Harz 08-2013

Harz 08-2013

Day 1 August 4th 2013

After the late spring trip to the Harz mountains when extreme weather plagued our trip it
was time for a renewed visit to this beautiful area in the middle of Germany.

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The same spot, different time (May vs August) – quite a difference.

At the height of summer I did not fear high water anymore – more the opposite.
Since it was peak holiday season we wondered if the place which was already pretty crowded would
even see more anglers than there usual.
This time we had opted for a full weeks stay so we had ample time to find out how the fishery was.

On the first day I was really struggling with actually catching a fish.
Normally that would not have been a problem but circumstances where quite different from our
previous visit.
You would expect lots of surface activity during these warm summer days but it stayed pretty quiet.
My usual successful nymphs did not do nearly as well as I had hoped.

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To be honest my preparations for this trip where not as perfect as it should have been.
I had not spend time to tie some heavy nymphs for this faster flowing water and also
forgot to bring more of my dry flies with me.

I soon found out that there was one thing where the trout would be interested in … sedges.
Although there never was a hatch going on during the time we where on the river a sedge
placed right near the bank would bring the fish up.
From a talk with one of the local flyfisherman I gathered that there had been some
fantastic sedge hatches in previous months where the water was literally boiling, a classic
example of “you should have been here yesterday”

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Most of the ugly stocked brown trout where gone, probably all knocked on the head by the local
meat fisherman.
Now you had a great chance of catching the local strain of brown trout, rather small but fin perfect with
beautiful dark colouring.

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So that was the first day, hot weather – difficult fishing (at least for me) and no crowds as feared.

Day 2 August 5th. 2013

For the second day we had picked up one of our most beloved spots on the river upstream from
a large reservoir.
At our visit in May we had expected to run into lots of coarse fish like roach and dace which we also
like to catch besides trout, unfortunately in May they where not there.
Now it was time for a rematch …

I had a couple of goals I wanted to achieve during this trip, for instance catch another golden trout –
catch rainbow trout – catch a grayling and maybe photograph one of these rare fire salamanders that my buddy
had spotted during the last visit.

One of my wished was pretty fast granted as I did not run into the expected roach and dace but hooked
a rainbow trout instantly when I fished the section of the river above the reservoir.

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Besides the rainbow trout the usual local brown trout where also present in numbers.

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The coarse fish like roach and dace where present but not in the numbers we had seen on earlier
visits, still they where fairly cooperative.

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The nymphs I had devised for the local stream did work on this section of the river as it was rather
small and the water level was low.

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It was good to see that small fry fish and smaller brown trout where present in the river, an indication
that trout actually reproduced naturally in the stream.

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Off course I did not only have an eye out for the fish, I was still looking for those elusive fire salamanders
but instead I found a rather (at least for me) congregation of butterflies which I only ever have seen
from TV documentaries about the Amazon – must have been minerals ….

Speaking about minerals, the section I was fishing had seen mining in the past and the remnants where still visible in the river.
Some of the old bridges of the nearby mining complex where still visible, some of the hardware was
left lying in the river.

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The upper sections of the river from the parking lot contained the most fish, the further I came to
the reservoir the less fish I encountered.
My goal was to get to the spot where the river entered the reservoir, at that point it would widen and
move slower often attracting trout from the reservoir itself.

The downside of that spot was the fact that the sediment carried by the stream would settle there
resulting in rather slippery muddy banks and lots of silt at the bottom.
Furthermore the meadows alongside the reservoir where a prime habitat for the wild boars which
you would like to avoid when they move around with their piglets.

I did not see the wild boar at the end of the reservoir but a whole different species of pig.
My buddy tried to entered the water from the slippery banks and took a mud bath instead.
Luckily he managed to come out of this ordeal without the usually broken rod and he still
looked presentable after a wash in the river.

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From the signs in the mud in seemed that the spot was rather popular with the wildlife.
Besides the prints of hoofs I saw the ones in the upper picture which almost caused me to believe
that it could have been from a raccoon.
Not a native species to Germany but introduced around the thirties and still spreading out.

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During all my exploring I did forget one important thing – time ….
We had set a specific time to stop angling as we had planned to visit the Italian restaurant in a nearby
town late in the day.
At the designated time I was still at the reservoir and had to make fast tracks to get to the parking lot.

As I did not wanted to wade all the way upstream through the difficult terrain I opted to take the 
mountain path along the river.
Boy it was hot as hell out here and these waders where not exactly the most suitable wandering gear.
When I finally arrived at the parking lot I was ready for a long break and a cool beer.

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We ended the day at the La luna restaurant and what can I say, it was a perfect ending of the day
that we would repeat many times in the coming days.

Day 3 August 6th, 2013

On day number three of our visit we would visit the zoo section of the stream.
My name because it bordered a row of hotels and you would be watched by tourists on all sides as
you where fishing.
Not exactly my cup of tea so to speak but my buddy wanted to fish there so that is where we went.

My buddy opted to fish the wide section near the hotels, I rather fished the upstream section above
the pedestrian bridge where the river was narrower, deeper and faster flower.
Deep was a relative thing as it was summer and levels where low.
I opted to fish the sedge rather than a nymph and was rewarded pretty soon with nice brown trout.

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Judging by the rather fast approach of my buddy behind me I figured that he had not that much
success with his spot.
I was doing rather fine and he was struggling, this was a sort of reverse situation as we had on day one.

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As the Italian restaurant was closed on this day we had an alterative eatery sought out nearby and as
usual I was late again.
I had to find a spot to get out of the river at the main road as the river itself was difficult to wade, the road would be faster.

I spotted my buddy who called in by radio to go and have lunch still fishing the deep river bend I had passed earlier.
As my nymphs intended for the slow moving local stream where much to light to fish in that fast water I
had ignored the spot and moved for shallower water upstream.
My buddy was better prepared however and did quite well will some very heavy nymphs that reached the trout at the bottom.

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At noon we got our lunch at the old forestry house in the middle of nowhere – so remote that your
mobile phone was useless.
Although my favourite beer in Germany was normally the dark wheat beer here in the east I was totally
keyed in on the Kostritzer black beer … jummy.

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At lunch we where pondering where to go in the afternoon, it would be the stretch at the hatchery.
The hatchery stretch was probably one of the most crowded on this river as it had easy access and
sometimes had escapee rainbow trout from the nearby hatchery.
Also the wide slow moving pool at the road bridge was always a sure ticket for trout.
With the absence of the crowds we had expected we where pretty sure that the spot we picked would
be relative quiet – it was.

The sedge once again did it trick and brought some of the remainder stocked browns to the light.

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When my buddy called in that he had spotted a golden trout coming my way I was hoping to fulfil one
of my set goals for the trip.
Goal 1 was achieved by catching the rainbow trout – now I had a change to get a golden trout.
Off course these golden trout where just those Albino rainbows that they reared in the first couple of
basins at the hatchery, sometimes these escaped into the river where they had little chance to
survive as they stood out against the dark bottom of the river and where not keyed in to natural foods.

The fish that came my way was obviously not fit to be in the river, it darted around like it had suffered
some trauma – I could actually scoop it up in my landing net.
I tried to revive the fish and it looked for a while that it would be ok but after some straight movements
it began darting again alas out of my reach.

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Not what you expect in a German river.

Some people in my neck of the woods frown on rainbow trout as they view this species as invasive but I like them a lot as they always put up a good fight.
There is also quite a difference in quality depending on which hatchery produced the fish.
In this particular river the fish are escapees from the local hatchery and quite ugly to be honest.

Having said that I have seen some pictures of magnificent rainbows which have been caught in the river that where big and beautiful.
I had an interesting chat with one of the locals who witnessed spawning rainbows in the river this spring.
He mentioned that he had caught small rainbows that where fin-perfect assuming that these particular
rainbow trout had adapted to living in this river.

In the mean time I concentrated on getting more browns on the sedge which worked pretty well.
I continued to catch the non-stocked brownies with their dark coloration.
I had one particular fine specimen which took the sedge as I dropped in under some branches at
the other river bank.

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I had checked the weather forecast in the morning, in the afternoon severe thunderstorms with rain and hail where predicted.
We had instated the rule that as soon as we heard thunder we would clear the river and head for safety.
The problem in the mountains is that you often do not see when bad weather rolls in when you are
standing in a river covered by foliage – with the noise of the water picking up sounds from around you
tends to be difficult.
Still later in the evening I did for sure heard the sound of thunder and immediately radioed my buddy that
It was time to head for the car ASAP.

When I was at the car and gearing down the dark clouds crept over the mountain top and it began
to rumble in earnest – not a comfortable position to be in.
My buddy came walking in from the distance, we barely sat in the car when the rain began to fall and
the thunderstorms really started going.
In the driving rain we reached the hotel and had to sit it out for the rain to stop.
The perfect weather for spotting the elusive fire salamanders where it not for the lightning.

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Well, the rains did not bring the fire salamanders out, instead this toad came creeping along the road.
We made it relatively dry from the parking lot to the hotel where people where still sitting on the sheltered terrace
having their drinks.
Just as we sat in our room I jokingly remarked that someone was taking pictures with flash when suddenly
a loud bang followed and the windows started to shake – direct hit near the hotel.
Those guys outside surely … their pants 🙂

Day 4 August 7th. 2013

On day number four we headed once again to the river upstream from the reservoir.
During the night it had rained a lot so in order to fish clear water the section below the reservoir would have been the logical choice.
Then again the murky water in the shallow waters of the upper stream made it easier to approach the fish there.

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The water was murky but not really a hindrance as both trout and roach had no trouble in
located the nymphs I fished.

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While I probed the upstream section from the parking lot my buddy headed downstream.
One part of the stream boasted a large stone wall and an old derelict building where I hoped to spot
those elusive salamanders – that remained elusive 🙂

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I pretty much had a ball fishing with my buzzer type nymphs that where originally intended for the
local stream.
When I finished with fishing the upstream section I slowly moved downstream towards the reservoir
catching all kinds of fish along the way.
I even managed to catch my goal nr. 3 of the trip, the grayling.

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Day 5 August 8th. 2013

Day five would bring another visit to the river above the reservoir.
Although it had rained in the night the river had cleared up quite a lot so fishing started to be
difficult again.
I still caught some fish but it was tough going, this time I would fish the lower section while my
buddy would fish upstream.

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I did not travel all the way to the reservoir as there where plenty of good spots to fish before that point.
Fishing was slow but I still got fish on the nymphs.

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Streamer fishing had been quite fruitless but in one of the deep slow moving pools I had to try.
My buddy had once mentioned a method how you could catch those tail biting trout.
The procedure was to tie a nymph on a short piece of tippet behind the streamer.
I guess the philosophy was that the trout would strike the streamer maybe out of aggression rather
than see it as pray, the trailing nymph would then present a target that the trout would accept.
Well I tried it once and actually to my disbelieve it worked.

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For the remainder of the day it was back to the nymph setup though…

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At the end of the day we could view back on another fine session on the river.
It was the right decision to fish the upper section when all the rains had fallen.
As we headed towards the Italian restaurant at the end of the day the skies coloured golden,
a suitable setting for such a golden day.

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Day 6 August 9th. 2013

In the morning of day number five my buddy wanted to fish the river where it left the reservoir.
Not my kind of place as access was too easy and thus too crowded.
When we parked the car at the nearest car park it was empty, we where the first fisherman.

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My friend would fish downstream, I opted for the upstream section.
It had rained in the evening but the water was clear, it was also rather chilly and windy which
had an impact on the insects moving around – almost none ….

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I still found some surface feeding fish, my supply of the good sedge patterns was however dwindling fast
as the trout tore them to shreds.
A large klinkhamer did yield a fish but it just was not to the trout’s liking.

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I caught a few fish but action was really slow.
Finally I made it up to a spot where a small weir used to divert water to a mill channel.
The whole installation had been derelict since ages but the weir was still in place.
Above that weir the river was first wide and shallow and then very narrow and also very deep.
In fact so deep that you would be submerged easily.
I noticed quite a few trout in the shallow section with some good ones amongst them but
they also spotted me and quickly fled to safer place.

In the deep water under the road bridge fish where rising very sporadic, I just tried to get one of them
and then would head back to the parking lot as my buddy had already indicated that he wanted
to fish another spot later that day.

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When I came back to the parking lot two other cars where present.
My buddy was not at the car park at the designated time so I went looking for him.
I met him halfway, the competition in the downstream section had been strong, three other anglers
had joint him not that long after we arrived.
Fishing had not been that swell although he had caught his fair share of fish.

In the afternoon we would fish the hatchery again and since the forestry house was the nearest restaurant we
decided to eat there instead of the Italian place down in the valley.

Before we started fishing near the hatchery I borrowed some of the heavy nymphs that my buddy ties.
His favourite pattern was a so called Ritz-D nymph, his son also a flyfisherman used that pattern almost exclusively.
It was heavy and it came in handy fishing the deep pools near the hatchery.

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I struggled to get fish during the afternoon section, somehow I just could not get into sync with the fish.
Still I hauled in some fish, even a rather suspiciously marked small rainbow trout that supported the
theory of the local angler who told me rainbow trout where reproducing in the river.

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At one of the deeper pools I tried fishing a streamer but the trout where only chasing the fly.
After a while they where not even interested anymore.
One of the local fisherman had already told me that streamers worked best early season,
late in the season the fish had seen it all and where more difficult to catch.

Even at the hatchery location signs of the mining past where visible, most notable was the old
aqueduct that used to lead water from the mountain to a former sawmill.
Nowadays the water was diverted to the trout hatchery.
Every time I walked under that structure I always thought to myself that it could be coming down
on my head – one of these days this structure will fail as it is not maintained.

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Day 7 August 10th. 2013

As day 7 was a travelling day time was an issue and so was where to dine.
My preference was to dine late in the day at the Italian place, the drawback was that the place opened
late.
Option two was to visit the forestry house again but in the end I convinced my buddy to go for the Italian
place and it was on the route home.

The more difficult question was where to fish.
Now during this past week we constantly had crossed an s-curve with two bridges where my buddy
mentioned every time “I have never fished here”.
I had and did not think that much of the place as it drew in crowds but when he wanted to fish there
so be it.
Just as we had parked the car and geared up other flyfisherman arrived, three of them in one car.
One asked the rather rhetorical question “are you going to fish here?”.
I just mentioned, yes – I will head downstream – my buddy upstream.

They left – not particularly happy – well it was weekend and according to the traffic I witnessed on the
road it would be a busy one.
I found a path downstream and went along for a mile or so and would then fish upstream.
Before I left the car park however I asked my buddy to hand over two of his fine caddies flies he had
tied as mine where torn completely to shreds by the trout.

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The river in front of me was wide and shallow so I opted to fish the sedge even though I did not
see rising fish.
Tossing the fly over the patches of ranunculus however caused many trout to rise and grab the dry fly.

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Most of the trout where the little local brownies but I did came across on of the stockies.
According to the locals these fish often only lasted one season as they could not adjust to river life.

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Although the part of the river I fished was pretty the well marked paths along the banks showed that
this part was frequented a lot by fisherman.
I came across some deeper sections that surely would hold fish but unfortunately my lack of preparation
ahead of this trip came to bite me now.
To fish those deeper and fast flowing sections effectively you had to use heavy nymphs – I had none of
those in my fly box.

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When I finally arrived near the car park at the bridge my supply of good flies was gone.
All my good sedges where totalled, the ones given by my buddy where either lost in the trees or
started unravelling from the trout bites – a sign to stop.
Well actually it was the fact that I came across five fisherman walking in single file that convinced me
to call it a day, to much people in my book.

So I was early at the car park and ran into one of the locals that I had spoken to earlier that week.
I had a nice chat and could tell him that I had actually caught a juvenile rainbow trout near the location
where he had seen spawning rainbow trout in spring.
My buddy followed soon and was complaining about the crowds, he had however caught quite a few
fish despite the onslaught of weekend warriors.

As we where early I coaxed my rather reluctant friend into visiting one of the local tourist magnets.
There was a restaurant at a nearby point where you had a scenic view over the surrounding area.
At that spot the river left the mountains and flowed in to the plains below.
Off course the place was a tourist trap but the views where stunning.

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All that rested us was to visit our beloved Italian restaurant where finished off these wonderful days
with a good meal.
So this was a week of the good life, we surely will repeat this next year.

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