Adrian, a fly fisherman from Bavaria, reports on his fishing vacation in the Fuscher Valley.
Autumn has arrived in the Fuscher valley. The first harbingers of autumn can not be missed -a natural spectacle of colors in this unique setting. The Grossglockner mountain chain with slightly scarified peaks stands as imposing as ever. The forests with their bright colors, half-green meadows, blue sky in which now and then an eagle turns its circles, all engrossed in a heavenly peace. Only rarely, can you hear the cry of the marmots still awake, who perceive every kind of danger. Through this landscape, like a silver streak, the Fuscher Ache meanders. With its springs at the foot of the mountain range, it is a true paradise for fly fishermen. From the beginnings of the waters to Ferleiten, the stream stretches five kilometers embedded in the Käfer Valley. Known as the jewel of the Fuscher Ache, it continues to flow up to its mouth in the Salzach River. The still young Ache makes an incredible run through forests, small meadows and obstacles, which provide an excellent habitat for the reddish brown trout and a challenge for fly fishermen.
The perfect fishing vacation begins
It was almost the end of September and I was back with my wife, like every year, to spend two weeks vacationing. As compensation for the bad fishing season, due to the long drought, this vacation turned out to be just right. It was a Sunday afternoon when we arrived to meet the Hollaus family in the already homely Ponyhof. There was joy from all sides about the reunion. “Great fishing weather,” said Rudi, the property owner. It was about 27 degrees, not common for the season, and according to the forecast, the weather should remain so for a few days.
The day went as normal as a first day of vacation usually does, but in the back of my mind my fishing schedule was in full swing. As my two friends, Hubert, the board of the fishing association Fuscher Ache, and Werner, the overseer and manager of the water, were not there, I decided to make a first round of fishing alone. I know the Fuscher Ache like the back of my hand, but a nice chat in between is always welcome.
I took a section of the Ache in the local area of Fusch, going between the bear host and the gas station at the end of the village in the direction of Bruck. The water was just like in the textbook: the level was low, so that you could see many rocks protruding from the water, completely clear and in the air a good amount of insect activity. After the first few hours I was thrilled, you couldn’t ask for a better day of fishing. Hubert came to the hotel on Tuesday and the joy of seeing each other after such a long time was great. Normally we always meet at the EWF. This year, unfortunately, it was not possible. I learned from him that an editor from the Swiss magazine “Petri Heil” would like to fish the waters and write a report. I took note and Hubert told me that he would keep me up to date. Everything was different than originally planned.
On to the Käfer Valley
The next day was scheduled for the Käfer Valley. Once you have had a taste, you keep coming back. I left the car in the parking lot at the beginning of the Käfer Valley next to a small restaurant (Toni) and in the company of my wife, who was responsible for the photos, I made my way towards the source of the stream. The stream is very easy to reach from the forest as it runs parallel. Equipped with a 9-foot class 4 rod and a fly box with only a few useable baits, I started fishing. Whenever I’m in the Käfer Valley, I always think about my buddy Sigi who unfortunately passed away much too soon. His first time fishing the Fuscher Ache, we met and he asked what it was like, he asked me, “Adrian, the water required everything from me to catch the first fish”. He had fifty years’ experience fly fishing all over the world under his belt. I have been there so often that I know almost every stone from the springs to Ferleiten. Since I had learned in my childhood how to fly fish in mountain streams, it was not particularly difficult for me to fish here on the Fuscher Ache.
A surprising turn
The day took its course, almost as expected. The first casts also brought the first trout. However, one could not overlook the fact that the fish were not so much interested in the food, but more for the upcoming spawning. The September weather also showed its effect with low water temperatures in the early morning and snow water towards noon. Nonetheless, it was a successful reunion with the Käfer Valley. In the afternoon, I fished below the gas station in the local Fusch area and there, after the snow water was gone, I had some “spotted” interested in my flies. I was also able to see a beautiful rainbow trout and a char while fishing there. As dinner approached, I made my way to the Ponyhof.
As I was about to take off my fishing gear, Rudi came up to me and told me that I should definitely call Hubert today. It is very, very important. Since I had only spoken to him a day before, I was not quite sure what was so urgent. I learned a few minutes later. When I got Hubert on the phone, he said in a slightly desperate voice, “Adrian, you 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. Please accompany Erich for a few days on the water, so that he can write his report”. The things you do for friends. We met at Hotel Römerhof the same evening and I got to know a very funny, nice and open-minded couple. Erich is an editor at 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.
Media work on the Fishing Waters
We met the next day and planned for the beginning of the Käfer Valley. We experienced the same conditions as I did a day ago. Erich proved to be a good listener when I explained to him the little secrets of the Ache. He was very happy when the first trout wriggled on his line. Erich also got his pictures for the report and we left the Käfer Valley towards Fusch. The snow water had ended our trip to Käfer Valley on this day. We agreed to meet again after a short lunch break. After talking about God and the world during the morning, and of course, issues concerning the fly-fishing world, I thought I would introduce Erich to the section to the Baerenwirt. Before dinner, we met again to exchange experiences and opinions.
The Fuscher Ache as an excellent teacher
“It was exactly as you predicted,” Erich tells me. I had advised him to fish certain spots and to use certain flies. Since he was there in Fusch for only three days we did not have much time to fish the remaining stretch. The total length of the Ache is 28 kilometers.
You can easily go fishing there more often. The interesting thing about the Fuscher Ache is that there are different fishing situations for every water level. We fished almost two-thirds of the way in the remaining time unfortunately pretty fast. In the section before Bruck, a distance of about one kilometer, I left Erich alone for fishing because I knew that were always fish there. Erich was unfortunately not so successful. That was an unwanted surprise but I was able to think of something else to do as I had my binding supplies and an issue of a fly fishing magazine from France with me.
There were four fall patterns here, well-known classics bound by my friend Gerard Piquard using a different binding method. I tied these and a simple nymph in the evening to test them in the morning. I came back to the same place with Erich and behold, it worked.
The fish were suddenly there. Not big, just barely undersized, but they showed interest in the flies. I gave the nymph to Erich as a souvenir from the beautiful days on the Fuscher Ache. We are still in contact with each other and Hubert was glad that the Fuscher Ache was known far beyond the Austrian border. Erich’s conclusion was: not a fishing water for everyone, you have to first get accustomed. Yes, the Ache has its own rules. My opinion, which I always defend, is that the Fuscher Ache is a very good teacher.
Fly Fishermen among themselves
It went on. In my mind, I was enjoying the time I was spending with Erich when the weather changed. Wind, rain and snow came over the mountain landscape for a good two days. I used the time to tie flies that I had promised Werner. On the weekend, Werner came back from his fishing vacation and we had plenty of time top talk about fly fishing. When the weather calmed down and the late summer returned, I resolved at Werner’s request, to fish the route from the Trauner Bridge to the spring of the Ache. What I found there was very enjoyable fishing and I wanted to tell Werner about my experience in the evening. We sat at dinner and suddenly Rudi came up to me, handed me the phone and said, “phone call for you”. I thought he was joking. I was on vacation and nobody knew where I was staying. “Who is on the phone,” I asked Rudi surprised. “A certain Günter,” Rudi answered. I know a Günter. When I reached for the phone, I got to talk to a buddy from the fly fisherman’s table in Fürstenfeldbruck. At the regulars’ table, I did some promotion for the Fuscher Ache and someone actually dared to go fishing there. He had stayed at the Hotel Lamplhäusel and because a lot of people know me in Fusch, my presence could not be overlooked. Werner is always available to every fly fisherman with help and advice. But since I was already there, Günter came instead to me and asked me to accompany him on the water.
A River Runs Through It
Like Erich a few days before, I showed Günter the secrets of the Fuscher Ache. Günter quickly realized that you can use so much advice. Yes, you have to admit that, the Fuscher Ache has made many fishermen doubt themselves. As I accompanied him by the water, we passed a place where the position of the stones in the water provides an excellent area for trout. I’ve known of this place for years and it has always been a reliable fishing spot. Great as a hideaway as well as a waiting-place for whatever the current may bring. This place allows the fisherman to cast his line without being seen. Now with the relatively low water level and an unusual for the season Caddis slip, I could not have imagined that there wouldn’t be any fish. Both Erich and Günter passed the place without giving it the right attention. When I was with Günter, I thought, “Something has to be wrong.”
I left Günter the other side of the river. It was the better part of the river and for the guest, I thought, that is the way it should be. From the other side I noticed movement in the water. The trout were there and could not resist the almost extreme slip now before the onset of winter. Flies landed repeatedly near the water or near the shore. Up until then, I was fishing with a Caddis with a brick-red body and gray-brown wings. The air was swarming with them. It occurred to me, like many fly fishermen on the water, to change my fly. I searched my fly box and my eyes stopped at a caddy pattern. The pattern was actually bound normally but with different materials then normally used. I tied them at a trade fair in Salzburg, because a visitor had asked me if other materials could be used for binding. I made it for him, and it came out as a fly landing with the wings almost straight up – an ingenious pattern. It always reminds me of the fly from the movie “A river runs through it” with Brad Pitt when he catches a big trout.
I tied the fly to the leader, but did not directly cast to the targeted spot. A few casts to inspect the other areas. I did not take my eyes off the current and placed the fly right in front of the two stones, which form a small tunnel, almost like a hiding place on the edge of the current. Since there was a small under-current under a rock, the water here was calm and sometimes slightly wavy. When the fly landed it looked as if it had been a real one. The rushing water got her moving, and then it happened: she came out of the under wash, the reddish-brown trout with its mouth open, and sure enough, it took the fly. I really got goose bumps. The fish was not big, about 30 cm, but I will never forget the way the whole thing happened. It was the culmination of the day and the end of the fishing season 2018 on the Fuscher Ache. They were unforgettable moments in the life of a fly fisherman. In the evening at hotel I met Werner again, who always wanted a small report from me to
keep up to date, and I told him my story. He was glad. A day later, the vacation ended and I knew that I would come back next year, just like every year.
Ah! I almost forgot something. You will surely ask yourself, which fly patterns and rods are the best for the Fuscher Ache? Quite simply: the patterns from nature. In the Käfer Valley there are beetles that the fish are familiar with, as well as huge brown stoneflies that are everywhere in the summer months. It is important to observe the movement of the insects in the air. Otherwise, use gray patterns like Caddis flies. As for the rods: In the Käfer Valley I fish with a class 3 to 4. In the lower run, a five or six tail is always good. It is well stocked and there are some fish 50 cm or larger.
I can recommend the Fuscher Ache to everyone. You will not regret it and will come back for sure. Maybe we will meet in the summer when fishing or in the hotel Ponyhof in the evening fly tying. Who knows…?
Greetings to you and Peter Heil!
Adrian, fly fisherman from Bavaria