In August 2020, together with Gabriele, we spent a day fly-fishing in a very special stream, the Trojeralmbach, a tributary of the Schwarzach river that flows through the Defereggen valley in East Tyrol (Austria). This stream, situated in a fairytale landscape, lies at over 1800m above sea level in the Hohe Tauern National Park, where it meanders mostly through alpine meadows allowing excellent fly fishing on trout and chars.
Section 3 of Trojeralmbach - amazing scenery
In this article you will find all the relevant information to replicate our fly fishing experience in Trojeralmbach. Thanks to the numerous photos and videos you will be able to get a fairly clear idea of the place and how to fish there. Don't have time to read? At the end of the article you will find the info box with all relevant information.
Tip: don't forget to take a look at the article about the "big brother", the Schwarzach stream (online soon)
1. General information
The Trojeralmbach belongs to the fishing reserve of the Naturhotel Tandler in St. Jakob in Defereggen, together with a stretch of the Schwarzach. Its owner, Thomas Ladstätter, has been managing the watercourse in a sustainable way for many years, as no farmed fish are necessary due to the excellent natural reproduction and the obligation to practice catch & release.
Char with beautiful Trojeralmbach livery
Wild fish, especially char and brown trout, are robust and powerful with unique colours and liveries. Due to the altitude, the average size of our "finned" friends is about 22-25 cm, although some specimens manage to get bigger, like the brown trout of about 35 cm that I managed to fool (photo below).
Since this beautiful mountain stream is not influenced by glaciers, you can fish in crystal clear waters most of the year. Even after heavy rainfall the water can be cleaned within a few hours. Due to the altitude the season is short and runs from June to mid-October. The width of the stream is between 3 and 5 metres.
You can easily spend 2 days fishing on the Trojeralm stream without getting bored. The varied and wild landscape forms a spectacular natural scenery. The peace and quiet that you will find in these places and the rustic fish with amazing liveries will make your fishing experience truly unique.
2. The reserve
Along its 8 km, the Trojeralmbach reserve often changes shape and I think it makes sense to divide the watercourse into sections during the presentation in this article.
Trojeralmbach in the Defereggental (Austria) - a very varied fishing reserve in a fantastic scenery
The most beautiful stretches of the Trojeralm stream are located in the heart of the valley at the Trojeralm refreshment station at over 1800 metres above sea level. From the car park "Trogach" (approx. 5 minutes drive above the village of St. Jakob) there is a 20-40 minute walk to reach this plateau, but the uphill walk will repay you for every effort.
- Stretch 1: from the mouth of the Schwarzach to the Trogach car park (approx. 1.8 km)
- Stretch 2: from the Trogach car park to the Trojeralm refreshment station (approx. 1.8 km)
- Stretch 3: from the refreshment station Trojeralm to various mountain huts (approx. 1 km)
- Stretch 4: from the mountain huts to the waterfall (approx. 900 m)
- Stretch 5: from the waterfall to the border of the upstream reserve (approx. 2 km)
Important note: do not be discouraged by the description of the first two stretches, these are more for daredevil fly fishermen, who love surprises by trying their luck. In this stretch of creek the fish often do not see an artificial fly even once a month.
From stretch 3 onwards, however, the stream becomes spectacular. Rarely have I happened to fish in such a beautiful and easily accessible natural environment without this being marked by an excessive presence of fishing tourism.
Almost a painting, the picture of stretch 3
Stretch 1: from the mouth of the Schwarzach to the Trogach car park (approx. 1.8 km)
The Trojeralmbach rises very slowly from its mouth in the Schwarzach to the newly built containment barrier at the top of the village of St. Jakob. We are in the middle of St. Jakob, with artificial shores on both sides and surrounded by houses, which is not exactly attractive from a landscape point of view. From the containment barrier to the Trogach car park, the Trojeralmbach flows through a wooded valley along a forest path, the route is uphill and even here the landscape is not particularly attractive.
Actually I didn't want to write anything about this stretch, according to the owner Thomas Ladstätter, it is hardly ever fished here. But at the end of the fishing day I took the time to do this stretch too and changed my mind. It offers a well-structured habitat that could also accommodate larger brown trout and char.
Conclusion: the lower part of the Trojeralmbach is not very spectacular but it would be worth a try, the possibility of a pleasant surprise is just around the corner. However, you have to realise that it will be quite a hard walk.
2.2 Stretch 2: from the Trogach car park to the Trojeralm refreshment station (approx. 1.8 km)
Most fly fishermen drive from St. Jakob to the Trogach car park. This mountain road is asphalted at first and then turns into a dirt road at the top but can be driven on without any problem with any type of car. The journey takes about 5 minutes. Even in August this part of the Hohe Tauern National Park is not overcrowded and you can park at any time of the day without any problem.
From the "Trogach" car park, a 5-minute drive above St. Jakob, then continue on foot...
From the car park, a forest road and a path lead directly to the Trojeralm refreshment station. The walk takes 20-40 minutes, depending on your fitness, and always runs along the Trojeralm stream. Thomas Ladstätter told us that most fly fishermen don't even fish here, because they want to reach the higher parts of the area as quickly as possible. Why? You'll find out further down...
I decided to wear the waders already in the car park, although it is worth considering putting them on only at the end of the climb. Even the most breathable waders don't work wonders, at least I was a bit sweaty once I reached the plateau. Since the banks of the stream are not covered with bushes or trees and the watercourse is usually only a few metres from the path, it was easy for me to fish this stretch at least in the most promising spots. With a bit of luck I was able to fool some char, rustic and well finned, with a livery that seemed to have been painted by hand. With the long winters and short summers, nature in these places has only one rule: "eat or die". Having a landing net is definitely recommended, so that you can put the fish back in the water in the best possible way.
It is also worth fishing in the best spots of stretch 2 (valley view)
It will soon be done, just a few minutes to the "Jausenstation Trojeralm"
Conclusion: if you want to walk directly to the most panoramic spots you have to give up fishing on this stretch, even if you may miss the chance to catch a brook trout or a char of a more generous size. A few castings on the way back might be another option.
2.3 Stretch 3: from the Trojeralm refreshment station to the mountain huts (approx. 1 km)
Once you arrive at the refreshment station of Trojeralm ("Jausenstation Trojeralm"), the landscape changes completely: the terrain becomes flat and wide, the landscape opens up and the Trojeralmbach winds gently through the alpine meadows of the plateau becoming breathtakingly beautiful. From here a forest road leads further uphill along the Trojeralmbach.
A dream for every dry fly fisherman - the Trojeralmbach winds gently at 1800 m above sea level
Pictures are worth more than a thousand words. As already mentioned, I have not often had the opportunity to fish in a similar natural environment.
I have intensely fished this stretch, almost in every promising spot. With my imitation of black/orange caddis I managed to fool many chars. Fish at this height are not picky but shy, success depends more on cautious movements than on the type of fly. Important as always in searching fly fishing is that both you and the fish must be able to see the fly well and the fly must have excellent buoyancy, that's all.
The large searching fly (left in the picture), a Slickwater Caddis, was once again irresistible
In the photo you can see well that the shore offers shelters for the fish on both sides in many places, the lawn often protrudes 20-40 cm above the water below. The char are in these shelters, they follow the fly drifting for a short period of time and then catch it quickly. Thanks to the crystal clear water I have been able to observe this scene many times.
The overhanging lawn provides optimal shelter for char and brown trout.
The morphology of the stream is varied, ideal to give a habitat to all age groups of wild fish.
Swirling water behind obstacles are very promising
The best strategy? I often changed the bank from which I fished (crossing is possible without problems in this section even with the hippers) in order to present the fly at its best in the most promising points, always fishing from the "worst" bank to the "best" bank by placing the fly near the dens just mentioned. The fly must slide on the edge of the shore and it is there that after a short chase you will have the attack of the fish.
This char, sheltered under the overhanging lawn, could not resist to my imitation of black Sege
Due to the small size of the watercourse it is not advisable to stand in the middle of the stream to fish on both sides. After a few attempts I realised that this strategy would not be very successful, some fish literally escaped from under my nose, underestimating their cunning mistrust. Of course it's also worth fishing in all the other good spots! I dare say that an average fisherman in the Trojeralm stream can easily find all the most promising spots.
The Trojeralm stream is free of trees or bushes on both sides, so even less experienced flyfishers can cast their fly line without any problems. However, the fact remains that, as I have already said, a stealthy and discreet attitude is the key to not frightening the shy salmonids.
View towards the mountain in the direction of the mountain huts
Bush- and tree-free shores - ideal for casting. But beware, wild fish are easily frightened by shadows.
The protruding shores offer several shelters for chars
Conclusion: With an impressive plateau, imposing 3000-metre peaks in the background and an abundance of char and brown trout that reproduce naturally, our assessment can only be excellent. Dry fly fishing in these places is the very essence of fly fishing. It would never have occurred to me to fish with a nymph in this part of the stream in this landscape.
2.4 Stretch 4: from the mountain huts to the waterfalls (approx. 900 m)
The ground rises gently from the mountain huts, and the forest road leads away from the Trojeralmbach for the first time. Now the Trojeralmbach rises up in terraces, the watercourse tightens and the fast flowing water plunges into a succession of crystal-clear pools with calm water and large potholes.
The Trojeralmbach now rises in terraces
Fast flowing water alternates with deep holes
Despite the blurred video you should get a good impression of the water flow at the beginning of stretch 4 (rather high water level).
Towards the waterfall the holes become deeper and the forest becomes denser
These areas are not easy to fish with dry fly, because the water depth is often well over one metre. Nevertheless, it is worth it. These places usually host the most important fish because they provide them with extra food and good shelter. This beautiful brown trout was fooled by my imitation of caddis in one of the many calm water pools in this stretch, it must have been about 35 cm long.
Attracted by the depths of a large searching fly - brown trout around 35 cm in length
Crossing the Trojeralmbach is not possible everywhere here, often fallen trees are the only possibility (beware). Near the waterfall the route becomes almost impassable and it is best to return to the forest road to get around this section.
Conclusion: the uphill terraced terrain and the course of the stream along the forest are very suggestive. Dry fly fishing is not easy in the many deep pools of calm water, but it is very promising, as long as it is not too cold. If temperatures are still cold, the heavy nymph may be the best choice to attract larger predators hidden deep down. It is well known that larger chars and brown trout can be found in this stretch!
2.5 Stretch 5: from the waterfall to the border of the upstream reserve (approx. 2 km)
After the waterfall, the high valley opens up again, the terrain becomes flatter again and the Trojeralmbach winds gently through the wide alpine meadow. A dreamlike scenery that repeats itself as in stretch 3, but with a wilder, more romantic note.
Again a wild dream landscape - the highest part of the Trojeralmbach Reserve
The beginning of the highest stretch, view towards the valley
This stretch has an excellent char heritage but due to the altitude the average size here is about 18-20 cm. The livery of the brook trout and char that I managed to outsmart here was of impressive beauty. Even up here, the fish caught were in surprisingly good condition. The characteristics of this stretch clearly invite you to dry fly fishing.
Interesting detail: as part of a joint project, the fry of the "Urforellen", the originally indigenous brown trout tribes, were sown.
Conclusion: this wild and romantic alpine plateau is characterised by an excellent population of rustic fish that allow you to practice dry fly fishing at its best.
3. Technique and equipment
I love dry fly fishing with short rods and light fly line. The Trojeralmbach is very accessible, so it is perfect to cast almost anywhere. A 7' or 7'6' long rod from line class #2 or #3 is ideal for this purpose.
If casting is not your thing, you can also use a long rod, which makes line control in the water (mending) very easy and you can present your fly in the most promising spots practically without casting. A 10' long rod in line class #3, as often used in European Nymph fishing, is perfectly suited to this purpose.
When it comes to flies, char and brown trout are really anything but picky. My advice: use a very well floated and rather voluminous dry fly, preferably in black or dark brown on a hook size 12. Just use a model you believe in and have often been successful with. It is important to have a good view of the fly so as not to lose the bite. It must be worth it for the fish to chase your fly, so don't use too small imitations, especially in deep holes. Imitations of caddis are ideal.
Bulky, clearly visible and very floating flies in black or brown are ideal
Of course, you could also fish with a heavy nymph, but given the ideal conditions for dry fly fishing, it would never occur to me to try, except perhaps for the coldest times of the year when the fish cannot be attracted to the surface.
More important than the fly model is the way you move along the stream. The water is crystal clear and the fish are rather shy; in various places it is advisable to cast bent over or even kneel down.
As mentioned before, waist waders or simple hippers are enough. Chest waders are superfluous or rather disadvantageous in these places due to the shallow water and also considering the fact that there will be a lot to walk.
A landing net makes it easier to gently put the fish back into the water and is therefore part of the essential equipment.
Since we are between 1800 and 1900 metres above sea level in the upper part of the reserve, it is advisable to always observe the weather conditions, in the mountains the change of weather often occurs very quickly.
4. An experience also for non fishermen
As described many times, the Trojeralm valley is a delight for the eyes and a unique natural jewel. It offers first-class fishing and allows even non-fishermen to spend a few carefree hours away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Children love to go wild on the alpine meadows and splash around in the countless small waters. In the refreshment area at the Trojeralm there are also fences with chickens, pigs and rabbits. Culinary delights are not overlooked either, thanks to an extensive menu with many local delicacies.
The landscape of alpine pastures with its small and large waters is not only a dream for fly fishermen
The stuffed pigs in the "Jausenstation Trojeralm" hut magically attract children
In short, the Trojeralm Valley is also worth a visit as a destination easily accessible to the whole family.
INFOBOX TROJERALMBACH STREAM:
Rating: 1/5 = insufficient, 5/5 = very good
- Province: East Tyrol (Austria)
- Location: Trojeralm Valley, above St. Jakob - Defereggen Valley
- Creek: Trojeralmbach (reserve length approx. 8 km, between 1,380 - 1,900 m above sea level)
- Available EXCLUSIVELY for guests of Naturhotel Tandler (max. 2 per day)
- Cost of day permit 20 € (even cheaper for longer stays)
- Contact person Thomas Ladstätter (owner Naturhotel Tandler, passionate fly fisherman)
- [email protected]
- Tel. +43 4873 6355
- You can also fish in the Schwarzach with the same daily permit (blog online soon)
- Landscape beauty: 5/5
- Tourist attractions: 2/5 (5/5 for nature)
- Fly fishing season: June until mid-October
Techniques and baits allowed:
- Fly fishing without barb with 1 fly (dry fly, wet fly, nymph)
- Catch and release (no kill)
- Summer period: dry fly
- Cold weather and early season: Heavy nymph
- Brook trout (90%)
- Brown trout (10%)
- Stretch 1, 2, 4: medium to difficult
- Stretch 3 and 5: easy
- Accessibility location: 3/5
- Stream accessibility: 5/5
- Wild Fish Heritage: 5/5
- Overall rating (small water category): 4/5