Now and then we stumble upon childhood dreams… We blow the dust from an old magazine and there it is – the moment we’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.
“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
The “Hunting and Fishing” magazine in 1972
The same question rose into our minds last year, when, in an old Romanian “Hunting & Fishing” magazine from the ‘60s we saw an article about the rivers and the lakes of Retezat and Godeanu Mountains, a massive mountain group that marks 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. No wonder the pictures were astonishing, ‘cause these two mountains are famous for their amazing glacial landscapes and wilderness in every sense. There are over 18.000 ha of virgin forests. The amazing biodiversity of these mountains together with their particular geomorphology are the reasons why a big part of this mountain group lies within the oldest Romanian natural park, the Retezat National Park and Biosphere Reserve, established in 1935, respectively in 1979. Here you can see the highest number of mountain peaks over 2000 m in Romania (over 20 – the highest one being Peleaga Peak with 2509 m) and the greatest number of glacial lakes (80, 58 being permanent) in the Romanian mountains. Here it’s said to be also the highest humidity and draining in the Romanian Carpathians, a fact that helped develop a great number of lakes, pools, alpine and sub-alpine streams.
Within the national park fishing is authorized in streams, but not in the alpine lakes. There are 11 species of both endemic and alien fish. The best known ones are: the golden loach, the brook trout, the brown trout, the European chub and the grayling. In the past there was a big population of huchen on Raul Mare river (in the south of the mountain group) but there aren’t any actual data in this matter.
Curious as we were, we visited the area repeatedly during the last two fishing seasons and managed to get a tantalizing glimpse upon the present state of fishing conditions there. The conclusion: there is one artificial lake, Gura Apelor, with trout only (wild lake trout up to 10 kg) and there are four rivers within easy access distance, one of them, the Raul Mare river, flowing just in front of the accommodation.
The rivers look gorgeous, being utterly inviting to those of you, who want to take a journey in one of the best preserved wildlife area in the Carpathian Mountains.
And so we figured out, this is the perfect tour for the “gin clear” aficionados and the one for nature lovers, for the ones seeking the “away from the madding crowd” feeling. The tour evolves around serene fishing spots where you can undisturbed relax while strategically planning your next cast. It is extreme seldom that you meet somebody on the river on a whole day trip, thus making it unique in Europe.
The rivers flow from the high alpine meadows to the valley with tumultuous torrents. They hide deep pools up to 4 m deep and they run between bus-size boulders, hiding gorgeous wild trout on every bend.
The trout are very smart and the fishing is highly technical. We normally use ultra-light tackle, rods from 1 to 3 wt long and 6x-7x tippets up to 15 ft. To catch a trout in these challenging waters is a provocation and a measure of your skills as a fly fisherman. It will also give you the opportunity to learn new skills and get into the ”hunting side” of fly fishing, learning to spot the fish, make delicate perfect presentations and live the outdoor to the full. If you like the challenge of hiking high up in the mountains of Romania and fishing some of the purest rivers of Europe, this is the tour for you.
Every evening we will get together at the accommodation and share skills, strategies and flies, have fun around the fireplace or outside at the grill place, enjoying the landscape with millions of stars spotting the night sky in the Retezat National Park. Once being there, we’ll also tell you about our restoration and nature conservation projects that we initiated in the area. You’ll also have the opportunity to go on half-day trips in the national park, to visit the ruins and archaeological site of the ancient Dacian Citadel in Sarmizegetusa, or the world famous Corvin Castle in Hunedroara.
Booking this tour means that you think outside the box, that you love serene fly fishing places remote from the daily stress, it means that you like the challenge, that the whole experience is your main priority and that you truly want to redefine yourself and find out more about what “Into the wild” really means.
We will do our best to show you some of the most remote and beautiful fishing places in eastern Europe. Together we will explore the backcountry and live the adventure to the full. So pack your bags and join us!