Wild browns in Croatia
Had a chance to enjoy a couple of spectacular days fishing for native brown trout in Croatia. This country was recently in a war, and I was pleased to find that despite (or perhaps because of) perceived security issues, there is great fishing to be had.
I spent a day at the Krka river national park ('Krka' on any search engine) where only guided barbles C&R fly fishing is allowed. It was immediately clear that a 'fish on every cast' is feasible, as 'original' i.e. pre-man trout density is maintained so people can get an idea of what incredible numbers of fish a stream can maintain. Due to a total lack of fishing pressure, they are not very educated, and 6" - 14" brown and 'marble' trout are indeed very easy to catch. After less than an hour, we moved off to try for larger ones, and managed a ~6lb and 8.5 lb, totally native, wild browns in an afternoon's fishing. A great day, and well recommended to anyone. Only drawback is perhaps too many uneducated small fish, making it seem a bit too easy. We fished from a driftboat, me with a 6 wt and the guide with an ancient bamboo outfit. Regular nymphs and streamers did the trick. There were no hatches in evidence.
The river is beautiful limestone, with a perhaps 1500 cfm flow. To fish, check in at any entrance and ask for park rangers. The ticket people are clueless. Do not even think of casting until clearing the formalities, or you'll find yourself in a nightmare. They are serious about protecting this fishery!
I fished a second day on the Cetina river, with guide arranged by Sv. Mihovil hotel in Trilj. http://www.dalmacija.net/trilj/h_svmihovil.htm This is an artificial lure only river but ewith a 3 fish/day limit, so fishing is a bit tougher. there are several C&R sections. The scenery was absolutely beautiful, and I did get 3 wild browns 10" - 14'. It's a classic karst limestone river with a ~2500 cfm flow, which is close to its natural maximum due to recent rains and snow runoff.
In summary, a spectacular experience where one would not expect to find one. I was glad to see that despite some hand-grenade and gillnet fishing during the recent war, they were smart enough to protect what is sure to become a major 'discovered' fishery. BTW, I heard from the guides that Plitvice national park, a bit further north, offers equally spectacular C&R trout fishing, but didn't have a chance to check it out. (Also, guided big-game hunting for brown bear, chamoix, bighorn sheep and wild boar is available and I understand, worthwhile.)