Archive for April, 2018

German Fishing Licence & Examination

 

 

CAN YOU NAME THESE FISH? (Answers below)

Living on Tenerife in the fabulous Canary Islands, with blue skies, blue sea, a wonderful climate and abundant fishing available, all year round in the sun, you would be forgiven for believing that life was completely fulfilled. Yes, it is paradise, or would be if there was Fly Fishing for Trout! Unfortunately, sunshine all year round means an arid climate with no rivers and water in the ponds too warm to sustain my favourite game fish.

So what to do? Easy, find a summer holiday home in Europe, somewhere where there are mountain streams and lakes, as well as rivers and streams running through forests. That is exactly what I did, and being fairly fluent in the German language, decided to look at the Bavarian Forest in Germany. My wife and I found a permanent caravan site in Eging am See, not far from Passau and the Austrian and Czechoslovakian borders. The site, Bavaria Camping, is a lovely park at the edge of the Bavarian National Forest and the River Ilz, a fly only river, is only twenty minutes away. A little closer, five minutes by foot, is Eging Lake which permits all types of fishing and has rainbow trout stocked. Permanent sites at Eging are quite large, the one we found not only has a large caravan but also a purpose-built hut attached, a large front garden, and a rear garden adjoining the forest, where there is pergola for outside dining, another hut for additional accommodation, a tool shed and outside facilities. Sorted, my Fishing Cabin in Bavaria!

Fishing base sorted out, we moved in and I started checking out the requirements for permits and licensing, and found that as a visitor, I could get a license allowing me to fish for four weeks. That was great, but we intended staying for five months, what about the rest of the time? The answer was clear, visitors four weeks only per year, if I wanted to fish the rest of the season I would have to take and pass the State Fishing Examination. I found that this was a six-day course, over three weekends, with the State Examination to be held centrally. Although I consider myself quite knowledgeable, I realized that I would have to do some studying over the winter before attempting to join the course, even if only to be able to identify the fish in the German language. It was soon clear to me that just knowing most of the species of fish was insufficient, it was necessary to be able to identify all of the species and sub-species of fish, including those we do not normally try to catch, from the humble stickleback upwards. If that was not enough, Bavaria and the Donau region have species of fish not found elsewhere. Further, it was not only necessary to be able to identify the fish from a picture, it was also necessary to be able to identify them from a written description and identify its habitat and feeding habits. This was only one section of the examination – ‘Fish Science’ or Ichthyology – the scientific study of different aspects of various fish species, including history, behavior, growth patterns, and their place in the ecosystems. There were four other sections to be studied:

Hydrology or Water Science
The scientific study of the movement, distribution, and quality of water, including the water cycle, water resources and environmental watershed sustainability.
Protection & care of Fishing Waters & fish breeding
Fishing gear, fishing practices, treatment of fish caught
The Law relating to Fishing, Animal and Fish Welfare, Fish Diseases – Symptoms and Treatment

By any stretch of the imagination, the syllabus was demanding, even for a native German, but armed with my studies over the winter I presented myself to the Fishing Association in Plattling and enrolled on the course. I sat in the classroom for about an hour, not understanding a word that was said. I raised my hand and said to the Instructor ‘I thought this class was in German?’. He smiled at me and in his thick Bavarian dialect replied, ‘No, it is in Bavarian!’. I subsequently learnt that the Bavarian course and examination was considered the hardest to pass in the whole of Germany, and some residents elected to take the examination further north. I was not to be deterred, at least I could understand the slides and hand-outs, they were in German! During day two of the course I actually started to understand some of the dialect, I also believe that the Instructors took pity on me and attempted to speak slowly and clearly, although still in the local dialect. Despite my many years fishing, I took in an abundance of information that I had not previously considered, especially about the quality of the waters we fish and how to maintain them, the identification of the plants found in and around lakes and on the river bank, as well as the wild-life.

Without looking them up in a book, can you identify the fish in the Gallery above?  Answers at the bottom of the page!

It surprised me that Entomology was taught to everyone on the course, not just those interested in Fly Fishing. The practical elements of the course included knots, setting up equipment, including leaders with droppers, attaching hooks of various types including the dreaded spade hook, and a whole afternoon on what was considered one of the most essential elements. How to humanely kill a fish, which each of the students had to demonstrate in order to pass the course. The method which I, and perhaps most of you have used in the past would not be accepted in Germany, and would leave the way open for a possible prosecution for cruelty to animals. I will describe the accepted method under ‘Top Tip’ below. Having completed the course and been recommended to sit the examination, I waited with bated breath for my Summons to the State Examination. The letter duly arrived and on the appointed day I presented myself, with about thirty other candidates, to the examination center in Regen. Photographs in passport or identity cards were checked to ensure that candidates were genuine and that no proxy had turned up to ensure a pass. The examination was strictly invigilated and consisted of twenty questions in each of the five sections, a total of one hundred questions in all. I completed my paper well in time, checked it twice and handed it in. I then waited whilst the Examiners checked my paper and was relieved when I was called forward and received my grade of 98%! Having passed the exam, I had to wait about a week for the official notification from ‘The Ministry’, which had a very nice and ornate Certificate attached. Armed with the notification that I had passed, I attended the licensing office at the local Rathaus or Town Hall, where my State Fishing License, a legal photo identification document, valid for life (due to my age) was issued to me.

Despite my initial reservations about needing to attend a course, I believe that the fishing course was very worthwhile, and I am so glad that I did attend. My knowledge of my chosen sport has been extended, especially in areas that I had not previously considered studying, such as Water Science, the Law relating to the sport, plants and aquatic life. I was extremely surprised at the level required of every applicant for a fishing license in Germany, every holder of the German State Fishing License should feel proud of their achievement, I know I do!

Answer to Fish ID

1 – Sterlet – a small species of Sturgeon (Acipenser-ruthenus)

2 – Huchen – Danube Salmon (Hucho_hucho)

3 – Nase or in English: Nose or Sneep (Chondrostoma_nasus)

4 – Ziege or in English: Goat Carp (Pelecus_cultratus)

How did you do? 

100% = You have obviously done the course!

75% = You probably only just passed the course!

50% = You probably live in or near Germany!

25% = You are probably a Visitor to Germany!

0% = It is time you did some fishing in Germany!

 

Top Tip

How to humanely dispatch (kill) a fish
Please Note: I recommend Catch and Release!

If you intend taking the fish for the pot or smoker, it is essential to dispatch the fish without causing it to suffer.

As quickly as possible after being caught, perhaps whilst still in the net, hold the fish steady on the ground with a wet hand and give it a sharp tap above the eyes to stun it with a priest or wooden implement.

Whilst the fish is stunned, insert a sharp blade between the gills, severing the main artery and allowing the fish to bleed out.

Never handle the fish with dry hands!
Do not keep the fish out of the water for extended periods!

Fishing Cabin in Canada


In 2013, I had to travel on business to Kelowna a city on Lake Okanagan in the Okanagan Valley in the southern interior of British Columbia.  A trip to this region without Fly Fishing was unthinkable, so I set about researching the possibilities for a field trip.  Lake Okanagen is a very large lake with many cities and towns, not my sort of fishing place at all, but the areas surrounding it, just a forest wilderness, bejeweled by hidden lakes.  I took my fly fishing equipment with me, all except the rod.  I had broken too many rods on airport conveyor belts, despite being encased in tubes and my travel rod had a section missing.  Nothing for it but to buy a rod in Kelowna, so I did my research and chose a Redington five peiece travel rod in a very handy travel tube, which I duly ordered and picked up in Kelowna.  Now fully equipped and accompanied by my wife, we drove up into the mountains.  Getting to Oyama Lake Wilderness Resort was interesting, but not too difficult, although we saw a couple of large Motor Caravans that were having quite a lot of difficulty getting up the steep gradients.

When we reached the resort and were shown our cabin, we were not disappointed at all.  Very much ‘back to nature’, no hot water, except in the two shower cubicles set in the woods.  The Cabin was comfortable in that it actually had a bed, table and chairs and a small electric cooker, although the fire-pit outside was intended as the main cooking area. The toilet facilities were a short distance away in the woods and shared with a number of other cabins.  But most important, each cabin had it’s own aluminum fishing boat with small outboard motor.  I made the usual inquiries as to how the locals caught their fish and found that using Fly or Spinning Rods, they trolled streamers or lures over the transom of the boat.  To my mind, that is not ‘proper fishing’. So I stuck with my traditional methods, particularly dry fly at dusk and dawn or when I saw fish rising. A fellow fisherman who arrived at the same time as ourselves was bragging about the twelve fish he had caught on the troll. I didn’t like to tell him that traditional methods had produced even more fish!

In total we spent four days in that magic wilderness resort, the shower facilities were a joke and the comfort factor non-existent.  But chopping logs for the fire-pit, lighting the fire ready for cooking the evening meal of freshly caught trout whilst sipping a Jim Beam and coke, what an experience, one that every Fly Fisherman should experience at least once!

 

 

An Average Fly-Fisherman

I started Fly Fishing in the mid-seventies on the Wiltshire Avon, and was very lucky, as a member of HM Forces, to be able to fish the stretch owned by the Services Dry Fly Fishing Association (SDFFA) and managed by the famous Frank Sawyer. That remarkable, crystal clear chalk stream, brought to life by Frank Sawyer, taught me that fly fishing has all of the elements associated with hunting game, and far from being a sedentary sport, just sitting and waiting on the river bank, you are mobile, stealthily hunting your fish, in some of the most beautiful scenery that it is possible to image. I have been very lucky to have fished in some amazing places, and the reason that I started this Blog, was to share my experiences, as an ‘average fly fisherman’ with others, particularly those just getting started in this, the most rewarding of all types of fishing. I don’t say that lightly,I have experience of Course Fishing, Sea Fishing, including Sea Fly Fishing and for many years I was an IGFA Certified Fishing Captain and current IGFA World Record Holder for a rather poisonous fish caught off of the island of La Gomera.

My mentor, when I started Fly Fishing, was a Gentleman called Michael Kitchen, who, from my perspective was indeed an expert Fly Fisherman. Not only did he cast superbly, he used the flies that he tied himself to continuously catch fish, irrespective of the conditions or location. I learned an awful lot from Mike, who taught me the art of Upstream Dry Fly and Nymph Fishing.  When ‘nymphing’ we of course used Frank Sawyers Pheasant Tail Nympth or PTN, which we had tied ourselves in the original form without using thread. After many blank weeks on the Avon, I quickly learned the art of ‘stalking’ the fish and subsequently caught my fair share of brown trout and grayling.

My first Fly Fishing rod was of course made of the tried and tested GRP or glass reinforced plastic, cheap and quite suitable for a novice like me who was still finding difficulty in keeping the fly line in the air.  Mike of course had one of thFly Fishing River Ilze ultra expensive and newfangled carbon fiber rods which came with a warning not to take them anywhere near electricity pylons.  But at that time, carbon fiber rods were quite prone to breaking and that, combined with the initial purchase cost, put them out of my reach.  To upgrade my fishing rod at a reasonable cost, I decided to build my own split cane rod from a kit.  I spent an entire winter building the rod, customizing it with my name and varnishing it to perfection.  The end result, even if I say so myself, was  pretty good, it was just a pity that I had chosen the wrong tip action, as I really didn’t understand that it was important.  That being said, I was extremely proud of that rod and persevered with it for many years.

I can recall a hot summers day on a Hampshire fishery, where Mike was teaching me to fish with sub-surface buzzers.  He had already caught more than a dozen fish while I had only caught the sun.  He then decided to concentrate my mind and sat beside me, instructing me to concentrate on the water above the buzzers and on the line, which I was holding too loose.  ‘Did you see that?’ he asked, I of course had seen nothing, but eventually, after missing many fish, I started to see the subtle movements on the water and the almost imperceptible twitch on the line.  I was as pleased with the one fish that I did catch as Mike was with his bag full.

Over the years I have been lucky to have fished in England, Wales and Scotland, but also the Catskills in the USA, British Columbia in Canada, the Pyrenees in Spain, Austria and Germany.  This year, I will fly fishing in Bavaria, Austria and Czechoslovakia.  I consider myself a bit of a purest, preferring Dry Fly & Nymph, seldom resorting to a wet fly or streamer, but even so, it is insufficient to just fish upstream.  You don’t catch many fish using the upstream method when fishing a fast flowing river such as the Ilz in Bavaria or the Ybbs in Austria.  When fishing rivers, I always return the fish to the water unharmed, much to my wife’s chagrine.  Therefore, to keep the peace, and to provide fish for the table, I make regular visits to ‘put and take’ lakes where the fish are bred for the purpose.  Although I am not a great lover of eating fish, who could resist fresh trout fillets, cooked in butter and sprinkled with almonds? Even better, hot smoked trout, direct from my smoker, served with brown bread and butter!

I will be writing regular Blogs about my past experiences whilst waiting patiently for the season to commence, when I can Blog about current fishing trips.  I will also be reviewing some equipment and providing a few Top Tips.

A Tip from the Seventies: 

We Fly Fisherman spend good money on various substances to make our leader sink or float, why not consider using the old methods i.e

LEADER SINK PASTE

Fuller’s earth is a fine clay material in powder form, that has the capability to de-colorize oil or other liquids without chemical treatment.  The cost from your local chemist is negligible and a small box will last for years. Just mix a teaspoonful of the powder with washing up liquid until it forms a smooth past.  Use this paste to keep your leader sinking and when the paste goes solid, just moisten it with water or saliva to make it usable again.

Tight Lines from the Silver Fly Fisherman