The Slovenia Times

Who wants to go fishing?



Fishing is an eco-friendly sport for those who do not run out of patience every time they lose a fish or get tired of waiting for their catch. With so many rivers and streams in Slovenia there are numerous opportunities available to anglers to opt for sport fishing, angling or fly-fishing. Fishing is an excellent outdoor leisure activity for those seeking the peace and harmony of nature. The fast pace of modern lifestyles is forcing people to lose sight of their own heritage. It's little wonder therefore that more and more people are taking the time to indulge in the beauty that nature can offer. And in Slovenia there is a lot of it. On April 1st, the freshwater sport fishing season officially opened in Slovenia. This applies to nearly all species of fish except some rarer species such as Hucho Hucho L., which is only allowed to be caught during the wintertime and is regarded by all passionate anglers as the most highly prized trophy of all. Sport fishing has always been a popular sport across various strata of Slovenian society. During the latter stages of the communist era, most high-ranking political officials were perfectly equipped for hunting and angling as those sports were regarded as being prestigious recreational activities for 'the chosen ones'. While at the time you could hardly have called those activities sports there were a few enlightened individuals who did follow the practices widely accepted throughout Slovenia in 1990s. The situation has not changed drastically since then - but at least it has changed a little. Gradually younger generations of sport fishermen have started realizing the true meaning of fishing. It is not just about catching a huge specimen and boasting about it - it is also about taking time to relax, breathe in slowly and enjoy the natural pace of life. Some of the younger anglers have grasped the modern idea of sport fishing and are treating the freshwater creatures with respect, especially those whose numbers fell dramatically during the past century due to over-fishing. They carefully choose the right equipment and use hooks that do not to harm the fish so that they can be safely released back into their natural environment; their creed is the preservation of healthy subjects for future generations of anglers. Unfortunately some anglers still stick rigidly to the old-fashioned style of fishing and overlook the need to take care of the fish populations in the most sensitive areas. The Tolmin fishing community are facing serious problems concerning the decline in numbers of Soca trout, a uniquely Slovenian freshwater fish species which was once abundant in the river. This is in no small part due to the huge number of fishermen from abroad that target this endangered species. They are proud of the statistics that show that 3,144 fishing licences were issued last season - 95 per cent of those to foreign anglers; but they tend to overlook the appalling figures that present the very real deterioration of the Soca trout population. They have built a fish farm to help keep the population stable but some say it has not been of any real use due to the inability of the young fish to survive in the harsher natural conditions. The only solution would be to limit the number of fishing licences. But this is not easily done in an area that has to cope with countless natural catastrophes, has no industrial prospects and relies heavily on tourism. There may be another solution open to them: build another fish farm better equipped to breed fish able to face the perils of the beautiful but dangerous Soca River. According to the president of Tolmin Fishing Association, Lucijan Rejec, they can do it - just as they have done with so many other things in the past. The natives of the Soca valley are used to hard work - life has never been easy there. A top destination for fishermen Fishing trips are one of the fastest-growing sectors of the tourist industry in many European countries and anywhere else that still has clean waters. Slovenia is one such country - the emerald green Soca River, with its numerous streams, is a natural beauty that many fall in love with as soon as they set eyes on it. The region is struggling economically - yet it seems that local officials are deliberately overlooking the opportunities for expanding the tourist trade. Mass tourism is definitely not an option but fishing is not a mass sport either; on the contrary - it is an extremely individual sport that appeals to those looking for solitude not crowds. This is especially true of fly-fishing, being the jewel in the crown of sport fishing, it is a highly prestigious leisure activity requiring expensive equipment and consequently uniting people of higher socio-economic standing. Attracting these people back to the region would substantially contribute to the growth of the local economy and focus attention on the environmentally-friendly projects aimed at preserving the natural state of the landscape, particularly in those areas that have not yet been devastated. The pristine environment, peace, harmony and the natural ebb and flow of life are qualities that need to be taken care of - but they can also contribute to a higher standard of living for those working hard to preserve it. The FFF Slovenia At the end of May, zealous Slovenian fly-fishermen successfully hosted the 1st Slovenian Fly-Fishing Exhibition and the annual convention of the European Federation of Fly Fishers (FFF) in Tolmin. The program included various sightseeing tours of the Soca region and enabled the participants to fully comprehend the atmosphere that pervades the foreshore of this beautiful and most highly praised river in Slovenia. Instructors came from all over Europe and the Baltics - some bringing their families along with them, to make presentations and give lectures in fly casting as well as to test those trying to obtain the prestigious title of 'fly-casting instructor'. Many tried but only a few succeeded - two in fact - one gaining the title of 'basic instructor' and the other 'master instructor'. The distinction between both titles is obvious and so were the performances presented. May 30th was D-day. Several candidates from Denmark, Switzerland, Italy and Austria took the Basic and Master Examinations. The weather conditions were practically perfect and the 30-metre-long casting pool very well prepared, allowing the participants to present themselves in the best way possible. Eventually, all bar two failed to meet the strict fly casting standards. Some would say the performances were rather poor but this was not the case; fly casting is not just about skills and technique - the perfect performance is one composed of competent manners, precise throwing, elegant movements and the spirit that surrounds it. A true work of art - for those who admire and value it. A gala dinner was held on the same evening and numerous journalists attended the official function. Joze Ocvirk, of the Slovenian Freshwater Fishing Association (ZZRS), emphasized the significance of the event and announced the official founding of FFF Slovenia. Slovenia is now the only country in the region to have its own national fly fishing organization.


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