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Angling Report subscribers who would like to combine some fly fishing for trout with their trip to Europe this summer should definitely consider Italy. The majority of fly-fishing resources in Italy are found within the Alps, where there are several good fishing rivers, some of them containing large grayling and the rare and beautiful marbled trout. But one of the most interesting and internationally well-known fly-fishing venues in Italy is the Tail Water Tevere, located in the easternmost corner of Tuscany.
The Tail Water Tevere (TWT) is a section of the upper Tiber River that has been designated as a fly-fishing venue almost from its inception in 2003, thanks to the dedication and foresight of two local fly fishers, Luca Castellani and Mauro Raspini. These men realized early on that although the cold water flowing from beneath the dam pushed away warm water fish, it created a perfect environment for salmonids.
After researching various American tailwater fisheries and studying how they are managed, Castellani and Raspini approached local authorities with a plan to manage this section of river as a self-sustaining trout and grayling area. The rest is history. Today, TWT has a healthy population of self-reproducing brown trout and grayling. Because of the coldness of the water emanating from the dam (6°C), brown trout spawn quite late, usually starting the first week of January, while the grayling reproduce during March and April. It is worth noting that TWT is the southernmost area in Europe where grayling are found self-reproducing.
Several kinds of insects hatch on the upper Tiber, most of them quite small mayflies, from baetis to ephemera, ecdyonuris and caenis, plus small Leuctra fusca (a tiny stonefly). Originally, there were no trichoptera, but Castellani and Raspini found plenty on smaller feeder streams nearby and started “ferrying” them, as they call it, into the TWT by the bucketful. Now, after seven years, there are silver sedges hatches from late spring to late fall.
Thanks to an abundance of natural forage and the implementation of strict catch-and-release rules, trout in the TWT reach sizable proportions. Every pool has at least one extra-large trout, and in the lower sections there are even more. Castellani’s personal record is a 28-inch fish, while the overall record for my Western European Travel clients is 25 inches. All of these big fish were caught strictly on dry flies.
This past December 29, there was a problem at the dam, which caused flooding. However, due to the configuration of the riverbed here, there was apparently little damage to the fishery. The upper Tiber does not flow through a narrow canyon the way the Green River does below Flaming Gorge. It’s more like the San Juan River in New Mexico. The only potential problem is the possible loss of this year’s trout hatch. Should that be the case, it will be promptly replaced by trout fingerlings from a hatchery along the Nera River, a tributary of the Tiber in Umbria.
Fishing on the TWT this spring will open as usual on May 1 and close on December 31. A daily fishing permit here costs 10 euros, plus a 23-euro fee to access the fishery. A guide to help you fish this area costs 250 euros a day. Local lodging can be found for as little as 90 euros or as much as 130 or more per day.
Postscript: The single best source of information on fishing the TWT is Claudio himself. You can reach him via his Web site, www.western europeantravel.com. Be sure to ask him about other places to fish in Italy and nearby parts of Europe. His specialty is multiday itineraries that include guidance on what to see and where to eat and spend the night. Angling Report subscribers who have used his service rave about it.