Trout Fishing the River Gail in Austria






The Gail is one of the most pristine waters of the Alpine area. The river - actually still a torrent - squeezes through deep gorges before opening up into delightful meadows, then plunging back into the depths of the Lesachtal Valley. Besides the natural beauty of the river landscape, the Gail is of drinking water quality and the fishing pressure is low.


Six tributaries await amateur anglers with large quantities of natural offspring, which means that artificial restocking is not required here. In addition to the dominant brown trout, the rainbow trout and the reintroduced grayling are at home in the Gail and its tributaries.


The "Bärfalle", the trophy route for fly fishermen, is rarely touched due to its difficult accessibility. This area, thanks to its unspoiled state, offers the chance to make quite a remarkable catch.

The river source is located east of the Kartitsch Saddle and the Puster Valley in the Tyrolean municipality of Obertilliach. It flows from west to east through the Southern Limestone Alps, between the Gailtal Alps in the north and the Carnic Alps in the south. The river reaches the state of Carinthia in Lesachtal and from Kötschach-Mauthen runs down the broader Gail Valley with its steep slopes, parallel to the borders with Italy and Slovenia. Beyond its confluence with the Slizza (Gailitz) tributary in Arnoldstein, the Gail joins the Drava River beneath the western Karawanks mountain range near the village of Maria Gail, part of the city of Villach. Dobratsch crag above the Gail Valley.


Following the 1348 Friuli earthquake, the river's course near Villach was buried by a major landslide, causing extensive flooding. The rockslide region (Schütt) along a length of 10 km (6.2 mi) is still discernible on the steep slopes of Mt. Dobratsch north of Arnoldstein.


While the upper river course is largely preserved in its natural condition, a habitat for shorebirds like the common sandpiper, the white-throated dipper, and the grey wagtail, large parts of the lower Gail have been gradually regulated since the 1870s. In recent times, some sections have been re-naturalized. Today the trout zone reaches up to Hermagor with 17 species, among them common barbel, the common nase, and the rare souffia.

Trout zone


This zone has a characteristic steep gradient, fast flowing water and cool temperature. The fast flow rate causes turbulence which keeps the water well oxygenated. Fish species found in this zone usually lay adhesive eggs that can stick to the substrate, this is to help prevent eggs being carried downstream by the water flow.


Characteristic fish species are:

Brown trout (Salmo trutta)

Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)

Bullhead (Cottus gobio)

Stone loach (Barbatula barbatula)

Grayling zone


Similar in physical characteristics to the Trout zone, although the temperature is usually slightly higher. Fish species in this zone also lay adhesive eggs.


0Characteristic fish species include all of the above species, with the addition of;

Grayling (Thymallus thymallus)

Minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus)

Chub (Leuciscus cephalus)

Dace (Leuciscus leuciscus)

Barbel zone


This zone is essentially lowland, but retains some characteristics of upland rivers. It has a gentle gradient with a moderate water flow and temperature. It also has a good oxygen content and a mixed substrate of silt and gravel in which plants can take root. Most of the fish species found in this zone lay their eggs in the vegetation on the river bed, this provides them with good protection and allows the eggs a good supply of oxygen given off from photosynthesis in the plants.


Characteristic fish species include all of the species from the previous zones with addition of;

Barbel (Barbus barbus)

Roach (Rutilus rutilus)

Rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus)

European perch (Perca fluviatilis)

Pike (Esox lucius)

Eel (Anguilla anguilla)

Bream zone


The true lowland zone, has a very gentle gradient and slow flowing water, there is usually good oxygen content but the temperature is much more variable than in the other zones. This zone has a silty substrate and is often turbid. Fish species found in this zone lay adhesive eggs in the weeds. Most upland fish species cannot survive in this zone.


Characteristic fish species include only a few species from the Barble zone (Roach, Rudd, Perch and Pike), with the addition of

Bream (Abramis brama)

Tench (Tinca tinca)

Carp (Cyprinis carpio)

The upper part of the River GAIL, one of the most pristine river landscapes in the entire Alpine region. The fishing grounds, managed and protected by the Fishing Association of St. Laurentius, invite to an amazing and rare fishing experience.


Fly Fishing in the Lesachtal Valley


Cast your flies expertly onto the water surface whilst enjoying the beauty of the River Gail...


A nature experience of the special kind – catching a nice rainbow trout will be the highlight of this fishing adventure in the Lesachtal Valley!

Fishing is only permitted in connection with a valid annual ticket or a fishing guest ticket issued by the relevant district authority or by holding a fishing permit. All permits are only valid for the holder of the ticket/permit. The tickets and permits are not transferable. Fishing is only permitted in the marked section. Permitted are only fishing rods. Dry and wet flies, nymphs and streamers may be used as fishing lure. Barbs must be removed or at least pressed on. It is permitted to take a total of 2 fish. In order to maintain the catch statistics, the amount of caught fish must be reported to the ticket issuing office.


The fishing permit, equipment and caught fish must be shown and required information must be provided when requested by the supervisory staff. Reciprocal control is mandatory. The fishing permit will be revoked if these guidelines are violated and in cases of unsportsmanlike and unethical conduct.


There is no entitlement to refunds in such cases. By purchasing the permit, the permit holder agrees to and accepts these conditions. Information/Issuing of tickets/Your specialist 

Fly fishing holidays in the Lesachtal Valley:


Fly fishing holidays in the Lesachtal Valley:

BIG FISH Tackle and More
Address:  Handwerkstraße 22, 

9500 Villach,

Phone:  +43 650 7420524

Important information about your fishing adventure High-alpine white waters Fly fishing in combination with incomparable beauty of nature Low fishing pressure Excellent waters of drinking water quality At least one confluent tributary (five in total) in every fishing area ensures a well-protected brood Apart from the dominating brown trout, also inhabited by rainbow trout, brook trout and the reintroduced grayling. Creating day schedules according to your wishes Providing arrangements "Adventure Days on the River Gail" ~ Fly fishing training courses Guaranteed catches through guided trips


If you‘re looking for a great place to stay for both the fishing and hospitality in the area then you can‘t go wrong at the Hotel Post in the village called Koetschach-Mauthen.


The owners of the hotel possess the fishing rights for the most interesting parts of the river Gail which are exclusively reserved for their hotel guests. In addition to that, hotel guests have fishing permission for three unique streams, and for two lakes in the surrounding mountains of Koetschach-Mauthen-all in all the hotel offers you 33km of river banks for fly fishing; more than enough to satisfy anyone.

  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black YouTube Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon