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Ronan's report


Monday 22nd April, 2013

I'm just back from the Soca where I have spent two and a half days searching for the Holy Grail of trout, the Marmorata. This subspecies of trout is only native in the rivers of ex-Yugoslavia and Italy which flow into the Adriatic sea. It grows big but as we had to learn, you should rather concentrate on the average size fish, as it is not like the Hucho. Marble trout can reach a size that is comparable with the Hucho but it does not grow as fast as the European relative of Taimen, so fishing huge streamers on 8 or 10 weight rods is not very effective.

As I have never caught a Marble Trout before (I have only fished them for maybe 3 days before this trip) the mission was to get at least one, any size.

These fish are extremely spooky. You only have a chance to catch them dusk or dawn when they are in the shallows to hunt. At least this it what everyone says. I wonder why I see a lot of pictures of marble trout caught in daylight on the Internet... There are pictures showing them hiding UNDER rocks throughout the day, which explains why you can't catch them daytime; unlike any other trout species I know they virtually dig themselves under rocks and stones, only the tail fins are to see! You've got to do something very special to attract those fish I think.

Anyway, our two options were the Soca and the Lepena. The Soca has a colour you can't compare to anything else. It is called the Emerald river for a reason. It has a small tributary, called Lepena what we planned to fish if the Soca gets too high. We started fishing on Thursday evening. The water was high and murky but fishable.

I saw a couple of fish standing right next to the bank and caught a decent sized grayling on a nymph. If it was the Adriatic subspecies, then it was a monster, but I am not sure. The coloration suggests it was one of those fish, but the size of the back fin is border line, the Adriatic has a smaller one than the common grayling.

A couple of casts later I managed to catch my first Marble, on a Black Wooly Bugger (the fly of the trip by the way). After a dramatic fight I managed to land a huge marble. It had terrific dimensions, the length exceeding 30 cm! Maybe even as big as 35! Joking aside, I was really satisfied. Mission accomplished!

Next morning the water level was even higher, as it turned out maybe too high for the Marbles. All fish had disappeared from the shallows and the water was really murky. The biggest excitement was caused by a very heavy jig fly that I have tied to reach the bottom of the deepest pools. It weighs around 6-7 grams, maybe more.

Something attacked it right at my feet, I instinctively made a strike and it flew around the tip of the rod on the 3 metre leader before hitting me on the back of my head. For a couple of seconds I was wondering if I will die now or just pass out. It was a real surprise that none of these things happened. In fact I was not even bleeding, but now I know how a headshot should feel.

We mostly fished the Lepena for the remaining one and a half days. I caught a couple of nice Rainbows and lost even more but the the small Marbles of the Lepena have driven me crazy:

1. They are extremely spooky. On the last day I already knew where the given fish will stand in the pools I fished so I could sneak on them on my knees. They were spooked by just dipping the nymph in the water in front of them! No casting, no splash, nothing.

2. Zero surface activity so the easy fishing with the dries was out of question. The Marbles showed absolutely no interest in taking nymphs. I haven't cracked the code there for sure.

3. I think I am an OK trout fisherman, but I always had huge problems with fishing streamers in small, fast flowing, crystal clear rivers. Swinging the fly down and across is not good, because the fish can see you. Up and across doesn't really work (maybe haven't tried it long enough). Casting upstream and stripping in faster than the current is impossible. Casting downstream, make a slow retrieve and the fish will laugh at you.

How do you fish these small rivers with the streamer?

Cheers,
Ákos


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