Adrian, a fly fisherman from Bavaria, reports on his fishing holiday in the Fuscher Valley.
Autumn has arrived in the Fuscher Valley. The first harbingers of autumn cannot be overlooked. A natural spectacle of colors in this unique setting. The Großglockner chain with its slightly saccharified peaks is as imposing as ever. The forests with their bright colors, semi-green meadows, a blue sky in which an eagle turns its circles every now and then, all immersed in a heavenly calm. Only rarely for this time of year can you hear the scream of the not yet sleeping marmots, who perceive all kinds of dangers. And the Fuscher Ache meanders through this landscape – like a silver lining. With its springs at the foot of the mountain range, it is a true angler’s paradise for fly fishermen . From there to Ferleiten there are about five kilometers of creek embedded in the Käfertal . It is actually the jewel of the Fuscher Ache, which flows on until it flows into the Salzach . The still young Ache forms an unbelievable course through forests, small meadows and obstacles, which is just right for the red-spotted brown trout as a living area and which demands every skill from fly fishermen.
The perfect fishing vacation begins
It was almost the end of September and, like every year, I was back with my wife to take a two-week vacation. As compensation for the bad fishing season caused by the long drought, this vacation came at just the right time. It was a Sunday lunchtime when we arrived at the Hollaus family’s home at the pony farm . Joy from all sides to see you again. “Great weather for fishing,” said Rudi, the landlord. It was around 27 degrees, actually not common for the time of year, and according to the weather report it should stay that way for a few days.
The day passed like a first day of vacation, but in the back of my mind my angling planning was in full swing. Since my two friends, Hubert, the board member of the Fuscher Ache fishing club, and Werner, the overseer and manager of the water, were not there, I decided to do my first fishing round on my own. I know the Fuscher Ache like the back of my hand, but a nice chat in between is always welcome.
I took on a section of the Ache in the local area of Fusch, driving between the Bärenwirt and the petrol station at the end of the village in the direction of Bruck. The water was like in a textbook: the level was mediocre, so you could see a lot of stones sticking out of the water, completely clear water and a lot of insect activity in the air. After the first few hours I was thrilled, because it was actually how you want a fishing day. On Tuesday Hubert came to the hotel and we were very happy to see you again after such a long time. Usually we always meet at the EWF. Unfortunately it didn’t work this year. I learned from him that an editor of the Swiss magazine “Petri Heil” wanted to fish the water these days and write a report about it. I took note and Hubert told me that he would keep me informed. Everything turned out differently than planned.
Off to the Käfertal
The next day was planned for the Käfertal . Anyone who has tasted blood there will always come back. I left the car in the parking lot at the beginning of the Käfertal next to the small inn (at Toni’s) and, accompanied by my wife, who was responsible for the photos, I made my way towards Quellen. The stream can be reached very easily from the forest path , as it runs parallel. Equipped with a 9 foot class 4 rod and a fly box with not very many patterns, I went fishing. Whenever I am in the Käfertal, I always think of my friend Sigi, who unfortunately left us too early. When he fished the Fuscher Ache for the first time, we met afterwards and I asked how it was, he said to me: “Adrian, the water demanded everything I was capable of until I caught the first fish . ” And he had fly fishing around the world for a good fifty years. I’ve been there so often that I know almost every stone from the springs to Ferleiten. Since I had learned my childhood and how to fly fishing in mountain streams, it was not particularly difficult for me to fish here on the Fuscher Ache.
The day went on, almost as expected. The first litters brought the first trout. However, it was impossible to overlook the fact that the fish were not so much interested in what they eat as they were in their upcoming spawning. The September weather also had its effect. Low water temperatures in the early morning and snow water towards midday. Nonetheless, it was a successful reunion with the Käfertal. In the afternoon I fished below the gas station in the local area of Fusch and there, after the snow was gone, some “dabbed” people were interested in my flies. A beautiful rainbow trout and a char were there. As dinner was approaching, I made my way to the pony farm.
When I was about to take off my fishing gear, Rudi came towards me and told me that I should call Hubert today. It would be very, very urgent. Since I had only spoken to him the day before, I wasn’t sure what was so urgent. I found out a few minutes later. When I got Hubert on the phone, he said to me in a slightly desperate voice: “Adrian, you absolutely have to help me. The Swiss journalist has arrived and I have to go to Kufstein for an unplanned appointment. Werner is fishing abroad and you are the only one who is there and knows the Ache like no one else. Please accompany Erich for the few days by the water so that he can do the report. ” What not to do for friends. We met that same evening at the Hotel Römerhof and I got to know a very funny, nice and open-minded couple. Erich is editor of the Swiss fishing magazine Petri Heil and has heard a lot about the fishing area in Fusch. He wanted to write a report about it.
Press work on Fischwasser
We met the next day and planned the Käfertal to start with. We experienced the same whims of nature as I did a day ago. Erich turned out to be a good listener when I explained the little secrets of the Ache to him. He was delighted when the first trout wriggled on its line. Erich also got his pictures for the report and we left the Käfertal in the direction of Fusch. The snow water had ended our trip to the Käfertal for that day. We agreed to meet again after a short lunch break. After we talked about God and the world in the course of the morning, of course about the fly fishing world, I thought to occupy Erich with the section from the bear economy. We met again before dinner to exchange opinions.
The Fuscher Ache as an excellent teacher
“It was exactly as you predicted,” Erich tells me. I had advised him to fish certain places and also use certain flies. Since he was only in Fusch for three days, we didn’t have much time to fish the rest of the stretch. The entire length of the Ache is actually 28 kilometers.
You can go fishing more often there. The interesting thing about the Fuscher Ache is that different fishing situations arise at every water level. In the remaining time we fished almost two thirds of the way. Unfortunately, pretty quickly. In the section before Bruck, a stretch of about one kilometer that I had left Erich alone to fish and where I knew that fish was always to be expected, Erich was not so successful. That made me questionable. So I thought of something. I had my binding workshop with me and also the last issue of a fly fishing magazine from France.
There were four autumn patterns included, well-known classics that were bound by my friend Gerard Piquard, just using a different binding method. I tied this and a simple nymph in the evening to test them in the morning. I came back to the same place with Erich and lo and behold, it worked.
The fish were suddenly there. Not big, just undersized, but they’ve shown an interest in the flies. I then gave the nymph to Erich as a souvenir of the beautiful days on the Fuscher Ache. We are still in contact with each other and Hubert was happy that the Fuscher Ache became known far beyond the Austrian border. Erich’s conclusion was: No fishing water for everyone; you have to feel your way first. Yes, the Ache has its own rules. And my opinion, which I always take: The Fuscher Ache is a very good teacher.
Fly fishermen among themselves
And it went on. In my mind I was still thinking of the wonderful time I had spent with Erich when the weather changed and a low interrupted the summer time. Wind, rain and snow ruled the mountain landscape for a good two days. I used the time to tie flies that I had promised Werner. At the weekend Werner also came back from his fishing vacation and we had enough things to talk about fly fishing. When the weather calmed down again and late summer returned, I resolved, at Werner’s request, to fish the stretch from the Trauner Bridge to the sources of the Ache. What fish I found there was very pleasant and in the evening I was just telling Werner everything. We were having dinner and suddenly Rudi came up to me, handed me the phone and said: “A call for you.” I thought he was joking. I was on vacation and no one knew where I was. “Who’s on the phone?” I asked Rudi in astonishment. “A certain Günter,” replied Rudi. I know some Günter. When I picked up the phone, I got to speak to a buddy from the fly fishing regulars’ table in Fürstenfeldbruck. I had done a bit of advertising for the Fuscher Ache at the regulars’ table and one of them really dared to come there to fish. He had stayed in the Hotel Lamplhäusel and since quite a few people in Fusch know me, my presence could not be overlooked. Werner is available to every fly fisherman with words and deeds, but while I was already there, Günter came up to me and asked me to accompany him on the water.
A river rises from the middle
Like Erich a few days before, I showed Günter the little secrets of the Fuscher Ache. Günter quickly realized that you could get a lot of advice that way. Yes, you have to admit that without envy, the Fuscher Ache has made so many desperate. When I accompanied him on the water, we passed a place where the position of the stones in the water makes an excellent trout reserve. I had known the place for years and it was always home to some trout, excellent as a day shelter and just as good as a waiting place for anything the current brings. This spot is always different from normal fishing and casting without being seen. Now with the relatively low water level and a caddis slip, which is unusual for the time of year, I couldn’t imagine that there was no fish. Both Erich and this time Günter passed the place without paying proper attention to it. When I was there with Günter, I thought to myself: Something’s wrong.
I left the other side of the river to Günter. It was also the better one, and for the guest, I thought, that’s the way it should be. From the other side I could see movement in the water. The trout was there and could not withstand the almost extreme hatching now before the onset of winter. Flies repeatedly landed on the water or near the shore. Until then, I fished with a caddis with a brick-red body and gray-brown wings. The air was full of them. It occurred to me, like many fly fishers on the water, to change the fly. I searched my fly box and my eyes caught on a caddi pattern. The pattern was actually bound normally, just made of different materials than what is normally bound. I bound them at a trade fair in Salzburg because a visitor asked me whether other materials could be used for binding than what the binding books suggest. I showed him how it was and a fly came out landing with its wings almost stretched out. A brilliant pattern. Always reminds me of the fly from the movie “From the Middle A River” with which Brad Pitt caught the big trout.
I tied the fly to the leader, but didn’t throw the targeted spot directly. A couple of throws to inspect the other spots. I kept my eyes on the current and threw the fly right in front of the two stones that form a small tunnel like a shelter almost at the edge of the current. Since there was a little wash under a stone, the water here was sometimes calm, sometimes slightly wavy. When the fly landed there, it looked like it had been a real one. The rushing water set her in motion and then it happened: From the washout she came, the red-spotted trout with an open mouth and with the certainty of taking the fly that belonged to her with her. I really got goosebumps. The fish wasn’t big, around 12 inches, but I won’t forget the way it all happened. It was the culmination of this day and the end of the 2018 fishing season on the Fuscher Ache: unforgettable moments in the life of a fly fisherman. In the evening in the hotel I met Werner again, who always wanted a little report from me in order to be kept up to date, and I told him my story. He was glad. One day later the vacation was over and I knew that I would come again next year, like every year.
Ah! I almost forgot something: you will surely ask yourself which fly patterns are best to catch on the Fuscher Ache and which rods are used. Quite simply: the patterns are provided by nature. In the Käfertal there are beetles that the fish are familiar with, as well as the very large brown stone flies that fly everywhere in the summer months. As everywhere, it is important to watch the movement of insects in the air. Otherwise use gray patterns from saddle flies to climbers. And the rods: In the Käfertal I fish with classes 3 to 4. In the lower course, a five or six rod is always good. It is well stocked and there are already some fish of 50 cm or larger.
I can only recommend the Fuscher Ache to everyone. You will not regret it and will definitely come back. Maybe we’ll meet in the summer to go fishing or at the Hotel Ponyhof to tie flies in the evening. Who knows…?
Greetings to you and Petri Heil!
Adrian, fly fisherman from Bavaria