Most of fly fisherman we encounter are in love with running waters, in touch with pristine nature and awed by picturesque surroundings. Nothing wrong with that. But, there is a challenge that the vast area of Slovenian lakes puts in front of the angler. One of the allures of Stillwater fly fishing is the relative novelty of the game, at least in Slovenia, and in addition to this, the fact that most of the lakes are populated only by the wild trout – rising the game to the top.
Man should never despair, especially as the rewards are great!
Off course, the prerequisite of successful day at water are the right equipment and knowledge of Stillwater fly fishing. The learning curve can be tilted upwards in company of a proficient guide – especially one, adept in all Stillwater techniques – this lowers number of humiliating days and rises the knowledge base of the angler. In general, even the total newbie may reap benefits of slinging streamers on sinking lines and stripping them at different retrieve rates. But there are too many variables, that are hard for the newcomer to grasp, at least all at once. The most important variable is the location of fish - trying to decipher the locality of the fish schools and even more importantly the depth – feeding lane. Too many variables that call for a short primer – beginner course on Slovenian lakes fishing – but not before winter.
Coming back to this season fishing. This July, was relatively wet, therefore the higher lake waters and the lower aquatic life activity, forced the lakes fishing too slinging and ripping streamers. Not my type of fly fishing, but some days the only option, that lakes give us. August has seen weeks of sunny weather, uplift of underwater activity, bringing the lakes in prime form later than usual.
What a prime day on the water brings?
A weekend of mid-August the weather forecast was sunny day with short spells of rainstorms coming from the mountains. With a colleague we jumped the opportunity and took a half day off for a fishing on one of the renown lakes in Slovenia. Starting late at 1:30 PM, when the midge pupa activity was already in full swing. I counted 7 belly boats on the surface, but fortunately all located around one prime position. Kicked my way up, looking for a shallower water, changed few midge pupa’s to find one of just the right weight. The fishing started fast, with a fish hooked and lost in next seconds. After 15 min of no success, when colleague asked me, what is going on: “I replied, no worries, just wait a tad longer.” Going into mental dilemma, whether am trying to calm him or my inner voice telling me, something has changed. Changing the fly to even lighter pupa and waiting a bit longer, when there was perceived change in leader sink-rate, that me cannot precisely describe. Slowly lifted the pupa and bang, all heel broke loose. Fish running to nearby bushes. Colleague seen me yelling: “No, no, you won’t!”. Turning the fish and saying: ”Not a biggie.” How wrong I was! The fish ran in my direction, where I was again able to outmaneuver her, turning her left and right and on, and on. For the first time I had visual contact, something was sayin me, I cannot lift her up, with a strong 6 wt and 0,15 mm tippet. After another 5 min fight I saw her tail. Amazed by the sheer size of it, I knew – she was huge even for this particular lake. Asked him to come closer so, he will manage few shots with my phone. I got her to hand after additional few minutes. Holding in my hands was the biggest bow trout male ever, for me. I measure it to my bellowed B2x and the fish stretched app. an inch over the first stripping guide (measured at 30,5”).
Next half hour was relatively slow with few smallies and me changing position to find the fish feeding. Only 10 minutes later, just in the shallowest water by the shore, I got the first brownie of around 21 inches. The fish was now coming nearer the surface and were totally devoted to midge pupas. I was changing to an even lighter midge to cover the last part of the water column. The wind went down and the water surface was oily calm. Good ten fish later, I knew all is fine, as I was hooking another seven native lake and brown trout in a row. We were on the mid lake when I saw a storm fast approaching the lake and with the colleague were just able to outrun it to the shore.
Good half an hour of beating rain and wind gusts, everything went calm again, but the upper part of water column was mixed and getting on the whitish color. It took me a good ten minutes to solve the riddle and tying on the pupa of necessary weight – heavier and flashier. The colleague was a bit down, as his fishing wasn’t progressing to his expectations. Me yelling him the winning combination and how to maneuver the pupa to get into action. We have seen another good hour of sport, with few very nice fish and a lot of reel screaming.
We called it a day! That is just a glimpse of what lakes can provide, given all goes right!