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Trout Species of Southern Europe

Trout Species of Southern Europe

Salmonid Species Southern Europe

The Balkans have provided a home for the various members of the salmonid family for thousands of year. While most of the species fall under the Salmo (brown trout) genus, one member of the taimen genus (hucho) is native to the Danube River watershed. The high peaks of the Balkan Mountains split the watersheds of the Adriatic Sea and Black Sea. This barrier has served as a prime factor in the division of the local species. Starting at the southernmost end of the continent, populations of Mediteranean and Adriatic brown trout, Salmo trutta macrostigma and farioides inhabit the small streams of Greece, Albania, and Macedonia. The first two species unique to the ares are found along the southernmost end of the Balkans in the Ancient Lake Ohrid.

Trout of Lake Ohrid

Lake Ohrid trout fishing

Lake Ohrid

Ohrid Trout

Ohrid Trout

Lake Ohrid lies on the border of Albania and Macedonia. 2 unique salmonids can be found within the lake. Both of these fish have seen significant struggles over the past century but populations have slowly begun to creep back with relatively improved management provisions. The first species is the Ohrid Trout. Native to both the lake and a pair of smaller tributary streams including the largest feeder of the lake, the Black Drin River, Salmo letnica has seen its populations rise and fall over the years. Aquaculture projects have allowed stocking of this native species to supplement wild populations. The Ohrid trout was also periodically stocked in Tennessee, Montana, and possibly Colorado waters in the U.S.  Those populations have since disappeared. Finding this fish on the fly can be difficult on the lake with the exception of the late fall and winter months. However, individuals on the Black Drin River are much more susceptible to falling for a well presented fly. Other members of the brown trout family have been introduced on the river but distinguishing the two species is not terribly difficult.

The second salmonid species found in the lake is the Belvica. Salmo ohridanus can only be found with the shores of Lake Ohrid. At one point overfishing nearly decimated the population of this highly desired food source. While overfishing is still a problem on areas of the lake, protection of valuable spawning areas has ensured the a brighter future.


Belvica of Lake Ohrid

Fly Fishing the Balkans

Salmo labrax

Salmo trutta labrax

Moving northward the high mountain peaks of the Balkans around the Albania and Montenegro border are home to the River Lim, the southern most trout stream of the Danube River watershed. The small town of Plav, Montenegro is a hidden gem of the mountains. In the River Lim and Lake Plav anglers can find European Grayling, European Taimen (Danube Salmon or Huchen), and a couple unique subspecies of brown trout including Salmo trutta labrax. Labrax can only be found within the lake and grows to much larger sizes than many of the other brown trouts of the Balkans.

Huchen or Danube Salmon

The European Taimen, Danube Salmon, Huchen, or more properly, Hucho huchen, is the dominant predator in any body of water it swims. It can only be found in the headwaters of the Danube River and Black Sea Drainages. The southernmost extent of its range begins on the River Lim and extends northward into the Austria and Southern Germany. The true giants are found in the southern portions of their range in rivers like the Lim, Una of Croatia, and smaller waters of Eastern Slovenia. Whitefish and grayling are often their main source of food, but as many can see from their size, they

European Taimen

aren't missing many meals. Regulations on the Huchen vary considerably between the countries of the Balkans as the species struggled greatly at the end of the 20th century. Today populations are on the rise and provide an incredible trophy fishery for visitors. 

Danube Salmon

European Taimen, Danube Salmon, or Huchen

Softmouth Trout

In the Adriatic drainages of Northwestern Montenegro and Western Bosnia, anglers can find Salmo obtusirostris, the Softmouth Trout. One of the most unique members of the Salmo genus. The ventrally located mouth of the softmouth trout resemble that of a grayling while their fine black and red spot patterns show their resemblance to the other Adriatic brown trout. These fish are finicky, selective, and an excellent match for fly anglers of any skill level. The Zeta River and Neretva River of Bosnia provide protected areas for these trout. Visitors here can find healthy populations of softmouth trout.

Softmouth Trout

Softmouth Trout of the Neretva River

Marble Trout Fly Fishing

Marble Trout

Marble Trout of Slovenia

While Marble Trout (Salmo marmorata) can be found in the Adriatic drainages of the Balkans in Bosnia, fly anglers can find larger numbers in the high elevation streams of Slovenia and Northern Italy. These gin clear streams weave their way through the Southern Alps and Dolomites. There behavior is very similar to their brown trout cousins, feeding on various insects early in life with large individuals making the move to a piscivorous diet later in life. Despite their showy colors, these fish camoflauge themselves excellently, even in the crystal clear streams. The Soca River of Slovenia and its tributaries are notorious for growing big marble trout as well as supporting healthy numbers of marble trout in its headwaters.

Soca River Slovenia

Soca River, Slovenia

Brown Trout of Southern Europe

A wide variety of subspecies of Salmo trutta are spread throughout Southern Europe. Macrostigma, cettii, farioides, dentex, labrax, and lacustrine are just a few. It can be easy to differentiate the subspecies of the Black Sea drainages with their few but large black spots, from their brothers of the Adriatic drainages with their fine but numerous spots. These trout are found in just about any waters where trout can survive and often mix with the unique species mentioned above.

Adriatic Brown Trout

Adriatic Brown Trout 

Brown Trout of Southern Europe

Brown Trout of the Danube River Watershed

Learn more about the trout species of the planet in our articles on Trout, Salmon, and Char of the World, Trout Fishing Morocco, Trout Fishing Turkey, Trout Fishing Ireland and Trout of North America. Our detailed articles on What Do Trout Eat, Fly Fishing a Hatch, and Fly Fishing Streamers will give you a great idea on how to target each of these species.

Lake Plav Montenegro

Lake Plav, Montenegro

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