I live in the Lake District of England.
I am a qualified casting instructor with the Game Angling Instructors Association and have fished my entire life. In February, my husband and I went to the British Fly Fair in England and met a Czech fishing guide named Petre Axamit, who showed a film of the fabulous fishing for wild trout and grayling in the mountainous region of the Czech Republic. He appeared very honest and spoke excellent English, so we asked him for the best time of year to visit his country and hastily made arrangements to fly out and fish with him for a week.
Our guide had an amazing sense of humour and one day, because I hadn’t caught a fish all day and it was almost 6pm, he made me wear my cap back to front until I did.
We booked flights to Prague for June and eagerly wished the weeks away until our trip. Prague, by the way, is a very popular destination for stag and hen weekends, so we were lucky to get a flight out. We already had 9’, 4wt rods, reels and lines, so not a lot of extra kit to buy; we replenished the fly boxes, packed our hip bags with sundries and dusted off the chest waders and boots.
We were off, but not to a good start. The plane was delayed leaving Manchester and by the time we arrived in Prague, it was very late evening. Petre picked us up and drove us on the very twisty, mountainous roads for a couple of hours … in fact I don’t think we met a vehicle or saw another person on the journey: not exactly a welcome party. We eventually arrived in Vrchlabi and unpacked the car. We were shown to our accommodation, which was a spotless B & B in the village and we slept very well, dreaming of what we hoped the trip would bring; trout and grayling grabbing our flies.
Our morning briefing was brilliant. Petre showed us a map of the region and the rivers we would be fishing, gave us caps to wear and introduced us to Czech hospitality with a glass of Chuckleberry wine.
The first place Petre took us was below a weir, and I knew he had taken us there to check out our casting. We caught a few trout here and, by then, our guide was satisfied we weren’t going to scare every trout in the river, so he took us to fish the river properly.
We were shown to our accommodation, which was a spotless B & B in the village and we slept very well, dreaming of what we hoped the trip would bring; trout and grayling grabbing our flies.
Even though it was June, it was cool, and when we moved to rivers higher up in the mountains, thermals were necessary. The scenery was wonderful. Despite being very low, the rivers were powerful and we did not wade too deep. Although we didn’t see trout rising, when we presented a dry fly in the runs, the hungry trout snaffled the fly straight away. There didn’t appear to be a big hatch, but a black Klinkhammer or a small sedge, carefully cast with an aerial mend to slow it down, proved difficult to resist.
We fished the Labe, Jizera and Upa rivers and they were all different. We fished hard the whole week and had an amazing time. The evenings we spent dining at a local restaurant, with high quality food which was very cheap compared to England, replacing the energy we had lost during the day. Most of the rivers were very difficult to access; we found ourselves scrambling over boulders the size of a family car, slithering down the scree banks on our bottoms to reach the river or wishing we had knowledge of mountain climbing to get to the pools. Once by the water we relaxed. It was so peaceful that you forgot how difficult it would be to get back to dry land.
I wouldn’t say the fish were large … the biggest would be 1.5 lbs and what we caught we had to work for, but it was so enjoyable. We never saw another angler, smelling the pine trees, hearing the river rushing past and thinking that maybe on the next cast a trout or grayling will take my fly was truly amazing.
we found ourselves scrambling over boulders the size of a family car ...
Petre was very patient and fascinated by some of our very tiny olive and black Klinkhammers, tied on a size 28 hook. The grayling loved them and we caught many. He taught us how to ‘Czech nymph’ correctly, (it was invented in his country), and he was also willing to learn some of the casts we use when river fishing, which he had never seen before. My husband and I are both qualified casting instructors in England, so teaching him to do left shoulder casting, single speys and tension casts was easy and he soon picked them up and we knew he would add them to his skill set.
Our guide had an amazing sense of humour and one day, because I hadn’t caught a fish all day and it was almost 6pm, he made me wear my cap back to front until I did. I became more determined than ever not to look so silly and eventually landed a trout in the white water under the weir.
Petre drove us to fishing every day in his red Skoda and his driving got more scary by the day as we ventured further in to the mountains. He was so used to the twists and turns and hairpin bends in the road that he took them at speed. It was definitely a white-knuckle ride going to and from the river, so I am pleased it was relaxing once we were there.
I would most definitely go back to the Czech Republic. It is within easy reach of the UK and is all wild fishing. There are absolutely no stocked fish and they are hungry and ready to grab a well-presented fly. A guide is essential and I would recommend Petre.