Recently I posted 4 parts about Fly Fishing the Swiss Alps guided by Firebelly on Facebook. Now here is the complete story with additional links and images.
A few weeks ago I found myself sitting in Innertkirchen, located close to Meiringen in Switzerland. What lead me to this small village was the alpine trip organised by Firebelly. Firebelly are 2 fly fishing lads who organise trips, various courses and in November the Orvis Fly Fishing Film Festival, which comes the very first time to Switzerland. This time, the aim was to experience fly fishing the Swiss Alps on a 2 days trip.Due to a early departure on Saturday, we met on Friday evening. The first night we slept at the Restaurant Urweider in Innertkirchen. Sascha Urweider, the cook, is an avid fly fisherman too and leases some waters we were going to fish.
When Oliver and Mark from Firebelly arrived, they instantly began fly tying while I was still correcting my bachelor thesis next to them. All of a sudden, 3 dudes, who I knew back from school, coincidentally walked by, close to the restaurant’s terrace. After having had a quick chat, they went to the train station. This serendipitous meeting reminded me of how small Switzerland is.
Shortly after the 2 other participants of the trip arrived. Peter is originally from Finland and Andrei from Rumania. Both are expats who work and live here in Switzerland. When I spoke to the former he told me about his camping experience back in Scandinavia and that for this trip he had plenty of space in his backpack for some luxury items.
While having a delicious burger for dinner at Restaurant Urweider, we talked about several fly fishing related topics and soon after, all of us went to bed relatively early. While lying in the comfortable double bed, I thought about the coming 2 days and I was eager to finally be fly fishing the Swiss Alps for my very first time.
The following day the five of us got up early in the morning and prepared for the departure to go fly fishing the Swiss Alps. We left Restaurant Urweider and headed by car to a valley. There, we started our hike, already surrounded by an impressive mountain ridge soaring into the blue sky. The morning sun rays gave the scenery a magical touch beyond words. However, this was only a foretaste of what we were going to experience.
We hiked the first 2 hours up and soon found ourselves beside a very promising looking river with large boulders and deep, blue pools. There, we split up in 2 groups so each one had plenty of space and began fly fishing this magnificent mountain stream. We fished Tenkara rods, which were supplied by Firebelly, as well as usual rods. The river was clear and after fishing dries, we switched to nymphs in a tandem rig. Neither resulted in success. So we kept moving until we reached a bridge where the hiking path crossed the river again. There, we took a break and ate our sandwiches which were made by Oliver.
After meeting the other part of our group, which also had no luck, we continued hiking – or should I rather say climbing partly to an alpine Lake? We always stayed on the hiking path, nevertheless the walk was quite strenuous and demanded a certain level of physical fitness, but what did I expect if the aim was fly fishing the Swiss Alps?
We reached our destination after a few more sweaty hours. There, we stood in front of a large mountain lake with its particular ice blue, murky colour from the water of a glacier. Across the inlet of a river, there was a massive mountain wall, which stood nearly vertically to the even sandbank. On the other side, there was a mountain with less elevation, but which was covered with lush green scrub and several creeks plunging down in hundreds of cascades. The rewarding view after the strenuous hike was breathtaking.
After using a water filter to refill our water supplies, we started fly fishing the lake. Long story short, neither dries, nymphs or streamers did the job. Nonetheless, the guides kept the spirits high with sweets. It was only a quarter hour before departure to the hut when I found a rising fish. Unfortunately I did not manage to convince him for visit.
We finally left the lake to hike the last part of the second day to the SAC (=Swiss Alpine Club) hut. There we enjoyed a savoury dinner and then went outside to gaze at the remaining sun rays with which the day began – 15 hours earlier and 1,400 meters altitude difference before. There, we drank some luxury items until the night fell.
In the middle of the night I woke up. The urgent need to take a leak convinced me to climb down from my bunk bed. Wearing only a sweater and my undies, I went outside into the cold air to the beloved long drop. When I stepped out of the SAC hut, my breath was caught. In awe, I stared upon the sky, which was filled with thousands and thousands of stars. Unbelievable. (Unfortunately it was too cold to make a timelapse – given my clothes)
At 6 AM, breakfast was served. Nothing fancy, but what really caught my eye was that they even offered Ovomaltine (a Swiss chocolate milk powder) up in the SAC hut. I have to admit that I am addicted to this brown powder. What a great start of an even more fantastic day which lay ahead!
Right on time, when the first sun rays were drawn upon the summits, we left the hut and hiked to another mountain creek. Shortly after we arrived at the small mountain creek, which still lay in the shade of the mountains. Everything seemed calm in the area and no one would expect a fish in this little water beside us. However, appearances can be deceiving. Only minutes later the first small brookie was caught. We split up in groups once more and explored this magnificent water. It was not long until every participant hooked up with several brookies.
Although, their size seldom exceeded 25 cm, the beauty of those little fellows cannot be put into words. Furthermore, I was astonished that fish exist at 1,800 meters above sea level. Subsequently, the time during the brookies can feed is quite reduced to approximately 3 months when there is no snow. Thus, from this point of view, a fish of 25 cm length must be already seen as large.
Soon the sun was up and lit the colourful meadow wherein the creek plunged over its small gravel bed. Hundreds of pockets with depths reaching from centimetres to several feet offered splendid fly fishing opportunities. The previously calm looking place changed within seconds to a lively fly fishing heaven with a lot of insects. Dries and nymphs did both a great job, in particular high-vis green, yellow foam bugs were used on the surface.
Then we pushed further upwards and left the beaten path to find another fly fishing jewel in the Swiss Alps. A small mountain lake hidden between boulders. The water was gin clear and the fish rose eager. Before starting fly fishing, I took some footage of Andrei how he hooked up with several brookies.
Then it was my turn. It was extremely exciting to be finally successfully fly fishing in a lake. The first lake I have ever been fly fishing was a one month ago in Ireland. Whereas in the Lough Corrib in Ireland I caught nothing at all, here one fish bit after another until most of them began to hide in the shore vegetation.
I asked our guides if I could go back down to the small creek again, because I still preferred fishing in flowing water. The guys from Firebelly were very flexible and Oliver agreed to come down with me once more. I fished several other promising looking spots and Oliver did a great job in capturing these memorable moments. The time went by way too fast and it was already time to head back.
One of those #memorable moments while #flyishing #cameradery #friendship #mateship#freundschaft
Ein von Tom (@expeditom_oconnor) gepostetes Video am
Summary Fly Fishing the Swiss Alps guided by Firebelly
The 2 day trip to go fly fishing the Swiss Alps guided by Firebelly is a great way to experience Switzerland. Not only did we fly fish some gorgeous waters, but we also explored the beauty of the Swiss Alps. Although, we did not catch a fish on the first day, the fly fishing action on the second day with numerous fish feeding on dries in a breathtaking scenery was more than worth it. As mentioned before, physical fitness is absolutely required.
In a nutshell, this fly fishing weekend with Firebelly was outstanding and I can fully recommend it to you if you want to experience fly fishing the Swiss Alps at its best. As written at the beginning, Firebelly organises the Orvis Fly Fishing Film Festival on the 5th of November in Freienstein-Teufen, Zurich. Furthermore, they guide another trip on the 16th to 18th of September. For more information check out their website.
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