Part II.: Black viper

The day after my trip to Sumava mountains I went to the shop of Hanak brothers in Ceske Budejovice. And I was lucky this time. Joseph offered me a small black Redington reel with the poetic name “Red Fly”. This was the one which I wanted. That evening at home I wound on a light green floating Sage line, size 2 and I modified the extension as well. Now I was ready and I wanted to go to try my new reel on the Warm Vltava river.

Next day was Friday, 1st October and I went for a 3 days trip to Sumava Mountains. In Stogrova Hut, I stopped just for a minute to open shutters and windows and I continued to Soumarsky Bridge and to Dobra. It was beautiful weather, a real Indian summer, no cloud in the sky. I was so excited that I failed to not notice that I was coming close to the pub. Right behind the corner, the dog – policeman, was already waiting and hit my mudguard with his paw. Oh my god, I got scared! Luckily I did not run over him and I could continue in my way.

At the transformer there was a car parked and that’s why I headed to the train station in Dobra, about 3 km far from the village. It was half past two when I started to put my high wading trousers on. Almost summer weather was promised in the evening I should not get cold, so I put just a light sweater on and fly fishing jacket. For the last time I checked all fishing instruments, lines and flies and I was ready to go. It was important to do so because there was a good walk on the railway to get to the river and if I forgot anything important I would loose an hour or more.

Above the station stands a nice house, reconstructed during last five years, it has a nice view. On the other hand, when I saw the big fishing regions map close to Dobra railway station, I got angry. The poster had two bad hits by a stone which somebody threw from the railway hill. The unknown vandal did it in a similar way, as his colleagues at Lenora railway crossing or at the bridge over the Vltava river below Zaton. We were so happy to get those maps and built up posters and now they are just a shame. I walked stumbling on the railway and listened carefully for the train, It is not coming. I would not like to see my name in the newspapers as a victim the next day.

Today I was lucky because the two wagons train came when I was in the grass fields at the Vltava river below the bridge. In the meantime the sky got covered by high gray clouds, Duns appeared above the water surface and grayling started to raise. I stopped on the first suitable place and tested my flies. Even today, fish do not show any interest in the olives, but reacts well on petite light gray flies. I know the place on the short border between two pools and I know here I can expect a very nice grayling.

The water was low and clear and I saw grayling below my fly. He took it quickly and went down to the bottom. My rod started its work and its top moderated attacks of the fish, which tried to keep at the bottom, and did not want to release it. I expected some jump or spiral, but it was just stubborn pulling right to the end. It was a really nice fish with extraordinary high body which prevented him from the famous fish gymnastics. I watched him carefully, if he is not a humpback one but it was just a short violet grayling.

I deceived a couple more fish and than I went up the stream to another pool. I got a couple of 40 cm long fish there in passed years. Once I saw three of those fish, one I got with dry fly and released him. That time I told it to one man and he got them next time on nymph and he brought them to show me - in the plastic bag, scraped off and cleaned. I do not have anything against people fishing on nymphs but when I have a chance to go fishing on the Warm Vltava in October, I really want to enjoy the dry fly and nymphs I use only sporadically.

I went through the familiar pool, and at about half of it, close to right bank I saw one fish raising and it was a dace. Another circle was made by two year grayling. No bigger fish? Olives were few and on the surface, not many circles. I crossed the pool to the left river bank and watch rising fish. There were really just a couple, but I succeeded in catching them all, except one. That one wasa very careful grayling and even a size eight line and May fly of 22 size did not help. I went back a little bit and suddenly I saw a rearly big circle. Such a big circle can only be caused by a big grayling.

At the place where I crossed the river a minute ago the fish were raising and did not even dive to the bottom. I did not waste time, pulled sufficient amount of the line from the reel and threw a petite gray upwinged fly in the fish direction. I was not able to see the fly because of the big distance so I hooked on the circle on the water surface and it was there! Line screeched in the loops, the fish started to swim against the water stream and jumped above the water surface. I held my breath – it was a 40 cm, big fish and again from the same place.

Hook with a small barb was sitting perfectly and I just played with the fish on the 2 size rod. A coupleof times I allowed the fish to attack but after that I shortened the distance between me and him. It was a female fish, rather slim and was something over 41 cm. I measured her, but this year the grayling areprotected in our country, and I release all female graylings for more than 15 years, and I do not kill male fish unless they are at least 5 years old. Otters and cormorants do enough damage to them, though luckily they are not living there, because Vltava river above the Lipno Lake gets frozen in winter and those black devils do not like it.

Some people would ask – why you go fishing if you release everything you catch? But how you can kill a grayling which is colorful like a bunch of flowers? And how can you kill a grayling when we have such rods today, which allow us to use 2 mm fly and line only 8/100 mm thin? Flies and nymphs look very real today and we should respect this big advantage of the technology, working for the fisherman, and we should find the power inside us to release the fish. And not to make excuses that some other fisherman will kill the fish anyway. And when we behave like this we will have the right to catch really nice fish.

I am walking against the water stream again and casting to circles but all are caused by middle or small sizes grayling, one to four years old. They are not big but there are very many of them and this is promising. In the small right turn I got to the place where my pool used to be, in which I caught a nice grayling and made a nice picture of him. Today it is a shallow plain with the deeper groove close to the river bank. There are many small grayling there and sometimes some lonely brown trout. Fishing is very nice here, no big fish. I really miss my old pool, but it does not look like the river would intend to renew the old order.

Behind the curve appeared a barge boat with a man rowing. I took out my camera and pushed the button. I had not see it before and I was curious who it could be. I was thinking how to explain to him that he should respect the prohibition to row on Vltava river if the water is low. At the same time, I was afraid of his reaction. Usually such a man knows very well what he is doing and I could expect anything from him. The boat was about 25 meters from me and I was wondering why the man is sitting on the opposite side, face with the stream. I saw also that there were some cranes on the boat. And finally I recognized the fishery manager of Volary – Mr. Votava. He was planting six month old grayling there. He is also crazy about fishing, so we had a nice chat, and then he continued with his special load further to Vltava 33 which starts below the railway bridge.

The pool above the plain is empty today and that’s why I slowly go back and I am wading in the bridge’s direction. From time to time I caught some grayling, but it looked like fishing was over for today. Around half past five a circle on the water surface appeared and grayling finally took my first olive. In the same place where I caught the grayling with the big belly this afternoon, another fish rose. I sent her the Olive without a body and the fish took it and a nice tug followed.

The gayling starts to swim with the stream and is beating the cast with his tail. This is a sign that it will be a male over 40 cm. The rod is curved and the shaking fish is smacking the leader by the tail, and was trying to take the gentle barbless hook out of his mouth. And after couple seconds of fight he was free again! My mistake! I should follow him with the stream and make his first onset more gentle. But I did not want to disturb the water too much, and I was thinking about possible other fish there. My decision was wrong this time and no other bigger fish appeared. Next time I will remember that better sparrow in the hand than a pigeon on the roof.

Saturday morning I spent on the cottage repairing the fence and I wanted to go fishing around half past one to come right for rise. There was clear and sunny and warm weather and it does not look like a real “fishing day”. I was thinking about going maybe to the woods above the Soumarsky bridge because in the meadows there was too much sunshine. Nailing the wooden bars to the fence I saw one cloud appearing behind the Zlebsky mountain, and half an hour later there were many white and gray clouds, coming. My plan is changing and I am already thinking about the nice grayling below the Dobra bridge where I was not successful last time. Driving around the pub, I slow down but even my slow 30km/hour speed is not good enough for the dog and he is barking. Not attacking though because I slowed down to 20.

The place at the transformer is free and the decision about the place for fishing today is made. I put my fishing cloths on and walked on the old stony path to the river. About 50 m from the car I saw a piece of black cable. Who left it there? I wanted to take it out of the way. Two meters from the cable I stopped and I was watching it more carefully because the shape and diameter seemed to be strange. Where the hell had it come from? It was not a cable! This was a black viper! The snake was lying like dead in the grass but better not believe him. I was pulling out my camera and took some pictures. Then I was irritating the snake, with the top of the fishing rod (from the safe distance, of course). No, the snake was not dead at all. He was pulling his head up, standing in fighting position and slithering in my direction. And me, though all protected by rubber cloth, I was escaping, not being brave enough. Strange year! On 2nd of October vipers still outside!

I was entering the river about two hundred meters above the bridge and I put nymphs on because it was relatively peace around. It was half past one and I was waiting for the first grayling circles which should appear soon. Instead of this the wind started to blow and rain shower was coming. Grayling were not interested in my nymphs at all today, not in the shallow streams, neither in the deep pool above the bridge. Quarter to three rain started and I saw the first circle close the left river bank. It was a grayling about 33 cm and he took one of my nymphs. I was trying for the while at the bottom but my flies were hanging high on the alder tree. I took it as an order from above to change the rod for dry flies.

In the meantime the rain was over and also the wind became more pleasant. Just that the number of raising fish was very, very low. Finally one thirty cm size fish took my grey upwinged fly, after he did not react on my olive at all. Why do grayling ignore those flies, which we have the best experience with? It is true that there were times when almost carpets of olives were laying on the water surface, and today they are not so many? Would it be possible that the reason, for it was that, the river was contaminated by the dirt coming from fields in neighborhood? On the other side, it seems that more various upwinged flies species appeared and those are a real delicacy for grayling.

Fishing today was not really good. I persuaded some middle sized grayling but after 4 p.m. raising stopped. Just close to the Jedlovy brook I caught about five middle sized grayling and some dace. For light olive size 20 this time. Finally I could touch the bigger fish standing in the pool below the bush close the left river bank but the fish was badly hooked, and escaped before I could see the size. It is after 5 p.m., I did not feel like continuing and I was coming back to the car. The viper hadleft the path.. Many people are riding mountain bikes there. Maybe the viper was the reason for my bad luck today.

I stop for dinner in “U Nemecka” pub, pretty empty today, this is not usual. I try to find out from the owner why his dog always attacks my car. Answer is that the dog is attacking every car going faster than 18 km per hour. Probably he has some radar and he recognizes it. Goulash is very good today and the chef was free-handed today. So much meat would be enough for three plates on other days and dumplings are so many that it is difficult to eat them. OK – at least something pays back for the bad fishing today…

Though next day was Sunday, I had to continue the work on the fence. Work was tiring, especially nailing half sitting. Sweaty and all excited for another fishing I fixed a quick lunch and started to get ready for the afternoon. I would like to try my luck somewhere between the two places where I was fishing before. At the pub in Dobra I slowed down to 15 km per hour and dog did not show up! See, how it works??? I drove through the village and stopped at the old wooden barn next to the cottage. Its owner is a sculptor and one of his statues welcome visitors at the gate with open arms.

I got myself ready at the car and walked over the meadow towards the Vltava river. It was about 1 km long walk. Meadows in Dobra look different now than years ago. The main feature in this season, are giant round packs of hay in plastic covers. When I saw them, for the first time, years ago in Germany and Austria, I would not believe that they would reach this little village. Dobra where 60 years ago lived about 1500 inhabitants and over 4000 head of cattle. Today it is just a village with cottages for recreation and people do not really live here. Somebody else takes care of those meadows, using governmental donations and this solves the problem.

After you come down the hill, the meadow ends and the hills with sedge starts. You have to walk very carefully because there could be depressions or even little islands of mountain blueberry. After 15 minutes you would get to the river, and now it is necessary to find a suitable way to enter the river, because Vltava river is regulated there with stones and walls.

Those regulative walls are from the end of the nineteenth century and now they look like a natural part of the river. At that, time everything was hand made and all the curves and meanders were kept. No straighten out and smoothen of the river like nowadays. When I think about the way the river was treated in Lenora below the camping place, I could cry. We should get lesson from unknown people which lived there ages ago.

With those thoughts I arrived at the river finally. It was warm weather with a calm breeze. Clouds were covering the sun from time to time. I arrived at the place where the river makes one of its dancing features and turns in 90 degrees, and on its river bank is a high spruce forest. At this place there used to be 3 robust and high spruces. Now, just the last one dry trunk is left there, laying down. About 100 meters below, the river behind the curve, falls down into a long pool, oriented to the East, which should be very good for the nice grayling living there.

I crossed to wade to the left river bank and I saw it. I replaced my fly with a dark grey 18 sized upwing fly and cast it into the stream ahead of me. A thirty one centimetre, big fish was rising and he was mine. At the left river bank a bigger fish was raising but did not react. The color of the fly should be OK, probably size would not be the right one. I looked into my box again and after a while I pulled out a 20 sized Iron Blue Dun with the little wing, cul de canard, and with parachute legs.

First try was not successful, so I tried to target better and to lay down the fly more exactly. Now the fly was floating somewhere above the fish. The grayling gracefully ate my bait. I took him successfully, and because the fly had a hook with a little barb, the chance to escape was small for the fish. It was a male about 35 cm and it showed me to be in the right place. Even in the calm water he did not see the size eight fly on the end of the extension and he sucked the fly down beautifully. During another quarter of hour I caught other 5 fish. And now the eternal question: down the stream or up the stream? Both answers would have their advantages and disadvantages. Finally I decided for the second version.

The little pool below the wad never gave me a big fish so I just walked through it. I got to a section, which is in the steady shadow of the forest, in autumn and where there is a deep hole, in which I saw a giant grayling last year. This is the place suitable more for nymphing. I walked fast, through the shallow and slow section where probably, nice grayling live but it is hard to see them raising. I went little bit further to the upper stretch where the river turned to the East again, and where the stream is bigger, and deeper on the right river bank. Before I got to this place, I succeeded in surpriseing some smaller and middle sized grayling which liked my petite Iron Blue Dunes.

Finally I got to the right place. It was necessary not to forget about the tree on the left river bank. I left many of my nice flies on it. In the lower part of the stream, some fish were raising. First was a big old dace. He took my upwinged fly and he opened and shut his mouth endlessly, diving and turning upside down slowly but no help. It is just a shame that he scared the other fish there and they quit raising for a while.

Suddenly I saw a bigger grayling circle in the stream, a little bit lower and I sent my petite Iron Blue Dun there. The grayling liked it probably, because he took it immediately and he got angry because something was pulling him out of water. He jumped up to see what’s going on and I found that this is a fish from violet 38 sized category. It did not take long and I had him close to my boots. I wanted to release him but I had to take him into hand. I hope he did not mind it too much, because he escaped quickly in his spot. Behind the grass at the river bank another fish took my fly and I thought I would get him soon. I trusted my fly so much but it was a bad estimate.

I lost about 20 minutes on it, I tried everything possible, Slavoj’s Svoboda wonder flies included, but no success. I had to admit that I cannot make this grayling today. I went further up the stream. There was another big fish raising and this fish took Slavoj’s “no body” fly. It was violet female of the same age as the male I took before. I stayed for a while and then I decided to go back. It was about half past four and I wanted to try again the smart grayling. Unfortunately he did not show up again. Though it was a really nice fishing afternoon…