Adventure Angling in Europe – Spring 2014
After a long, wet season of guiding for Steelhead in the rainforest on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, I headed back to Europe for a couple weeks to visit family and friends and do a little adventure angling! It’s been almost four years since my last trip to Europe, and I’ve been really looking forward to returning!
Photos in the slide-show below are from my 2010 angling adventure to Germany and Austria with Marcus Sies, Benjamin Laschet, Dominik Pilz and the Fly-Focus crew.
Europe was a large part of my early years; I was born in Germany, attended high school there, and also lived in Naples, Italy and the Azores off the coast of Portugal. Part of my family currently resides outside of Kaiserslautern in the Pfalzerwald (Palatinate Forest), a beautiful forested, low-mountain region near the border of Southwestern Germany and France. I hadn’t seen them in a long time (too long!) and it was really great to catch up with them!
After a few days of visiting and catching up with family, I caught a ride with a friend to the Black Forest (Schwarzwald) region of Germany to visit an old friend of mine, Ralf Vosseler. Ralf owns Vosseler Pro-Fly Fishing, a German CNC machining company that has been producing high quality fly fishing reels and tools since 1993. I’ve been fishing Vosseler fly reels for years in both salt and freshwater and have always been a huge fan! Check out the Vosseler website for more info on their products at http://www.vosseler.com/
I originally met Ralf during my Angling Exploration Group / Trout Bum Diaries days – Vosseler was one of our major sponsors for the Fly Fishing Film Tour. He had always extended an open invitation to fish his private water if I ever made it over to Germany, which I happily took him up on during my visit in 2010. Ralf and I had a blast fishing together and kept in touch over the years, so naturally he was one of the first people I contacted when making plans for my trip this spring!
Ralf invited me inside the Vosseler headquarters for a cup of espresso and a brief tour of the factory to check out some of the improvements he had made over the last four years. His large warehouse was filled with various CNC machines and equipment of all sorts, employees buzzed back and forth between machines, and I was able to check out the reels during various stages of manufacturing. The most intriguing part for me was the complex CAD software used to design the reels – it was fascinating!
To demonstrate his new laser engraving system, he pulled a fly reel off the shelf, dropped it in the machine, picked a font, typed in the text and BOOM!!! Primal Angler engraving on a Vosseler DC-2 Fly Reel! Wooohooo! Thanks for the awesome reel Ralf! Really looking forward to catching a lot of trout on it in Alaska this summer!
After the brief factory tour we jumped in Ralf’s 4×4 VW Diesel Van / Fish-Mobile, hopped on the Autobahn and blasted off to fish the Neckar River. In Germany, as in most of Europe, angling is tightly regulated and you must purchase a day license to fish a limited section of any stream or river for trout (including both private and public water), in addition to a national fishing license.
These fishing rights are usually leased to angling clubs, fly shops, private parties and hotels who then have the rights to sell a certain number of licenses per year for that particular section of water. Ralf leases the rights to fish a beautiful section of the Neckar River near the Vosseler headquarters in the Black Forest of Southern Germany, and it’s loaded with German brown trout!
After a half-day of fishing the Neckar, we decided to check out some different water for the afternoon. Ralf is part of a fishing club which leases fishing rights on a small spring creek in the Black Forest. I’ve always been a huge fan of spring creeks, and never having been there before, I was down to check it out! Fish rose freely to a steady mayfly hatch, but I couldn’t help break out my Spring Creek Special leech pattern and catch a few German Browns on it!
Our next adventure was to a place that Ralf has been telling me about for years – a wild river deep in a remote canyon in the heart of the Black Forest. The rights to fish this river are controlled by an angling club which only sells a few guest licenses each year, and luckily Ralf was able to get us access through a friend. The hike in and out was brutal, but the reward well worth it! This river hasn’t been stocked in many years and the brown trout that swim here are both wild and native!
In the morning we hiked deep into the rugged canyon, awed by the beauty and wildness of the place. Fishing was difficult due to the high, off-colored water, and we threw everything we had at them, to no avail. Our luck turned in the afternoon as we reached the upper section of the canyon and caught a few nice brown trout on dry flies with parr marks on them! They weren’t huge but they were beautiful, wild fish and I was grateful to catch them in their native waters! Ralf said it was possible I was the only American angler to ever fish that section of river… It was an amazing experience and an angling adventure I won’t forget anytime soon!
My friend Benjamin Lashcet of Fly-Focus, whom I had fished with in 2010, stopped by to pick me up for the next leg of my European angling adventure. We stopped by the Vosseler HQ in the morning to say good-bye to Ralf, who had been extremely gracious with his hospitality, and headed off to spend most of the day fishing the Neckar. The river was high and very off-color, on the edge of fishable, but we tied on big streamers and gave it a shot anyway. The morning was difficult fishing, although we managed a few fish, but once again things turned around in the afternoon when I tied into two solid brown trout that turned out to be some of the largest of the trip for me!
Benjamin and I headed back to his home town in Southern Germany on the shores of Lake Constance. We had a couple days to fish, and decided to head to Austria to fish a stream that Marcus Sies and I had fished in 2010, the Bregenzer Ache. We picked up our fishing license from the local “Kasehaus” or Cheese House, and spent the next couple days exploring. I knew from my earlier trip that some larger brown trout lived here, but they proved elusive on this trip! Still we had an excellent couple days of fishing catching small to medium sized native brown trout, and shot over a thousand photos with Benjamin’s 5D Mark II DSLR camera. Stay posted to the Primal Angler blog for those pics!
The photos in this blog post were taken with an Iphone 5s (in a Lifeproof Case) and posted via Instagram and Facebook. Follow Primal Angler on Social Media – #primalangler @primalangler
All-in-all it was an excellent adventure, thanks to my wonderful family and friends! A very special thanks to my family (my Mother, Paul, and Tilman) for everything, it was really great spending time with you guys! Thanks to John for the long ride! A huge thanks to Ralf Vosseler for his amazing hospitality, excellent company and for being such an awesome friend! Thanks for everything Benjamin, can’t wait until our next angling adventure my friend! Catch you guys on the flip side!
Stay tuned to the Primal Angler blog for an upcoming blog post on a Sailing Adventure to Neah Bay on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula!