Published Jun 23. 2024 - 2 weeks ago
Updated or edited Jun 25. 2024

Fly-fishing Turkey

Few anglers think of Turkey as a trout fishing destination, but its unique geography has provided a hotbed for many trout species

Turkish trout
Scouting for Turkish trout
Turkish trout and stream
Tad Murdock

Picturesque trout streams can be found throughout the northern hemisphere, inspiring adventurous anglers to seek the forgotten and rarely seen wilderness areas where trout reside. The world renown fly fishing found in the Rocky Mountains, European Alps, Balkans, and headwaters of the Scandinavian Peninsula attract anglers from around the world. However, none of these areas possess the diversity of trout species than that of Turkey. Few anglers think of Turkey or Turkiye as a trout fishing destination, but its unique geography provided a hotbed for trout speciation following the most recent ice ages. With river drainages flowing into the Black Sea, Caspian Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Sea of Marmorata, and Persian Gulf, relatives of the brown trout family have been isolated for millennia.

Turkish trout mosaics
Tad Murdock

During the previous ice ages, trout would migrate to these larger bodies of water each year, similar to that of salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Ocean. This allowed regular gene flow between these brown trout. As the ice age came to an end and waters warmed, these trout species were pushed further and further into their streams of origin where they became secluded from their neighbors and began to evolve distinctly. Today there are 4 or 5 notable species of the Salmo genus along with 8-10 notable subspecies of trout.

Abant Trout
Abant Trout found in the Alpine Lakes of the Black Sea drainages
Tad Murdock

These trout still behave like their brown trout ancestors but do possess different habits based on their inhabited streams. One unique species, the Abant trout, is native to only two smaller lakes of Northwest Turkey and but now inhabits several other stillwater alpine lakes around the Black Sea drainages. This species grows to much larger sizes, feeding on smaller fishes for most of the year as well as the seasonal frog and salamander populations that explode in the warmer months. Two other notable species of the Black Sea drainages are the Coruh and Rize Trout of the Coruh River drainage. These are undoubtedly the most colorful of the brown trout/Salmo relatives.

Coruh and Rize Trout
Coruh Trout (Left) and Rize Trout (Right) of a small tributary of the Coruh River
Tad Murdock

The Northwest region of Turkey is home to the Caspian Sea drainages, The trout that inhabit these rivers are still classified as subspecies of brown trout along with there brothers in Iran, Georgia, and Armenia. The rivers and headwater streams that the Caspian and Aras trout call home resemble gardens more than trout streams. These desert oasis streams are covered in vegetation and blooming plants throughout spring and summer.

Caspian and Aras Trout
Caspian Trout (Left) Aras Trout (Right)
Tad Murdock

Moving south, anglers can find one of the most unique fisheries in the world. The Tigris River and Euphrates River are home to the only trout species native to an Indian Ocean drainage. These rivers are renowned as the cradle of human civilization. The headwaters of the Tigris River begin around the base of the Biblical Mount Ararat and are home the Tigris trout. This area is extremely remote with the exception to the small towns of Van and Catak. Despite the political strife and proxy wars that have plagued the region on and off for the past century, the trout populations continue to persist.

Tigris Trout
Tigris Trout and Tigris River tributaries of Southeast Turkey
Tad Murdock
Munzur Trout
Munzur River and the Munzur Trout (Left), Euphrates Trout (Right)
Tad Murdock

The Euphrates watershed is much larger than the Tigris to the west. Here the Euphrates trout and Munzur Trout can be found in several large tributaries. The Munzur River help the largest trout populations on this journey and attracts the most tourism of any of these trout streams.

Flathead trout
The Turkish (Flathead) Trout of Zamanti River
Tad Murdock

The central part of the country is home to the Turkish Trout, Salmo platycephalus. The Zamanti River runs through the highland plateau of central Anatolia. Several sections of the river still possess healthy populations of these fish which are heavily protected by the locals that hold them in high regard. The river is incredibly scenic, resembling both the spring creeks of the Northern Rockies and gin clear, cerulean streams of the Balkans.

Ecemis and Alakir Trout
Labecula, Ecemis Trout (Left) and Alakir Trout (Right)
Tad Murdock

The Mediterranean drainages of South and Southwest Turkey are home to several brown trout subspecies such as the Labecula and Alakir trout. The aesthetically unique Goksu trout is the true gem in this region. Both its color pattern and its river of origin are incredibly picturesque.

Goksu trout
Goksu trout
Tad Murdock
Beautiful Turkish stream
Tad Murdock

The high desert rivers, alpine lakes, and deep canyon streams are a very different settings than the small rhododendron lined creeks I guide while Fly Fishing North Georgia. Lessons learned while targeting the American trout species all became useful on the hunt for the trout of Turkey. Whether it was decoding an evening hatch, or pulling trout out of heavy cover with a streamer versatility was imperative for success. All of these trout provided a unique learning experience. Hopefully, as these species receive more attention from anglers across the globe, populations in need of help will get the assistance they require while the others with well established populations see more recognition from the growing tourism industry.

A small Turkish creek
Turkish impressions
Tad Murdock

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