour, which sometimes gets confused with a cucumber-like scent. They have a large dorsal fin that acts like a sail in the current and is used during courtship and spawning.

We were greeted by our guides, Bostjan and Sasa, who took us to our first fishing spot on the Kolpa river, a tributary of the Sava, which is 297km long and flows through north-west Croatia and southeast Slovenia. The Kolpa was a beautiful starting point with gin-clear water flowing over pale yellow stones.

Although we saw a large grayling we could not tempt him out of his pocket. However, by the end of the day I had caught a fair number of grayling, including one of 38cm, my best fish of the day. One thing that struck me was that both the grayling and brown trout were of a light, yellowish tone that matched the riverbed. Whilst it’s quite normal for brown trout to change their colours depending on their environment, I had not seen grayling camouflaging themselves like this before.

DAY TWO

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