If you have been following along, I spend a lot of time in Greece as a result of my wife’s family ties and nonprofit she started. Of course as with anywhere I travel to – I want to figure out the fishing opportunities. Greece is a place that is for sure off the radar as a fly fishing destination, because there is very little information, zero fly shops, very remote areas – and the fact that most people outside of the country don’t think there are mountains here makes for a combination of a very ignored zone.
Well I have been getting familiar with the country and made a few buddies that know about freshwater fishing in general. I have also been figuring out the trails and roads here to combine biking and fishing as well (hence the invention of this rod!). The bottom line - it’s hard here! The rivers are remote, the weather changes constantly (in June at least) and the roads always seem to be steeper than expected. I have also found out that unlike the states that build next to the rivers to access water – there are so many freshwater springs here that most of the villages get built high up on mountain away from the streams, leading to less stream access that we normally see. You just have to be open to surprises, and open to a little struggle as well.
But once you find your way to the target, or stumble upon the beautiful villages along the way you are pleasantly surprised at the wonders in the Greek countryside.
On my recent trip I headed out on a 3 day excursion; some of it using the car, some using the bike to find fishing spots and beautiful dirt roads to follow, and even a day set aside to sample some newly built mountain bike trails – a dream weekend in my book.
And how did it go? Amazing, but difficult.
My first goal was to leave the car at a small village and ride my bike looking for fishing spots. The road to the village was assumed to be paved, but of course had a section of dirt road that was a surprise, but did not stop me in the small rental car. Once there, the morning sun was also of course hotter than expected, but the river was near…. I was excited!
In hopping on my bike I headed immediately down a steep and rugged dirt road to the river, and was welcomed by some loud sheepdogs along the way.
As I approached the river and an old bridge that helped this dirt road on its way, I stopped to peak over and see a nice group of fish swimming below! Goldmine! Clear cold water and plenty of trees around to offer me and the fish some escape from the sun.
Once in the water it was so clear and nice that I realized the fish enjoyed this clarity as well and were easily spooked, so after ruining one run, I approached slower and lower to the next, and was rewarded with a few wild Greek brown trout who rose to my fly!
After fishing 2 holes I started to notice that there was a mix of fish in the river – chub and barbel mixed in with the trout which gave me the signal that the water was a bit warmer than what the trout would prefer. I walked up river not finding much other water that would hold fish, and decided to move on and keep my eyes open for the next river access.
Getting back on the bike - it was apparent that the summer was here in this hot country. I lost my tree cover on the dirt road and pedaled in the heat looking for a little trail or opportunity to peel off and hop in the river for both the cool water on my feet – and the trout.
I mapped out the road as it seemed there would be close enough access to get down the to the river in a few spots, but the map was deceiving as below the road there was just enough rock cliff to keep me away, or the road wandered far enough away from the river for me to tell what was beyond a long bushwhacking session. So I continued on for a nice ride, and eventually came to a dead end dirt road at the river - and a beautiful spot to fish once again! The only traces of civilization / life I could see was a goat skull and the rubble of an old (maybe ancient?!) rock wall. I don’t think anyone had been down to the river here in a long time, and to venture this far to fish a small river fish in Greece? I don’t think any of the locals would do it.
Hopping in the river once again I was rewarded with the cool water, and began to look for fish. There were a few pools and a few fallen trees providing cover for fish, and I could see them in there. Some I could reach with a cast and others were nestled in among tree roots in perfect protection from just about anything. I got one small fish here, but admired the ones hiding below the tree and continued on the journey.
At this point it was time to turn around for the day, I had a steep and loose dirt road to climb out to the village and a thunderstorm was threatening me in the distance. After a slow ride back up – I was rewarded with a cold beer at the local taverna. Once I finished I packed up the car and headed up stream to explore more and camp in this beautiful scene.
Day 2 of the adventure Coming up.
Maybe some of you are asking why I have such a rugged bike for the trip… you will find out more soon!