We American fly fishers have a tendency to believe that we ?invented? this pleasing sport, when in fact, fly fishing has been part of the outdoor experience in the ?Old World? for centuries. Proof of that statement is found at 53 Neuhauser Strabe [pronounced as Strasse], the location of the Bavarian Hunting and Fishing Museum in Munich, Germany.
This fine museum, located in the olde or historical section of Munich, houses one of the best collections of antique hunting and fishing equipment in the world, much of it fly fishing related. It is evident, from walking it?s three expansive floors of exhibits, that there is a fine fly fishing heritage in this area of Germany known as Bavaria.
As you leave the adjoining courtyard to enter the museum, you are greeted on the left by a bronze wild boar, and on the right by a bronze giant catfish, which may still to be found in the area rivers. Inside, after you pass through a small visitor center in the lobby, you ascend the solid oak stairs and enter a giant display hall where you are confronted by the skeleton of one of Europe?s extinct giant elk.
Case upon case of beautifully engraved firearms, crossbows, tools and equipment await your eyes. The walls are covered with fantastic paintings depicting famous Bavarians of ages past, hunting and fishing in the shadow of the Alps. It is after this hall that you enter the area dedicated to fishing.
The first display to catch my eye was titled ?Fischereigeraet aus der Sammlung?. This translated roughly to ?fly fishing equipment for catching salmon?. In this glass case, one of many in the room, lay a bamboo fly rod, complete with reel and flies. This outfit was probably used a few hundred years ago by a Bavarian fly fisher as he tried to catch a salmon in the river near his home.
I imagined him wading the shallows of a southern Bavarian river, casting his feathered imitation for Atlantic salmon, just as we do now thousands of miles and hundreds of years distant.
The next case held a well worn but well cared for fly tying vise, adorned with hooks, feathers, beads, and assorted tools. Another table held a wicker creel, a fillet knife, and a small, leather fly case.
On the other side of the room, covering one whole wall, was a diorama containing replicas of the waterfowl and fishes of Bavaria. Some of the fishes in this case looked very familiar to me. Various salmon, some brown trout, a few other fish, but of course all the names were different because they were in Bavarian. One in particular tweaked my interest. This fish was named a ?Zunder?. It looked very similar to our walleye, with just a few differences. But it was the local cat fish that inhabit the rivers to this day, although in much decreased numbers, that really got me to look and wonder. These fish can attain the length of five feet and grow to over two hundred pounds, with mouths 18 inches wide. Maybe one day I?ll get the chance to feel one of these monsters on my Loomis Spey rod.
If you get the chance to visit Munich, please do yourself a favor and visit the German Hunting and Fishing Museum. It is small in size by American standards, but it is well worth the two hours or so that it will take for you to investigate it?s treasures. This facility will give you a keen insight into the great outdoor heritage and tradition that the southern Germans are very proud of. It will show you a facet of Bavaria that I didn?t know existed, that of the fly fishing history of this beautiful area. Someday, on another visit, on another trip, I will investigate the modern fly fishing opportunities that can be had today in this area at the foot of the Alps. Clear rivers, mountain streams, and alpine lakes seem to call to me. And I first heard their call from the Jagd-Und Fischereimuseum, Muunchen.
Fly Rod & Gun Outdoors