Fly Fishing Sana and Sanica River
The majority of the premier fly fishing waters in Bosnia are concentrated in the North-Western region of Bosanska Krajina and the Sana is a river in the heart of it. The legend has it that some Roman soldiers, suffering battle wounds that would not heal, forded the river and were cured, and so they named it 'Health' - Sana. The healing property extends to its small tributary, the Sanica (literally Little Sana) which is famed for its curative effect on skin disorders. The Sanica is a marvel of a fly water that we wish to welcome you to.
In Bosnia fishing waters are either, so called, free waters (slobodna voda) or specially designated fisheries (revir). Fly revirs can simply be stretches of streams designated fly-only, but they can also be premium river stretches, with well controlled fish stocks, keepering and strict rules. Often there will be excellent accommodation available geared for anglers and some of these waters justly claim to be among the best fly waters in the world. Among them, second to none is Sanica Revir, located in the small town of Gornja Sanica in Ključ municipality. The fish are about 70% grayling to 30% brown trout and are almost all wild with some brown trout stocked from a local broodstock hatchery located within the Revir. No grayling has ever been stocked in the river. Sanica Revir is about a mile and a half long and is currently being extended to include the Korčanica, a tributary, and another revir, Izvor, at the source stretch is opening next season. The source is located in a few meters wide crack in a tall rock and is a gush from a cave into a deep pool followed by a tumble through boulders, before the stream widens and settles in a slow pace. There is also a small winterbourne confluence at the source. Bosnian mountains are limestone and the rivers are limestone rivers, in some respects like chalk streams (cold, alkaline, mineral rich) and different in others (uneven flow, spate prone, less vegetation). The Sanica is probably the most chalk stream-like of them all, even, slow paced, lush with vegetation and mostly shallow throughout its course. The width of the river in the Revir is about 10m, the depth between 20 and 180cm, while the water temperature ranges from 8 to 14 degrees C. Trout and grayling records for the Sanica are said to be at about 70cm. 60+ cm grayling, while not common, are not a rarity, nor are Danube salmon (hucho hucho).
Sanica Revir is fly only, fully catch and release and barbless hooks are compulsory as is the use of landing nets. As the location is in the Federacija Bosne i Hercegovine part of the country, single fly rule also applies (up to three flies may be permitted on some waters in the other part, Republika Srpska). Closed seasons are 1st October - 28th February for brown trout and 1st January - 30th April for grayling, making the open season 1st March - 31st December. There are no other restrictions and you are welcome to fish dry fly or nymph, upstream and down at any time in the open season. The best months, water levels permitting, are May and June followed by the last four months of the season. Upwings imitations rule, from larger size 12 at the start of the season to smaller size 18 at the end.
A day ticket is extremely good value at KM 45 (€23) and allows one to fish both Sanica Revir and Zmajevac Revir on the Sana at Ključ on the same day. Zmajevac is well known for its head of Danube salmon. Izvor Revir will be more exclusive at KM80 (€40) per day, containing mainly specimen size fish and is limited to four rods only.
The waters are managed by the Ključ Fishing Society, www.srdkljuc.com.ba . Mr Jadranko Zolak of www.oazamirasanica.com.ba is Mr Sanica. His website is compulsory viewing for all planning a trip there. At Oaza Mira, where you will buy your day ticket, you will find angler friendly accommodation, complete with a swimming pool. The capacity is 35 beds in single, double and triple rooms at fantastic €15 per person per night B&B. For larger groups, Jadranko can arrange additional private accommodation nearby. He can organize guides at €50 to €60 per day, as well as airport transfers. Jadranko's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The local version of ‘tight lines!’ is ‘bistro!’ meaning clear (waters) and ‘welcome’ is ‘dobro došli’, meaning exactly that.
So, from Sanica, dobro došli i bistro!