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As part of a month-long trip to Europe this summer, my wife and I spent a delightful three days in the Austrian town of Scharding. Scharding is a small, charming, Medieval/Baroque town of approximately 6,000 inhabitants and is located on the Inn River about 40 miles northeast of Salzburg. The Inn begins in the mountains around Innsbruck, Austria, and becomes a major tributary of the Danube when it joins this river near the German border city of Passau.
Our fishing excursion to Austria was recommended to us by our New Zealand fly fishing/outfitter friend, Ron Stewart. He mentioned to us that he had a wonderful experience staying with and fishing with Willi Forstinger, who fly fishes all over the world and is the proprietor of Forstinger’s Wirtshaus (*), also aptly named Romantik Hotel and Restaurant. When I wrote to Forstinger last spring, he responded with information about his hotel and various options he had for fishing in the Scharding area.
My wife and I arrived in Scharding by Eurorail from Ansbach, Germany, on July 31. We were delighted with the picturesque town of Scharding and the wonderful quality of Forstinger’s operation. He met me early the next morning and I was escorted out of town to fish a three-kilometer private beat on the Muhlheimer River. The stream was running low and clear on this bright sunny day and the fish were easy to spot nymphing in the shallow runs and riffles. Since I was not able to observe any hatches taking place, I decided to nymph. I managed to catch approximately 30 wild browns, rainbows and grayling, mostly using long downstream presentations with strike indicators. The largest fish was a 22-inch, four-pound rainbow caught on a size 12 Beadhead Prince nymph. I fished until approximately four in the afternoon when I had to retire because of an incoming thunderstorm.
The afternoon thunderstorm marked a change in the weather patterns for northern Europe. It drizzled all night, and because of this Forstinger recommended that I next fish a beat on the Antiesen River. The Antiesen is a slow-moving, often cloudy but nutritionally rich small stream running through villages and farms and is just loaded with fish. Forstinger’s beat is 17 kilometers long. Even though it was rainy and cold, I had a delightful four hours of nymph fishing and was able to catch a large 16-inch char. My catch of nine fish included three brown trout, three char, one grayling and two rainbows. This stream also holds large huchen (a landlocked salmon that is native to the Danube system) up to 20 pounds and whitefish. I had to conclude my fishing at approximately 2 p.m. because the waters kept rising due to the increasing rain. All in all, I felt that I had a very successful experience.
The hospitality and food at Forstinger’s Wirtshaus was excellent and Willi’s charming wife, Margret, and his two lovely daughters’ attention to our needs made the whole experience quite enjoyable. The inclusive charges for three nights’ lodging, license, all meals and two days of fishing were a very reasonable 6,708 Austrian schillings or $520. Rental of a car for three days was an additional 1,419 Austrian schillings or $110.
We plan to return next summer and fish several other private streams leased by the Forstingers for their guests. They offer exclusive uses of the K"sselbach (six-kilometer beat) and the Osternach (a beat four kilometers long) rivers. Willi Forstinger is also quite proud of a six-kilometer-long section of an excellent spring creek near Scharding. – Chatt G. Wright.