Ephemera Vulgata Mayfly by Łukasz Stańczuk

Wild Poland

Poland is not a large country in Central Europe. Flat, agricultural, a bit dull in terms of landscape and formerly full of fish, but it is still rich in natural wonders.

Vistula River

I grew up and live on the largest river in Poland, the Vistula. The Vistula is a large, lowland river with a good number of islands in its riverbed. There are some sandy beaches, but mostly its banks are covered with dense forests and thickets. On the Vistula River in summer, I catch chubs fish from the surface on foam bugs and hoppers. Chubs love these flies. And while there are many other species of fish in my rivers, I only fish for chubs.

I fish from the shore or wade in shallow water looking for fish under the banks in the coastal thickets or near old hydrotechnical structures. Summer is the time when many species of cockchafers, beetles, crickets and other insects fly by the river. This turns the careful and skittish chubs into easily fooled sport fish, going for the imitation insects and becoming an easier target for the angler.

Dunajec River
Izera River

Vistula is not the only destination for my local fishing trips. I really like fishing in the small tributaries of the Vistula, too. The water there is shallower and cleaner, and the fish tend to be bigger. Small lowland rivers up to 15 feet wide flow lazily through forests and meadows away from homes or farms. In these small rivers, the world of insects is more interesting. Various species of caddis and mayflies live in them. 

Many kinds of fish here eat caddis, but for some reason they seem to ignore the mayflies. They are not interested in these insects or my flies imitating them. I like these places because they are close to my home and because I can rest there after a hard week’s work. Fishing for foam bugs and hoppers chubs is my everyday life, but trout fishing in the mountains is what I like the most.

Izera River
October Caddis
The scarce large blue (Phengaris teleius)
Mayflies (Ephemera vulgata)

Several times a year I go to the vicinity of the Tatra Mountains for their local rivers and streams. The Tatras are the highest mountains in Poland and they are the only ones that look like the Alps. The Tatras are beautiful at any time of the year, so I’m always happy to finally be able to photograph a landscape with mountains in the background. But not only the views attract me to the vicinity of the Tatra Mountains. The second reason is that brown trout and grayling live in the rivers that flow from these mountains. The presence of these fish in the river, with the mountain view in the background, mean that I always have something to photograph and to catch.

And fish here are different from the chubs I catch in my local rivers. In the mountains, the best methods are to use a euro nymph, wet fly, dry fly or streamer. The number of insect species living in the river is large, and in spring, summer and autumn the insect hatches are impressive. Especially mayflies and caddis. Sometimes a stonefly as well. Wet fly is my favorite method, and north country spiders are perfect flies to use in these rivers.  March brown can be fished almost all year round. You can catch brown trout in Poland until September 1. 

Ephemera Vulgata Mayfly
Polish Brown Trout
Polish Brown Trout
Szklarka Waterfall
Brown Trout
Kozienice Landscape Park
Anemone hepatica

Then with autumn’s arrival, the grayling become active. Most of the year, grayling here live hidden somewhere in the bottom of rivers.  But in autumn, they come to life and collect dry flies until the first frost. The autumn landscape of the rivers under the Tatra Mountains is unique. Morning mists and golden colors of leaves on trees create a unique atmosphere for resting by the river, for fishing and for photographing.

European grayling (thymallus thymallus)
Polish Brown Trout
The San River

Poland is definitely not an Eldorado with an abundance of giant fish. Catching a large fish is difficult because there are fewer and fewer of them each year. So, when I am fishing, I’m happy with every single fish. And when I have the opportunity to take a few photos of the fish or the scenery by the river, then I am satisfied.

Narew River

Contributed By

Łukasz Stańczuk

My name is Łukasz Stańczuk.
37 years ago I was born in the small town of Kozienice in Poland’s Mazovia region. I still live and work here. I’ve been catching fish for 30 years. The largest Polish river, the Vistula, flows near my house. It was there that I learned how to fish, and it was the Vistula landscape that was one of my main topics when I was learning to photograph nature. I admired and envied the pictures of landscapes and fish that seemed foreign to Poland, those from my colleagues in the USA, Canada and New Zealand. Then, a few years ago fly fishing appeared in my life, and that was it! I’d found the nature I was searching for in my own country, and I combined photography and fly fishing. A few times a year I try to go to the Polish mountains between Slovakia and Poland- the Tetras- to catch trout and take pictures. There in the mountains, standing in the stream with a fishing rod in my hand and a camera around my neck, I am happy.


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