At the end of May a fishing trip to the Harz mountains was planned.
The crew for this trip would normally consist of three people who would
go on this trip every year.
This time it would be a different as some other friends had asked to join us.
In the end we counted seven people.

Arranging a trip with a lot of people caused problems, especially when you
wanted to pin a date and get a confirmation that everyone was actually going.
So in this case setting a date and getting confirmations was a problem.

In the end the whole process dragged on and when my friend finally wanted
to arrange the desired hotel it turned out that it was fully booked.
He called me what to do, simple I replied get another hotel.
As I had traveled often to that region I named another hotel and when he called
that place rooms where still available for the desired time period.
Now my friend asked what to do with regards to the other guys who
where not sure if they would go or not.
Again the answer was simple, book a room for us regulars – let the others know that
we have a different hotel and that they have act right away.

In the end everybody was booked in the same hotel and so on May the 29th
we went on the road to Eastern Germany.
With all the feet dragging in the beginning nobody had realized that the date
of our departure we coinciding with a German public holiday.
The roads where packed to full capacity.
The total drive would take less than four hours which we would normally drive in one go.
Not this time, we where barely over the Dutch German border when the first
request for a coffee break came by the non-regulars.

At about a quarter of the trip we where about to enter a traffic jam on the Autobahn
– normally we would just wait it out as circumventing would usually not outweigh
the time wasted in the traffic jam.
The non-regulars wanted to try it anyway so we left the Autobahn only to get stuck
on the slow road that went to countless little villages which had traffic lights a
and heavy traffic because of that public holiday.

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We did not only have bad luck with the road conditions, the weather would be
terrible also.
I had told my friends that a weather warning was in place for the region we would
visit and that extreme rainfall was predicted – at first they would not believe me.
When we crossed the Leine river near Hannover they got worried – it was well out of its banks.
The further we headed east – the more clouds we encountered.
As we drove into the mountains I could see that the little brooks that ran down from
the hills carried a lot of brown water – not a good sign.

With all the delays we had experienced we arrived late afternoon at our destination.
I had a feeling that it would be a waste of funds to get a fishing permit for this day as in a
couple of hours it would become dark.
My friends and I aka the regulars had to make some decisions fasts in order to get out
most of the day.
On our way to the hotel we would come along one of our favorite restaurants wo we would
eat first, the next place along the route would be the trout hatchery where we would
get our fishing permits.
Finally we would then go to the hotel, check in and fish afterwards.

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When we arrived at the river and saw the water our fears where confirmed.
The banks where flooded and the water was muddy, it would be difficult to extract trout
under these conditions.
Normally I would not fish flooded rivers but since I had traveled a long distance to get here I had
no other options.
My thoughts where that the trout would seek sheltered spots behind larger stones or inside bends.
As the riverbank was well under water I figured that fish would also be in there.
It turned out I was right – any of the spots I mentioned had fish and so I did quite well.

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We returned to the hotel late in the evening, it was raining again – in fact it rained cats and dogs all night.
In the morning at breakfast we heard roaring water, the little brook that flowed past and underneath the hotel
was now a little monster.
It pushed so much water that the manager of the hotel had stood watch all night as a section of the hotel
was build on pilings over the brook.
Rocks and tree limbs came down that little stream which could potentially get stuck at the pilings flooding part of the hotel.
The road from the hotel further into the mountains was closed due to a landslide and fire engine crews
where in constant action to clear the roads – not a good forebode for the days fishing.

There was some discussion of where and how we would fish this day.
Our other friends always wanted to fish in a pack – we had more or less the idea that we would
fish like we did every year.
I would not deny that I might be a bit socially impaired but I could not stand the thought of fishing
a rather small river with seven people at the same spot.
In the end we all went on our own (different) way.

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There was a large reservoir in the middle of the river we fished, the downstream section was the part
most fisherman knew and thus crowded.
We as regulars had often fished the river where it entered the reservoir, a favorite spot for us.
It was not that well known and boasted besides the rather rare grayling huge quantities of shinersa
that ran up from the reservoir in spring to spawn.
We decided to fish that section of the river which was now even murkier and higher because of
all the rain that had fallen in the previous night.

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Getting to the river provided a new challenge, the access road was closed off as a new bridge
was being built.
To reach our desired fishing haunts we had to follow the trail that ran along the mountain.
With all the wet weather this trail had been converted into a narrow slippery path,
passable with good walking shoes but a nightmare to walk with felt soled wading shoes.
My friends headed directly for the spots they had done so well one year before,
I stopped earlier at a deep and wide pool where I thought I had the best chances to catch fish.

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At first I was fishing with a nymph just to see if any of the shiners where around.
I got no hits which was not enterily a wonder as the water was so murky.
Something bigger had to be tied on, in this case a streamer might be more visable to
any hungry fish and it turned out to be the right choice.
The streamer did not travel long in the water before the first trout hit it.
There where many trout and so I expected that the pool must have been stocked recently.
Most of the trout I caught where off color and had damaged tails, a sure sign that
these fish had been reared in a concrete hatchery basin.

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At least I was catching some fish, the other guys did conserably less well.
Only one of my other friends caught a couple of the fish, the other one blanked.
We fished until late in the afternoon, after that it was back to the hotel and then into
town for dinner at the Italian restaurant.

The third day was even worse than the previous day.
More rain had fallen and many part of middle and eastern Germany had serious flooding.
We where not sure if we would go fishing or go home that day.

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With the river even higher and muddier than the day before we decided to tour the area
and see if we could find a fishable spot.
We all ended up at the large reservoir and I had serious plans to rent a boat and fish the
reservoir instead of the river.

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A view from the dam showed us that (as is often the case) the outflow was pretty clear.
The run-off from the mountains caused the stream to color the further you came from the dam.
The plan came in to mind to fish the first section of the stream behind the dam.
The problem was that we where not alone with that thought, other anglers had the same
idea and they where with even more people than we where.
Again our party split up – the regulars would try and fish further downstream – the part timers
would join the crowd.

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I fished the spots I visited on day one and did again pretty well.
There where also many nice spots further upstream and although wading was tricky
I could reach and fish all those spots.
Well upstream there was a section that I normally would not fish because it was so
shallow – off course now it was flooded.

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One side was marshy and before I knew it I got stuck in the mud – I had to get out of
there quick.
There was a small road that ran through the river and it was easy passable during normal
conditions.
I tried to walk over it but the heavy current convinced me to turn around.
Instead I carefully waded over the flooded bank as I had seen rising fish in the distance.
In the end I found a good spot to fish and was catching little brown trout on sedges.

I did very well on the shallow stretch but as I lost radio contact to the other guys I wondered
how they fared.
If they had no luck at their locations they could join me as there was ample space to fish.
I headed downstream and found them at the adjecent bank halfway from our starting point.
They had caught their fair share of fish and where doing fine.
I decided to fish the roadbridge downstream where two East Germans where already fishing.
I fished well upstream from the two other anglers and did quite well catching the stockies
on streamers, I saw not much action with the other guys though.

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At the end of the day we would all meet up at the local trout hatchery in order to drive
to the next town for a visit to a Italian restaurant.
When we arrived at the hatchery and the others did not show up at the designated time
a radio call was made to the part timers.
They replied that they still fishing - so we waited – and waited – and waited a little more.
Finally a phone called was made, the part timers where already at the restaurant.
So we cursed them as we could have been fishing during all the time we waited.
Off course we ended at separate tables in the Italian restaurant which was btw a very good place to eat.

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During the last night of our stay it had actually not rained.
A look at the river showed that the level had gone down quite a bit and the water had become cleaner.
We as regulars had a short fishing day ahead of us as some of us had other obligations later that day,
the part timers would stay a little longer.
After breakfast we had a discussion of where we would fish – I had the preference for the area near the
hatchery, my friends wanted to fish below the day.
By mistake we ended up at the spot I desired.

Although it was dry it also was very cold for a day in spring, in fact the temperature did not
climb higher than eleven degrees Celsius on that day.
Combined with a very strong wind it almost fell like fall.
I fished with a small nymph and caught quite a few trout near a hot spot at the road brigde.

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After a while I headed further upstream as there was another nice pool only
a short wading distance ahead.
One of my friends had the same idea only he used a path along the river to get there.
As I had reached the end of the pool he was fishing the start of it.

Despite the cold windy conditions small mayflies where on the water and the trout where
rising all over the place.

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As the water was rather deep especially in these conditions fish where rising right in front of me.
At first I fished the nymph but then tried a sedge to get any of the rising fish.
I did get a few of them but it was clear that the sedge was not entirely convincing.
At noon we called it a day and headed back home only to get caught up in another traffic jam as
all regular holidaymakers also returned home at the same time.

So this trip left some mixed feelings – despite the lousy conditions the fishing was actually
rather good and I learned something about fishing flooded rivers.
We had a good time nonetheless all the adverse conditions.
The downside was going on a trip with so many people and also importantly with people
that are not always on the same wavelength so to say.

Hopefully next year we will go as regulars only to avoid all the organization misery we had
on this trip.
One of the regulars and I will return for a re-match later this year to the Harz mountains though,
we will then probably complain about the low water :-)