(an "old drake" TR)
I really lucked into this one. I'd never really heard of a Huchen before this trip. There was one picture from like 06 of RA holding one and it was touted as this rare/ exotic/ you'll never fucking catch kind of fish. Short 3 month season in the winter/ expensive fees/ regulations/ no solo fishing/ other euro things make just getting a shot a task... let alone conditions. They are identical to a Taimen... same fish. Just when some mountains got formed a long time ago, Huchen ended up on one side Taimen on the other side. They are hunters and only eat once a week/ 10 days... then back to their hold. You need to find them while they are hunting in clear water and not spook them, which means no splash from a step into the water. Unlike Taimen, they are not surface fish and they don't get the love and attention or the hype.
So I pestered a few people on here and did some internet-ing. Found a guide (which you have to have as a foreigner) and went for it. Renting a car and crossing borders ended up being much easier than expected and the only issues were Germany and Austrian customs agents who didn't like my crooked smile. Spoiler... I caught 1 fish. Here was the ramble
I spent a week in Austria working, drinking, eating
a few nights in "Markus" the fucking straight laced high-strung spazy bartender was closing up shop and asked where I was from. Dude was serving drinks and never said more than "ok". His fucking eyes light up.. "OH AMERICA! I have a special treat. You want special surprise"? I guess. Markus vanished to the room behind the bar, and I slowly collected my things... i had no clue what to expect. Out of no where the sound system that has been softly playing shitty 80s music is cranked to 11 and is railing out metal... and Markus runs out playing air guitar pointing at me yelling "you know Judas Priest?"
Rock on Markus
and then we drank
and harrassed the locals
While I was busy wrecking my body... Slovenia was getting fucked by a blizzard and ice storm. 4 feet of snow in 2 days the 3in of ice on the third. There was a "I think you may want to reconsider your plans" email with this picture from the guide... fuck it. At least i can go for a nice long drive.
So I put in some windshield time
paid some insanely high tolls
and shot some insanely long tunnels
but hot damn i made it
as I got off the Autobahn it was clear that they were still digging out
on every bridge and overpass these guys were chucking snow
exchanged handshakes... realized I know 0 words in Slovenia
Quickly unloaded my stuff
rigged an 8wt and a 10wt
and jumped in for a ride
My guide tried to explain that we would only have 3 spots to fish on the upper (more expensive) section and that fly was not a good idea. I think he could tell he was trying to lower expectations as he explained in his 15 allotted personal fishing days last year he caught 3 fish. He only used spin gear and fucking massive lead head swim baits for Huchen... these were like 10 inches and it looked like a 100yd cast would be the norm. Quick stop for a license and some shots and off to the river.
First stop... i'll call it the Church hole
because it was behind a church and other than that I have no fucking clue where we were
big gravel bar with a drop into a under cut rock and and slow pool... GO
be sure to check :30 where i wrap my reel mid cast...and :45 where i almost stick 2 8/0s in my head.. nice stuff
100ftrs...let it sink... strip
do it again
run the hole 2 times.... nothing
throw on some rubber
Then it happens
small.. but its a Huchen... and it came in the first hour
the guide give me some shots of his homemade booze and i'm giddy like a little kid
(spoiler: there are no more fish in this post)
rest of the day we hit 3 spots and spotted 1 big (100cm+) fish... that spooked quick
It was hard work... every step was postholing somewhere from your knee to your balls
I was beat
as we pull back into the village the guide tell me he has something special he wants to show me
his buddy is a taxidermist and had a few Huchen in the works
That night it poured and i got a knock on the door at 8am
"bad news my friend... rain... no fishin"
but he had this in hand
yeah that's a double scoop of congealed pig fat and smoked sausage, called breakfast
We decided to go see some things, but I should bring all fishing stuff in case it is clear upstream
as we make first pass over the river i'm a bit confused... it looks awesome
that "steelhead green" doesn't translate
we went way up to see where the stream is "born"
Cool stuff with some really big browns, rainbows, and grayling sitting out in the open
We went to a bar (at 10am) and met the local river warden and some other fisherman
I shook everyone's hand and smile while they chatted it up and I took a shot
not understanding a single word
until my guide said "go fish"
So this is their "unfishable"
The church hole on day 2
This is supposed to be a road
shit was still a bit fucked
so we were standing on these cliff with 4ft of snow
and he was pointing down to rocks that you could get to on the lower bank by walking up the stream in lower flows
I decided... fuck it, i'm going down
as i fall slide to the bottom
i get a better look at the "rocks"
yeah... not standing on that
But i did manage 2 follows that day
both big fish... and those fuckers are fast
like ablie/GT fast
ripping and swirling behind the fly only to peel off and then make another slash and then never be seen again
one ate the tail... just couldn't get a hook in it
left me wide eyed and heart pounding!
Drove into town and had a nice dinner and saw some sights
Then white-knuckled it through the night across the Alps
and snuck back a little something...
it never stopped raining... the river is really blown out
and the season ends on Friday
i'd like to think I got the last fish of the year
maybe my goal should be the first fish of next year... who's in?[/report]
- Al Goldstein (c.1973)