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Fly Fishing In Israel???

Category: Fly Fishing Destinations | Author: Uri Wollner

For most, hearing fly fishing and Israel in the same sentence just doesnít make sense. Israel is a desert isnít it?

As I sit here, writing this article, I am seeing some of the pictures sent to me by a friend. His daily report says, and I quote: Ē 6-9AM, the upper part of the Kinneret (also known by the name Sea of Galilae), at the point where the Jordan river enters, 200 fish. Mostly barbel, and also some tilapia (known in Israel as St. Peterís fish, or to others as bream).Ē

For most, hearing fly fishing and Israel in the same sentence just doesnít make sense. Israel is a desert isnít it?

Well lets get right down to the facts: no!

Israel, located in the middle east, has a coast line stretching from its boarder with Lebanon in the north, all the way down to Egypt. Another boarder in the south touches the Red Sea, providing the usual off-shore challenges as barracudaís, giant trevally, and the such.

Another thing that may surprise most is the fact that some of the rivers in the northern part of the country host the infamous rainbow trout.

The rainbows arenít natural inhabitants. They originate from fish farming conducted by some of the kibbutz villages. The water source used for the trout pools is taken from and flows right back to the same rivers. This permits some of the trout to escape and live naturally in the rivers, that despite the hot weather, manage to raise pretty decent sizes (as the photos show).

I am not ashamed to admit, that I personally believe there are about 7 fly fisherman in Israel. We all know each other, and share details, trying to expand the knowledge and experience for better success in combating the different species.

As for dry facts: when fishing in the north, you are very likely to meet the barbel, known to reach sizes of 2 kilos and more, the tilapia, known to reach similar sizes, and the African catfish. There are also different types of carp, but I personally have not had the chance to approach them yet. As I mentioned before, the rivers also hold rainbows.

When fishing the coast, you are likely to see the bream family, amberjacks, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, blue runners, croackers, sea bass, grouper, mahi mahi, needlefish, mullet, pompano, albacore, skipjack tuna, and the rare pacific bluefin.

Generally, fly fishing at sea is done either from shore, wading, or a newly developing sport Ė sea kayak. We usually use a 7wt and it is fine.

In terms of the rivers up north, most are almost totally accessible for wading. Especially in summer months, as seen in the picture, when the water level is ankle high, allowing enormous and endless chances to practice sight fishing and see the takes. I tend to mix my rods here, and sometimes use a 3wt just to get a little more action and access to areas under brush etc.

From the experience we have managed to gather Ė minnow patterns or copper head nymph tails will do the trick when targeting fish in the sea. When trying your luck for the fresh water barbells or Tilapia, a goldhead nymph works wonders. Another fly pattern I mustnít forget is fry patterns, both for sea and for freshwater. These flies were acquired by me from a friend in Alaska (thanks Craig), originally made for catching salmon, but they make excellent baitfish imitations, and sometimes bring a strike on every cast.

When travelling up north, try to reach the area of Kibbutz Dan or Hagoshrim. From these places, you have excellent access to the river Hazbani, Banias, Dan, and of course the Jordan river. In terms of sea fishing, Israel is filled with ancient roman ruins along its beaches, some of them even make nice reefs with fish. There are also other beaches providing a rocky place where you can have a chance at catching any of the species mentioned above.

If you ask me the following question: what makes fly fishing in Israel so special, why come all the way? I will tell you this: Israel is very small. It allows you to accomplish things other places might not be able to. For example, there arenít many places that can offer you the opportunity to fish rivers in the morning, have lunch overlooking the sea or the lake of galilae, see some archaeology, fish a lake in the afternoon, and then try your luck in the sea in the evening, with a gorgeous sunset, followed of course with a nice cold beer at the numerous bars found along the coast.

There is such a big variety of targets one can try for, each has its own feeding habits and times, each requires different techniques, different methods, its just endless.

In terms of guiding service, there is none. Except us of course. Not for profit, but out of the joy of fishing with a new person. There are boats one can join if he wants to go for sea fishing, and also places to rent kayaks.

But in my opinion, the best thing one can do is, take a car, drive around, find a spot and try your luck. Chances are, youíll hook into something pretty fast.

I hope to see all of you, at one time or another, in one of the river bends of the hazbaniÖ

Tight lines!

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