Christof studied sports science and has worked in conjunction with various companies in the fly fishing business since 1997 and is a full-time professional guide and instructor. He founded Pro-Guides Flyfishing together with Uwe Rieder in 2003. During the following years he has accompanied many fly fishermen onto the waters all over the world and passed on his knowledge to them. He is well known for his methodical explanations and casting demonstrations and is also a member of the Vision World Team.
FD: When did you start fishing? Where?
CM: I started fishing when I was 6 years old. My first experience was at an artificial pond with stocked rainbows, some weeks later I was fishing on a nice mountain river at my grandmothers’ place. At the age of 12 I started to fish with a fly on this river....
FD: Could you tell us about your memories from those times?
CM: It was like “the big love” from the beginning… it seems like I was addicted from the moment I grabbed a rod… I can remember that I wanted to be at the water all the time and it became the essential theme of my life.
FD: How were those first experiences?
CM: Tough… as a kid you are not patient and you want everything working immediately… but my ambition was unbreakable!
FD: Who was your mentor?
CM: My grandfather was the first one who was taking me with... but I decided to go my own way as he was more a hunter than a fisherman.
FD: What can you tell us about Fly fishing in Austria?
CM: Austria has a great tradition in fly fishing. It is a country of the Alps, a lot of rivers run down the mountains and there is almost crystal clear water everywhere. The brown trout, grayling and the hucho are native, rainbows were stocked hundred years ago and they are naturally reproducing today. Brook trout are rare; in lower areas you will also find different species of whitefish.During the Second World War the French and English occupations got interested in those beautiful rivers and so after the war a lot of especially richer people like the famous hotel owner Charles Ritz come to fish these rivers which were also mentioned many times in his books.Young local guys did guide them and carry the fishes of those fly fishermen, in the evening they had to dry the silk lines after a fishing day. One of these guys got famous for his casting style which he created originally to dry the silk fly lines. His name was Hans Gebetsroither and his casting style is still well known even when he died 26 years ago.He was active at the famous river Gmundner Traun, which was and still is one of the most productive rivers of the middle of Austria, but there are lot of different looking rivers around this place in many different sizes, streams to little spring creeks.Nowadays Austria is visited by fishermen from all over Europe, also Americans combine fly fishing with a cultural trip.
FD: What is your favorite freshwater specie? Why?
CM: Difficult to say... I love the brown trout, but I think my absolutely favorite is the Hucho hucho because it is so hard to catch and can grow so huge.
FD: What can you tell us about Hucho?
CM: Hucho hucho is close to the hucho taimen in Mongolia. It is the biggest of the Salmo family which lives in Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Poland or Czech Republic. His native habitat is the river Donau and its tributaries, but they were also stocked in lots of rivers in Slovenia and other countries in central Europe. Hucho can reach more than 35 kg and a length of more than 140 cm. It is one of the most difficult fish to catch. One reason for it is that you are only allowed to fish in the winter months from September to the end of February. Because of the low water temperature these fish don’t need much food and therefore they feed sometimes once in one or two weeks. A second reason is that they have an outstanding memory if they have been hooked before and get very scary and hard to dupe….
FD: What is your favorite saltwater specie? Why?
CM: I have caught many different species in saltwater… they are all fantastic because of their fighting power. But I love sight fishing and fine presentation as well as wading on flats… therefore Bonefish is still my favorite type of fly fishing in saltwater.
FD: Do you remember any fish in particular? Could be one that you loss.
CM: Yes, there are many fish I have lost and I am still thinking about them… ?But one of my most unforgettable fish was my first 20 kg Hucho… I was totally done after releasing this fish, my knees where still moving and I think I was in parallel universe for a while… it was because I was working hard for a fish like this, fishing at minus 10 degrees Celsius, frozen line and guides, cold.. And no contacts or strikes in many fishing days… But one day in January it was the special feeling that I got before and I knew something will happen… and I was right.
FD: Is there any fly fishing technique that you prefer over the others?CM: Yes, I love to do sight fishing…Doesn’t matter if it’s for trout or bones, can also be a popper on the surface… but I want to see and spot the fish before I cast, if possible of course…But I also like to fish double handed rods for Atlantic salmon or hucho as well.
FD: Do you tie your own flies?
CM: I tie my own flies as long as I fish with fly rods… meanwhile more than 25 years. I love it; it is more than just making a thing to catch a fish… its art!
FD: When you visit new waters: Do you prefer to be guided or fish on your own?
CM: I like to fish by my own… for me that is part of the game to get into it… But I enjoy talking to other fishermen and guides and hear their experiences.
FD: You have been travelling over the world fishing for several years. Which are your favorite fresh and saltwater spots?
CM: Best freshwater spots I have been myself is New Zealand for trout and Kola Peninsula in Russia for Atlantic salmon, best saltwater spots I have been are Exmouth in Australia and the Florida Keys.
FD: Could you tell us some of your funniest memories from your trips?
CM: There were many funny moments…that’s what it is all about, to have fun!
FD: Any risky situation you’ve been into?
CM: Went into some sharks in Australia... no problem as far as there came this 4 m guy very close to us... was a situation where I felt not confident.
FD: Which spots and species are in your bucket list?
CM: Seychelles fishing for GT’s on the flats… Cascapedia sight fishing for Atlantic salmon… and the South Pacific for big bones.
FD: Which are the best spots in Europe?
CM: Depends on the species you would like to get… Austria and Slovenia for good trout and grayling fishing, rivers of Norway and Sweden can offer very good salmon fishing.
FD: What would you recommend to the starting angler?
CM: Try to get someone who will help you and give you some of his experience…that will help a lot.
FD: What is fly fishing for you?
CM: Probably one of the most intensive and important things in my life… keeps me going on.
FD: How do you feel when you fly fish? What do you feel?
CM: I feel that I’m alive... I am satisfied and relaxed.
FD: Anything you’d like to add?
CM: If you get the chance to see other countries and destinations to fish, just take it – nobody can take the experience and pleasure you will get away from you!I’ve been working as a professional fly fishing teacher and guide for more than 15 years now; therefore I know how much you can benefit from experienced fishermen.
FD: We’d like to thank Christof for the interview.