Fly fishing in Austria can provide a fly angler with legendary landscapes, aggressive takes, and hungry fish. It is amazing how dauntless the cold water river inhabitants are and how, with such furry, they eat your flies. With indiscriminate reckless abandon, these Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, and Grayling (among others) hurl themselves at your submerged artistic offerings and signal their presence by slapping a severe bend onto your fly rod.
For the cherry on top, it can also be one of the most unique fishing experiences. You often find yourself the sole angler on long stretches of river. Sometimes, kilometers of river are barren and devoid of any would-be hole theifs.
It’s just you, the river, and the occasional local villager out for a hike or bike tour.
Coming from Colorado and experiencing the ever increasingly crowded rivers and hole-to-hole hopping combat fly anglers, it is a massive change of pace.
The passion fueled weekend warriors all vying for spots on legendary sections and famous holes dotting the Rocky Mountain West’s rivers, can leave one with a foul taste in the mouth and not to mention a heaping portion of aggression. Fly fishing in Colorado and in many areas of the US has changed over the years.
For some context, anyone who is a Colorado resident with ~$50 bucks can buy an annual fishing license and has access to all public rivers, lakes, streams, creeks, and reservoirs (with a few exceptions). But we will leave that topic alone for now, though.
Contrast this to the Alpine infused countryside village dotted landscapes with Freestone rivers; what Austria offers in terms of fly fishing experiences and quality is certainly in a different league; let’s say a European league.
However, it can not be ignored nor forgotten that the sheer amount of fishing locations and opportunities in Colorado far and away outweigh the relatively small, insanly expensive, and mind blowingly high, highly regulated fly fishing areas of Austria.
I don’t mean to sound rude or paint the Austrian fishing system or style, as anything other than different, but it is acutely apparent when you begin your fishing journey in Austria.
Fly fishing in Austria will require you to study up on regulations. Every state in Austria has its own regulatory body in charge of fishing and licensing. There are several fishing clubs or fischvereins that also grant access and dictate the regulations for each river or even a section of river, and it gets even more interesting.
You want to use those fresh and hot Euro nymphs you spent the last month tying for your next trip? Not so fast! Are those jig hooks you got under that slotted Tungsten bead? It depends on where you are fishing, of course, but on numerous sections of rivers, the use of jig hooks is not allowed.
I hear you want to throw that deadly streamer pattern you have been tweaking over the last season? Hold up! Is the streamer longer than 2cm? Again, maybe you can, and it is just fine, but you will need to do your due diligence. Study up on the water you plan on fishing, because on several sections of river, that 2.1cm streamer is verboten.
You thought you could go the easy route and drift some Squirmy Wormys – you thought wrong! On some sections of rivers, you are not allowed to use these silicon creations. It depends on the regulations for each water and each fishing card you buy, but things are not so simple.
The point isn’t that you can’t do any of the following – it is that you must plan, study, learn, and do your due diligence so that you are up-to-date on the regulations of where you are planning on fishing. The penalties for violating the fishing regulations are stiff and would throw a monkey wrench into your plans.
But seriously, don’t let some rules get in the way of your fly fishing adventure. You just have to be responsible and read through all the regulation material you can. Knowing German (at least some) and asking questions is also key here.
Once the hard part is out of the way – because there are so many regulations, and since fishing licenses cost so much – it really does limit the fishing pressure. The entire affair is sort of like a filtration process, and the anglers that make it threw to the other side are dedicated, serious, and passionate; and naturally, few.
Let’s just say, you won’t have to spend an entire day on the water constantly looking up and down the river, eyeing the next person walking along the bank, like some sort of paranoid lunatic, looking to see who is going to start fishing too close to you or thinking they will try to push you off your honey hole. You can focus on the fish and take in the beautiful surroundings, and really enjoy yourself.
Fly fishing in Austria is different, and in so many ways – better.
When you don’t have to fight the crowds and since the fish aren’t getting constantly fished to, the overall experience is much more relaxed.
Unless you didn’t measure your streamer correctly.
Tight lines and Petri Heil!
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