Michaelangelo's trout - fishing in Tuscany
Italy is not often spoken of as a fly fishing destination yet tucked away in the beautiful Tuscan countryside, overlooked by ancient medieval towns and verdant hillsides are some magnificent trout and grayling rivers.
If ever there were such a thing as perfection I think I’ve just discovered it. And if you’re into cooking, it’s like creating the perfect dish. So what’s the dish? Well, it’s called the ultimate fly fishing holiday. And what are the ingredients that it makes it so special? Simple: take a crystal clear river, correct, season-long water temperature, an abundance of hatching insects and wild trout rising to the naturals from dawn until dusk. Then add glorious Italian scenery, medieval hilltop towns of breathtaking architectural beauty, and food to reduce an artist to tears of joy at its simplicity of creation and complexity of taste to the buds. Now call me a romantic if you will, but if these are not the combined ingredients of a fly angler’s perfect holiday, then you tell me what they might be.
Sansepolcro is one of those wonderful medieval Tuscan hilltop towns. And although it may not be in the middle of the region’s most famous beauty spots believe me, its not half bad, and within half an hour’s drive of the more famous picture-postcard areas. But what it possesses that it’s more illustrious neighbours do not, are the tail waters of Tevere river (or Tiber to us English). And if you’ve ever seen the murk of the Tevere as it flows through Rome, you’d never believe it could exist in such pristine form less than a couple of hours drive north of the capitol. The Alto (upper) Tevere is nothing less than a fly fisher’s paradise and owes its very existence to the hard campaigning and great foresight of the “Mosca Club Altotevere” members. They, in successful partnership with the equally far-sighted local government have re-instated what had become a dry river bed (due to abstraction) not only to it’s former glory, but beyond all expectations, into a project that is fast becoming a benchmark for European Union river habitat reconstruction programmes.
The club reintroduced approximately 30,000 grayling and 40,000 brown trout into the river six years ago. And if you’d seen the size they can reach, (grayling up to 3 lb and trout up to 6 lbs) you’d know just how successful they’ve been. Also the copious amounts of fingerlings of both species indicate the health of the now naturalized breeding fish. But for me it wasn’t the size or number of Trout that delighted most, it was their colouration: the deep gold’s of their full-to-bursting bellies and the brightest of vermillion spots adorning polished silver flanks; all would have done credit to Michelangelo’s palette had he created these piscatorial masterpieces himself.
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