North West Slovenia–the Hidden Pearl of Europe.

by Lesly Janssen, NL

If I could only choose two words to describe this place they would be Perfect and Paradise!

Particularly for fishermen, this place has it all! The rivers are beautiful with cristal clear water in many tones of blue and green. These light colored river bottoms and picturesque gravel bars are surrounded by densely forested alpine mountains full of wildlife.  Many unique fish species live here in a fairy tale environment that is magical and more than worth every fisherman’s visit. Without a doubt, I know you will love this place like everyone else. This is a fisherman’s perfect playground: it makes you a better fishermen and has everything you could wish for.

I will explain the following about North West Slovenia: 

·         The 10 amazing rivers to fish.

·         The 9 different species of fish and how to catch them.

·         Where to get fishing licenses.

·         Where to spend the night.

The rivers in this part of Slovenia find their way over 200 million year old limestone, making the water exeptionally clear. The last ice age left a mineral resin in these mountains that causes a vibrant and surreal blue and green tone in the water and pools.  Combine that with a white river bottom, gravel beaches and green alpine mountains and you get special nature with contrasting colors that are a real treat for the eye. The rivers themselves are in pristine shape, flowing naturally and almost untouched by human influence or other regulations. The 145km of river water  that may be fished is divided over 10 rivers. Because of this abundance of choice, it is impossible to choose only one favorite river. There is just to much to see and fish, more than enough for a fisherman’s lifetime.

The rivers of which I speak include the Soca, Idrijca, Baca, Trebuscica, Tolminka,  Nadiza, Ucja, Kneza, Koritnica and Bela, almost an entire river system very well managed by the fishing club of Tolmin.

The Soca river is large and ranks among the most beautiful rivers of Europe. This river is absolutely pristine and untouched. Around 40km can be fished, all so beautiful that you often forget to fish while there. The upper and lower part have stone and gravel beaches with gentle currents and rapids while the middle part flows through a deep and remote canyon with many big boulders and pocket water. It has many places that are good for Tenkara but require some walking to reach the next spot. All species of trout, grayling and whitefish live in this river and the average size is "BIG". Many of the fish are just too big for Tenkara; fishing here demands skill.

The Soca river with her emerald water color looks unreal. A must "do before you die"river.

The Idrijca river is also large and has a more mysterious karst character with attractive greenish pools.  The upper part is densly forested, remote and better for Tenkara. The lower part is more open with gravel beaches and longer, slower pools and rapids. 16km can be fished. All species of trout, grayling and whitefish live in this river.  

The Idrijca has long pools and rapids. Prepare for big and strong fish

The rivers Baca, Trebuscica, Tolminka, Nadiza and Ucja are mid-sized and ideally suited for Tenkara throughout the entirety of the rivers.  Because these rivers are smaller than the Soca and Idrijca they have more variety and different surroundings. The total length of these rivers together is around 65km and the average width is 20m or less. The fish can be big too. It is not uncommon to find 60+ cm fish.

The Baca river is a tributary of the Idrijca and the longest of the middle sized rivers; around 21km can be fished. The bottom consists of white, grey and brown stones and and gravel. The pools have a nice bluish hue and the water is very clear. The lower part is C&R only, with a more open character and longer pools with surprisingly big fish. This river has high, densly forested banks in the middle part and more rapids in the upper part. Many sections of the river have impressive limestone plated walls and big rocks. This river one of my favorite rivers that guarrantees a lot of fishing fun. The whole river is good for Tenkara. The upper part holds only wild trout while in the lower part you can catch grayling and a occasional whitefish too.

The Baca is a varied river, perfect for Tenkara

The Trebuscica river is also a Tributary of the Idrijca. This pristine, untouched river with its white gravel bottom, yellow stones and light greenish toned pools is an intimate beauty where pools and rapids follow each other up quickly.  The water is exeptionally clear and the fish will offer you a nice challenge. The whole river is around 8km, perfect for Tenkara and C&R only. All species of trout can be caught. The lower part has more grayling and whitefish.

Trebuscica river is a special experience for every fishermen.

The Tolminka river is a tributary of the Soca. It has around 10km of fishable water and is C&R only. The upper and middle parts flow through a narrow, remote and densely forested valley. To reach the water and walk from spot to spot requires some hiking and climbing skills. Almost no fishermen go to this place so you can expect to have the water to yourself. The river has some gorges with steep walls and many big white rocks scattered around. The water is cold, very clear and clean enough to drink with a nice blue tone in the pools. The bottom is light colored and the fish are all wild. The lower part, down the Unesco gorges, is easier to reach and has a more open character with more gravel beaches. All the trout in the upper section are wild. In the lower part  there are also grayling and occasional whitefish.

The Tolminka is a magnificant river for those who love to explore remote places and a challenging fishery.

The Nadiza river offers around 13km to fish. The upper part is remote with some impressive limestone art and big rock and is also the best area for Tenkara. The middle and lower parts are more open, wider and easier to reach. The pools are far apart so expect to do some walking. The bottom is white gravel with nice black stones. The water is very clear, drinkable and has a blue tone to the pools.  

All trout and grayling species can be found. This river also has many chubs and barbels.


The Nadiza river is a good river during the early and late seasons with beautiful water color and surroundings.

The Ucja river has 6km of fishable water. This river offers adventerous and peaceful fishing.  It is very remote and the least fished river of all. It is very difficult to enter, almost inaccessable. The water is cold and fast. The pools are blue toned and the bottom is white. It has the most amazing big rocks, boulders, cliffs, ravines and gorges. To fish this river you need to be fit and have some climbing skills. I do not suggest fishing here alone. It has many dead ends with steep walls and deep pools that you cannot get around. It probably doesn't get any wilder than this. All the trout are wild and the lower section also has grayling.

The Ucja river is an impressive and wild river.

The Kneza, Koritnica and Bela rivers are fairly small with a combined length around 18km. The Kneza and Koritnica river are tributaries of the Baca river. The Bela river is a tributary of Nadiza river. These rivers are perfect if you like Indian style Tenkara with a short rod and short line. The banks are densly forested with high a variety of pools and limestone art. The Kneza and Koritnica rivers have many impressive limestone plated walls, while the Bela river has a more open character. These rivers hold wild trout and some occasional grayling in the lower parts.


Kneza river has many limestone plated walls, which makes it one of my favorite small rivers.

To be continued..

Lesly Janssen: Tenkara fishing in Tolmin area, Slovenia. Part 2 >>