5 Unmissable fishing spots in Europe

Friday is Schuman Day, that ever popular celebration named after the former French foreign minister, Robert Schuman.

In Paris in 1950, he declared that he wanted Europeans to cooperate on coal and steel – and Europe as we now know it was born. Yes – it’s Europe Day.

Events to commemorate the founding of the European Union include meeting the EU’s auditors, visiting the European parliament in Brussels, or a chat with the European Union Ombudsman.

Sound exciting? You could just grab your fly fishing rods and go fishing…

Here to help you celebrate Europe Day, we’ve put our heads together to come up with our top five European fly fishing destinations.

1. Slovenia

Thanks to EU enlargement, access to what is fast becoming one of Europe’s top fishing destinations has never been so easy. Slovenia joined the EU in 2004 and is home to some of the best fly fishing you’ll find this side of the Urals.

If it’s crystal clear waters and an abundance of brown trout, rainbow trout and grayling you’re after, the so called, “green pearl of the Alps” is the place for you. There’s also a subspecies of marbled trout that can top the scales at 10 lbs.

The River Soca and its tributaries are the main fishing area. From fast flowing Alpine gorges to tranquil lower sections, the Soca is stunning not least because of the beautiful emerald green of its waters. And the good news for fishing widows is that the delights of Venice are just an hour and a half drive away.

2. Ireland

From the Emerald River to the Emerald Isle, Ireland would top any fly fishing bucket list. The place is jam packed with world class fishing. From the Salmon runs of the wild west, to incredible wild brown trout and moonlit sea trout fishing, Ireland has it all.

There’s fishing to suit every budget too. While some of the great salmon fishing estates charge mega bucks for the treat of wetting your fly fishing line, fishing in the Republic or the North can cost you little more than the price of a room above a pub or a local B&B – especially if it’s trout you’re after. Check the licensing regulations here.

A trip to Ireland is about more than just fishing. From babbling mountain springs, to broad stretches of river running through lush green fields and lakes with more islands than you can shake a stick at – Ireland is simply magical. And we hear the Guinness isn’t bad either!

3. Sweden

Extending north of the arctic circle, Sweden offers fishing on a grand scale in what many think of as the last true wilderness in Europe. Head north to mountain streams and lakes that burst into life each summer with an abundance of tricky char, and grayling. Moving to the South, brown trout offer great sport just about everywhere.

In the lowlands of the South, there are pike and perch to be had and peaking in July, salmon, and sea trout runs make every river a fly fisherman’s dream.

Sweden is a fly fishing adventure that requires some planning. Fishing rights are often locally owned and run so it makes sense to do your research before you before you go, or pay for local knowledge by using the services of a guide or tour operator.

4. Scotland

No list of European top spots would be complete without mention of the lochs and glens north of the border. The Dee, the Spey, the Tay, the Tweed; the names of Scottish salmon rivers are iconic, and with some of the most stunning scenery in the world, Scotland really does represent fly fishing at its best.

Some say the Dee is in fact the best salmon river in the world. Rising in the Cairngorms, it flows through 80 miles of stunning highland country. South in the borders, the River Tweed is the most productive river in Britain for Atlantic Salmon, while the Spey gives its name to a casting technique. The Tay still holds the record for the largest ever rod caught salmon in Scotland – at 64 lbs – caught in 1922

Scotland’s rivers and lochs have long drawn people from all over the world to try their luck fishing the peaty waters. The country is well set up for anglers of all abilities and budgets. And it’s close too; no matter where you live in the British Isles, a long weekend hunting the Atlantic Salmon is never too far away.

5. Estonia

Another of the 2004 intake of countries into the European Union, Estonia not only boasts the most successful Eurovision song contest record of any Baltic country, it’s also home to some of the best fly fishing on the continent.

Estonia’s unforgettable winning song of 2001, “Everybody”, may have faded from public consciousness in about as long as it takes to say, “nul points”, but we guarantee fishing for wild brown trout in Estonia is an experience you’ll never forget.

Like many former Eastern Bloc countries, Estonia offers unspoiled countryside and the kind of rural economy that’s long since disappeared from more industrialised European countries. Half the country is covered with forest and there are some 7000 rivers and streams to choose from. And all accessible in less than an hour’s drive from the capital, Tallinn. It’s a trout angler’s paradise.