I don´t know exactly when, but it must have been sometime around christmas when Lukas R. came up with the idea...what about a trip to Rügen, he asked. Sounds great, but when? When the answer was end of February, several thoughts were crossing my mind. First one: it´ll be cold. Second one: it´ll be really cold. Third one: it´ll be windy. Forth one: there could be a slight chance of catching the biggest pike of my life.
The last one convinced me. I´m a man of simple needs - if there was a chance for fishing, I´d go for it. Period. And Lukas knew that.
Soon enough, we ordered a little bit of tying material (one could argue it was a more than a litte bit, but to us it was just fine) and started with the planning. Spending hours in front of Google Earth, searching through forums for the slightest bit of information that could enhance our chances, making the packing lists, tying flies. This kind of "foreplay" is actually one part of the whole thing that we really came to enjoy. Lukas found a nice place to stay, located quite in the centre of Rügen. Now the only thing we worried about was the weather. Every day we looked it up on the Internet, hoping for temperatures above zero and little wind. Luckily the weathergod showed mercy and the prediction seemed to be ok...not more, but not less either. So the car was packed and after eight hours of driving we arrived at our destination. The evening was filled with streamer tying and gearing up.
The next few days were dominated by cold fingers, cold water and a lot of fishing. The latter turned out to be harder than I expected it to be.
Well, it was winterfishing - and winterfishing usually is never easy (freezing all the time, fish are lazy and so on....) but to be honest I thought we´d at least get a hook up every now and then. But we didn´t.
The problem was not that the fish weren´t feeding, but rather that we didn´t manage to find them. These waters up there are HUGE, much bigger than the biggest waters we´ve ever fished before (except the ocean probably, although I´m not even sure about that).During the wintertime, the pike tend to gather at certain spots to feed on herring and all sorts of whitefish. If you find these spots, you can have the best fishing of your live. But finding it is, to foreigners like us, like finding the needle in the haystack. We tried our best though, spending every evening in front of maps to search for some promising drop offs which we could reach in our waders. Wind sheltered drop offs were like a little mekka to us - because we had wind nearly all the time (Not the second day, so we instantly launched our bellyboats - and finally made some pictures).
Did you ever try to throw a 25cm fly against a "breeze" of 27 knots, with your balls in ice cold water and rain/snow from above? Well, it is all but a comfortable way to spend your freetime, I can tell you that...
After a little while, when your fingers are numb and you can´t accurately locate your feet, your mind will reach some kind of zen like mode, mixed with a bit of insanity. That´s about the time when you are constantly switching your thoughts from "Why the hell am I doing this?" and "Well now, pikefishing just ain´t for pussys!".
Out of the perspective of a non-fishing guy, we surely were stupid, lost souls. He´s probably right. But the thing that got us out every morning again was actually really simple: hope. We had the hope, that maybe, maybe, someone "up there" - be it Jesus, the mayfly god or John Lennon - will show mercy and reward us for our efforts. That hope was the reason for each new cast, for each new flychange, for each new change of spot.
But in the end, all we caught were two pike.
No real big ones, but not the smallest either. So we didn´t get totally skunked.
Nevertheless, we don´t regret a single minute of this trip. We haven´t seen a lot of pike, but we already knew how they look like. But we saw some nice scenery, hunting sea eagles, cranes and experienced a totally new kind of flyfishing. When my homies back in Bavaria asked whether it was all worth it, I happily answered YES!
So Tight Lines to you folks out there, spring is already in sight!