Fish species for recreational fishing

Slovenia’s rivers and lakes are the habitat for 93 species of fish, of which 33 are protected. There are 25 species of fish that are of interest to anglers. You can fish for indigenous fish of the Adriatic drainage basin, prime among which is the marble trout, the largest European trout. You can also fish for brown trout, grayling, huchen, nase or wels catfish. It is worth learning a little about the most interesting species of fish in Slovenia.

Most of Slovenia’s rivers belong to the Danube basin, i.e. the Black Sea drainage basin, but a quarter are in the Adriatic drainage basin. Salmonidae species are predominant in a third of Slovenia’s waters, while elsewhere there are more mixed or Cyprinidae species.

Fish of the Adriatic drainage basin

- Marble trout: the pride of Slovenia, but nevertheless an endangered species. Almost three decades ago it was on the verge of extinction in the Soča, but a campaign to save it was started in 1982 by all Slovenian anglers. Evidence of the success of this work is that the upper stretch of the river again has a pure population of marble trout. A similar process is underway in the middle stretch, where the population is growing every year. Today the average size of a marble trout is around 35 cm in the upper stretch, and 40 cm in the middle stretch of the Soča. Each year anglers catch a few marble trout weighing 5 to 15 kg. The largest specimen recorded was caught in 1997: it weighed 25 kg, and measured 121 cm in length. The marble trout lives in other rivers of the Adriatic drainage basin, like the Idrijca, Bača, Vipava, Reka and Rižana, where its population is significantly smaller.

- Marble/brown cross trout: common in the Idrijca, Bača, Vipava, Reka and Rižana. Found everywhere the two species co-exist, it is a natural cross-breed. It has attributes of both species, and is distinguished by its more or less intensive marbling along the back and head, and red spots along the flanks, which are white-edged like those of the brown trout. It can reach an impressive size, weighing more than 10 kg.

- Adriatic grayling: the population in the Soča, Idrijca and Vipava was self-sustaining 40 years ago, but environmental changes and other activity have brought a sharp decline. The Adriatic grayling differs from the grayling of the Danube basin in colour and behaviour. It has a blue-grey back and yellow or white belly. The paired fins are yellow, while the tail fin is grey with yellow traces in the lower half. Compared with the Sava grayling, the Soča grayling is not a really strong fighter. Usually it tucks up into the current and swings its head to the riverbed. Only rarely does it jump into the air, which is the grayling’s most appreciated quality. The usual size is between 30 and 45 cm, although they can grow over 50 cm in length.

Fish of the Danube drainage basin

- Grayling: one of the most attractive of fish for fly fishers. Interest in the grayling is growing, as in the majority of European waters the population is falling sharply as they are preyed on by cormorants. In Slovenia’s grayling reserves the species is well-represented. An ideal fish for fly fishing, it can be fished successfully the entire season. The average size in the best waters is around 40 cm, but there are increasing reports of grayling being caught that measure 50 cm and more. It is famed for its fighting abilities. Its escape runs, particularly its jumps, are a positive delight for fly fishers.

- Brown trout: famed around the world, and lives on all continents. In Slovenia it is common in the upper and middle stretches of brooks and rivers throughout the country other than in the north-east. The average size is 30 cm. Larger specimens are not rare, particularly in karst waters. In many waters it shares its habitat with the rainbow trout, and in some places the brook trout.

- Huchen or Danube salmon: undoubtedly Slovenia’s number one trout-like species in terms of size. Fiendishly pursued by dedicated huchen fishers, it has a respectable weight of up to 27 kg, the 2005 record. The status of the huchen population in Slovenian waters is good. In many areas, such as the Sava Bohinjka, the Sava near Ljubljana and the Krka, the status is very good.

- Nase: the main target for coarse anglers. A schooling fish that inhabits the middle stretches of Slovenian waters. Float fishing, the main method used, catches fish of between 0.5 and 1 kg in weight, but fish of up to 2 kg are sometimes taken.

- Danube roach: a companion species to the nase. It is dominant in some areas, particularly karst waters. It is also a schooling fish that grows to several kilograms. Coarse anglers particularly appreciate it because of its selectivity in angling.

- Barbel: a real fighter. The best time for barbel fishing is the summer. Fans love it because of its fight and its size, as it can reach 80 cm in length and 5 kg or more in weight.

- European chub: inhabits mountain brooks, but also meandering lowland rivers. Can be found everywhere in schools or alone. An ideal angling fish, it can be fished in different ways, using a number of baits, and in all seasons. In Slovenia it reaches the enviable weight of 2 to 3 kg.

- Rainbow trout: this always-active fish can often brighten your day when other members of the salmon and trout family are not biting. Not only does it like to take the fly, it is also a very good fighter. It grows up to an enviable 80 cm in length, and can weigh 6, 7 or even more kg.

- Brook trout: a Canadian trout introduced to Europe at the same time as the rainbow trout. It has unjustly remained in its shadow, as it is highly active and fights well. It is however true that it does not reach the size of its southern relative.

Lake fish

- Carp: inhabits numerous natural and man-made lakes, stagnant streams, reservoirs, and ponds, but also the middle and lower stretches of the majority of Slovenia’s rivers. It is a popular fish among anglers, and is number one among all Cyprinidae in terms of weight, averaging between 2 and 3 kg. Reports of fish weighing more than 10 kg are common. There are more and more waters for fishing for huge carp, as anglers usually return all the fish to the water.

- Common bream: a fish whose reputation is on the rise. There are growing numbers of fun anglers who enjoy taking this fish in large numbers, including some specimens weighing between 1 and 2 kg.

- Tench: highly esteemed by coarse anglers. In favourable conditions, for instance in Lake Cerknica, it often reaches a weight of 2 or 3 kg.

- Pike: a favourite species for anglers whose true love is spinning. It lives in numerous running waters in the two drainage basins, and can weigh more than 10 kg.

- Zander: lives exclusively in lakes. It can grow to 10 kg in weight.

- Wels catfish: the heaviest species of Slovenian fish. Specimens can weigh more than 50 kg.

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