The Sava Bohinjka is a headwater of the Sava River in northwestern Slovenia at 41 kilometers’ (25 mi) in length, it is the shorter of the two headwaters that become the Sava River in Radovlijica, the other being the 45 km (28 mi)-long Sava Dolinka. The Trophy section of this river is only a five-minute car drive from Bled. We had visited Fauna Bled, this is the tackle shop on the main drag in Bled. The shop is good and you can get your tickets and some essentials but where it really scores is Matej Gartnar. A passionate angler with an encyclopedic knowledge of the fishing in Slovenia. His advice was spot on and was to prove invaluable for the last days fishing, but more on that later.
Graham had the foresight to book the Trophy section on both days of the weekend. This gave us exclusive access to about 2km of water. After yesterday’s combat fishing on the Soca, this would be a real boon. As well as the Trophy water we were also permitted to fish on the other beats of the Sava so plenty to go at. We had picked up a bit of breakfast from the local bakers and sat munching away on a bridge looking up and down the Sava. Below us holding station in the deep runs were some truly huge fish, sitting deep in the water and undisturbed by the four anglers drooling over the bridge. Three of us had fished this water a previous three times and we all knew that the weir can be a hot spot. I had already decided to have a go at the fish below the bridge. The trouble with this is access, the run is deep and wading out to where you can get a cast in is not an option. I had this run in my mind’s eye before leaving and that’s why I brought my #7 rod and an Airflo DI7-8 Competitor! I initially stuck on a snake with heavy tungsten dumbbell eyes and as the boys stood on the bridge spotting for me I was getting some interest nearly every cast. At one point they got really animated as they shouted that a huge fish was following only feet from my rod tip. I searched the water in front of me and sure enough an enormous pike sat stationary no longer paying the fly any attention. The boys moved off and I changed to an unweighted fly the effort of casting such a heavy fly too much. The fly I changed to was a pink snake, success was instant and the first fish was close to 3lb. There were lots of takes in fact nearly every cast I could see fish following the fly. Only a short time later another good fish in the 3-4lb bracket visited the net. I should mention at this point I was oblivious to the rule that you cannot fish flies over 5cm, who knew? Read the ticket dumb ass! I grew a little bored with the big rod and wandered down to see how the others were fairing.
The boys were all fishing very close together and Graham had told me that there was a pile of stocked fish at the weir. He also reported some nice Grayling in the fast run just below, Del was a little further down catching Grayling on dries in the fast current. Graham kindly offered to let me have a go at his run and I managed a small Grayling. I let the master back in and he showed me how it was done taking fish almost at will. The Grayling here is a stunning colour and fight like demons on light tackle in the fast flow. We had all managed a few fish and morale was high, it was time to explore further down the beat so off I tootled. You can pick up fish throughout the length of the beat but I wandered a good way down to what was about the middle I suppose. I spotted rising fish and switched to dry fly the ones nearest to me came quickly but before long I had pushed them into the deeper water. Still rising it became increasingly difficult to achieve a drag free drift. With a steady downstream breeze, it was becoming very frustrating. Del had dropped in below me and was still taking fish on the dries. In a fit of frustration, I decided to throw the snake at them. It did not take long for a very respectable looking fish to lock up and even though I was fishing a #7 the fight took some time. It was a beast and I was well pleased with it after the fish was carefully released it was time for a spot of lunch.
After lunch, we decided to move the car down to the bridge at the bottom of the beat. Surprisingly there was not another angler in sight below the trophy section. Graham and Graeme decided to fish below the bridge into the weir pool. Del and I fished the slower water above. From my position on the far bank, I could see Del playing what looked to be a good fish. I later found out it was indeed a cracker but had run Del ragged and the fish ended up bolting for cover and eventual freedom in some overhanging trees. Under the bridge, I could see the other lads hauling fish out like it was Rutland in April. I, on the other hand, had one fish in front of me and try as I may I could not tempt it to take a fly. I had started with a dry fly and tried the subtle to the ridiculous. I then tried the nymphs from tiny to huge and for all my efforts I think the fish might have glanced at one of my offerings but no more. Ah well, out smarted again by something with a brain the size of a pea! I had moved up onto the bridge in time to see Graeme playing what was obviously a big fish. The other Graham was on route to help him out. That’s when I witnessed the worst etiquette I have ever seen on a river anywhere. A group of anglers at least four with a guide marched straight up to the weir without a word and started fishing. Leaving the two Grahams no room for maneuver quite shocking and it made my blood boil. Luckily for us, we had the trophy section to ourselves and had already sussed out where we wanted to be for the evening rise. People talk about hatches and evening rises, I myself have very little experience of this as most of my fishing is done in the day. I was about to get an education!
We had all been fed and watered and gotten ourselves into position for the evening rise. It was exciting to watch the fish slowly at first start feeding on emergers. As much as I tried I could only get the odd nip to my humble offerings. Del and Graham were doing OK swinging wets another gap in my armory. Graeme and I were continually frustrated as the fish moved onto the dries. As the hatch progressed it was hard to take a breath without inhaling several spinners. As the hatch started to die of the river seemed to come alive with every fish in the stretch bubbling at the surface gorging themselves on the spent flies. I had managed to hook a couple but lost them after only seconds. So by the end of the rise, I had netted exactly zero, nada, nothing zip! I was more than a little annoyed with myself all the opportunity in the world and not so much as one fish to show for all my effort. I resolved to get in about Del and Graham to get it right the next night. We packed the car in the dark and headed back to the digs a quick night cap then of to bed to dream of rising troot.
The next morning, we were back on the trophy section for the morning, this time I found myself alone by the weir as the others decided to fish the water above. I know they were just stocked fish but I stayed on them taking out my frustration of the previous evening on the easy to catch fish. There was a mix of Grayling and Rainbow the Brown trout were only noticeable by their absence. After a couple of dozen fish, I moved on to look for better prospects. I was keen to improve my wet fly fishing and grabbed Del for a quick lesson. He explained how he set up and how to fish the flies across and down the key area that he kept repeating was do not strike! I duly threw my line across the river and mended up stream, I watched as the bow in the line arced round and then just at the end the line jerked away from me. I struck big style laughed out loud then jumped in the air. Of course, as I did so the river took the feet from under me and I was fully immersed in the river. The next thing I knew Del had grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and yanked me back to my feet. We were both laughing our heads off. It was the lesson I needed because after that I started to nail the Grayling on a partridge and orange. The technique was deadly and I built a steady total, with some of the fish there would be like a bubble where the flies were and a slow lift would usually produce a fish. I had a bumper morning. The boys were ready to see some more of the river and we decided to go to the top of the beat. It looked good and as we approached the water we thought we had spotted a huge fish in the water just at the drop off to some deeper water. But after Graham had made several casts to it it became apparent he was fishing to a large rock….lol. There were a few fish about though and the boys started to pick up the odd one here and there. I had moved onto some skinny water above them and was doing rather well with a small Mary nymph. The fish were not big but perfectly formed little wild Rainbows. I had fished up to a large dam and decided to go back and get the others. The weather had been kind but it was closing fast, Graham had decided to fish the dam and I followed him down with the camera. He was fishing a sinking line with a lure and after only a couple of casts his rod buckled over violently. The huge fish gave a shake of its head and the hook hold was lost. A couple of other anglers joined us on the dam wall and we were to find out later that they were from Wales. The sky had gotten very dark and I thought it best to get my camera back in the waterproof bag before the impending rain hit. I had just reached my day sack when the heavens opened and the rain came down in huge bulbous droplets. We were all wet through in an instant. Time for a beer and some food, so we were off back towards Bled for a bit of sustenance.
As if on cue as we finished our meal the skies cleared and it looked like we were going to get another cracking evening rise. Again the fish began to feed on the emergers I was ready with a wet fly, it worked a treat and I was soon getting plenty of action. This time it was the same kind of rise as the previous evening but the use of the wet fly made all the difference. I had some problems matching the hatch with the dries not having anything other than some Mayflies that would approximate the large spinners. Again Graham and Del had struck gold with a spent pattern that they were putting to devastating use. I was doing OK but I have a feeling I should have been doing better. Still, it was a great experience and a great way to finish off on the Sava.
It had been a great couple of days fishing but there had been no Brown trout caught by any of us. In years past I recall catching a real mix of Rainbow, Grayling, and Browns. Perhaps they are no longer stocking them? It may well be that stocking so many Rainbow trout that the Brown trout population has been pushed out of that part of the river. Still unsure what we were going to do with our last day and unsure what the weather had in store we would decide in the morning. The adventure continues………