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Part IV:   Suffering from what can only be described as a chocolate hangover, I was picked up at the stone gates of San Gemini by my fishing guide Luca Castellani.Luca, a former businessman turned fishing guide, specializes in guide fly-fishers on select rivers in Umbria and Tuscany.It was a cool, drizzly morning as we wound our way on a narrow road into the Apennine Mountains and the canyon through which the Nera River flows south and west eventually feeding into the Tiber River, which runs through Rome to the sea.After an hour or so we stopped in a small streams-side village of Borgo Cerreto where I purchased my Italian fishing license.  From there it was a very short walk to the lovely little, tree-lined spring-creek that is the Nera River.As we approached the stream, I could see many trout, including some big ones, lazily feeding in the crystal-clear water.  Bugs of various kinds and sizes were flitting around and over the river, and some of the trout rose to engulf them.”This is going to be a good day,” I thought to myself, as Luca led me to our starting point.The stream that was no bigger than Sonoma Creek; although unlike Sonoma Creek, the Nera runs cool and clear all year long, providing a safe, natural habitat for the German brown trout that thrive in its waters.Bugs skimmed over the water with trout in eager pursuit.  Most of the rising fish were in the eight to 12 inch range, but below them in the slightly deeper water, I could see much larger fish.  Some looked to be more than two feet long.Luca was most interested in finding a place where I might hook one of the bigger ones, while I was eager to just wade in and start casting to the ones I saw rising.(Side note:  I didn’t want to pack my waders, boots, rods, etc., but Luca provides them as part of his service at no extra charge)The trees are so thick and tall and in many places overlap the water completely so that the river appears to be flowing through a green tunnel rather than a mountain canyon.Several old stone-arched bridges (probably originally built 2,000 years ago by the Romans) span the stream.Because it was drizzling slightly, he led me to a pool under one of the bridges. He spotted a big fish lazily feeding in relatively quiet water.  I started with a little grey mayfly imitation that seemed close to imitating what was flying around us.The trees made casting a little tight, but roll casts worked much of the time.The first big trout saw my fly, swam to it, sniffed, and turned away. If I trout could talk, that one would have said, “No way, Bill. You’re going to have to do better than that.”The water was so clear I wondered if anything could fool them into taking an imitation, especially with so much other real food flying about.But I flogged away and Luca kept changing flies and eventually I enticed a medium-small trout to take my offering.  He was about eight inches, but the first trout I ever caught in Italy.“Ciao, baby.” I said to the little guy as we let him go.  “Send us your papa.”Luca and I spent most of the morning trying for the big guys, but only getting the smaller ones to bite.  I did land one brown that was about 16 inches, but the big monsters didn’t seem to want to play.At about 1 pm Luca and I strolled up the stream bank where the owners of Ristorante da Roberto Al Casaletto warmlygreeted us. Luca ordered for both of us. We started with some nice red Umbrian wine and thin slices of very lightly seasoned cold-smoked trout, followed by some slices of sausage and other meats, crusting and olives, and then by incredibly tasty pasta with black truffles.In all my years of fishing, I have never had a lunch as delicious as this one. Luca and I took our time enjoying lunch, and I found myself somewhat ambivalent about going back to work on the river.Nevertheless, we strolled back down to the water and spent a few more hours trying to get one of those big monster browns to take my fly, but only managed to hook their little brothers.I paused often take in the pretty little stream, surrounding trees and old bridges, guessing that many centuries of anglers had passed this way before me.It was a good day of catching and an even better day of just fishing in a beautiful place with a great guy like Luca to guide me. I highly recommend him as your guide.Suggestion: Plan a combo cultural and fly-fishing trip to Italy (I prefer Umbria). Stay in a historic city like Orvieto, Spoleto, or, if you like intimate little villages, San Gemini.  Your non-fishing spouse can tour, shop, and sightsee, while you spend a few days fishing some truly beautiful and historic streams with Luca. Luca’s website is :

http://www.lucacastellani.it/