I woke up on the 2nd day after a slightly better night of sleep. The bell towers in these small towns have this strange habit of going off every hour, including at night. This would take some getting used to.
I had the morning to myself, so I went to the local bread and pastry shop and picked up some bruschetta and a bottle of cold water. After eating as quickly as I could, I raced back to the no kill section to explore another part that I had spotted from the road the previous day.
After a couple of misses I had a nice brown on the line. It was bigger than most of the fish from the previous day, but not monstrous.
I fished up this section, catching a few more fish along the way.
The slow section of water on the bottom right of the photo had a nice fish that somehow got off my
I got a video of me landing another nice fish, too:
Above this section, the water hits a little break under a bridge. There was a really nice shaded pool and I hooked into the biggest fish I've ever had on a Tenkara rod. I knew it was big but after a solid 5 minutes of just holding it in place, it surfaced. The fish was almost as long as a 3 foot rock in the middle of the stream. My heart was racing. It had to be at least 20-24 inches. I took out my camera as I guided into slower water. I held it while I filmed it thrashing about. You can see the fish to the left of the rock and closer to the shore in the video. I couldn't figure out how to make it larger, apologies. Admittedly I should have not bothered with the camera, but I needed to have evidence and was hoping I'd land it on film. Surely you know by now that I lost this fish. And I got it on film. Talk about disappointment! WARNING - NSFW. Apologies for the language ;)
So to combat that feeling, here are some big smiles from the previous day. Photo taken by Paolo of me and Roberto.
After a quick panini, I drove to Roberto's place to meet the guys again at 2:30 to head to an apparently incredible and unique mountain stream.
Roberto's town had a nice church which made for a beautiful view. The next picture was from dinner the night before - Paolo, Roberto and I, enjoying some Raphael Bareche Champagne.
After discovering that Roberto had a work issue that popped up, Paolo took us to a spot to get some more water and snacks on the way to the water. Two small gelatos later we hopped in his car and we drove the remaining 40 minutes the Valle Stura to a particularly special stream.
Paolo has a group of fishermen that he splits the fishing rights with, to a 4.5km section of the river Gesso. They stay in touch to make sure that nobody crowds eachother out, and I discovered that Paolo had set us up to be alone on the river that day. What an amazing privilege to be able to fish here!
We drove almost to the end of the road, before a Refuggio (mountain hut) and the official trailheads for many of the surrounding peaks. I snapped some photos as we suited up. Paolo used his wading pants, not hip waders and I used my wet wading socks and gaiters. I felt like this gear was absolutely perfect for the conditions we encountered.
The stream was right below where we had parked, and after fighting a few of the stinging plants and thorned berry bushes we were ready to hit the water.
I was more than overwhelmed. We were near to the top of the valley and would fish up into the basin of the larger peaks surrounding us. The theme of the afternoon would involve chasing the light up the stream, catching some nice hatches on the way. Everything was incredibly beautiful.
The alpine landscape is unique. Its not so different from some of the Rocky Mountains, but in other ways it looks rather different. The pines are slightly different, as are the angles of some of the cliffs and peaks.
In some ways it looked like mini Rockies peaks were just placed on top of beautiful green mounds of earth. But the alpine plants and trees are similar enough in both places to make connections.
As were the plunge pools! The water was gin-clear, with a hint of that glacier melt color.
The fish were beautiful as well.
Soon Andrea joined us with his little one in tow on his back. This is how my father used to carry me on hikes upstate and I got a good kick out of it.
We caught a few fish but not that many heading up. It was not a very active day for the fish in this river. But as we got higher, the results improved.
As did the Scenery.
Paolo caught this beautiful mediterranean brown.
In this pool I had a fish on the line, but it got off my hook. Argh!
Every time I looked around I had to keep repeating to myself "where the hell am I right now? This is epic!"
In this pool, we crouched behind the log you can see on the left. We watched many fish rising in the pool, and each took turns. We both hooked into nice fish, but we failed to land them. The angle was bad. After this we climbed over the log and I hooked one again. It was big. Somehow it got my fly.
I was beating myself up for missing so many fish this day, but I was so happy about the environment I was in that it almost didn't matter.
We found a few more nice plunge pools as we reached the valley and the intersection with the trail and the end of the road.
Paolo tied a new fly, and gave me one. It was a really interesting dry fly he had tied up. After spotting a feeding fish he sent me off to try my new fly. Here's a picture I took of it after getting back to NY:
Just some kind of special duck feather and polypropylene strands. It floated, and it caught fish. Here's the photo after I caught a nice trout with it in the Gesso:
This is the pool where the fish was rising, below.
A nice fish and an incredible place to be fishing.
Paolo also hooked a non native atlantic brown that had escaped from a nearby hatchery.
You can see the difference in the coloring and the fins.
At the bridge there was another pool, but no fish were rising there.
Photos barely do the spot any justice.
I liked the signs at the entrance from the road.
Our walk back down to the car was also of particular beauty.
As clouds settled over the peaks, I thought of how this perfect day would be forever remembered. And I didn't even know what was to come the next day!
The moon shined from behind the clouds and offered a spooky light to guide us back.
On the way home we stopped for pizza and used the google translator to exchange more detailed info about our fishing that day. I learned a lot from fishing with Paolo. He has a lot of experience on the local streams, and it was because of him that I was successful on these foreign waters. I can't thank him enough for bringing me to fish in this special place.
One more post on Italy coming soon...