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Grüß Österreich! Hello Austria!
Meeting Austria... and Andy
Part 1 - Where I wet my first fly in the idyllic country and stay in the even more idyllic Gasthof Bräurup 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.
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.
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.
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.
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