Well, what an exciting few weeks ahead! It’s nice to have some fishing to look forward to, and the month of May is already booking out as a very busy and exciting one for the Incompleat Angler. Four days in Wales, a week in Florence followed by a week in Slovenia should just about see me right and scratch the itch for the month, there might even be chance to sneak in a few days locally too! I’m supposed to be looking for a new job because if I go on like this much longer I’ll start to sound like Yosser Hughes from Boys from the Blackstuff. The thing is there are so many kick ass fish out there and so many awesome folks to catch them with – and I can’t go blogging about job hunting can I?
I’ve been at the vice, re-rigging lines and researching a few new species and this is all before I’ve even checked the weather forecast. I love this part of fishing, getting the right kit together. Partly because it really builds the anticipation levels and partly because I know that whatever I take could be wrong and whatever I choose to leave behind could be just the right thing. I’ve no idea what size the iron blue duns will be hatching out of the Usk, or even if they will be hatching at all! The right colour lure for Italian Black Bass? No idea. What pattern of streamer for Slovenian marbles on a rainy Tuesday? You tell me! If you can’t enjoy this period of the process then it must be a frustrating time. Think ahead to the fishing you’re about to do, it’ll put a smile back on your face in no time!
If you’re a regular read of my humble little blog then you’ll know only too well that I love fishing the Usk in South Wales and the only thing better than fishing a river that you love is fishing it with a good mate. “Shall we book on the Usk for the May bank holiday?” asked Dave (who I’ve had a few Usk adventures with before) literally a week after I got back from the Seychelles. This isn’t a question, it’s a challenge. What he meant to say was “I’m fishing the Usk at the May bank holiday. Could you live with yourself if I caught one of the monsters and you weren’t there?” to which the answer is obviously no.
We’re in the tents again and the forecast isn’t looking great at all. Rain, winds and low temperatures aren’t what you wish for when you pre book fishing a month in advance but come what may we’ll be flogging that river to a foam to finally land one of the huge wild browns that have so far proved elusive. We’ve both done a few 20″ fish from the Usk but I’m not sure we’ve even scratched the surface – there’s a possibilty of a fish way beyond that figure and that’s what we’re out for. The streamer rod is locked and loaded this time – it may see more use than the dry fly kit…
My first trip to Florence was one of the most exciting fishing expeditions ever. My good pal Ollie runs Italian guiding company Fishing in Florence and last year tasked me with trying to hook and land Wels Catfish on fly kit. It was five days of shoulder busting, back breaking, stripping finger burning mayhem but a huge success! So successful in fact that Ollie and his company were featured in a full page Financial Times article by well known travel writer Time Moore who also banked some river Arno beasts. I can’t stress enough just how much fun it is hitting one of these massive fish on a fly rod, especially watching them rise up from the depths to take a fly from the surface – it’s one of those moments that every fly angler should experience at least once in their lives.
This trip will be a mixture of work and pleasure – helping out guiding some clients with Ollie and maybe even sneaking in some fishing (plus good food, good weather and good wine) myself. This time it’s not only the Cats we’re after either but also huge pike and black bass too on both fly and light spinning kit. Alongside having exclusive access to large sections of the main river Ollie also guides on some small and discreet Tuscan estate lakes which hold some dark and angry secrets. If you’re looking for a summer holiday which combines her wish for good weather, good food and a bit of culture with your desire to catch fish then Fishing in Florence might just save your bacon!
Last year I fulfilled a long held ambition and fished the incredible waters of Slovenia, and promised myself when I landed back in London that if it all possible I was to come back again for some of the most epic grayling and trout fishing I have ever encountered. The Mighty rivers Soca and Idricja were in pretty poor condition for the time Colin and I were there but the tributaries provided some wonderful and unforgettable sport including a marble trout for each of us amongst some hard fighting rainbows. What caught me a little by surprise was the Slovenian chalk streams. It’s easy to consider the chalk stream as being so quintessentially British that they don’t exist anywhere else but believe me these wild rivers are more than a match for any of our southern gems. The grayling fishing on dries was just incredible, we had lost count of the number of fish over 15″ within an hour or so of climbing in to the river.
You never really know what you’re going to get when you book a foreign guide, often it’s a bit of a gamble and in that sense I feel very lucky to have fished with and become friends with Uros Kristian of Urko Adventures whose advice and assistance on our trip was invaluable. His fly box baffled me a little initially but at the end of our time on the river it all made perfect sense. For this trip not only has he suggested we fish a few secret rivers that are out of the limelight but he has also gone out of his way to help with booking accomodation and travel – he’s saved us a few quid before we’ve even got on the plane! Will Robins, England Junior Fishing Team Captain and Farlows of Pall Mall staff member will be joining me on the trip and I imagine catching a load more fish than me with his pedigree. I’d love to catch another Marble but the thought of those big Grayling really changes the game. It’s going to be an exciting week!
So there we have it, #FishingMadMay is a plan in action. It starts in the Welsh Valleys and ends on Slovenia pasture land via the centre of Florence. As ever I have no expectations other than the unexpected – I’ve got no idea what’s going to happen! One things for sure, it’s going to be a month of great places and great people – if a few fish appear along the way then fantastic!
Hopefully you’ve all got big fishing plans coming up in May too. I wish you all the best and I’ll be performing the no-rain dance furiously for every single one of you. It could be a full time job in itself…