Published Feb 1. 2002 - 14 years ago

Hello Austria!

Austria is much more than skiing and climbing The Alps. The fishing in the clear streams and beautiful mountain lakes is far better than Martin Joergensen expected. Read about his fantastic trip, the clear, fast water, beautiful strong rainbows and delicate seiblings.

The names Innsbruck, Sct. Johan, and Kitzbuhl will usually spawn associations, which have to do with skiing and snow covered, alpine landscapes. And true enough; Austria has some very nice skiing terrain. But this central European mountainous country also has some of the Europe's best fishing waters.
Come out of season - in the spring or autumn - and you can very well experience the fishing trip of the year.
If you go anyway, as many European families do in the summer, don't leave your fly rod at home. Riding around in car or camper will no doubt bring you by many Blue Ribbon waters.


Part 1 - meeting Austria... and Andy

Where I wet my first fly in the idyllic country and stay the even more idyllic Gasthof Braurup in Mittersil.
Pictures of idyllic scenes from cheerful operas pass by my inner eye as I pass by the buildings on the mountainsides. Wooden houses, windows framed by colorful flowers, cows on hillsides so green it hurts the eyes. All set in a beautiful landscape and backed by mountains, which can make a flatlander like myself dizzy.

The names Innsbruck, Sct. Johan, and Kitzbühl will usually spawn associations, which have to do with skiing and snow covered, alpine landscapes. And true enough; Austria has some very nice skiing terrain. But this central European mountainous country also has some of the World's best fishing waters.

Andy with a Seibling

Small freestone stream

Martin Joergensen

Come out of season - in the spring or autumn, and you can very well experience the fishing trip of the year.
If you go anyway - as many European families do in the summer - don't leave your fly rod at home. Riding around in car or camper will no doubt bring you by many Blue Ribbon waters.

Picturesque

Pictures of idyllic scenes from cheerful operas pass by my inner eye as I pass by the buildings on the mountainsides. Wooden houses, windows framed by colorful flowers, cows on hillsides so green it hurts the eyes. All set in a beautiful landscape and backed by mountains, which can make a flatlander like myself dizzy.

My first meeting with Austria is a confirmation of my impression from films and pictures. It is beautiful on the fringe of being cute - even though the cuteness seems genuine enough. I was on my way to a week of Austrian fishing - a week, which would give me a taste for more. I want to return to this beautiful country.
Before leaving home and while planning the trip I researched a bit. One name popped up several times: Gasthof Bräurup. Expensive but very nice said a Dutch friend. Excellent service and great fishing water said an American.

And true enough: my three days in Bräurup in the Mittersill area could easily have been extended to the whole week. The hotel is extremely cozy, food is fine and plenty and often you will find fly tying fishers in the bar at night. If you prefer to keep drinking and fly tying separated - for no obvious reason - you can buy your flies in the hotel's own flyshop the next morning.

Falls and pools

Collecting reports

Andy

Martin Joergensen

Großes Gebiet

Andy - a local guide, who followed me around for a couple of days - told me that Bräurup not only has the largest privately owned fishing area in Austria, but actually one of the largest in Europe.
When you approach the hotel over the mountains, you get a beautiful view over the valley. Most of the waters here belong to Bräurup. Several lakes, miles of small and large rivers and countless smaller streams - from slowly running, flat streams to frothy, white mountain streams.
Most of these waters are only open to the guests of the hotel, and many of the only require a short drive to be reached. A few will take you further up into the mountains and will have you hiking for a few hours.
The quality of most is superb. The fish are brown trout, rainbows, brook trout, and grayling. The brook trout and grayling are dominant in many of the colder high altitude lakes and streams.

Salzach

Gasthof Bräurup

Stausee

Martin Joergensen

Heat and runoff

I was there in August, which in Austria means warmth and sun. This of course also means melt off from the mountains, and many of the larger rivers were white and silty, and not fishable. This was particularly the case in the central river the Salzach, which could not be fished at all during my stay. But the major part of the waters was in an excellent condition; crystal clear with visible, working fish.
The fish were not large on the average. A one pound fish is fine and four pounds requires some time and effort. Much larger fish are caught on a regular basis - trophies as Andy referred them.

Fishing in the fast, frothy mountain rivers is quite special. The stretches vary with fast sections, necks and falls followed by deep and slow pools. This yields a varied fishing with a lot of entertainment.
The fish will happily take everything from deeply fished jigs and gold beaded nymphs to small dry flies such as small caddis patterns and ants. A common nymphing method is short upstream casts where you follow the line with the rod tip to allow the fly to sink deep.

In many rivers the fish would rise from surprising depths to a CDC&Elk and in the lakes the fast brook trout would willingly take small ants and Rackelhane's, which were vibrated on the surface or slowly retrieved on the smooth surface.
In the very calm and clear watered Elistabeth See I had to use a secret weapon - a small, naturalistic damsel nymph in marabou that was slowly drawn over the bottom - before the beautiful and clearly visible brook trout showed any interest. But then things gained speed! The fish, which averaged a pound, were a pure pleasure on my 7½' Partridge splitcane.


Part 2 - Krimmler Valley

Where I see the breathtaking Krimmler Ache in the beautiful Krimmler Valley
The mountain river Krimmler Ache is a place of special and magnificent beauty. It runs through the Krimmler Valley from the glacier Birnluck. The valley, the river and the glacier are all worth a visit.

Krimmler Ache

The mountain river Krimmler Ache is a place of special and magnificent beauty. It runs through the Krimmler Valley from the glacier Birnlück. The valley, the river and the glacier are all worth a visit. The access is on foot only, as the valley is closed for public cars. Small busses can take you into the valley and pick you up again. Their base is the large parking lot in the bottom of the valley. Local guides also have permission to drive in the valley, so hiring a guide will also give you a ride in here.

Krimmler Valley

Krimmler Valley

Martin Joergensen

Krimmler Ache meanders with untouched arcs and great variation through the valley, and you can easily spend a whole day, driving, walking and fishing this gem. There are restaurants in the valley and if you want to stay for the night, Bräurup has a small cabin in the valley. This can serve as your home for a night or two provided you bring a sleeping bag.
You will not find tranquility and loneliness in Krimmler Valley. The place is well visited and the path is troth by thousands of tourists during a good day. But most come for the walk and the view and will have the glacier as their final goal. The river runs away from the road in most places, and hours of fishing can be done in absolute solitude with no other people in sight. The river is easy to fish with few trees to disturb your back cast. You can fish from the bank with a good overview or wade as you please.

Andy casting

Close to the Krimmler Ache

Krimmler Ache

Martin Joergensen

Cheese in two ways

While in the Krimmler Valley Andy took me to two places, which both left sweet memories of cheese in my mind. The first one was a small inn called Jausenstation Sölnamm. Here Andy ordered a meal of eggs, cheese, pork and onion cooked and served in a pan. We shared the pan and it was indeed good food for a tired wayfarer. We could hardly eat our way through it. It did not only leave me with my stomach full to the limit, but also leaft a sweet memory of a very special dish, eaten in some pristine surroundings - shadow from the inn, valley and glacier in the background, stream running just a few hundred meters away. Beyond comparison!

My second chance to eat cheese in Krimmler valley was in a small Käserei - a cheese making dairy - situated more beautiful than any dairy I have ever seen. It was built higher up in the vally, a few kilometers from the foot of the glacier. The backdrop was even more breathtaking than anything I had seen earlier, and after a small tour of the house to see the large copper pot where the milk is boiled and the stamps, which press the cheese before storage. The most impressive sight - apart from the outsite view - was the small storage room packed with large, round cheeses resting and maturing. Here they lie in natural coolness and humidity, just waiting for the day where the cheese maker takes out his cutter and serves or sell them right there in the valley.

Jausenstation Sönamm

Cheeses

Schnaps

Cheers

Martin Joergensen

The cheese maker broke a bottle of home made schnaps and we joined a party who enjoyed cheese, bread and milk - and schaps - outside the house in another astounding setting.

Packet solution

Gasthoff Bräurup has a complete fly fisher's solution for the area. You get a room, half pension, full access to all waters for about 6,000 Austrian Schilling. Licenses are 350 Schilling a day, but are only available to hotel guests. Non-guests can fish only a couple of the lakes. All waters except for a few stocked lakes are C&R. the hotel chef is happy to prepare a meal from your catch if you decide to bring home fish.
A guide is 1,000 Shilling per day, and that gives you the grand tour with pleasant and knowledgeable company and four wheel drive to the water's edge - even in Krimmler Valley. Andy told me that he will cater for two for the same price, but considers three to be one too many.

A seibling

Thunder on the way

A nice flyrod

Andy fighting

Martin Joergensen

Part 3 - The cradle

Where I visit the cradle of European fly fishing
Names such as Traun, Gebestroiter and Moser have put Austria on the international fly fishing map. To find the roots of this heritage you have to go to the city of Gmunden. Gmunden is located on both sides of the river Traun and Traunsee in Oberosterreich just below the German border close to Salzburg and Munich.

The European cradle of fly fishing

Names such as Traun, Gebestroiter and Moser have put Austria on the international fly fishing map. To find the roots of this heritage you have to go to the city of Gmunden. Gmunden is located on both sides of the river Traun and Traunsee in Oberösterreich just below the German border close to Salzburg and Munich. The town is extremely charming, classical Austrian with a tint of Vienna waltz and Kaiser Franz Josef.

My first Traun Rainbow

Hans Gebestroiter

Martin Joergensen

I found Waldhotel Marienbrücke on the banks of the river - a hotel whose role in European and Austrian fly fishing history can not be ignored. The hotel has been through a change of owners and lost some of its gleam in the process. The newly instated manager told me one evening over a cup of coffee that his plans are to develop the hotel to previous levels and transform it into the fly fishers hotel par excellence.
As I arrived I met several fishers on the parking lot, just returned from fishing, and in the hotel lobby I found displays of fishing tackle and promising pictures. A small walk the first morning insured me about the qualities of the river. Just below the dam, a couple of minutes from the hotel terrace, I spotted a fly fisher. He caught two fish during the ten minutes I watched.

Hemingway and Ritz
This exact stretch of the Traun has witnessed many a world famous fly fisher's search for trout and grayling. Charles Ritz fished here, as did Hemingway and many other well known fishers. Hans Gebestroiter founded his Hohe Schule auf Äschen und Forelle (High School for Grayling and Trout) in this hotel and one of Austria's and Europe's great names in fly fishing, Roman Moser, added further fame to the area by his activities and businesses based in Gmunden.
The Gmundner Traun has lost some of its previous class. The river has been dammed in spite of intense protests from local fishers. This has of course effected the fishing immensely. The fishing on Gmundner Traun has been commercially developed and heavily marketed by German Rudi Heger. It is still World class, but is expensive and now primarily targets large, stocked rainbows.
The fishing is expensive in all of Traun River, and a one-day license for Heger's waters - the Gmundner Traun itself below the dam - is about US$60.-.

Hans Aigner

Grayling

Ischler Traun

Landing

Albert Pesendorfer

The school still exists

Through the local tourist information, I had established contact with Hans Aigner, who as a kid and young man was ghillie for the celebrities. He was close to Hans Gebestroiter and has actually carried on the tradition of the Gebestroiter School. This means that you can still get weeklong courses in the special casting style, the fishing, fly choice, knowledge of the waters and handling of the fish.
Hans is a member of the club Freunde der Gmundner Traun (Friend of the Gmundner Traun) and introduced me to the club's historian and photographer Albert Pesendorfer, who could tell about the history of the club and the whole area. As it often happens between fellow fly fishers, the conversation flowed smoothly and we quickly discovered that we had common acquaintances - amongst others Preben Torp Jacobsen - Der Tierartzt (The Veterinarian) as Albert called my famous countryman.
The club used to own the fishery in the Gmundner Troun, but the price for managing these waters had become so high, that the club today - in spite of its name - no longer has access to this part of the river. In stead it manages three extremely beautiful stretches of the Ebenseer Traun and Ischler Traun above the lake Traunsee. The water is about 12 kilometers and licenses can be bought at about the same prices as below the dam.

The town, the food

Fish on the barbeque

Martin Joergensen

The town of Gmunden is worth a visit even though the fishing is very attractive. Should you bring your family, do not miss a walk in town.
Gmunden is known for several things of which the pottery and the Seeschloss Ort - a beautiful castle where the filming of the very popular German TV series "Schlosshotel Orth" takes place. Whether you know the series or not the castle is nice to visit and the walk there along the banks of the lake is very enjoyable.
The town itself is pitoresque and a walk in the narrow streets will bring you by tempting little shops, nice restaurants and cozy café's. The town has a number of fine restaurants and you should definitely try eating fish from the lake. I had nothing but during my stay - varying from saibling over small trout to perch pike made in Cordon Bleu style, which i enjoyed in Fishrestaurant Moser in Altmünster. Needless to say that it was all very tasty - and not even particularly expensive.

Stangerl Fisch

Steckerl Fisch

Strange museum objects

Fishing with nets

Fisherboat

Museum sign

Martin Joergensen

Part 4 - High quality fishing

Where I fish in waters beyond imagination
The quality of water, landscape and fish is beyond imagination and the lovely runs and pools are strung like pearls on a string over all 12 kilometers. The river is large and wide, and you have plenty of room to wade and fish undisturbed. I was there for three days, and met as few fishers as can be counted on one hand. And this was in the peak of the tourist season.

Quality fishing

The quality of water, landscape and fish is beyond imagination and the lovely runs and pools are strung like pearls on a string over all 12 kilometres. The river is large and wide, and you have plenty of room to wade and fish undisturbed. I was there for three days, and met as few fishers as can be counted on one hand. And this was in the peak of the tourist season.

Before releasing

Werner Tripp

Martin Joergensen

Even though the weather was very hot - about 35 degrees centigrade - I saw a lot of activity in the water, especially morning and evening. The dry fly fishing was a challenge without being impossible, but with a gold beaded nymph on the tippet I could get a take in every second or third cast in certain periods and locations. This is how rich the river is. From the bridges, sun in the back and armed with polarizing glasses, I could often see a dozen of fish moving on the crystal clear water, which only in few places was over 1-2 metres deep.

Beautiful fish

The fish are first and foremost brown trout, grayling and rainbows, but also lake trout (migrated from the Traunsee) and brook trout add to the fun. In the slow section you can even spot an occasional pike.
The fish grow to considerable sizes and especially the rainbows and lake trout excel. I took a couple of rainbows in the two kilo (four pound) range during my stay, but fish of 4, 5, and 6 kilos (12 lbs.) are landed every year. A lake trout tipping the scale to a whopping 18 kilos (36 lbs.) had been caught in nets in the lake itself the week before my arrival, so thinking that the river only produces fish in the pound range is being overly pessimistic.

Large Traun rainbow

Rainbow in my hand

Releasing a rainbow

Well conditioned rainbow

Martin Joergensen

The fishing is barbless only, and even though you can bring home one or two fish per day, most fishers prefer to release all catches.

During my trip I met very few fishers as mentioned. The waters are large and access is fairly easy, so people tend to spread out over the many kilometres. Through Hans Aigner I met German Werner Tripp and his wife, who were members of the Freunde der Gmundner Traun, and had fished the river for many years. The three of us managed to get some time together at the water and caught a few good fish. We also managed to take some pictures of each other - both fighting and holding fish. I had had some difficulties with this in my solitude, which the many pictures of my hand with a fish clearly shows. It seemed that Werner spent a lot of time in the area, which is close to the German border and the large German town München (Munich).

Autumn

Map

Myself with a rainbow

Werner Tripp

Albert Pesendorfer - Martin Joergensen - Werner Tripp

Part 5 - Three flies

Where I learn not to leave home without a Goldkopff
The gold bead nymph was a killer. I had tied up a handful in size 12 and 14 and they really did their job. A fly like that can draw fish out of the shadows under the trees, up from the dark bottom or into the free running parts of the river.

Three flies

As already mentioned the gold bead nymph was a killer. I had tied up a handful in size 12 and 14 and they really did their job. A fly like that can draw fish out of the shadows under the trees, up from the dark bottom or into the free running parts of the river.

CDC&Elk and waterfall

Three flies

Martin Joergensen

A quick roll or underhand cast upstream from the stony edge of the river, a small mend against the current to let it sink and a keen eye on the tip of the line. The smallest twitch in the tip and you strike lightly. Partytime! Particularly the rainbows will give you a thrill on a 4 or 5 weight rod with their many jumps and fierce runs. The variation in the river gives a cunning fish some very good odds. The fish are divinely beautiful and in perfect condition.
In the early mornings the smaller brown trout up to 35-40 centimeters can be enticed with dry flies. A 14-16 CDC&Elk or a large Klinkhåmer Special size 10 or 12 could rise many fish, which in a smooth motion would separate from the bottom, tip their bodies towards the surface and mostly with great pleasure inhale the fly. Patience is a key when you can see everything... "3-2-1... Grüß Der Kaiser" and a light strike and they were hooked. A beautiful sight in the clear water.
I only saw the many graylings as dark shadows from above. "In the autum they will be active again... Große Äsche... large graylings", Hans promised me.
I had brought my Partridge 7½' splitcane for the purpose and it was put to hard work with the energetic fish in the current. The larger fish on nymph was taken on a Loomis GL3 9' 5 weight. A 6 or 7 weight had not spoiled the pleasure, but would not have been required.

Time passed

My one-week passed all too quickly. Two times three days is exactly sufficient to give you a nagging craving for more. I had rented a car to use for getting around after taking the night train down from Denmark. Another option was to drive for those who come from Europe. Flying in is an alternative, which will decrease the time spend on the road, but increase the expenses. The airfares are more human in the spring and autumn where the fishing is better than in the expensive high season.
There are many accommodation options. Zimmers and Gasthofen (rooms and inns) are plenty and fairly inexpensive. Camping sites are plenty too and useful both for tenting and cabin renting.
Austria is an inexpensive country to visit by European standards. Restaurant meals and super market groceries are reasonable, and food and drink is generally available in even the smaller towns.
People are friendly and the country very calm. German is spoken everywhere and English is spoken and understood in most places - especially where tourists come.

Fly patterns

I had luck with these three patterns, which were found on my tippet a major part of my fishing time. The Gold bead nymph was especially proficient, and you should make sure to have enough of this pattern to leave some on the bottom and in the mouth of fish, which break off. And remember to debarb all hooks. This eases unhooking the fish and leaves broken off fish with a chance of getting rid of that dreaded hook.

CDC&Elk

This is an easy-to-tie and very effective dry fly originally conceived by Dutch Hans Weilenmann. It floats like a cork thanks to the elk hair in combination with the CDC feather. Bring it in sizes 12-16.
Read Hans' own story about the fly.

Klinkhamer Special

Another fly of Dutch origin. Hans van Klinken's fly has surprised many a fly fisher. Its name is actually Klinkhåmer Special (pronounced 'klinkhomer'). It is unusually large and a bit different in its construction, but can drag up fish from surprising depths. Hans Aigner, who knew the fly, told some other club members of the fly while we were having coffee, and none of them had heard of it. I brought it in sizes 10-14, and I tended to uses the 10's most. They worked well here as they have on trout and grayling - even salmon - in waters all over the world.

  • Hook: Partridge GRS15ST, sizes 14-8
  • Thread: 8/0, grey or tan
  • Body: Tan poly dubbing
  • Wing: A strand of white poly yarn
  • Thorax: Three strands of peacock herl
  • Parachute hackle: Large hackle, blue dun, grizzle or your own choice

Andy's flies

Martin Joergensen

Goldkopff

The gold beaded nymph comes from this region, and is a terribly lethal pattern in all its simplicity. Bring a variety of colors - mostly browns and tans - and have some with some really large beads to bring the fly down to the bottom in fast water. I use Siman dubbing brushes to easily tie these flies in the matter of a minute. Remember to glue the bead to the hook with some instant glue to avoid the bead coming loose when the fly is tumbling over the rocky bottom.
Read Roman Moser's article about the history of the Goldkopff.

Other flies

Andy recommended jig like, colorful flies for the deeper pools and ant patterns for the more picky trout and grayling.
Hans Aigner also recommended ants and on top of that small dark Elk Hair Caddises


Part 6 - Contacts and information

Where you learn about places go and people to contact

Further information

Notice that these prices are per summer 2000. Prices may well have changed and Austria now uses Euro (€) as a currency. I try to update these prices as best I can. Martin.

Hotel-Gasthof Bräurup, Mittersil
Prices:One week with fishing and half pension is between 6,300.- and 6,900.- Austrian Schilling depending on the season. One day licenses are 350.- Schilling and a week permit is 1,600.-.
Address:Kirchengasse 9A-5730 Mittersill
Phone: +43 (0)65626216
Internet:http://www.braurup.at/
Andreas (Andy) Gyetvai, guide, highly recommended!
Prices:One day is 140 Euro, a half day is 70 Euro.
Phone:+43 (0)6642430903 (cell phone). Andy can also be contacted through the Gasthof Bräurup or via email on AndiGyetvai@gmx.at.
Car ride to Krimmler Valley, Waserfall Taxi
Phone: +43 (0)65647281
E-mail: wasserfalltaxi@utanet.at
Gasthof Wirt am Bach, Ebensee by the Traun
Prices:Price per week is approx. USD 260.- depending on the season.
Address: Am bach 13 A-4664 Oberweis bei GmundenAustria
Phone: +43 (0)761274530
Freunde der Gmundner Traun
Licenses:Per day approx. 70.- USD
Internet: http://www.freundedergmundnertraun.at/. The site is in German, but well worth a visit. Click on the links to the Traun locations to see maps of the waters and click on the maps to see photos.
Phone: +43 (0)761274503
Gebestroiter Höhe Schule run by Hans Aigner
Prices: A week long course is about 600.- USD, which includes licenses but not hotel
Phone: +43 (0)6641227582

Waldhotel Marienbrücke

Martin Joergensen

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