Staring at the full, laminar flow of the Linth canal – a rather pretty piece of water considering that it is just a canal – while letting the local fly rodder’s, Patrick was very bummed for me, lamenting the now familiar fact that I was a week late or a month early…
Last week the water level was half what they currently were and the grayling – which I REEEEALLY wanted to catch – had moved into the canal to feed but the full cold autumn flow had put them down again. And in a month or so the really good winter grayling fishing started. I made the best of it, caught a few small local bonefish-looking fry and a decent chub. So we packed the car, ate some cold meat and cheese, opened a beer and got on the road to the mountains.
Chub are funny-looking fish that, it turns out, happily eat a fly. Rewind a couple of days and we’re in the middle of the beautifully clean, outdoor orientated and frighteningly expensive Zurich. Gregg, my brother, had mentioned that the Limmat River – a favourite summertime swimming and SUPping spot for the locals – , was a 5 minute walk from his apartment and that flows through the centre of Zurich had tons of fish.
I pretty much shat myself the first walk along the willow-lined and graphittied banks; there were stacks of fish. Anywhere else, I’d have shot home, grabbed a rod and immediately started trying to bounce flies onto fish’s noses. But this was Switzerland, where rules are rules and if in doubt, you don’t. A difficult concept for me to get my head around, but I was reined in by mentions of fines and grumpy water wardens. So instead we jumped on the bikes and shot down to the local fly shop, Fly With Us, where Chicho (sorry if I got the spelling wrong, mate), a hell of a good guy, got stuck into sharing all the info with us that we needed to get fishing.
It was here that I first heard that I was too early for grayling, but also too late for the trout in mountain streams where we were headed in a couple of days. But I digress, Chicho was a great help and we spent, as one does, a rather long time talking fishing, flies and travel. I, as one does, parted with some Swiss Francs for a stunning grey bucktail, a few cheeky crab legs and an eye-wateringly expensive fishing license. There’s also a 6 ft ganja plant growing outside the front door – while I wondered about the Swiss rules, I also figured it was my kind of fly shop.
It was an early morning, by holidays standards, but Gregg and I got to the river to find finning chub loosely stacked behind the varied structure (anything from rocks and roots to shopping carts and e-scooters). It was interesting fishing – often from high walkways over man-made banks with runners, walkers and bicycles forcing one to watch the back cast extra closely. It wasn’t long before a Chub was hooked on a small woolly worm and almost landed. A bit later, just before we had to get on with holiday things – another was hooked and landed.
Not your average walk to the river…
The Limmat is an interesting water; urban, busy and used. Yet it is also crystal clear and healthy. The rocks I lifted all held aquatic life and the fish really were abundant. They were also well-versed in getting out of eyesight when anyone lingered over the railings or stood behind a pool for too long.
If you got a fly in their line of sight before they saw you, it was game on. If not, move on. our walk that evening – again with fly rods in hand – produced a few more fish.
In the end it all about your approach and first cast. If you got a fly in front of a fish without giving away too much in terms of what you were up to, you generally got a solid enquiry.
If I ever end up in another city, I hope it’s full of rivers like the Limmat!