August, in particular, has been very action-packed. But in an odd way I've found the commotion to be quite natural. I've found a sense of normalcy in the calculated chaos necessary to live out of panniers.
After my romp through Germany, I arrived in Vienna to meet up with a group of fellow Americans to attend a permaculture workshop taught in part by the infamous "Rebel Farmer" Sepp Holzer. The twelve day symposium would bring us through the rich cultural landscape of the Styrian mountains as we visited various farms, producers and stewards of the land. Though I had to store my bike in Vienna for the time being, the fishing quiver very easily fit into my daypack. Sad as I was to leave Freyja behind, my load was significantly lighter. About 35ish lbs. She's a Cadillac...not a Porsche.
Upon arriving in Übelbach, our host, Johnny, assured me that I'd get a chance to fish in his charming Styrian hometown. After all, "bach" means brook or stream auf Deutsch. And in this case, the stream ran right through the center of the town. Similar to Germany, Austria is rather strict with their public access laws. But rightfully so. As a foreigner, I would need permission from a tenured landowner for everything to be copasetic. Johnny had a friend who owned farmland adjacent to the stream. Unfortunately, said friend was on holiday whilst we were in Übelbach. Strike two. Patience.
Several days later the permaculture workshop came to a close and I was reunited with my bike. No bites--not even a remote chance of legally fishing--but many great memories and new friends. A very eye-opening experience indeed to spend time with such mindful and engaged people. Plus, I got a dashing new pair of lederhosen. No longer do I need to wear the hand-me-downs of my grandfather--cherished as they may be.
On that note, it's appropriate that I explain the significance of my final point of interest on this journey: Zell am See.
After Carl's passing, some of his ashes were spread in the beautiful Zeller lake. A few of my family members have been fortunate enough to visit over the years, but this is my first time. A very appropriate way to end this pilgrimage; by visiting my grandfathers resting place in one of the most beautiful mountain vistas on earth. Aside from the heritage aspect, the opportunities to fish, camp and bike are abundant here.
My first day in Zell I did some reconnaissance around the lake. Many local anglers fish for Zander and Pike either offshore or in a boat. But the lake also has a healthy Trout population. After a few hours of searching I found a beautiful outflow with water clear enough to spot a few Rainbows hanging out in the open. On my approach they retreated to the shady bank of the stream. I'd have to be more methodical to hook these beauties, but I had my beat secured.
After a short breakfast break I relocated to another spot farther up the stream closer to the lake. I found a walking bridge that allowed me to peer into the water where I once again saw trout schooling. But before gearing up and choosing a fly, I sat and read the surroundings. A week of rain had raised the water significantly and there was lots of particulate flowing down the outflow. The only visible insects in the water were crawling along the top. Hint hint.
The only terrestrial fly that I've got with me is a foam spider. Seemed like an odd choice at first but I thought "what the hell...can't hurt." So I tied it on and let 'er rip. Perched on the bridge, I started to cast upstream of the fish and let the spider float right in front of them. It certainly got their attention. My vantage point helped in watching them gain interest. Only once I had them trailing would I give the line a teeny twitch. After four or five casts...BOOM. I had landed a whopper.
I can't help but think I've redeemed myself with this lovely Trout. But I can't take all of the credit. I feel like it was a gift. A cosmic pat on the back from my grandpa watching over me. Any way you look at it, I can't think of a more quintessentially perfect way to end such an amazing journey.