“The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide;
They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.” – John Milton, Paradise Lost
Now and then we stumble upon childhood dreams, we blow the dust from an old magazine and there it is, the moment you’ve been waiting for: a story; a treasure map; images of forgotten places that rise vivid in your mind. And then it hits you. You need to find out; you need to know what they’ve become.
For example, in an old Romanian “Hunting & Fishing” magazine from the ‘60s there was an article about the rivers and the lakes of Retezat and Godeanu Mountains. They form a massive mountain group that mark the western limit of the Southern Carpathians, known also as the “Transylvanian Alps”. Pictured in the article were landscapes of an amazing beauty, huge wild trout and the promises of an exciting adventure.
In 1999, on the 12-14th of July this river basin was confronted with catastrophic floods, most severe in the recorded history of the region. This kind of floods are predicted by hydrologists to occur once every 1000 years (yes, it’ written correctly, once every millennium!). 14 people died, hundreds were left stranded in the mountains for days, roads were completely destroyed and houses taken away. The only safety in the way of fast flowing waters was the Dam Gura Apelor, being able to manage more than 20 millions of cubic meters of water and to release this huge volume in the downhill valley in a controlled manner.
Supposedly due to the extended logging operations and intensive rain (241 l/sqm in over 72h), most of the river beds were completely washed out, the flood reaching a bewildering debit of 1000 m3/s on 12.07.1999 at 06:00 AM. It really was “Apocalypse now”. The images after the flood are astonishing. Everything along these famous trout rivers in the 60’s looked like a moonscape.
It’s been a while though since this catastrophic flood took place and we believe that the landscape has recovered in the meanwhile not only naturally, but also artificially thanks to local authorities. Still we were curious about the present state of the rivers in the region, so we’ve done our best to travel there more times during the last two fishing seasons. Our plan was to explore this “Paradise Lost”, to get in contact with the local authorities, specialists and with potential volunteers and to see what can be done to restore some of the rivers to their former beauty.
We managed to get a tantalizing glimpse upon the present state of the area and it seems to be actually very promising. We’ve also planed a tour called “Gin Clear – Into the Wild” for next year there, so if you’re interested in fishing these wild rivers, don’t hesitate and contact us! We’ll gladly take you there! :)
In our next article we’ll tell you more about what we’ve discovered and what concrete plans we have for 2016. Thanks for your time!
Source of statistical data & of scanned images:
IRE (2011): Monitorizarea instalațiilor hodrotehnice din România. Energetica 9/59. URL: http://www.ire.ro/Publications/Energetica/Archive/Resources/2011/Numarul%209/2011_Nr9.pdf
Map’s source: Google Maps
Photos are accredited to Fly Fishing Romania & Alexandru Varga