Flylords: So what exactly is a Hucho Hucho?
Kurt: Hucho Hucho or Danube salmon is originally endemic (native) to the Danube River in Europe. However, the changes of biotopes, hydraulic structures, hydroelectric dams and water pollution have almost killed off this species. At present, it can be mainly found in Austria, Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Slovenia and in the Balkans, where mostly artificial breeding and raised protection are helping to maintain the current population of Hucho Hucho.
Flylords: Just how big does this cousin of the Taimen get?
Kurt: It can grow to about 1.3 meters (4.25 feet) in length and can weigh up to 20 – 25 kilos (45 lb-55 lb).
Flylords: What is the best fly fishing technique to connect with one of these river beasts?Kurt: More frequently you can meet fly fishermen using heavy single hand or double hand fishing rods with streamers as large as 15 – 30 centimeters.
Flylords: What are the best conditions and time of year to target huchen?
Kurt: Winter months are the best time of year to chase these fish. When the food of huchen is heading to its wintering areas in deeper waters, which is ideal for huchen fishing. Bridge pillars, river boulders, and outwash from pools are the primary hunting grounds for the huchen.
Temperatures around zero degrees, raw weather, snowing … these are the ideal conditions for huchen fishing. However, fishing in such conditions is only for a faithful few. It is said that this is the fish of one thousand casts. Huchen is the living proof of this saying. Some fishermen won’t hook into for many seasons in a row. It is really disheartening to be fishing in the icy water, lashing rain and biting wind from dawn to dusk. Ice must be regularly removed from eyelets and seemingly no gloves can warm up already numb fingers.
As a reward for all this ‘torture’, you get a bite. Your hookset must be firm and dynamic so the hook can penetrate all the way through the fish’s hard mouth. The cold is gone, adrenaline floods your body and your only wish is not to lose the fish. While you are fighting for each meter of a line in a strong current, you admire the mighty copper body rolling over and over. Only after this battle, will you get the chance to hold this noble and majestic fish. Just a few quick pictures and you carefully put the fish back into the river.
Then, I bet you will know the feeling of absolute happiness. Only then, can you understand that all the discomfort, kilometers you have passed along the river, dozens of streamers lost to snags and several days of having no contact with a fish are all well worth it.
Do the first little step; get out of your comfort zone and go try your luck!
Translated by Denisa Karaková
Photos Courtesy of Kurt Konrád and Zdeno Vranák (IG: @zdenovranak)
Kurt Konrád is a Slovakian fly fishing guide, ski instructor and all around outdoorsman. He specializes in the large trout that call central and eastern Europe home. Be sure to check him out on Instagram @konradproduction!
Be sure to check out the Huchen’s Mongolian cousin, the Taimen in the post below: