There are over 29 thousand rivers and streams in Lithuania. It is a flat country and most of the rivers are slow with even current, although some of the stretches could be quite fast with runs and rapids. In the winter almost all rivers get frozen and by the spring time all of them would be affected by flood. Most of them wouldn’t be fly fishable at all and only handful of streams will have acceptable waters to fish in.
Fly fishing conditions usually depend on the clarity and level of the water. Therefore before planning your fishing trip it is important to find out if the rivers in the area are not affected by the flood or the water is clear and the level is good enough for wading. Usually rivers are quite deep and bushy on the banks, so wading (and sometimes even deep wading) is necessary.
Rivers that are named below are the main fly fishing waters. Of course, there are other streams suitable for fly fishing. Usually these are tributaries to the listed rivers.
It is enough to carry the general state fishing permit to fish in almost all the rivers in Lithuania (even within the territory of National Parks). It costs ~15 EUR for a year, 6 eur per month.
Exceptions – separate licenses are needed: for some lower stretches of Nemunas (not really attractive for fly fishing) and the upper part of Merkys, which can be fished only with a separate license. Fishing for salmon and sea trout also also would require special licences.
Tackle & flies
It’s nothing out of the ordinary. We use mostly light rods, #4-#6. As intense hatches are quite rare, the most of the season is usually fished deep – short nymph or down stream with sinking or sink-tip lines. Streamer fishing also usually requires sinking lines. However you can also get around quite well with floating lines especially in the second part of the summer when dry and wet fly fishing gets better.
Although Lithuania has a range of region-specific flies developed or modified locally, (mostly medium-sized cased caddis imitations) regular patterns such as hare’s ear, PT, czech nymphs will do the job. Most would agree that rivers in Lithuania are difficult to read and to fish, so good presentation can be much more effective than the fly selection.
It is forbidden to catch trout, grayling, sea trout on natural bait. In other words – only fly and spin fishing is allowed for salmonides.
There are no limitations on hook size or double/triple hook or barbed hook usage. It is allowed to use up to 5 hooks at once.
Trout: size limit – 30 cm. Season for trout is closed from October 1st till December 31st.
Grayling: size limit – 29 cm. Season for grayling is closed from March 1st till May 15th.
The official bag limit is max 3 fish per day does not matter if it’s trout or grayling. However the great majority of fly fishermen in Lithuania are practicing C&R. We would encourage to use barbless hooks as well.
Sea trout and salmon: A special license is needed. The procedure of acquiring the license is quite difficult so we would advise you to ask for help from someone locally. The main sea trout and salmon season is from September 16th to October 15th. The license is valid only for some rivers and sometimes just stretches of rivers and allows to take only 1 fish per license.
The biggest river in Lithuania. Takes its beginning in Belarus. Enters Lithuania at the south border. Runs through the second largest city in Lithuania, Kaunas. Continues its way through the southern part of Lithuania in to the Curonian Lagoon . Total length of the river 900km. The major tributaries are Neris and Merkys rivers.
Quite difficult river to fish. It is big, deep and water is muddy all year around, and yet still possible to fly fish. No need to use any thin leaders or small flies. Most of the times I would use streamers or big chunky flies such as bugs or grasshoppers. Major target to fish would be: chub, asp, pike or ide. Although Nemunas is the main waterway for salmon and sea trout runs, it is not common to catch them there on a fly rod. The reason why one would want to go fishing in deep and muddy water is the size of the fish. If you know the river and make an extra effort, you can hook a trophy fish.
The second biggest river in Lithuania. Also begins in Belarus. In Belarus it has another name, Vilija. Once it crosses Lithuania’s border near Buivydžiai village, it becomes Neris. Flowing through Vilnius and the ancient capital of Lithuania – Kernave it enters Nemunas in the center of Kaunas city.
The biggest tributary – Žeimena. Besides, it has considerable number of small streams that feeds the river. Almost all of them hold trout – even the smallest ones.
We think it’s a large river but not as deep as Nemunas, and has a number of random runs rapids. Even at the very border with Belarus there is a nice long rapid, but to fish there you would need not only the fishing license, but the border guard permit too. Fly fishable part of the river would be at the village Buivydžiai till the middle part of the river (Lithuanian site), not far from Kernavė city.
Neris quite often changes from fast rapids into slow and quiet parts. Runs can be as far as 4-5 km apart.. Most of these stretches have a considerably good access, although its not that easy to find them, unless you are guided by someone.
Regarding fish species, you find almost every fresh water fish that lives in eastern hemisphere. Besides that, it is the major river for salmon and sea trout run. According to the ichthyological records of the past few years, the number of salmon and sea trout that coming for spawning in this river and its tributaries, are growing each year. The unofficial record of the river is 35kg salmon that was caught on a spin. Nevertheless some “smaller” fishes were caught on fly too. You will need to purchase a special license for targeted sea trout fishing. The other target in Neris can be grayling. Unfortunately the water is muddy almost all the year round and clears only late in the Autumn after the early frosts. Neris definitely holds the biggest grayling in Lithuania, but fishing is also quite difficult.
Fly fishing style and tackle would depend on your fishing target. For salmon or sea trout we would use two handed rods with fast sinking lines and weighted tubes. For grayling the best would be czech style nymphing or sometimes if the water is good enough its possible to fish even with a dry fly.
Without a doubt one of the best fly fishing rivers in Lithuania. As many other southern Lithuanian rivers it starts in northern Belarus and flows into Lithuania near Tabariškės village. Then it continues its way through farming fields, forest and small villages till it connects with Papys lake by a canal. The middle and the lower parts of Merkys flow through Dzūkijos National Park. And finally it joins Nemunas river in a small town called Merkinė.
Merkys could be devided into three different types of river: the upper part – small “chalk stream” type of river, perfect to fish in the early spring till the beginning of summer and autumn. (NOTE! The upper part needs a separate licence! More info – in the “Licences” paragraph.) The middle part – mostly slow with some rapids and runs, that become more frequent going downstream. Fishing is good there almost all the summer till late autumn. The lower part, or as we call it “sands”- again – even flowing current with a few disturbances. Almost all the way till it enters Nemunas, the bottom of the river is sandy with deep holes, which makes it an ideal place for big grayling to hang out. Best season would be mid autumn till the beginning of winter.
A regular 5 weight 9 foot fly rod would do the job in all the parts of the river. In the upper part usually we would fish with dry fly. Middle and lower parts – czech style, upstream nymphing or wet fly.
Merkys holds one of the biggest grayling population in Lithuania. Of course there are some wild brown trout too, but it’s very difficult to spot them, not mentioning caching them. There are some other species as well: chub, carp, pike, ide. But these species would be overshadow by grayling unless you’ll hook one of them by mistake.
It\s a poplar river not only for fly fishermen but for kayakers too. Especially during nice summer kayakers traffic can get very heavy. Despite of that it’s still possible to fly fish and enjoy the nature. Luckily there are not so many flyfishermen as kayakers.
The Queen of the rivers of Lithuania – as some call it. Takes its start in Pelesos district, Belarus. Once it enters Lithuania, most of its way makes through gorgeous valleys of Dzūkijos National Park while it falls into Merkys river. Crystal clear waters, almost untouched forest, steep winding and sandy precipice makes it one of the most beautiful rivers in the country.
The upper part of the river between Rudnia and Pauosupiai villages is a bit deeper, but yet at some stretches still possible to wade. From the Zervynos village till Merkys, Ula is more shallow, which does’t make a problem to cross the river or wade along the bank. The stretch from Zevynos till Žiūrai village is the fastest and the most interesting for fly fishing.
Flyfishing in Ula is relatively easy. River is not that big, so you can easily read the water and locate the fish. Ula is dominated by mid-size grayling and trout. The are bigger specimens, of course, but they are very spooky and picky in this river. The best time for grayling would be late spring and the very end of summer. Trout – early spring and mid autumn, almost till the very end of the season.
Ula is one of the few rivers that can be fished mainly with a dry fly. There are days when a nymph or a small streamer would perform better, but if you are a dry fly purist, that’s the river for you.
Tackle – a 4 / 5 weight 9 foot rod would be more that enough. Flies – any type of Quills, ants or CDC flies would work well. Sizes – 12 up to 18. Leaders – 0,12mm/0.14mm recommended.. For streamer fishing in the early spring, sinking or sink tip lines and bigger, heavier patterns, such as wooly buggers, mudler minnows, sculips in sizes 10 to 6 would be recommended. For streamer fishing in autumn, floating lines and smaller patterns in sizes 12-8 are OK.
Definitely one of the best rivers for fly fishing in the Eastern part of the country and perhaps the cleanest and the most important river in Lithuania for salmon spawning. Žeimena starts in the lake Žeimenys, although there are some discussion about its origin, because Žeimenys lake interconnected with other lakes too. So its difficult to say which lake is the original source of this river. Lake Žeimenys, river Lakaja and few other streams such as Mera, Luknnelė, Saria are the major feeders of Žeimena.
It is a very interesting river to fly fish, however quite difficult as well. Some stretches are just impossible to wade or the banks are so bushy that it’s difficult to pass though with a fly rod. River not wide but deep. It’s no surprise if somebody who’s fishing there for the first time in this river is having a swim 🙂 . Usually water is very clear and it’s quite difficult to read the bottom of the river unless you know it. The current is quite strong and the bottom substances are quite loose, so wading has to be done with care.
The upper part and the mid part of the river from Žeimenys lake untill Pabradė town is quite very slow, only with a few faster runs. From Pabrade untill the Neris river, current is faster and at some parts with very nice rapids.
As mentioned, Žeimena is the major spawning river for salmon. But according to Lithuania’s law, this river is not included into the special license list. If you caught a salmon or a sea trout you have to release it immediately back into the river. Zeimena also holds quite large population of grayling, also: brown trout, pike, chub.
The River is deep, so in order to present a fly we usually use very fast sinking lines or leaders as well as heavy flies. Although sometimes, especially towards the end of summer – beginning of autumn, could be days when the river is boiling from rising grayling.
It would be difficult to name certain flies for this river. We call Zeimena “a stubborn river”. Even sizes of flies could vary from 18-16 up to very big nymphs ~ size 6. What is known to work in Zeimena: hardy’s favorite in small sizes, brown midges, grayish quills, ants, chunky bright colored nymphs. If anyone would like to go streamer fishing in Žeimena, we would suggest to have a reasonable selection of patterns. The most important point would be to get your fly as close to the bottom as possible.
The biggest tributary of the Neris river. Starts from Samanis lake in Ignalina district in the East-northern part of the country. The longest river that runs only in the territory of Lithuania – it joins the Neris river close to Jonava town in the central part of the country. It’s crossing tree regional parks: Gražutes, Sratu and Anyksciai. This river has lots of small tributaries that feed the river. To mention a few: Virinta, Siesartis and Širvinta. These streams are the beloved places for sea trout spawning.
If the water level is normal, it’s a very pleasant river to flyfish. However the water in Šventoji usually clears out only towards the mid summer. Šventoji is mostly a quiet river with only some nice rapids and a few of powerful stony runs that can be quite far away from each other.
There are variety of fish species that you can catch on a fly in Šventoji: grayling, trout, sea trout and chub. To fly fish for them we use all of the fishing styles, depending on the water level and the fish that we’re after. During the summer we mostly use czech style nymphing. In the Autumn, during the blue dun hatch – small wet fly fishing or sometimes even delicate dry fly fishing. For trout or sea trout – big streamers. And in Autumn Šventoji by all means is THE river for salmon. Fish over 1 meter where caught here on the fly and we are sure that’s not the limit.
Fish in Šventoji can be very picky sometimes and you have to work hard to find a fly that works. Some flies that do work from time to time: electric green hydropsyhe, dark brown nymphs, bright brown wet ants, light pink czech nymphs.
On the whole, Šventoji is not a very easy river for fly fishing, however it is favored by many fly fishermen as sometimes it can be very rewarding.
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