Grüß Österreich! Hello Austria!
Part 3 - 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 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.
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
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
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.
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