June 5, 2013
I thought Vladi was tossing and turning at 4 AM this morning because of the cuckoo bird we have outside our room. But it wasn’t the crazy bird, it was Vladi’s foot. Apparently he likes fishing like most of us and ignored his pain yesterday only to burst his blister and turn the damage into a big red swollen knob. It looks extremely painful. He could hardly walk let alone fish today.
While Vladi applied real medicine from a pharmacy, I went for a walk on the IdrijcaRiver. A long walk that likely would be too much for most anglers. A walk like I do in New Zealand – perhaps about seven miles. I showed Vladi an upstream bridge and a place for him to park to wait. Then we drove downstream. We drove and drove until I figured I had six hours of river walk and fishing. Then I said drop me off and I’ll see you at that bridge at 7 PM.
I’m not sure Vladi got my plan. But one thing I know about Vladi, once we make a plan he sticks to it. And that being said, I knew that tonight, when I was absolutely exhausted and carting an aching back from tromping over slippery rocks in waders all day – Vladi would be there waiting – with a Zywiec.
Slovenia has become a “Monsoon CLASSIC Currier” trip; it was absolutely pouring when I started my walk. We’ve had rain every day. In a sick way I was enjoying it, probably because in the Rockies we get so little rain. Remarkably, I could see into the water for fish spotting well despite the lack of sun. So rather than cast, I walked slowly upstream and hunted. And I walked and walked and walked. My goal today was to find a big marble trout then catch him on a dry fly.
There wasn’t a lot to spot at first. For the first two miles, the first couple of hours, I saw one fish. The rainbow wasn’t rising but rather nymphing furiously in a mediocre looking piece of water. Being greedy, I passed him up because he wasn’t a marble.
Two hours later, with the river coming up fast, I was wishing I’d chased down that rainbow I spotted earlier. I’ve not been skunked yet this trip and he could have kept my record going. Things were looking grim as I’d not seen another fish and I was at least five miles into my walk. Then it happened. I was moving upstream through the willows like a cat stalking prey and I saw that color. The color I’d noticed on the rising marble I saw on Day 2. It’s a special orangey-rust color with a bluish top.
Honestly, I was shocked. I’d walked a long way. It was a downpour and I’d lost hope. But the more I stared at this color it took shape – it was a trout and it was (Salmo marmoratus). Then to prove it 100%, the marble trout rose.
I took a deep breath. He looked over 20”. I wanted him like I wanted that big mahseer in India last month. This was the marble trout I came for and perhaps the biggest I’ll ever see in my life. I looked over my parachute Adams. I checked the hook then ran my fingers over the tippet. Then I tugged every knot. Everything was a go.
Next I moved my waterproof Simms pack with my camera gear to a strategic location so I could get it out quick for a few clicks in the rain. It’s hard to get photos when you’re alone. I put my pack on the edge of the river about 60 feet downstream.
Once organized I waded into position about 25 feet below the marble. He was happy – nymphing and eating the occasional mayfly. I knew my parachute was the right fly. I just needed to land it there and then hook him when he ate it. Lo and behold, on my second cast I did exactly that. Like it was meant to be!
This marble was bigger than I thought. He raged downstream and flew passed my backpack with my prepared camera gear. I had no choice but to chase after. I made a weak attempt to grab my pack and put it on my back but the fish required my full attention as he went from the pool I hooked him in down to the next. I said screw the camera.
Once I got down near him, he still fought hard. He began to roll on me like a lake trout. It felt terrible like I was doomed for sure. One thing I’ve noticed with these marble trout is they have vicious teeth for a trout. I had 3X Scientific Anglers tippet and luckily it withstood the teeth. Finally he started to give up and I gradually worked him into the shallows where I beached him on some shallow rocks.
It wasn’t as easy as the short essay sounds. It was back and forth for nearly five minutes. Every time this lengthy marble trout touched his belly to the rocks he bolted. Once I finally got him in I had one camera I always carry around my neck. I shot a few pics. The marble was relaxed in the shallow water. I took my fly out and ran for my good camera and backpack. If the fish swam away, fine. At least I had a few shots.
Upon returning from my minute run, my marble was still there. I blazed off a few more shots and measured him. He was two inches short of a four piece 9-foot rod section making him around 24”. Marmoratus gets bigger but this will do – especially on a dry fly!
I was in the zone for the last leg of the day. I found three more rising fish. Another respectable marble trout and two rainbows. I hooked and lost the marble. Like the first one he tore off a lot of line then did the lake trout roll only he went down a rapid and got off. Indeed I was ticked! The other two fish were rainbows and I jumped them both. One came off while the other I landed. He was a monster and rivals any rainbow I’ve ever caught!
Slovenia is far surpassing my expectations. Perhaps today was a fluke. Perhaps I’ll wake up soon and this is all a dream. I don’t think so though. I only caught two fish today but this was one of my most memorable trout fishing days ever!
Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing