Fly Fishing In Slovenia by Stuart Minnikin
We discussed our plans for the next day's fishing over dinner at Tilnik Farm. A few ideas were thrown about but the clincher was when Brett told us that Gregor (his friend and local guide) was free and willing to spend another day with us. We were all so impressed with his professionalism and knowledge on our first day that we voted unanimously in favour of spending another day with him. There was a small stream not far away that he wanted to show us. Brett and I had looked at this stream the year before on my last visit but didn't fish it. We decided that it wasn't very inviting and we couldn't find any pools or holding water so we moved on without a single cast. But Gregor knows this stream intimately and told of large wild Rainbow and Marble Trout lurking in its pools in places that few knew about. It was overgrown in parts ran alongside factories and houses for much of its length and as Brett and I found it was quite uninviting to look at. But therein lies the reason I suppose. One of THE reasons to visit Slovenia is for the breathtaking beautiful scenery so you wouldn't position yourself on a stream like this out of choice - unless that is it can offer outstanding fishing...
We would only spend half a day there; there wasn't enough water to keep 4 of us going for a full day's fishing so we would fish the Idrijca River until lunch and then move to the urban stream. I don't think any of us expected much if truth be known. We split into two groups; Tom and I would fish the downstream section Brian and Peter upstream. Gregor gave us a few tips and described a few of the better pools before heading off upstream with the others in the minibus. Tom and I decided to share my 7'6" #3 Hardy Jet prototype rod and take the fishing in turns. I like this approach on small streams where leapfrogging each other can end up spooking fish. I also find it almost as enjoyable watching someone else fish as I do fishing myself.
Our first problem was which pool to start fishing first. We made our way precariously from the road down through the trees heading in a downstream direction towards a pool that looked promising. Only when we got there the next one downstream looked more promising then the next and the next! At this rate we'd be back on the Idrijca! So we made a start Tom first up me on the bank above the pool fish spotting more in hope than expectation. Tom got down onto his knees in readiness at the tail of the pool while I got my eye in. There below me were a few Trout clearly feeding a couple of them looked pretty big. Tom began casting and hooked a couple of the smaller Trout that nipped in before the big Trout had chance. The commotion spooked the bigger fish so we moved to the next pool where I took the rod from Tom. I caught a few Trout of a decent size though nothing to write home about. We continued this pattern up the river taking turns in each pool we came to both catching good numbers of fish and enjoying ourselves. I pressed on up the bank ahead of Tom to a nice looking pool. Peering through the bank side vegetation I spotted a big Trout well on the feed and out in the open. It was easily 2lbs and feeding hard taking flies from the surface and nymphs in the water column. I was probably as excited as Tom was. Here was a fish over 2lbs well on the feed and in as good a position to cast to as you'll find anywhere. Tom began casting with a CDC dry fly but the fish was moving around so much that it was difficult to place an accurate cast over it. Eventually the fly landed right on line and drifted towards the sizeable fish. Up it came and took the fly without the slightest hesitation to which Tom instinctively lifted into - got him! At first it didn't do much other than shake its head in annoyance. Clearly this wasn't going to last and it charged off upstream at a rate of knots with Tom giving it line. Then all went lose and it was gone. Everything came back intact; no breakages no straightened hook it had just dropped off the hook as they do from time to time. We were both gutted thinking we'd blown it. A fish like that on a small stream like this would have been some capture. By bedtime it would surely have been over 4lbs! But though we didn't know it at the time this was to be the first of our big fish encounters on the urban stream. From here on virtually every pool would have fish like this often even bigger only most of them would now stick. For the next few pools we would both land wild Rainbows of around 2lb and over.
We were now almost under the road bridge where we'd been dropped off. The current and depth was on the left looking upstream under the bridge. Tom had the rod and I cautiously moved upstream ahead of him looking for Trout taking advantage of a rock-face as cover. Almost too late I spotted another good Trout but before I could tell Tom he'd already hooked it! It was a nice big Marble Trout again around 2lbs and was sat in the most unlikeliest of places. It was now my turn with the rod but I declined. The next pool was one we'd looked into from the bridge above and one where Tom had spotted a seriously big Trout on the fin. It was his spot and so it was his fish. We moved very carefully upstream. Even without seeing that fish this was an inviting pool with good depth and a nice foam line. Then we saw it. It was still there in the same place and still on the fin and feeding occasionally taking a surface fly. Tom crawled on his knees into position and had a few casts. But without seemingly doing anything wrong the Trout just disappeared. We waited for him to come back but he didn't show so Tom ended up just fishing the pool out with a nymph. Not far upstream of where the big fish had departed he hooked into a good fish that went deep and fought hard. Eventually he subdued and netted a cracking 2lb plus Marble Trout and I guess there is a chance it was maybe the same fish.
We continued up the river catching many more 2lb plus wild Rainbow Trout from the urban stream. Every fish pushed you and your tackle to the limit with a combination of their size the confines of such a small stream and the snags that abounded in every pool. On a couple of occasions we had to wade across the river to free the line or leader from snags before we could net the fish. Other fish would leave the pool swimming almost completely exposed out of the skinny water trying to evade capture.
Never have I experienced so many large wild fish in such a short stretch of river. Never have I experienced so many large wild fish in such a small stream. In fact I have never experienced so many large wild fish in a single day's fishing! It was a special day's fishing in the most unlikely of places and I can't wait to return!
Stuart is taking two groups to fish the same area again in 2014. The September trip is already fully booked but there are still places available on the May / June trip. Contact Stuart.