Travel with a flyrod - why not Switzerland?
From "Fly Fishing and Fly Tying", July/August 1999
Walter Bruderer can't understand why no-one fishes Swiss rivers- they're full of trout and grayling, and cheap to fish too!
Who ever heard of fly-fishing in Switzerland? England, yes, and the same goes for Ireland, France, Spain, Austria, and at one time Yugoslavia and Italy were hot. But Switzerland is never mentioned. The reason? There has always been plenty of trout but, by tradition, the Swiss - since Roman times - were worm fishermen and have mainly fished their lakes. Today's generation of young people are "finding" a new sport... fly-fishing in their streams. The numbers are still small, so the word is not out. Getting the information for this article was like trying to find a ski in an avalanche. The first time I really became aware of the extent of the Swiss waters was from a gas balloon as I flew across the country and over the Alps. I was astonished at the sheer number of rivers and streams. Everywhere below, water cascaded from the glaciers and quickly turned into rivers. It was so easy to see why this little country is the mother-lode of Europe's water. But how come no trout fishing?
When I rode the famous bobsleds at St. Moritz, the teeth-chattering run followed the Inn river down the mountain, ending at Celerina. A few yards further on, the river flattens out into the lushest trout water you ever saw. For the next few years and many more visits, I studied the Swiss waters from the trains, which meander along the river banks as they wind around the countryside. Nary a fly-fisherman did I see. I hiked and climbed most of the major mountains; the only use I saw the Swiss put to their waters was to cool wine bottles.
Finally, curiosity got the best of me. I went to see a friend of mine and asked him where I could go stream-fishing, with the fly for trout. This friend of mine, a great sportsman himself, looked at me blankly and asked for an explanation for fly-fishing..., he'd never heard of it.
On my next trip to Switzerland, when I flew in a glider around the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc, my friend set up a meeting with a man who was purported to be one of the best fishermen in the country. Two minutes into the interview I knew ? I had a bait fisherman... the wrong guy. The idea of fly-fishing this fabulous water bugged me for the next year, I asked everybody if they knew anything about it. It wasn't until the next year that I got my first real lead.