Fly Fishing - A place in History


For the sportsman interested in history, the following may be something of a surprise, quite shaking the common supposition of traditionally locating the historic roots of fly fishing in England. There is undeniable documentary evidence that as far back as in the year 1360, a certain wealthy trader acquired the right “to fish for grayling and trout by means of feathered hooks” in the Rivers Traun and Alm from the abbot of Lambach Monastery, the owner of the fishery. Thus, more than a century before prioress Juliana Barnes in 1496 reported fly fishing in England for the first time, the craft had already been avidly practiced on the banks of the Austrian River Traun!

Charles Ritz
Charles Ritz


The legendary reputation of the Gmundner Traun among fly fishermen dates back to the English scientist and traveller Sir Humphrey Davy, who described the attractive surroundings of the River Traun, as well as the incredible abundance of fish in his book “Salmonia or Days of Fly Fishing”, published in 1828. However, it wasn’t until the early 20th century that the Traun obtained its fame as a fly fishing water of the very first class. In those days the Imperial Head Bailiff (“k.k. Fischerei Meister”) A. Hoeplinger and Dr. F. Duncan controlled the fishing and as a result of their well considered and conservationist fishery management numerous sportsmen from all over the world came to fish the famous river. Among the illustrious and international fly fishing guests were members of the Belgian and English Royal families as well as high-ranking military men (e.g. General D. Eisenhower) or the celebrated hotelier and rod-maker Charles Ritz. Even Nobel prize winner Ernest Hemingway is known to have once written to Charles Ritz, asking him for his companionship on the banks of the Gmundner Traun – whether this wish ever actually materialized remains, however, unknown.
An absolute highlight was the fishing for lake trout, the so-called "Lachsln", which enticed the fly fishing elite of the time to visit the Gmundner Traun. In those days the potential for fish growth was extraordinary, based on excellent feeding conditions and low fishing pressure, and lake trout weighting well over 40 lbs (20 kg) are documented in old records and photographs of the time. Likewise incredible, however, from today’s perspective was the density of the local grayling population, which provided excellent sport for the dry fly during autumn and early winter. Hans Gebetsroither, who was later to become Head Bailiff on the Gmundner Traun, originally invented the so-called “Gebetsroither casting style” on this memorable beat. Modern casting, as developed on the banks of the River Traun, has meanwhile become internationally famous for its particular efficiency and elegance in presenting the fly over long distances under varying conditions. Experienced casting instructors maintain the high level of technical knowledge on the spot.


Times have changed and even the far famed River Traun had to pay its tribute. Although population density of trout and grayling cannot be compared with the glorious days of Dr. Duncan or Hans Gebetsroither, the Gmundner Traun still offers
first class fly fishing experience in a delightful setting on a historical background. The Friends of the Gmundner Traun are well aware of their responsibilities concerning the management of the fishery and make every effort to ensure that guests are really able to recall the legendary past of this river by their catches too. And there is hope that the Gmundner Traun should once more be recognized as a Mecca for international fly fishing! Please help us to achieve this goal in recognizing every fisherman’s responsibility towards his prey, by fishing fair and considerate, and by especially taking care when handling fish that are to be released unharmed and carefully removed.