Friday, June 20, 2014

Sentimental Journey

I just got back from a trip, visiting Serbia and Croatia. Our first stop was London, UK, with an inevitable visit to the legendary Farlow's fly shop. I had very limited time for fishing in Serbia, since the weather didn't cooperate and the purpose of the trip wasn't solely fishing. The second photo shows Crnica River, which flows by the 14th century monastery. The river was blown by the torrential downpours, so I wasn't able to fish it this time. My grandfather sparked my interest in flyfishing when I was a boy, and we spent many happy summers fishing and exploring Crnica's beautiful canyon. He used a rod made of hazel tree (leskovak) with a technique very similar to the Japanese tenkara-the old way of flyfishing in the Balkans. The river still has a population of native brown trout, while the nearby oak forests with distinctive red soil represent a true oasis for a dedicated mushroom hunter.

Few days later I was in Zagreb, Croatia, greeted by my dear friend Milan Kupresanin, a master flyfisherman and the ultimate gentleman. Milan organized the itinerary for our quick journey, which started with the visit to Plitvice National Park. I was in Plitvice 30 years ago and remember its magnificent waterfalls and crystalline lakes full of trout. Today, chubs seem to be more prevalent. We arrived at Hotel Gacka in the afternoon and fished the legendary spring creek that evening. Gacka is a cult water in Europe, with incredible water volume, depth and complex currents. The amount of food it produces staggers biologists, and its aquatic fauna has been a subject of many studies. Gacka trout grow incredibly large in a short amount of time. Even though we spent the entire day fishing, the catching was slow due to difficult conditions. The entire Balkans was swept with rains and floods in the previous weeks and the fish were still adjusting.  We fished mostly nymphs, but trout were nervous and difficult to coax into taking. Gacka has both rainbows and browns... I was hoping to get some if its native brown trout known for their unique coloration and spots, but that wasn't to happen this time. New Hotel Gacka is an excellent place to stay if you happen to be in the area, exploring the 10 miles of Gacka's "flyfishing only" section.

Next day we were on our way to Gorski Kotar. We made a stop in the town of Ogulin, where we met a good friend and a professional flytier Goran Grba. Goran was kind to give me some if his beautiful dries for grayling fishing on the river Kupa. On the way to Risnjak National Park and  Kupa River, we visited excellent spring creeks Vitunjcica and Dobra, and also the tributaries of Kupa River: Kupica and Curak. We finally arrived to Joza's cabin at the source of Kupa, while an ominous looking sky didn't look very promising. The rainstorm shook the mountain with thunder, but we were eager to try catching native grayling on delicate dries, despite the heavy odds.

The last day of our Croatian journey was spent on the Adriatic coast, in Crikvenica. We did so many things in such a short time, with only fleeting chances to seriously flyfish, but next year's trip is already in the works.



This is simply amazing trip!! Thanks for sharing this wonderful place!!

flyfishingunlimited said...

Thanks was a great trip and I hope to repeat it next year.