I'm happy to announce my catch of a lifetime: 54 cm, 3,6 kg.
Tight times! : )

Fishing for Danube Salmon on Sava Bohjnika in Slovenia.

This account of my journey in December 2010 was published in the new online-mag Scale. Zum deutschen Artikel geht's hier.

I am now convinced it was my first salmon that gave me the bug. This feeling that this monster on the other end of the line created an angst that shouldn't and wouldn't recur. A couple of years ago we were doing some autumn fishing on the Sava. Our host, Emil Pintar, told us about some good winter Danube salmon fishing: Emil: "You have to come." Me: "Yes, yes of course." Him again: "You will see, it's fantastic." So me again: "Yes, we will see, for sure, maybe ...". "Auf Wiedersehen". Cut. Ring Ring. "Hello? When? Okay!" Click. Lures from Marios in my online shopping cart. Rubber fish and wobblers at analogue dealers in the real-life shopping cart. And an odd assortment of processed food, candy and alcohol from an analogue discount market in the analogue shopping card. Huff-puff.

Die Sava Bohjnika upstream.

Day 1. Friday. 6 a.m. Salzburg, Villach, Karawanken Tunnel, right turn out of Bleder See. If you want a fairy-tale wedding, this is the place. Fairy-tale castle on Glitzer See. I don't want to, though. I want Danube salmon. Not even three km further: Emil. Grinning. As nice as can be. A bear hug. Coffee and cookies. Mapping out details. A bit cold -6 bis -7°C. Started out clear, then increasingly cloudy with a flurry of snow. Perfetto. At 11:30 onto the water. With lure and spinner. Emil only ever uses the spin rod on the Huchen. 2.40 m, 80-120 gr casting weight. The Sava is small. Unlike other rivers, the Huchen is not QUITE so big. And you want to feel it.

Emil Pintar, the great guide. 

We get in on a bridge heading down to the wildly romantic Sava. Turquoise-blue water. Mighty deep holes and crevices with large boulders mixed with long, quiet pools and gravel beds.

At such places Mr Hucho Hucho likes to hang around.

But the "Fly Guy" is not flying today. His beautiful, 15 cm long ash lure gives all it's got, but he has to admit it's a lost cause. Woods behind. No roll casting possible. And before the lure even completes its arc, its feathery feelers have become flying clumps due to the icy air. Pretty little flying clumps on a long white stiff line which in warmer weather would be recognizable as a fishing line. So spin rod for the remainder. The guide grins ...

Grayling Sorbet.

First day there's not much snow, the river is relatively easy to walk. Don't step into the river, is the friendly but definite command. Quiet! Danube salmon are sensitive.So we only talk between fishing spots. He is quiet. I'm huffing and puffing. Emil knows the waters like the back of his hand. And quite possibly every Danube salmon as well. Probably gives each one a name. Only a slight exaggeration since this fish is faithful to its spot and every angler who knows his Danube salmon knows precisely where each salmon lives and how big it is this year. If it was 1.01 meters last year then it is no doubt 1.02 meters this year. Only small
salmon grow fast. They grow slow after 1.0 meters.

While I am spotting dangerous holes between the snowy rocks, Emil spots some Danube Salmon.

Emil spots three Danube salmon. Where? There, 80 cm fish. Where, there? There, there. I don't see anything. There, in front of the rock. Oh, the rock? No, the salmon in front of the rock. That's a salmon? Yes. Big rock, but big fish too. All three fish, between 80 cm and a meter, just stay put and react not a bit. That's the way it is with salmon, Emil says. They sit in their hole six days a week and don't move. Then come out on the seventh day to fill their bellies. 200 meter up, 200 down. Then they could be anywhere. 'They were, just not on a hook. Even the last half hour in total darkness, the best time for a nocturnal fish, didn't get us a bite. Time for beer and a good talks with Emil back at his apartment. About the fishing club, the war, during which anything with fins on it was shot at. His work on this gorgeous river. And naturally about Danube salmon.

All that is mising are some japanese Makakes bathing.

Day 2. 30 cm of new snow and we fish several hours up a couple of hundred meters of river. Emil uses rubber fish and wobblers whenever fishing upstream. It is more obvious on a small and very clear river like this. In some places we dip into the crevices and between the rocks, but only with a really heavy rubber fish. And again we play the "where did you say it is" game. Aside from the six salmon models on the big bridge (which look good but just sit there), Emil spots six salmon. On the way back, I console Emil, who has given his all to provide me with my first Danube salmon. No fish but things are proceeding apace.
Day 1, no fish. Day 2, two nearlies. and Day 3 is bound to be the charm - that's my theory. Emil seems to think it's as good as any.

Sullen salmon models on the counter.

Discussing the wobbler-attack at the Fishing Lodge of the Bohinjska Bela Anglers Club.

Mentionable on this picture: the lovely little snow piles in the foreground. Perilous.

Day 3. Eight a.m., clear blue skies. Emil had already predicted the previous evening that temperatures would plummet and they have -11°C. The churning river is breathtakingly beautiful and the snow has thankfully firmed up a bit. Missteps and stumbling are no longer my primary occupation. So we're fishing our way upstream when it suddenly happens. The wobbler that Emil just five minutes earlier had disengaged from a rock, is now firmly in a salmon's mouth. Pulling on the line, Emil calls out, "Salmon! Salmon!". And I look down from my perch on an overhang into the clear stream and see it flipping its way past me downstream. A soft take. It's trying to shake off the wobbler. I set the hook twice. The salmon comes to the surface and flounces in its typical manner, like an alligator shaking its head and daring me. I hear Emil calling out, "Wow! One meter! More than one meter!" The fish goes a piece and I can hold one. Slowly I position a little bag between rocks and tail him. Shaking. I can't wipe that grin off my face for two hours.

A dream.
Emil measures it at 102 cm, guesstimated 10 kilos. I remove the wobbler and put the salmon back in the current, where it slowly recovers. One last kiss and then it's gone Emil and I share beaming smiles. I can't believe my luck. My first Danube salmon fishing trip and my last day of fishing and a meter-long fish Ice cold water is dripping out of my sleeve.

And I'm just grinning. Emil, mytireless and sharp-eyed guide, wants to move on. But I've decided to call it quits. How could I top this? I pack my things, get in the car and drive back to Munich, with a big grin ...

You can watch the film here. Or on youtube.

Informations about fishing for Salmon on Sava River:
Bohinjska Bela is only 40 km from the Airport. Emil Pintar offers two picobello Apartments for self-supply. Prices are low. Hospitality is great. In the tiny village you'll find a nice little pub/restaurant. Fishing licence is 40 EUR p.d. in the C&R zone.  If you want to take a your fish, you'll fish in another zone for 100 EUR p.d. Guiding is obligate but costs only 100 EUR p.d.. Please find more informations on Emils Website.