Fishing in Italy
8 CommentsFriday, 16 November 2018 | Paul G
FISHING IN ITALY: A SECRET PARADISE
If you’re on the trail of the “best kept secret” amazing fishing in Italy for all styles and species then this page is THE place to start. Over time we’ll just keep on creating and adding more and more new information here that reveals an ever-increasing range of destinations, tactics and target species (carp, trout, sea-bass and more) - not only tenkara!
You can be notified of each new instalment/species and updates when you sign up to Vito’s “Italy on the Fly” news:
So strap in while our great friend and "tame Italian" - the wonderful Vito “Tsurikichi” Rubino - lays it all out for you...
Fishing in Italy Part 1: Welcome To Italy
Recreational fishing is deeply rooted in the Italian culture since the dawn of time. A big reason for this is that Italy was not a single nation but a tangle of many different populations – all crossing and mixing with each other. With each ancient culture, skills in fishing were a necessary tool to hand down (first for survival and then as part of social identity).
Every area of Italy has its own traditional and cultural way to deal with the Sport and even if back in the days it was vital in terms of food gathering for survival, that fun part (not to mention the ego-fullfilling part) has played an important role, I should say crucial role, in the story of rod & line fishing in Italy. And just as you would be surprised to hear that the accent of a population changes in just a stone’s throw, you would be amazed by the variation in terms of fishing techniques targetting the same fish.
Church Fresco: Fish and fishing are deeply-rooted in Italian culture
It’s a titanic attempt just to think to explain fishing in Italy by a set of articles
Where should we start? With the Romans? Before? And how can I talk about fishing in Italy without relating it to the local culture? And where is local? (southern, central or northern)?
There will be time to go through all of that, but I would like to introduce you to the Italian Fishing experience as it is nowadays, with a taste of all it can offer.
Fly Fishing in Italy
Whenever I meet a fly angler, for example, the script is always the same and it goes, more or less, like this:
“Where does your accent come from?” (I love the polite way British address this kind of question, not to make it personal and keeping it “politically correct”. Very British!)
“Ohhhhh ITALIAAA… any good fishing down there?”
“Indeed. You would be amazed. I bet you heard about fly fishing in Slovenia and you match it in your mind with a fly fishing heaven don’t you?”
“Yes, of course”
“Well, Italy is at the border and a big part of Slovenia was actually in Italy before the end of the WWII. Most of the famous rivers have Italian and Slovenian names, crossing the borders on their way. We have marble trout, brown trout, brook trout, rainbow trout, grayling… not to mention coarse fish like Pike, Carp, Chub, Perch, Zander, Asp, Wells Catfish, sea-run Twaite Shad and you name it. Not to mention the saltwater as well! And do you know we have an unique trout that exist just in Italy: the Macrostigma trout that was also described by the Roman author Cicero?”
Seabass on the fly sir?
“Wow, I didn’t know that. Should check it out, especially because beside the fishing I could enjoy Italian food, Italian wine, go to the Opera, visit a Museum or relax on a lake or on the seaside. Also my wife would love it!”
I could sing this dialogue in my mind as a song, and the lyrics are always the same. You can see some of the beautiful sights for yourself in my Gallery Page in the "Italy on the Fly" site.
Fishing in Italy: The “Japanese Connection”
Well, the easiest way for me is to begin is to refer to the cultural context where my fishing mental illness started (Fishing should be recognised as a mental illness and all anglers should be on “benefits”, we all know that).
The first thing you might ignore is that any Italian boy or girl, at least until the 1990s, grew up watching Japanese cartoon.
One of the most famous cartoon back in the days was “Sampei”, which is known in its home nation as “Tsurikichi Sanpei” where Tsurikichi means “Boy crazy about fishing” and that’s what I am and what I have always been.
I did not miss a second out of 109 episodes. He used to catch trout, carp, salmon, marlin and whatever could swim in the waters he fished (and even in the mud…). He used to share his passion with friends, whether they were locals, from abroad and a fellow fisher-girl avoiding any gender issue fishing related and very much “politically correct”, way before any “50:50 on the water” projects arose.
I used to watch it and then practice his fishing methods and techniques, watching the episodes more as tutorials rather than entertaing myself, doing crazy experiments in my city apartment in Rome (to the joy of my mother and my grandparents having to deal with an incredible mess).
My room became a lake, the corridor a river and the walls the banks.
And you bet, those techniques worked a lot whenever I managed to persuade an adult to take me fishing, using heart-breaking puppy eyes. Bless them.
Vito as a child in Italy: "Take me Fishing!"
No wonder my family and friends used to call me “Sampei”, and that was quite a common and widespread nickname for everyone who was passionate enough about fishing.
Sampei Experiment for You
Please, I want to tempt you with an experiment: Ask any Italian (not an angler, could be anyone) over thirty: “Do you know Sampei?”
I am quite confident you will get a yes-rate of 99.9%.
So it’s an easy guess to say that recreational fishing is strongly imprinted in the Italian DNA, regardless of the spot and the fishing method. Perhaps it is not so surprising. Catholic education used to blend into a strange kind of Bushido, where high values such as respect and love for the other encountered discipline and duties towards the family and the society.
At least that was the target, an educational attempt taking into consideration the energy of kids with all their seeking of freedom, direction and self-awareness.
Our Italian kids days, from the north to the south, were pretty much the same: going to school, come back and have lunch with the family, watch a bit of telly before the homework or for a break, go out and play football (I still have no idea of what the girls were doing those days instead of playing with a ball… not a clue). But make no mistake, Sampei is a major cultural figure for anyone connected to fishing in Italy.
Fishing in Italy: Geography & “La Dolce Vita”
From the mountain to the valley, from the rivers to the lakes and, from the Alps and Apennines to the river mouths to the coasts you will find waters to fish, precious trophy to target, local culture to meet, food to eat, wines or local spirit to drink, museums and monuments to visit… I could go on for three pages.
Then there is just the simple scope of fishing that the geography creates...
That easily explains how fishing got into our skin, into our daily habits, costumes and cultures.
We find quotes of fishing for trout and other species in Cicero, Aeliano and many other Roman poets, historians and authors.
Romans used to have fisheries to breed sea bream, sea bass, eel, mullet, moray and you name it.
The journey into the Italian fishing is deep and very entertaining, and you can be sure it will amaze you and offer you the perfect location to enjoying fishing, however you may conceive it, blending it with art, history, food and, why not, a bit of relax and “dolce vita”.
So let’s start our journey and let me tell you, with my arms widely open:
Welcome to Italy… Benvenuti in Italia!
COMING NEXT – FISHING TRADITIONS OF THE APENNINE MOUNTAINS #1: “SCURIAZZO” (the whip) & THE GRASSHOPPER...