It took us more than 20 years but finally we decided to visit the mighty river Váh that is just accross the borders in Slovakia. Váh is surely the most improtant fly fishing river in Slovakia and it is surrunouded by the beautifull Slovakian mountains (High Tatras, Low Tatras, Velka Fatra). Our aim was to visit the river near the town of Ružomberok as there are several advantages of this area.
First I am from Czech Republic and it is not that far away to reach Váh near Ružomberok, only about 6 hours drive from Prague. Second Váh has very good population of brown trout, grayling and rainbow trout and the local fishing organisation is taking care of the river very well. Tickets are not that expensive and there are miles and miles of the river to fish. And not to forget – Slovak countryside full of mountains is simply stunning.
We hit the river mid of June and the first lesson that we learned from the local guide was that the best months for flyfishing river Váh are August and September. However the season starts on 16th of April and ends in the end of December and always you can catch a lot of fish...
Váh near Ružomberok is not anymore a small river at least compared to the rivers where I usually fish at home. Water level inflow is influenced by the dams below Liptovský Mikuláš and that is why you need to watch the water level carefully. You can track the water level at: www.smhu.sk and if the water level at Váh in Bešeňová is below 60 cm you will be fine. Everything above this level will limit the access to the water and make the fishing a bit dangerous sport unless you want flyfish from the river bank. However there is a good alternative. You can always escape to Revúca river that joins Váh in Ružomberok. Revúca is a nice mountain stream full of grayling and brown trouts.
If you are a novice to the river I strongly recommend to hire local flyfishing guide as this will fasten your learning curve quickly. Despite Váh is full of fish (and many big fish too), it takes some time to learn the river and other local specifics. We considered ourselves pretty experienced fishermen but the difference between our catches and the catches of our guide were at the begining significant. And who can tell you better some spicy storries better than the local guide?
So what can you expect from the river and how to succeed? Váh is know for good stock of graylings, brown trouts and rainbow trouts. In the lower part you can catch some course fish and there is the huchen (Danube salmon, Hucho hucho) in the river as well. Fish is reguraly stocked and there is a nice mix of stocked fish and natural speciemens. Grayling larger than 40 cm and trout (both brown trout and rainbow trout) larger than 50 cm can be caught. Early in the season the popular fishing method is streamer fishing, later on nymph fishing and dry fly fishing are the most frequently used methods. Many local fishermen fish with pupas during the sedge hatches so I recommend to have couple of those patterns in the fly box as well. If you are waiting for some really special local fly I will not disappoint you. In the deepest streams and pools you can try out one of the most heavy flies ever invented for river fishing. You might argue that this is not a fly but rather the weight and you will not be far from the true. However put this fly at the point and you will be able to catch fishes in the places where it would be mission impossible with the conventional flies.
Tackle for Váh is pretty simple. The basic rod is longer rod (min 10ft) AFTMA 4 for nymphing or 9,6 ft AFTMA 4-5 for dryfly fishing. If you want to be flexible you can use one of the 4 in 1 rod that is really versatile and one rod will easily cover most of the situation. Other tackle will not be much differnet from what is used on other european rivers. Make sure that you do not use too soft tippets as the fish is on average larger and in good condition. Good waiders are must and waiding stick is usefull as the river has deep holes and strong currents especially when the water level is higher.
In summary I am sure that you will love fishing the Váh. Not only because of the river and the fish but because Slovak countryside is simply beautifull and safe, people nice and prices still pretty low!
Website link to the local organisation: www.srzruzomberok.eu
Link to the site for the fly fishing competition on river Váh: www.bigriverrace.com