River Kleine Drau (Austria)
I had visited the Kleine Drau just a couple of months earlier when I met a dear fly fishing friend, who told he knew the Kleine Drau too and he had fish it a few years ago. As we started telling about our reciprocal impressions and stories, we realized that the details of our stories were not matching..
.. the descriptions of the places in our respective memories were completely different. It is true that the points of view may differ, perhaps we had visited different sections of the river? I was telling of a chalkstream while my friend claimed that "his" Kleine Drau was an alpine freestone stream ..
Well, they really were two different water courses, both carrying the same name and not too distant from one another either! Both streams are well populated with trout and grayling and perfectly suitable for fly fishing but with totally different hydrographic characteristics.
The kleine (=little) Drau in the south of Carinthia has all the characteristics of a "pure breed" chalkstream. The little Drau flows parallel to the orographic left bank of the (big) Drau. Here the report of the six kilometer stretch between Goritschach and Kohldorf.
This is a stream that has constant water levels throughout the year and the big advantage of staying clear even when the nearby rivers are high and muddy from the rain.
The little Drau can give enormous satisfaction but, in the wrong day, one can blank very badly too. The grayling that can here reach considerable sizes (with specimens upto 60 cm.), it is also populated with nice browntrout and a lots of beautiful rainbow, this latter often in extra-large format.
The little Drau therefore has many positive sides (steady clear water and levels, large fish), but it is certainly not an easy river to fish. It is also for this reason that it can be a very stimulating place for the expert fly angler looking for challenges..
There is a thick vegetation along the banks and the wading in the water is not always possible. In some places the river is 3 meters deep and with all the waterweeds it is not easy to evaluate whether a step in the water will touch the bottom, thus be very careful.
Because of the thick vegetation, to properly cast is often a real challenge. All the best of the casting catalogue is here called to a hard test. The roll cast is often the only one possible. Side and reverse casts may come here very useful too.
Although the water may seem to run smooth and uniform, in fact, to find two molecules travelling in the same direction is almost impossible and the dragging is often unavoidable. Practically a perfect gym for those who want to become complete fly fishermen.
But mastering the cast is not enough. A half-shadow projected by mistake onto the water or an attempt at wading producing minimal ripples, can alarm a fish that raises meters away. The little Drau is the "torment and the ecstasy", capable of bringing out the artist that is concealed in the fly angler.
A place really at the level of the challenge. Not a easy place but a place that requires perseverance, ability and - last but not least - the right fly but that can return extremely large fish: a little paradise. Do not forget that between May and June there are large hatches of the real Mayfly (E.Danica) here!
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