Back in 2016 I was asked by a good friend of mine if I would like to go on a fishing trip to Slovenia. Not really knowing what the country was like I wasn’t quite sure what to say. After searching the Internet for many hours, I discovered that the fishing in Slovenia looked very inviting and with that in mind and the reassurance from my friend Paul that I would have one of the best week’s fishing I’ve ever experienced, I agreed.
I have fished with Paul many times in the UK especially on the Usk and in particular Crickhowell and district angling club waters. As well as being one of the world’s top fly tyers he is also a very keen and extremely knowledgeable all-round worldwide angler.
Paul ensured me that he had friends in Slovenia that would be more than happy to have us over for the week.
I was introduced to two guys via a group chat that was set up for the trip. The first guy, a Gentleman by the name of Tomaz and the second, Josko.
Tomaz, the local fishing Guru is a no messing, straight talking, fly fishing machine and Josko a chilled-out guy with a passion for all things fishing and photography.
With many evenings exchanging important information such as what kit we would require, what flies to tie and so on I got my kit together, passport and Euros in my pocket and finally set off.
This in itself was not an easy thing for me, not only leaving my wife and daughter behind but my dogs too. One of which, Jess had just had a litter of 8 gorgeous springers spaniel pups.
I knew they were left in good hands and had complete confidence in my family to look after them.
We flew from Stanstead to Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital where we were greeted by Tomaz and driven to our accommodation that he had booked for us.
The drive from Ljubljana to our destination was a short 30 min journey.
On the way we did what every river angler does, stopped and looked over every bridge we crossed.
On arrival at our digs the weather was cold and wet, but the welcome was most definitely a warm one. We were staying in a converted hay loft above an old farmhouse, it was perfect.
After meeting the owners and enjoying a glass or two of their home brewed Grappa we settled in and almost immediately started sorted our fishing gear for the following morning. We got a call from Josko saying he was running late as he had been out at sea catching our supper.
With a fresh 10lb Bass, Vegetables and wine along with comfortable living quarters I’d taken an instant liking to both these guys and wondered how this could get any better. Obviously, that would be down to the reason we came in the first place.
In these waters were wild browns, wild rainbows, grayling and marble trout. Not all species were in all rivers but Tomaz set us a challenge called the “Grand Slam”. This challenge was to catch one of each species in one day.
The rivers of choice were the Sava Bohinjka, Idrijca, Krka, Unica, Trzic Bistrica and Idrija. All of these rivers were stunning and all different in their own ways. Some with dark water some with an emerald green tint and others with the famous turquois Blue waters from the snow-capped mountains.
At 6am we were up, Tomaz already in control of breakfast and had been on his laptop searching for the best river to fish that day. I should say that Tom works for the local river authority and had access to river conditions, heights, flow, temp etc which was priceless information. We actually had a wide choice of rivers to fish and over the week we actually fished on 6 different rivers. Some close to home and others maybe 40 mins drive away.
The first day or two conditions were a little wet and the rivers were pushing through a little more than we would have liked but we still found and caught fish.
From the end of day 2 onwards the weather improved, temperature increased, and the river locations just got better and better.
The warmer weather brought with it good and bad. Fly hatches were switching on and dry fly action was good. After rain the rivers would rise, as expected, but they were also rising after a few days of warm dry weather. This of course was due to snow melt off the mountains.
With the bright sunshine arriving and the crystal-clear waters a stealthy approach was essential.
Light tackle, rods of 8 and 9 foot and line weights from 2-5 depending the river size and fly choice.
Long leaders and fine tippets and the most important thing CAMO lots of camo.
Throughout the week we fished several different techniques, Dry fly, nymphing, the Duo and Streamers. It seemed that every method worked, we just had to find the right one for whatever river we were on. I would say the majority of the fish caught were on the surface and when you see the amount of fly life and the magnificence of the hatches you can understand why. Some days there were clouds of mayfly like I’ve never seen before.
After many hours of superb action, we had caught plenty of Browns, Rainbows and Grayling
But the elusive Marble trout hadn’t shown themselves. Tomaz decided we should try a spot where he was certain the Marbles would be taking cover. I mean this guy could see fish in water that I could not, his eye for spotting fish was amazing.
We travelled to the selected river where we parked up, tackled up and set off. We hiked across fields and through woodlands to a river that was so different to the ones we had previously fished. Large boulders deeper pools with some tricky wading in parts.
To be honest a lot of the wading was tricky, but you have to go the extra mile to catch fish. All the easy areas are fished by everyone. Deep into the valley in the middle of I don’t know where, I’m on my own fishing away quite happily when I get a tap on my shoulder that frightened the life out of me. I turn around and there is a guy stood there with his hand out asking for my permit. I couldn’t believe my eyes; it was like he just appeared from nowhere. This is proof of how well the rivers are policed over there and why they are in such beautiful condition and hold such great fish. Although surprised I was very impressed. In all the years I’ve been fishing I’ve never been approached and asked for a permit in the UK.
After splitting up for a while we regrouped and moved up stream. Tomaz had spotted a couple of nice size fish lying in a little eddy just off the far bank. To get a fly anywhere close to these fish was going to be interesting, shallow water super clear and a good distance.
Paul offered me the chance of having the first cast over them. With a new leader and selected dry fly attached I approach the water with trepidation. Quietly moving through the water and keeping my distance I settle into a comfortable position where I think I can make the cast. First cast lands short, using this as a gauge I extended the line and got the fly pretty close to the fish but with no response. After a couple of close atempts I moved back quietly to the bank.
Resting the pool briefly, Paul moves in for some action, and Oh Boy did we see some action.
A few casts in one of the fish moved off its spot and engulfs Pauls dry fly. Then the fun started.
Is it a Big brownie or Rainbow? we couldn’t tell. The fish held deep and put some serious strain on his rod. Loaded up with light tackle the situation got interesting and after a minute or so it got even more interesting when Paul shouts out it’s a Marble trout.
Finally, we had found one, not only that but Paul had hooked one. After an epic fight I managed to get the fish into the net, “OMG” what a relief that was.
After the fish was returned safely, Tomaz looks across the river and says Guys the other fish is still there, go and have another cast. Paul being the Gentleman that he is offers me another chance.
Well after some tricky approach work and using the same pattern that tempted Pauls fish, I cast with every bit of concentration I had. After several attempts I saw that second fish move as my fly glided over him, BANG here we go again. At this point I’m shaking with nerves and excitement. Could this be my first ever Marble? this fish did the same as the last one, headed down stream and for deeper water. I gave my little 2 wt everything it had and eventually thanks to Paul had it in the net.
After all the excitement and another safe release, Tomaz announced, you’ve both got your
Grand Slam in the bag. From that moment on I felt that even if I don’t catch another fish it really didn’t matter.
Of course, with the Guru in charge that was never going to happen. He continued to take us to areas which seemed to get more picturesque and productive than the last.
As the end of our trip approached, we continued to fish as much as possible and by the end of the week I was amazed by how many fish we had caught and the variety and quality of them. I can honestly say that fly fishing in Slovenia was every bit as good if not better than Paul had promised. The trip was topped off by great guiding from Tomaz and the beautiful photos from Josko, overall this was a great team effort.
Some of the places we visited and the rivers we fished were just breath-taking. This is a trip I will remember for the rest of my life. That said, I will return and hopefully fish those beautiful rivers with the “A TEAM” once again.
Take a look at our movie from the week.