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A Wand in Austria

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Over the last year or two it had become increasingly obvious to me that a number of fishing friends were changing their outlook on angling. A good number had chosen to fish less frequently in the UK. In place of this shortfall they had all spent time fishing long weekends in the Alps. Not for the usual skiing and ‘Apres’ associated with these mountainous locations, but for the prime fly fishing on offer. After being sent the umpteenth photo of stunning Trout and Grayling in beautiful locations enough was enough. I had to go for myself.

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Scouring the internet for offers and firing emails off to all who’d experienced the fantastic fly fishing abroad a number of trends started to appear. Slovenia, although beautiful and blessed with some of the finest rivers in the world was, in parts, turning somewhat commercial with stocking of oversized fish having a negative impact on my impression of the place. The French option was a no no due to the streams long being emptied of their prized fish, and that famous French policy of ’10 for the pot’ having ruined their fishing years ago. Finally Austria was suggested, a contact (Bob Preston) provided and a trip priced up. It didn’t disappoint.

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The fishing was centred in Carinthia, Southern Austria, tight to the Slovenian and Italian borders. The water of choice, the River Moll (pronounced Merl). A glacial river, fast flowing and freestone in its nature. The scenery was stunning.  Steep, alpine slopes descended into lush green pastures on all sides. And of course the river, running blue at times and clear at others cutting through everything. The sheer number of species available (all wild) was a big attraction for me. The Grayling are of Danubian strain and hugely colourful. The Trout included Browns, Rainbows, Brooks and Marble. I caught all but the last species with the Rainbow being the dominant species.

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Traditional UK style fishing methods went out of the window as heavy nymphs, 10 foot 6 weights and strike indicators reigned supreme to cope with the fast flows and hard fighting fish. An 8 weight with a heavy sink tip and streamers was also called into use on a regular basis. The river changed daily depending on snow melt water and also on the amount of water the local hydro electric power station decided to release. On some days this meant the river often rose and fell by 2 feet or so but luckily it didn’t affect the fishing or the clarity of the water negatively. Fly life got better as the days went on and on our final day we were rewarded with a huge olive hatch. Out came the 3 weights and lighter lines as Grayling to over 2lbs hammered our Klinkhammer  flies. The depth of water the fish would rise through take a surface fly had to be seen to be believed.

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Bob Preston runs 2 trips to the Moll Valley per year. He was born in the region and speaks German (though not having a translator wouldn’t have been a problem as everyone we met spoke perfect English). The trips are in late June and early September. Costs are as follows.·        

Flight – Anywhere from 60-120 pounds depending on when you book.        

Hire Car – 45 pounds each.       

Accommodation – 42 Euros a night each inc bed, breakfast and evening meal.

Fishing – Anywhere between 35-60 Euros a day.       

Beers and lunches – Cheap! Beers averaged 2.5 Euros and lunch each day around 6 Euros each.        

All in about 400 pounds for 4 x days fishing.

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The amount of water available is vast. The hydro electric power station owns 18 kilometers in the area (60 Euros a day), which only allows 5 rods a day. Hardly over fished! The council owns another 4 kilometers (35 Euros a day), 5 rods max, and the local angling club another 5 kilometers (60 Euros a day) 4 rods max. All water is equally good. The fishing rights also allow you to fish the side streams entering the river which provide great sport on a smaller scale. I’ll be going on both of Bob’s trips next year, which are usually for 4 people. However, we could get a group of Wands together and stay in the same place etc. There is tons of water for all. It’s 100% wild and the fish go like trains! Do get in touch if you’re interested.

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