H2O Magazine

Fishing in the Gail in Kötschach-Mauthen

We are leaving in 5 days and the preparations for the journey are already at their height. When I was a bit younger I could understand why I would get so “excited” every time I was going to a new place, but I find it quite strange that it is the same today…..nice emotions.

Coming to the Gail

The hotel advised me to take my family with me, as whoever was not going  fishing could relax. It is the first time I have combined profit and pleasure, let’s see. We wake up very early, it takes 5 hours to get there, the car is chock-a-block. As far as I am concerned, my big bag is full of waistcoats, complete with flies and other accessories, as well as waders and the rigid case with the rods, the rest includes suitcases and bags of all sizes which women must necessarily take with them. As we travel at night, we don’t find any traffic and after taking the direction towards Udine we head for Austria with destination Kötschach-Mauthen, which is just 14 km after the border and at a height of 700 m.

Only the last stretch of road is winding, but the arrival in the town immediately makes us feel welcomed. Our navigator tells us that we are just a few hundred metres away from the POST hotel  and I’ve just got into the small town when I cross a bridge: it’s the GAIL which flows underneath. My heart is beating very hard, the river is beautiful. When we reach the hotel we are spoilt and pampered. Besides offering us a welcome drink, the new Italian owners (they opened in April 2007), i.e. Stefano, Deborah and Emanuela, do the honours of the house in a very gentle way! They give my son (8 years old) a little present and my wife a bunch of very fresh flowers which makes her go into raptures. You can see how things will end by the way they begin and here, everything announced that it was going to be a marvellous holiday!!! But let’s tell it in order.

Hotel services for fishermans

The hotel is definitely lovely, comfortable and as warm as only a house can be. It was an old post office and since the post travelled by horse at that time, here changes were available and the “postman” could take refreshment and find a good bed. The building still has that domestic warmth and those old-style furnishings which are so fascinating. Our room is already available, therefore we immediately begin unpacking and realize that, in addition to the key to the room, we have another key which, we’ll discover  later, can open any building belonging to the hotel

, from the small house for the making of flies, equipped with everything – an intense light lamp, clamps, building material brought from the very well-supplied hotel shop -, till the little house situated on lake Grünsee, where you will find boats as well as grilling equipment, in a word a master-key opening all the doors of the hotel. In the garden you will find an equipped area where you can practise stretching the bucktail, so as to improve your casts, then there is an equipped area with tables and chairs to have a good drink, everything served by the hotel bar. In the parking area there is a room where we can leave our equipment to dry, whereas an air blast drier is available for the boots.

Now we have considered “our” part, but, not to be selfish, this place is a paradise for the family too. If you have any children, you will find a special room which is very well supplied with toys of all sorts waiting for them. Next to it there is a beautiful sitting room filled with board games. It would take a very long time to describe all the rest too and the desire for fishing is urging us to go.

Fishing in Gail

I take all I need out of my suitcases, but before that my dear Stefano provides me with the fishing license for me as well as for my car, to put on the dashboard,  besides a detailed map of all waters where we can fish. On the back of the map we also find the images representing some of the dry and sinking flies preferred by the local salmonids.

I head for the stretch downstream the river Gail, which was divided into four areas, and I find myself almost in town, but already immersed in the nature. The river is wonderful and its crystalline water allows me to already see  a considerable quantity of trout. In this stretch the river is about twenty metres wide, with depths from 30 cm to one metre. The current is fast and makes lots of whirls behind semi-submerged rocks where a careful eye can already see brown, rainbow trout and graylings. The average size is about 30 cm, but there are also bigger specimens.

In the upper part, and exactly in  area 4, where you can park, when you cross the bridge and have a look down, you can see different specimens of remarkable size. During my stay and the numerous catches two specimens were noteworthy: the first one was a terrific brown trout coming up from a layer of fine gravel in just a few centimetres of water to thread its way into a meander scar with a depth of about two metres; as for the second one, while I was getting near a grayling to take it off the hook, I saw a dark silhouette on the point of seizing the unlucky fish.

Rapid streams, drops, cliffs and falls are part of all other rivers, so that you can even fish roped together, oh yes, it is true. The hotel will provide you with a mountain guide and you can fish hanging from the rocks. As regards the equipment, a 8,6” rod with a # 5 bucktail is ok, then you can go down to a 7,5” with a # 3 bucktail on streams at a high altitude, which are much narrower and sometimes covered with branches

Back to the hotel

The end of the first day is coming but I am not yet weary of this magnificent nature surrounding me. I often stopped to observe squirrels coming towards me jumping from a rock to the next one, into the river, and dipping something as if they wanted to soften it, or some roe deer running after each other and disappearing beyond the wood.

In short, my day was full and now I begin to feel tired, but all my fatigue fades away when I come back to the hotel and find my family telling me how many things they had done during the day. I recover my strength with them in the Vital-Tempel and after massages, infusions, Turkish bath, sauna and much more, we go to table to taste delicious food together with the hotel “Boys“, who ask us how our day was, how we felt, if we needed anything else, as if they could give us something more than the gift of nature. They are very kind like all the inhabitants of the place. You can breathe nature, which is in symbiosis with people, and it is just this simplicity which makes us feel how great nature and people are.

Roberto Steiner

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