After I decided I wanted to see where brown trout come from and catch one in their native range I ran into a stone wall of information blockage on the internet. There really is very little information about where to fish, the rules in each country and the rules regarding private and public land. I first looked in Germany for places to fish. A number of sources say there is no public water in Germany. Each fishing spot requires a separate permit from a land owner and , of course, none were available online. Plus, there apparently is no catch and release. I have no idea how accurate any of this info is but that was what pushed me to a new area. There was no way I was going to bring back trout to a hotel room or whatever I would have to do with the fish I caught. France was a little too far away but Belgium was pretty close to Amsterdam, where I was traveling to first for a conference. If you search for fly fishing in belgium you pretty much get one site. http://www.flyfishingbelgium.com/ Sebastien is the guide I worked with and he is an excellent fisherman. He also specializes in river restoration and after seeing the size of the fish in the streams he guides I bet he is really good at that. I fished the upper Bocq and La Molignée river. The water was a little off color due to some rain so it was hard to tell how many fish were in the river. If I had to guess I would say there were fewer trout than I am used to in both Minnesota and Colorado but they are much bigger on average. The average fish was a husky 15 inches and there were very few smaller that I caught. I managed to hook, fight and break off the biggest trout I have ever seen on this trip.
I got into position about 15 feet behind a rising trout. The cast was awkward, like they all were on the upper Bocq. I was fishing a emerger pattern on 5x that Sebastien ties. It is very sparse and all black. I managed a few casts, two of which were right over where the fish was rising, with no response. Sebastien calls out, form the other side of the stream, I think he is eating caddis, do you have a dark caddis to tie on? I did and I switched flies. While I was tying on I got a better look at the fish during a rise. It wasn't a whole body flip but just a sip of the surface film. I saw what looked like an alligator head poke out of the water only an inch. The head was as big as my fly box which made me wonder what this fish was interested in my #18 Elk hair caddis for. Later I would regret not changing to a heavier tippet. I laid out a cast right over the beast and again, just a sip. I set the hook and it felt like I snagged a log. Nothing. barley a wiggle. He settled down to the middle of the pool like a log. Then, with a flick of the tail he was alive and all over. He headed towards the bank Sebastien was standing on and I yelled NET, NET!!!! Sebastien said it was too early but he didn't realize how big the fish was. Then he came up and flashed us broad side; he looked like the size of a king salmon. Thick and at least 30 inches long. He took line like a tarpon and headed up stream. I got some back and it was going well. Then, he headed for the overhanging roots of a big tree, Sebastien shouts Watch the roots!, a slight twinge of my line hand, unconsciously. Snap. I checked back and never saw a rise in that spot again. I tried everything later and the next day in that spot. Nothing. Just another fish story to you but I know what happened and even though I didn't land him, it was awesome.
|There was an intermittent hatch of giant yellow may flies. I just missed the madness that hatch is supposed to bring.|
I'm not going to tell you its easy to find a place to fish in europe but it can be done. My advise? Get a guide, get a gps (I didn't have one), make reservations way ahead of time and book through Sebastien. He was great and knows how to fish the area. I would have been skunked without him. You will have to rent a car wherever you go and the freeways are very well marked and easy to get around on, the roads in town however are not really marked and you will get lost. Other places I looked into but were too far away for me were Slovenia and the Black Forrest in Germany. If you are going on a strictly fishing trip go to Slovenia. If you are just on European vacation and want to fish for a few days book through Sebastien. Its great to get out of the cites and see the country side in Europe. The south of Belgium is beautiful and there are hundreds of small towns to explore, great biking and lots of great restaurants to check out. It really reminds me a lot of the bluff country in South eastern Minnesota except with Roman ruins, castles and better beer.
|Average size native brown on the upper Bocq|
|There were 3 fish rising in this run. My favorite part of the whole trip was working my way up and catching all three each larger than the last.|
|The Bocq as it passes through the town of Spontin|
|Dinant just south of where I was staying in Ahnee.|