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The Life Aquatic: Eastern Europe Edition

by Dave Karczynski
photos by Arek Kubale

Trailblazing

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Quite possibly the first and last Helios Deuce to ever board Wroclaw’s public transit system. Heading off for some evening rough fishing after a day of sight seeing.

 

Burn No Bridges

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This wooden footbridge over the River Bobr somehow survived WWII, though the riverbed still remembers the violence with its shoals of sharded pottery.  Cross it at your own risk (literally: the bridge is closed to all traffic) to ply the Bobr’s clear waters for brown trout and grayling.

 

Two in the Bush  

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The Bialka flows north from the Slovakian mountains into the Polish foothills.  After a day on the river relax with smoked sheep’s cheese and Slivovitza, an eye-crossingly strong plum brandy.  Here, guide Wojtek Kudlach unhooks a healthy specimen.

 

White Water Camo 

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The trout of the Bialka wear the colors of the rocks–polished white by current, flecked in black.  A blazing fast river, catching these fish is a matter of dragging nymph rigs off rocky ledges and hoping they’ve got enough tungsten to find the bucket.

 

Walk Softly and Carry a Long Stick

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The Izera, which straddles the Polish-Czech border for miles before falling west down the mountains toward Prague, runs the color of burnt sugar but chills like glacial melt.  As you make your way upriver fish dart from rock to rock, crevice to crevice, flashing between your boots.  But creep up behind a boulder and dapple your fly in that tiny slack pocket and you’ll see they were ready to eat yesterday.

 

Passing the Time

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In a land without smallmouth or carp, what’s a guy to do during the heat of the day?  Throw fat foam at klen and asp, that’s what.  While neither run as big as carp, they eat up top and wear permanent scowls.  Mean customers through and through.

 

Better to Have Loved and Lost

A_IMG_3253_midThe bridge over the River Bobr in front of Igor Glinda’s sawmill-cum-fly lodge, below which the biggest fish in the system line up to nymph each morning.  Lean over ever so slowly and you just might see one.  Mark him with your inner GPS, grab your waders, and see if you can’t get him to eat.  The author spotted his biggest fish in two years, got him to eat, but couldn’t keep him pinned.

 

Into the Mystic

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“Pole” is the Polish word for “field.”  Where the smoky mountains end, the golden rye begins.

 

Recoup Your Losses

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Fishing high mountain water all day is tiring.  Few things comfort the weary as well as a few kilos of juicy kielbasa hissing over a campfire.

 

The Holy Grayl…ing

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Every river system produces a different coloration of grayling.  Specimens from the San look like they’ve been painted with molten nacre from the inside of an oyster.  What they lack in spookiness–you can get close enough to make eye contact without interrupting their feeding–they make up for in selectivity.  I worked one individual fish for an hour, cycling through every size 20 emerger in my box, before walking away with a sore back and a big dent in my 7x.

 

Mnemonic Devices 

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Enjoying a Polish pre-lunch snack of setka and pickles while jotting down yesterday’s goings-on.

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Dave Karczynski's writing and photography has appeared in The Flyfish Journal, Fly Rod & Reel, The Drake, Fly Fusion and others. A Robert Traver Award winner, he lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he teaches writing and photography at the University of Michigan. He can be reached at dekarczynski@gmail.com.
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  • Fred Rickson

    As noted in the introduction, no bobbers allowed in Poland. Well, that should eliminate about 95% of American fisherpersons.

    • Rob Mellors

      Quite so. A good nymph fisherman doesn’t need a plastic bobber to tell him or her when to strike. I’ll just about accept yarn, as that could easily be akin to a dry fly.

  • Norm Zeigler

    Excellent piece. Brings back memories of fishing in the High Tatra a number of years ago.

  • Rich Kula

    Great photos and commentary. It’s fun to follow your adventures.

  • @flyfishingjeffc

    Loved reading the captions…along with the story they tell of an awesome adventure!

  • Yuri Hudz

    I’ve been waiting for this :). Good stuff! Great pictures by Arek! Was fun meeting you on the water.

  • Douglas J. Rhodes

    Really enjoyed the article, photos & you sharing your adventure with us online.

  • Rob Mellors

    Great shots. The Poles and Czechs are great casters and flyfishermen. I found your comments about no external weight and no-indicators very interesting! Whilst flyfishing continues to innovate there are some long held traditions that are ingrained and valuable. Having just fished the South Platte, Colorado I’ll just about use a yarn indicator (after all they could be likened to a dry fly), but I think my European background draws the line at plastic bobbers! I accept, to each their own!

  • Matthew Supinski

    olsniewajacy!!!!!

  • Jonathan Tomlinson

    Last Helios Deuce?! I think not.