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Sunday, November 27, 2022

Casting in Italian Waters is a pleasurable experience

My two companions and I set off early in the morning of a late fall day from our modest rural house in Northern Italy, where we were staying with my family, to the town of Bassano del Grappa, where we would meet our fishing guides. The car’s axles moaned as it turned each corner. The route was surrounded by dolomite cliffs, valley bottoms planted with grapevines, and lush vegetation.

We crossed the Brenta River multiple times as we passed through communities with roads little bigger than toothpicks, passing ancient wooden bridges and modern steel overpasses with the water crashing below us. Flowing from two tranquil lakes in the Trentino-Alto Adige area of the Italian Alps, the river wriggles its way down to the Adriatic Sea after more than 100 miles of wriggling.

After an hour’s trip, we arrived at the river bend where we would be fishing for the rest of the day. The sun had barely risen beyond the horizon. We were only permitted to fish in this extremely particular stretch of water outside of Bassano, as a result of the country’s stringent permission and control requirements for fishing. The laws provide for optimum fishing conditions as well as the preservation of the river environment.

Despite this, Italy is never included in rankings of the world’s top fishing destinations. Wyoming, without a doubt. Argentina, without a doubt. Is it New Zealand? There’s no doubt about that. However, owing to tourist campaigns established in the past five years and an explosion of guides giving trips that combine traditional fly fishing with cultural expeditions, the wonders of Italian alpine fishing are now becoming more well recognised across the world.

Besides the thrill of accessing backcountry tributaries near Roman ruins and the packed lunch that is likely to be haute even if the occasion is low-key, the wonder of Italian rolling seasons. The rolling seasons include the summer, fall, and winter months (lake trout and chars from January to October, rainbow trout from February to October, graylings from May to October and pike from May to December).

In fact, according to Angelo Piller, who owns a fly fishing lodge, gear store, and guiding service in Pieve di Cadore (about two hours north of Venice), the actual beauty may be this: “The fishermen can say, ‘We’re going to Italy!'” “He knows how to fish, and the rest of the family believes they are simply going on vacation.”

The sun began to fade from view. One of my buddies had released the telescopic tip of his fishing rod into the water at the conclusion of our river stroll, effectively disconnecting it from the rest of his equipment. After a particularly bad cast, the two of us had gotten our lines twisted. Shopping had resumed in the streets after the stores had closed for the Italian lunch hour. The streets were bustling with people.

When we weren’t fishing, we’d stop by the distillery, where they were offering rhubarb bitters and their distinctive grappa, which was laced with juniper, licorice, and other tastes, or have our lunch of polenta in the dining room of a 300-year-old house, which was next to the wine cellar.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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