Last week of March the cold front crossed Slovenia, bringing in a rainy spell, with an immediate effect on river levels throughout the land. High waters brought us all - fly-fishing addicts - into perpetual state of distress.
For the non-fisherman folks out there, the first of April marks a »real« opener, as we perceive it, attributes to opening of Adriatic sub-basin trout waters and the remaining part of Danube sub-basin rivers. To touch the matter just a tad deeper, the Adriatic sub-basin rivers confluence to Adriatic Sea, the Danube as the name foretells it into Danube. Most prominent among the Adriatic Rivers, subjectively off course, would cover emerald Soca and Idrijca, and Danube waters – Sava and larger chalk-streams Krka and Kolpa.
For all members of Fishery club Idrija and many addicts among us, fool’s day marks the D-day. Plans formed weeks ago, were put down - mother nature just didn’t catch up with us. All winter dreams shattered with a few days of rain, the memories of all fish caught years in the past, haunting us for just another week… As fisherman we love waters to be feed in into streams, though this time the timing wasn’t right for us. Putting all these negative thoughts into the bin, we just had to be a bit more patient and forming new plans, by checking and overanalyzing the water levels day in, day out. Already a busy week, made the waiting-time a bit easier to swallow. By the end of week, other work-plans influenced the decision to call-up the yearlong fishing partner B. No long talks were needed to bring him into state of readiness and Monday 9thof April was chosen as the date to open up the season on Idrijca – this time for real. A day before the battle plan was formed and decision taken to not start too early, as we – better stated me - was just hot on the regular hatches. Due to after cold front weather, the mornings were still chilly, with around 5 degrees Celsius and daily highs reaching just over 16 degrees. We hit the Idrija Valley just around quarter past nine, a lazy start in the day. Me hopped for the mid-day multiple hatches of March Browns and Large Olive duns, but things started a bit different. Always be prepared for the pleasant surprise… We expected no-one at the water and we were not far from the truth, only few Italian fly-fishers that took over the position in trophy part of Idrijca, which I am trying to avoid anyway, as I just don’t bite into instant fishery. Hey, your mileage may warry, but that’s just me.
Just before jumping in waders, we had a late breakfast, with local delicatessen, which smeared our stomachs with real beacon, local bread and made us ready for everything. Digging deep into bread, was astounded by the fresh greenery of the streamside vegetation, birds singing in the bushes and the vibration of the early spring felt in the slowly warming air. In search of start-up location, we were overlooking the suitable water from bridges. It came as an instant decision, as the water was still rather high, above average, especially for the lower part of Idrijca club water. I’ve chosen a suitable spot, where the river widens, just taming the current to a bit more manageable or at least enjoyable endeavor. Heck, the spot could be blindly chosen, as each nick of club’s water’s known to me, but wanted to widen the window of opportunity also for my fly fishing buddy. Having a fly fishing friend with me to enjoy our waters, it’s a privilege, but also brings responsiblity, to provide him with the opportunity to touch a wild fish here or there.
The things evolved relatively fast, starting off with Baetis nymph and having no real success, besides one of the drifts hitin’ or stopping a bit earlier as anticipated. I made a decision and changed the fly to an April caddis (Granom) pupa, which was a game changer. Having a touch on the second drift and a hook-up on one of the drifts focusing on a submerged boulder. It was a hit and run, with a larger bow making havoc and using all she had to unhook. Relatively calm, I voiced my opinion to B: “Hey, guess they are focusing on pupa’s", havin a second hook-up on size 14-16 Caddis pupa. The Winston’s soft tip, amortized the jumps and after disorienting the fish, by steering it first right, then left and right again, provoked her into desperate shorter and shorter runs. The bow male surrendered relatively fast, which is always appreciated, as am trying to sustain the natural fish population and releasing most of the fishes anyway.
Lookin at the margins, I’ve spotted the fish feeding, sipping emergers. B was fishing in front of me and ‘ve made him aware of the feeder. On the third drift, bang, he shouted “Fish on, mate!”. The fish was rolling in the shallow water, spraying the stones on the other side, followed by a first wild run. B was anticipating it and was ready for it. Just after that, he saw the first yellowish reflection deep in the pool. “It’s a wild one”, he shouted, not yet sure whether a brownie, hybrid or a marble. It didn’t take us long to make it out. A beauty marble trout was beached and after a set of quick photos released for the future. B remained on location, I mowed downwards in a massive hatch of LOD’s (Baetis r.). Fish started to rise, but even though a hatch was on for more than half an hour, I had serious problems to make a solid drift, which would not scare off the fish. Even though me using a light equipment and rather longish leaders with modestly heavy nymphs (size 18, 2mm head), using a modification of Hewitt nymphing technique, was not getting the drifts right. The transecting currents and a faster water made me small. After another hour and two spoiled hook-up’s, guess I made four fish down, making a foul of me… Still a lesson learned, I could not move to the position due to a heavy current in mid river and I wished for the best. It didn’t come together. I would have stayed a bit longer but wanted for B to get into at least another wild fish.
A quick move to a smaller tributary, taking a nice marble on the clouser. Down and dirty, no finesse required, just chucking the T200 and a clouser into first pool and bang a hook-up. Fish was seeking refuge, but there was none on the horizon – a heavy equipment made a retreat virtually impossible and fish was ready for a pic. Quick release and we were flying upriver to fish a pool here/there. B was hookin fish after fish and we had enough after 15 possibly 20 minutes. Me spotting the fish, B hittin the streamer in the hole and a hook-up. Few LDR (long distance releases) and few solid hook-ups made us ready to move back to Idrijca.
Unfortunately, the time was not on our side and fishing came to stale. At lease time for honing my single-handed spey castin’ skills… I had enough, stopping after twenty minutes. The air pressure was dropping and just after I switched my wadding gear, the first raindrops, seen us run out of the valley and make us ready for a trip home. All in all, a perfect day at the Idrijca, which made us ready for a start-up into new season. First few months will be hectic, colleague taking over guiding, as we are in mid of “Works”, but more to this in the next months.