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