Eastern Europe contains rivers and lakes framed by mountain ranges, forests and an abundance of wildlife – from Russia’s Two Yurt River through to the mountain streams of Bulgaria. To help we’ve cast our way through some of our favourite destinations for fly fishing and detailed them below.
Russia - The Kamchatka Peninsula
You’ll find the Kamchatka Peninsula on the far East of Russia’s coastline stabbing outwards from Siberia and into the Bering Sea. Some 12,000 rivers and lakes criss-cross through the wilderness - some shrouded by vast flora, while others sit in the shadow of volcanoes (the UNESCO listed Kamchatka volcanoes no less). The lands here have barely been touched by man; natural canyons fall deep into rich blue rivers and creeks and the waters hold trout, salmon and char. As you might imagine it’s certainly not an easy place to reach. Once in Russia, you’ll need to begin from Petropavlovsk and then access the peninsula by helicopter. From there it’s back to basics either riding horseback or taking jet boats through the rivers. Trips to this part of the world are rustic and exceptionally wild but you’ll be rewarded with exemplary fishing in a setting that few people have ever seen.
Fishing destinations such as the Medved River with its stunning mountainous and volcanic backdrop and the endlessly scenic Two Yurt River are some of the most popular in this part of Russia. Although you’ll rarely see other groups and will generally always have free run of the waters. It’s an incredible experience. While in the region be sure to take a look at the Koryaksky volcano and if you’re interested in land bound animals - you could do worse than pay a visit to the Kronotsky Nature Preserve which is home to brown bears, tundra wolfs, arctic foxes and Siberian Lynxes.
Poland - San River
The River San traverses the border between Poland and Ukraine for some 50 miles before breaking off into Poland proper for another 200+ miles where it’s met by the Bieszczady mountains. The river is a perfect fly fishing destination; beautiful and endlessly wild. It is tried and tested and has played host to both the World Fly Fishing Championships and the European Fly Fishing Championships. The most popular part of the river lies between the Zwierzyń Dam and where the San meets the Osława River, which many claim is one of the best fly fishing sites in Europe. Several sections of the river are protected, allowing only a limited number of fishers at certain times and there is a strict catch and release policy.
The San is outstanding for trout fishing although the river has become popular for grayling too. Out of the water the wildlife is no less impressive with wild beavers, brown bears and wolves and even Bison roaming freely across the mountains and woodland.
Bulgaria - Chalk Streams & Mountain Lakes
Bulgaria has much to offer fly fishermen - from small, but fishable streams, through to high mountain rivers and wild lakes. But the highlight for many is the chalk streams. There aren’t many unfortunately but those few are amongst the most beautiful rivers in the world. Most notable are Zlatna Panega and Iskretzka. The Panega is the biggest and most accessible of the two due to its proximity to Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, and the amount of fauna on offer. It’s exceptionally popular amongst Bulgaria's fishing community and is home to brown trout, rainbow trout, chub, mountain barbel and perch.
One of our favourite mountain lakes in Bulgaria is the Smradlivoto in the Rila mountain range, which incidentally is also the largest alpine lake in the Balkan Peninsula. The lake is a part of the greater Natural Park known as Rila Monastery which is a pleasure to explore whether for fishing or sight seeing. Other lakes close by include The Seven Rila Lakes and Ribni both of which are stunning and sit between 2,445m and 1,892m above sea level. The waters here are extraordinarily clear with visibility often stretching to the very bed of the lake so prepare yourself for a challenge.
Slovenia - The Soča
Slovenia’s Soča is beautiful. The waters are a magical hue of emerald for their entire length and it’s one of the only rivers in the world to maintain such a colour for such a distance. The river begins its journey alongside the peaks of the Julian Alps and makes its way through towns such as Bovec and Tolmin before entering the Adriatic Sea close to Monfalcone, Italy. In the crystal clear water a colourful array of marble trout (the record catch is 20KG), Soca grayling, and brown, brook and rainbow trout. The river is rustic and runs through forested banks and below lush hillsides with a diverse wildlife system of butterflies and birds, and thousands of wild flowers.
Nestled between Austria and Italy Slovenia is one of the easiest places on the list to reach. If you feel like seeing more then we suggest you pay a visit to Bled, which has a stunning collection of mountain peaks and beautiful emerald green Alpine lake that has a fairytale like white church sitting on an islet right in the middle of it. It’s not as good as Soča when it comes to fly fishing but there are catfish, pike, carp and lake trout in the lake, as well as trout and grayling in the nearby Sava Bohinjka river.