Wrong time to fish Rhine

I’m moving upriver on the Rhine near the border between Germany and France and there is not a trout in sight anywhere except for its close relative, salmon, on a platter in the dining room of the Forsetti, our Viking Longship.

Trout season here runs from May through October, but even if the season was open, trout apparently are no longer regular inhabitants of the Rhine.

While it is said that the water quality of the Rhine has improved considerably in the last decade or so, the native fish have been displaced by the voracious giant wels catfish, which can grow to 10 feet in length and weigh more than 300 pounds.

They make good sport for some anglers, but apparently eat virtually all other fish in the river.

Further downstream near Amsterdam and in the Netherlands’ many canals, anglers catch carp and bream, although the Dutchman who told me this also said he wouldn’t recommend eating them. The fish of choice for eating is herring, apparently heavily salted. Of course, one washes down that salty fish with the country’s best product – beer. Because I’m obliged to do extensive research for this column, I have done my best to sample as much of, and as many different kinds of, beer made in the Netherlands and Germany as I can possibly can.

Wine is a different challenge, altogether. The wines produced along the Rhine tend to be the rieslings, gewürztraminer and related varietals. They are OK, but my old school chum, Jim Bundschu, still makes the best wines of those types that I’ve ever tasted.

There is good fly-fishing for trout in Germany in the mountain streams of the Black Forest, by which we will be passing in a day or so. The season is closed there too, so my research will be limited to some views from afar, and a little reading. If there is a fly-shop in Breisach, the city we pass through close to the Black Forest, I’ll drop in. This is the city also famous for its cuckoo clocks. I’ll see if I can find some cuckoo fly-fishers who speak English.

Speaking of cuckoos, it is time to think of gifts for your favorite angler.

If he or she is a fly-fisher, Leland Fly Fishing Ranch is on Arnold Drive in Schellville. Leland’s has a retail store open with plenty of rods, reels, waders, boots, flies, line, etc. for sale. You can also get a gift certificate.

Another good gift for your favorite angler is a day of fishing on the Bay or off the coast. Keith Fraser, at Loch Lomond Bait Shop in San Rafael, offers gift certificates good for a day of bay angling with one of the party boat captains for which he books. Call Keith at 415-456-0321.

Capt. Rick Powers, of Bodega Bay Sportfishing also has gift certificates for a day of angling on his boat for rockcod and dungeness crab. Call Rick at 875-3344.

A 2014 California Fishing License would be an excellent stocking stuffer. You can purchase licenses online, but better yet, go to Brocco’s Old Barn on Arnold Drive and buy the license there.

If your angler is a dedicated steelhead or trout fly-fisher, then a gift certificate to fish a day with guide Jim Andras would be perfect. Jim guides on the Rogue and Klamath rivers and remains the best guide with whom I’ve ever fished.

Call Andras Outfitters, 530-722-7992, and talk to Rachel Andras.  She can arrange that too. She will also book you a nice room in nearby Ashland so you can take in a play after a day of fishing.

The Fly Shop in Redding has guides for drifting the lower Sacramento River, and it also has gift certificates. For more information, go to flyshop.com.