With 59 major rivers and 321 lakes within its small and varied topography, it’s no wonder that fishing in Slovenia is a popular activity, one that provides a way to explore the great outdoors, commune with nature, and hopefully bring something home for dinner. Still, it’s part of the nation’s tourist offering that we’re relatively unfamiliar with, and so when we came across Water Man Adventures, a company that organizes vacations with a focus on fly-fishing in Slovenia, we jumped at the chance to ask Robert Redding a few questions about the business.
Where are you based, and how did you discover Slovenia?
Water Man Adventures has a presence in Colorado, USA, where I’m based, as well as in Slovenia where my business partners are.
I fell in love with Slovenia and its fly-fishing when I was posted to the US Embassy in Ljubljana from 2006 to 2009. I began the business last year in anticipation of my retirement from the military in 2019. I expect to be based in Slovenia once that happens.
What makes Slovenia especially attractive for people who enjoy fly-fishing?
The country’s geography and weather make it a very special place, and there’s good reasons why fishing in Slovenia is increasingly popular. Primarily, there is tremendous diversity in terrain and rivers in Slovenia – with a high concentration in the western part of this small country. In the northern/alpine region, the streams and rivers are cold all year long, and this makes them a highly oxygenated and suitable habitat for cold-water fish like trout (and fishermen too) even in the hottest time of the year. Additionally, fly-fishing in Slovenia is normally a bit easier because of the low-nutrient (oligotrophic) nature of those streams - fish just have to eat all the time in order to get ready for the cold winter. Therefore, summer usually means dry fly action practically all day, not just during mornings and evenings, as is typical elsewhere.
Trout fishing in Slovenia
The best part of Slovenia for fishing expeditions is that the distance between alpine and limestone waters is only a one hour drive. In fact, there are only two hours needed to drive through the whole country from north to south. Given both types of rivers, along with the lakes that are available, fly fishermen have a great opportunity for good fly-fishing conditions practically every day of the season. To make things even better, we can (and do) change regions and rivers during the fishing day in order to give clients the best opportunities to fish.
Where in Slovenia do you operate?
We take our clients primarily to places where there are trout in the rivers – and thus the water is clear and cold. Our current favorite rivers are on the Sava Bohinjka, the Krka, the Unica, and of course the Soča. Because we offer excursions other than fishing, you’ll find us at other hot spots like Bled.
What services do you offer?
Water Man Adventures provides an outstanding fly-fishing experience for the discriminating fly fisherman on the world-class waters of the Republic of Slovenia. We are a hands-on, destination fishing outfitter operated by an experienced team of completely focused on arranging a custom fishing and travel experience in Slovenia. So, we put together total packages for our clients. Beyond the fishing, we set up lodging and culinary experiences based on the desires of the client.
What kind of fish can people catch in Slovenia?
Brown Trout, Marble Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Grayling are what we fly fish for. You can also catch pike and the famous huchen (Danubian Salomon) on traditional fishing gear.
In addition to the fishing, what do people experience on your tours?
Our clients typically fish only part of the day – the rest is filled with the best that there is to experience in Slovenia. Of course, Ljubljana’s old town and Bled are on everyone’s itinerary. But we customize based on what the client is looking for. For example, some recent clients were very excited to have the opportunity to take one afternoon and have lunch at Hiša Franko.
When are the seasons?
The season for fishing in Slovenia kicks off in April and May, with it best when the first hatches of the year come in the various streams – it’s a different time depending on where you are fishing. The season continues through the summer, though it can get crowded in August during holidays. When fall comes, the best fish to look for are grayling. Of course, Huchen (Danubian Salmon) offer the greatest prize in late fall and early winter.
What’s your favorite spot to fish in Slovenia?
Really? I'm not telling… However, the smaller streams that are away from the Soča provide some of the best experiences for fly fishers – to include the Unica, Krka and Idrijca Rivers. We look to take our clients away from the crowds to places like these.
How far in advance do people usually book?
We take care of clients whether they want to fish tomorrow or next summer. Optimally, those who want to fish in Slovenia in the summer of 2019 with us will be booked by January.
What’s are the general profiles of most of your customers?
Most of my clients are Americans. When they are in Slovenia, Americans typically want to see and do what a lot of general tourists want to do. So, we provide turn-key vacation packages for them that include lodging, meals, and excursions – even completely separate itineraries for spouses (Rogaška regularly comes up!). Water Man Adventures also has European clientele, and they are typically more comfortable taking care of their own extra activities. Regardless, we custom design each tour based on what the client wants – no is rarely an answer for us.
Tours that respect Slovenia's culture and environment
Any changes innovations planned for 2019?
We are looking to continue to define this sector of the tourism industry, while conforming to what Slovenes want in the future. Our goal is to provide clients with fantastic experiences fishing in Slovenia, while minimizing impact on the environment and culture of Slovenia. While seeking that balance, we want to ensure that Slovenes are able to benefit, so we’ll use local resources every time that it’s possible to do so.
When you’re not leading tours, or fishing, what do you like to do in Slovenia?
I really enjoy exploring the variety of Slovenia’s regions; whether it’s on a wine road in Primorska or looking for bears in Dolenska – you’ll find me at the end of a dirt road somewhere.
If you’d like to learn a lot more about the trips Richard and his partners offer, then visit the Water Man Adventures website or Facebook page. And if you’d like to see some other ways to spend your holiday in Slovenia, then check out our Ten Ways to Enjoy the River Soča.