Exzellent Fly Fishing in Montenegro
There are fly fishing destinations that are much better known and more developed in terms of tourism than Montenegro, but perhaps that is exactly why the fish populations there are still quite unique and the country has not been on my radar for saltwater fly fishing. My visit in April 2018 was worth it. Fly fishing on the coast of Montenegro for the fast predators of the Adriatic promises pure adrenaline at an easily reachable distance! But the rivers Tara and Lim are also known for their trout, grayling, and huchen.
Saltwater fly fishing has been fascinating me for more than 15 years. I've been to numerous destinations around the globe to get acquainted with the fast predators of the seas. In doing so, I have evidently neglected the south of Europe. You may have read my blog posts about fishing for Mack Tuna off Fraser Island/AUS. I was not aware at all that there are even larger False Albacores abundant in large numbers on the coast of Montenegro. Whereas in many other places you often have to travel many kilometers by boat until you reach the fishing grounds, tuna, jack mackerels, sea bass, and bluefish can be caught here close to the shore. 5-10 minutes after leaving the harbor you can already spot fish hunting on the surface and if you are skilled you can catch false albacores of 8-12 kg on sight with the streamer. Incredible!
After only a 1h 20min flight from Memmingen (DE), I was in Podgorica, and after another 1.5 hours drive, I was already at my destination. There you have several options in terms of fishing. There is something for everybody. Fishing for sea bass or jack mackerel in the Bojana river (depending on the water level), fishing from the beach or harbor with stationary or spinning tackle or even fly fishing. In December 2017, a bluefin tuna weighing 98 kg was even caught from the harbor wall in Ulcinj. Of course, trolling is also possible.
Whole year fishery at the coast
These fish can be found all year round in the Bojana estuary area. So you can choose to fish alone or share the area with the sun-seeking crowds and mosquitoes in the summer. Fishing for False Albacore off the Bojana estuary in April is highly recommended. It is the peak for this species of fish. It's actually a pleasant time because it can be pleasantly warm then (25°C and more) and there are practically no people there yet. The rivers are affected by the snowmelt at this time and carry too much water. The Huchen are spawning in April, so the sea is the best option at this time.
From mid-April the chances of hooking a bluefin tuna increase. April and May are the best time to fish the coast and again late in the year in November and December when the river is cold and the sea bass and other river fish move to the warmer estuary. However, catching a bluefin tuna on a fly is difficult. These big fish are usually caught by spinning or trolling. In some areas of Montenegro, bluefin tuna are also lured up by baiting. Fish of 70 kg+ were landed from the shore several times in Ulcinj in November.
In summer there are huge numbers of tourists at the longest sandy beach on the Adriatic. I don't like these crowds and therefore recommend avoiding the hottest time, although even then the fishing might be excellent. A week on the boat can be very hot at this time and the streets leading to Ulcinj's promenade are permanently congested. In the evenings there is partying everywhere on the banks of the Bojana River and at the beaches, so it can be very noisy. As a compromise, you can combine three days at the sea with a few days at Tara and Lim rivers in the somewhat cooler north.
Tackle Recommendation for Saltwater Fishing in Montenegro
Rods: #10 -12
9ft. CTS Affinity X
alternative: fly rods with a lot of lifting power (tunas), no flat rods!
RIO fly lines: #10-12
RIO COSTAL Quickshooter XP(WF F/I) or RIO General Purpose Tropical (WF I/) both wit a clear tip
RIO General Purpose Tropical WF/F or RIO Mainstream SW (WF F) for popper fishing
250-300m Gel Spun with min. 25 kg breaking strength
Fluorocarbon 15 kg
Fly Fishing Rivers and Lakes
Fishing Tara and Lim
The Tara River is famous for its canyon, which is the deepest canyon in Europe with a depth of over 1300 m. It is considered a rafting Eldorado. The Tara is also known for fishing for huchen. The population of Hucho permanently living there is very good. As huchen are often killed by locals before reaching their top size a fish of 1 m is a relatively large fish there. In spring, some very large fish weighing over 30 kg move up from the Drina to the Tara to spawn there. July is the best time for fishing for this fish there. You can then fish until midnight. In addition, there are also beautiful endemic trout and grayling. As everywhere in Montenegro, nature is still in order and the insects and lizards are not yet endangered by herbicides or pesticides. However, you will recognize a lot of plastic and other rubbish on the banks as spring floods inundate entire areas and transport rubbish from Albania. The local population needs to learn to care about nature if tourism is to be expanded in the long term. Fishing in winter is tough and not recommended. It can then be as cold as -25°C and there is a lot of precipitation. Hucho fishing in Montenegro, therefore, takes place at more pleasant temperatures than in the Alps.
The Gacka Ressort
There is a 5 km long private catch and release beat on the Tara near Mojkovac. The beat is only allowed to be fished with a guide. He picks up the customers and takes them to the best spots on the river. This C&R beat is managed, maintained, and controlled by the owner of the finest and most luxurious accommodation in the area, Gacka Resort. This little paradise of a high standard is situated on a hill about 3 km from the river. The resort's 54 beds are spread over numerous bungalows, some of which are very luxurious and spacious. A wellness area with a fitness room is also part of the facility, as is a sports field with a tartan surface. Everything had to be brought up the mountain in 15 years of construction. The owner Iman Jerakocevic has every right to be proud of the hotel & resort. Everything is made there in-house and even the 29°C warm water from the indoor pool comes from local mountain water and is kept germ-free with special biological agents. Everything that is needed in the kitchen is planted on the site. Grapes and various local delicacies are also grown in the organic area. The meat comes from organic farming in the area. The Gacka Slow Food Resort is the only resort regularly visited by international guests. There is a reason for this as in addition to the fantastic location with a view over the valley, the price-performance ratio is also great. Fly fishermen vacationing in Montenegro usually stay there. The distance from the airport in Podgorica to the resort is almost 100 km. This is also the distance to the Lim River and Lake Plav, which is fished in guided day trips from the resort.
Lim, Ljuca and Plav Lake
After about a 1 hour and 15 minutes drive along breathtakingly beautiful rivers, you reach the small picturesque Plav Lake. It is fed by the river Ljuca. Out of the lake, it runs as Lim River, and the first few kilometers below Plav Lake are considered to be the best waters for fly fishing in Montenegro. The river is rich in macrozoobenthos and the fish population is therefore very high. Grayling up to 60 cm and very large trout live in the river. The river's endemic trout are a feast for the eyes. Fishing on the rivers of Montenegro starts to get really good from the second half of May when the water levels drop sharply. May and June are the best months on the Lim and also on the Plav lake, where large trout also rise after Mayflies. You can rent small wooden boats with electric motors to catch the big trout and huchen in the lake. Motorboats with combustion engines are not permitted. These are not necessary either, because the lake is barely a kilometer long. When the trout are active, an average of 2-3 trout weighing 2-5 kg are caught per angler per day. Huchen are also regularly caught there. Most anglers put these back as well as the trout. This is actually unusual, but there are very dedicated fly fishermen and guides at work there who know what such fish are worth. Grayling is plentiful for those who want to eat fish. The Lim in Berane has got a catch and release part where the huchen are more plentiful and larger than in most other areas.
In the village, you can also find the taxidermy of a huge huchen, which was caught in Plav lake by a local fisherman in 1985. The local fishermen speak of the world record huchen. The weight of 41.3 kg Huchen from Lake Plav is indeed significantly higher than the current world record fish of 35.1 kg from the Drau in Austria, but unfortunately, the fish was not caught with a rod but a net. Fishing with nets has not been permitted on the lake for a long time.
On the Lim near Berane, there has been a catch & release route for a few years that is better controlled. The population of huchen is better there, and they usually get a bit bigger there. In contrast to the Alps in Montenegro, catching a fish with a length of 1 m or more is rather the exception, since the fish usually do not get that big because they are killed beforehand. This is a common problem in Montenegro when it comes to larger fish. Too many still fall victim to poaching or even to non-compliance with minimum size rules. The lack of understanding of the value of good spawning fish is actually a pity because the habitat is perfect in terms of reproduction. Unfortunately, the poverty of many people also plays a role in this regard.
Fishing and Travelling in Montenegro
In order to know exactly what will await you in Montenegro, I would like to share the following information with you to make sure you will be well prepared and do not experience any unpleasant surprises.