The sun was
rising over the Alps to the southeast as we started down the Salzburg Autobahn
from Munich. It was a warm July morning, and a thin veil of mist partially hid
the mountain peaks. The mist was a good sign, for it meant that there would be
no foehn—that strange, enervating wind from the Sahara which spills over the
northern slopes of the Alps and drives the natives to drink—and sometimes to
tackle was piled in the back seat of the Volkswagen which my host drove.
Dressed in a short, loose-fitting, Bavarian jacket with large bone buttons and
wearing a pointed Tyrolean hat, he looked as though he had seldom been off the
farm. In fact, however, he was a widely traveled fisherman and had waded up the
trout streams of more than one continent.
find our fishing like that of Canada or Oregon," he told me. "We use
Volkswagens instead of pack horses and we don't go in for tents, camp-fires and
balsam beds. Our trout are seldom over five pounds, but they're always good for
a fight. After all," he added, "there's no such thing as a second-class
An hour south of
Munich we turned up into the mountains to the south. A few minutes later we
drew up at the foot of a narrow stone bridge leading across a dried-up moat to
the gate of a small 14th-century castle. In one corner of the high stone wall
which encircled it rose a sturdy, square tower looking out across blue pine
forests and brilliant green mountain meadows. At the foot of the tower ran a
broad mountain stream.
Bavarian with a spectacular black beard was waiting for us in the castle's
gateway. He was wearing a green, scarlet-trimmed uniform of a game warden.
Cocked at an angle on his head was his green mountaineer's hat, the brim of
which was turned down rakishly on one side so that it hid half his face. From
the brim a long chamois brush curved gracefully over his shoulder. He came
forward, raised his hat and swept it almost to his feet as he bowed and greeted
us with the traditional fisherman's salute: "Petri Heil!"
We doffed our
hats and repeated the greeting.
rigidly at attention, his hat pressed to his side, he reported as a soldier
might to his commanding officer:
high water subsided during the night. The river is normal and the water is
clear—almost too clear. The trout have been rising since dawn. It is
recommended to fish the upper river this morning and the castle stretch later
in the day."
My host tipped
his hat again in acknowledgment and led the way through the castle courtyard,
up a wide ceremonial staircase, along a vaulted gallery and into what had once
been the castle's great hall. Though it had been uninhabited for several
generations, its gaily painted baroque ceilings and the polished 20-inch planks
on the floor were dry and sound. He led me to a window looking out across the
sunlit meadows where brown-and-white spotted cows were grazing. In the
background the slender spire of a village church rose like a needle point
against the dark pine forest beyond.
you'd like to take a look at our brutes first," he said and pointed down to
the river flowing under the walls. A dam just below the castle formed a large,
quiet millpond, and in its clear water we could easily see a score of huge fish
swimming languidly 40 feet below us. At first I thought they must be some form
of big carp one often finds in the moats of Bavarian castles. But then one rose
to snatch at a passing insect, and I spotted the adipose fin of the trout