Fly fishing in Bosnia

Guided fly fishing trips in Bosnia. Fly fishing in an undiscovered destination in the heart of the Balkans.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country in southeastern Europe, with a history marked by ethnic conflicts during the Balkans War in the 1990s. This land of limestone rivers is a paradise for fly fishing for trout and grayling, thanks to the substantial hatches that occur.

Our fly fishing trips in Bosnia:

BOSNIA, A PARADISE FOR FLY FISHING:

Bosnia (Bosnia and Herzegovina) is a country in the former Yugoslavia, situated in the Balkan Peninsula. This multicultural nation remained closed to fly fishing tourism, keeping its rivers in an incredible state of preservation for decades. Its recent opening to tourism, coupled with the skepticism of many foreign anglers that this Balkan country could offer excellent fishing, has caused this destination to go unnoticed by international fly fishermen. However, this has changed in the last decade, turning Bosnia into one of the trendy destinations in Eastern Europe.

European anglers consider Bosnia to maintain the river conservation status comparable to European rivers in the 1970s. If you have traveled to Europe, you might have visited the Spanish Pyrenees. After that, Slovenia might come up in conversations. But we ask you: What if you ventured a bit further east? Bosnia might surprise you, offering a more authentic and better-preserved experience than the Julian Alps.

Bosnia is hailed as a true dry fly fishing paradise, thanks to significant hatches in its rivers, boasting excellent populations of trout and grayling. The limestone rivers in this country are composed of gravel or even sand. The basic pH of its waters, the abundance of organic matter and riparian vegetation, along with its friendly climate, create perfect conditions for hosting a multitude of aquatic insects, leading to splendid hatches. It’s worth noting that these rivers are also the habitat for a significant number of freshwater scuds, contributing to the rapid growth of grayling and trout.

Fly fishing in Bosnia’s spring creeks is not easy; although there are many trout and graylings, their fishing requires a highly technical approach, using 7X tippet diameters and small-sized flies.

Two additional aspects worth highlighting about fly fishing in Bosnia are:

Currently, Bosnia is a completely safe country. The riverbanks are free of mines or any dangers for anglers.
In addition to trout, some rivers have Danube salmon. Winter fishing trips targeting this species are a possibility.
In certain stretches of the rivers, the fishing pressure from European anglers can be moderate to high.

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What fish species can I fly fish for in Bosnia?

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, you can indulge in diverse fishing experiences, targeting Adriatic grayling, brown trout with Adriatic lineages, marble trout, rainbow trout, Danube salmon or Hucho, and an endemic trout species known as Adriatic trout or softmouth trout:

  • Adriatic Grayling: The Adriatic grayling is a variant found in countries like Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia. Also known as the Balkan grayling, it inhabits the rivers of the Danube basin, ranging from the Plav-Lim lake basin in Montenegro to the upper Sava basin in Slovenia.
  • Brown Trout: Unique lineages of brown trout thrive in Bosnia’s Adriatic basin. In some rivers, these native trout have hybridized with brown trout varieties from central Europe, released by fishing associations in Bosnia.
  • Rainbow Trout: Rainbow trout, an exotic species from the United States, has been introduced in Bosnia for angling purposes. Typically, sterile rainbow trout are released to prevent the establishment of self-sustaining populations in local rivers.
  • Danube Salmon: The Danube salmon or Hucho (Hucho hucho) belongs to the salmonid family, related to the Taimen of Mongolia. This large fish is distributed in various tributaries of the Danube in Bosnia, such as the Una, Sana, and Vrbas rivers. It exclusively inhabits freshwater and completes its entire life cycle in rivers. The optimal months for catching this species in Bosnia are from autumn to spring. Fishing for Danube salmon is also practiced in countries like Bosnia and Slovenia, with individuals reaching lengths exceeding one meter.
  • Softmouth Trout: The softmouth trout (Salmo obtusirostris oxyrhynchus) is exclusive to certain Balkan rivers that flow into the Adriatic. The most renowned river for softmouth trout fishing in Bosnia is the Neretva. This trout, resembling a hybrid between brown trout and grayling, is characterized by its elongated snout and small mouth.
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FLY FISHING LICENSE IN BOSNIA:

In many European countries, such as Spain, France, and others, it is essential to have a fishing license to engage in river fishing. In some instances, in addition to the general fishing license, a daily permit may be required. However, the situation is distinct in Bosnia; there is no national fishing license in this country. To fish in its rivers, one needs to obtain a singular document: a daily fishing permit that authorizes fishing in a specific section of a river.

These river sections, known as «Fly Only» zones, are managed by fishing clubs or companies. For instance, the company overseeing the «Fly Only» fishing stretch of the Ribnik river is called LTG.

These companies and associations offer daily or 3-day fishing permits, and the prices vary based on location. The fees typically range from 20 to 60 euros. Here are some examples:

  • Una and Unac: €21
  • Sanica and Krusnica: €25
  • Klokot, Pliva, and Ribnik: €30.
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FLY FISHING SEASON FOR SALMONIDS IN BOSNIA:

In Bosnia, there are two distinct fishing seasons for salmonids inhabiting its waters, depending on the species:

  • Trout and Grayling Fishing: From late April to November. There are two exceptions: the Ribnik, Pliva, and Upper Sana rivers, where fishing is allowed year-round, and the Neretva River, which has a season starting on May 1st and concluding on October 31st.
  • Danube Salmon: From June 1st to February 15th of the following year.
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BEST MONTHS FOR FLY FISHING IN BOSNIA:

In Bosnia, optimal fly fishing conditions prevail from April to November, barring heavy rainfall. The standout months for this activity are May, June, September, October, and November.

  • March and April:
    These months are characterized by water and river conditions, sometimes including snowfall in nearby mountains. Fishing during these months focuses on midday hours when spectacular hatches of March Brown may occur, attracting larger trout and grayling to the surface. These months are unpredictable due to variable river flow, ranging from high levels due to thawing to excellent conditions with incredible hatches for three hours a day. Additionally, there is lower fishing pressure during these months. It’s worth noting that grayling spawn in April.
  • May and June:
    May and June witness substantial fly hatches due to pleasant temperatures ranging from 20 to 25 degrees Celsius, slightly increasing in June. Grayling have completed their spawning, increasing their activity. These months are ideal, with both trout and grayling being active throughout the day, making it one of the favorite fly fishing seasons in Bosnia.
  • July and August:
    These months offer favorable fishing conditions with lower river flow and temperatures exceeding 30 degrees Celsius. Trout and grayling are most active during early mornings and late evenings, with fewer hatches, increased local presence in rivers due to vacations, and fish becoming more selective with reduced river flow.
  • September and October:
    September and October bring back pleasant temperatures. Trout increase their activity in anticipation of the spawning season, and rivers typically maintain a stable water level. Both trout and grayling are active throughout the day.
  • November:
    Historically a cold month with the onset of rains and early snow, November has become an excellent month for fishing in the past decade, especially for trout. It precedes the spawning season, and trout exhibit high activity, particularly during midday hours.
  • December, January, and February:
    During these months, trout and grayling can only be fished in the Ribnik, Pliva, and Upper Sana rivers. The weather is cold with minimal activity. Occasionally, insect hatches occur in midday hours, activating the fish. However, these months are prime for fishing Danube salmon or Hucho.
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FLY FISHING FOR SOFT-MOUTH TROUT, THE ENDEMIC TROUT OF BOSNIA

The soft-mouth trout (Salmo obtusirostris) is an endemic species in the Balkans that has inhabited its rivers since before the last glaciation. Classified as an endangered species on the IUCN Red List, this fish exhibits traits of both brown trout and grayling, distinguished by its elongated snout, small yet distinctive mouth, and relatively large scales. Due to its residence in rivers unaffected by the last glaciation, the soft-mouth trout has not had to adapt its reproduction to cold temperatures, choosing to spawn in spring.

Its habitat encompasses rivers that flow into the Adriatic Sea, and it was first described in 1851 by the Austrian zoologist and ichthyologist Johann Jakob Heckel. In the Balkans, five distinct populations are identified, distributed among Bosnia, Croatia, and Montenegro:

  • Croatia: Rivers Jadro, Vrljika, and the endangered Krka River.
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina: Neretva River basin.
  • Montenegro: Rivers Zeta and Morača.

These trout prefer rivers with two specific characteristics: they flow into the Adriatic and have never hosted natural grayling populations (without human intervention). In Bosnia, where grayling is an introduced species in the Neretva River, no hybridization with brown trout, marble trout, or grayling is observed, indicating evolutionary divergence.

Biologists studying this species propose the theory that trout inhabiting rivers without grayling before the last glaciation developed characteristics similar to grayling to adapt and survive in an environment without the presence of this species.

WHERE SHOULD I TRAVEL FOR FLY FISHING IN BOSNIA?

If you’re interested in embarking on a fly fishing trip to Bosnia, we recommend flying into Zagreb International Airport. It’s also possible to travel via Split or Sarajevo.

From any of these airports, we provide transfer services to the fishing areas. Alternatively, you can choose to rent a car for greater independence.

If you’re flying into Zagreb, we suggest taking a fishing tour through the Dinaric Alps, exploring and fishing the rivers of the neighboring country, Croatia, before heading to Bosnia.

If you’re keen on fly fishing in Bosnia or taking this tour, feel free to get in touch with us. We’ll be delighted to assist you and tailor a trip to suit your preferences.

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