Creating room for flyfishing
The projects under the Dutch ‘Room for the River’ programme not only enlarge the available streambed space for rivers, but also provide us fly anglers with new water to fish in the Netherlands. In order to facilitate the discharge of higher volumes of water in times of extreme flows and flooding, new waterbodies are created, vegetation, such as trees and bushes that would act as obstacles, are removed, and dikes are moved further inland. Making more room for the river to transport snowmelt, glacier, and rain water to the sea.
Near Nijmegen, the “Spiegelwaal” flood channel was created a few years ago, a new channel parallel to the main river, with a length of some four kilometres, which completely fills up in times of high run-off. Excavating this channel also resulted in the creation of a new island, dubbed Veur-Lent. There are a total of five bridges across the Spiegelwaal, including a railway bridge and one for pedestrians and cyclists.
During normal flows water enters the Spiegelwaal through a number of large pipes in a low levee; in times of drought this flow stops all together. In times of high water, the river will flow across this levee. Other types of watersports are then possible, such as surf-kayaking, but the water will be too murky for fly-fishing.
Under normal conditions the water flow from the pipes can be quite strong. Small fry get confused by that current and are easy prey for birds and fish! It is not just perch and zander that await the flyfisher here, asp also love a strong current and will actively hunt for small fish here. Violent splashes and swirls are a good indication that asp are trying to fill their stomach. Apparently scuba divers have even seen some Atlantic salmon here, waiting for a chance to pass the pipes.
From shore you can fly fish with floating and sinktip fly-lines, if necessary with sinking Poly-leaders. As asp can grow quite big (from 70 to over 80 cm), a 7-weight outfit generally is a good choice. I like to use ten foot rods here, but a nine footer will do just as well. Streamers from five to eight centimeters in length are a good bet for perch and asp, for zander they should be a bit larger.
From shore it is difficult to use full sinking lines, as you will sacrifice a lot of flies to the stones and branches on the bottom of the water. Especially near the bank. From a float tube using fast sinking fly-lines is less of a problem, as you can move across the spot where your streamer got caught up on the bottom. With the float tube it is also easier to scout different parts of the water – I have hooked nice sized zander even from the deeper parts of the water, fishing from my belly boat.
The Spiegelwaal is included in the VISpas national fishing license and can be found on the Visplanner after you have downloaded and installed this app on your smartphone. The VISpas is the national fishing document of the Netherlands, which you will receive when you become a member of any fishing association that is part of Sportvisserij Nederland (which is most of them). The Vispas will cost you between 30 and 50 euros a year, depending on the association that you join.
Rudy van Duijnhoven