River Fishing Trips

Fishing the Dalaman River mid-July

The Dalaman River is a big river. It rises on the Elma Mountain near Acıpayam, flowing down past the Gölge Mountain onto the Dalaman Plain near Ortaca and on, north of the airport, to the sea at Dalaman. Even at this time of year, when most other rivers are bone dry, there is considerable water volume.

The Dalaman Plain is extremely fertile. We passed through hectares of Cotton Plants, Orange Groves, Sunflowers, Olives and Dairy Cattle. Even in this dry period the vista is green and lush, due in the main to the irrigation afforded by the Dalaman River.

With my guide, Mustafa Kocaçay and a welcome new boy, John Campbell from Ovacık, we scouted the river first at the lower reaches where the road crosses it on the way to Sarıcerme and Dalyan; we looked at the bridge between Ortaca and Dalaman; then we looked at a position a few kilometres upriver from this point, where we started fishing. John described Mustafa as the perfect Ghillie, and coming from an experienced Scottish fisherman, that is praise indeed. If I had followed Mustafa’s advice we would have been at the optimum fishing spot much earlier in the day.

John was using a 4pc French-built 9’5” Carbon Fibre Travel Rod by Decathlon matched with a Dragonfly Disc Drag reel loaded with WF- 8- F line. His success this day was mainly with a Gold Head Stocking Bug. I was using a Daiwa Lochmor-X 8ft rod matched to a Lochmor-S 200 reel with Cortland 333 WF-6-F with a short tapered floating leader/ tippet. I have had some problems with the light tackle in getting the fly to turn over, so I experimented today with a much shorter leader and had much more success. I used a Beetle imitation and switched to a Black Gnat.

The river near Ortaca looks promising but did not deliver. We fished just below the bridge near the dam-like complex that we think was either storing irrigation water or producing electricity. Here the river is wide, with boulder-strewn banks and evidence of extensive gravel extraction. It is all easy to wade, except the narrower runs that are too fast. There is a mix of deep pools and wide shallows. We fished here for an hour with nothing to show for it before moving on.

We went back towards the coast, to the area near the bridge on the road to Sarıgerme. We had seen Trout here on our earlier visit but as the day wore on they were not so evident.

For those unsure where they want to start a fishing trip on this river, you will not go far wrong at this location. In addition, it is the ideal setting for a family trip, with paddling areas and swimming holes. The riverbed is mainly smooth, firm mud and gravel with some rocky spots. The water was clear to the bottom. The riverbank is low and has ample room for casting a line.

Our catch for the day was Bream, no Trout, all taken with fly, 5 for John and 6 for me. Not what we went for, but it bends the rod. John felt this would fish better in the early morning or evening.

After I had been fishing for about half an hour, without much success, three local children arrived with a net. After casting the net twice they pulled out a very respectable Trout, possibly eleven inches or so. For all my stealth and caution about not frightening the fish, they were romping through the water splashing and shouting with excitement as they pulled out a succession of fish of various sizes: I was gutted – and so were their fish. Anyway, on the bright side, they were not using dynamite – another local favourite for no-nonsense fish extraction.

They were clearly interested with the way I was waving my rod around – Fly Fishing is not big in this area – but looked on with open-mouthed incredulity when I released fish too small to take home: this is not the Turkish way. They said ‘Goodbye’ and left with their catch.

I think it fair to say that I did not make any converts to the world of Dry-Fly Fishing that day. After all, it was three little boys with a net that got the best fish of the day.

Future fishing trips in this series will hopefully include:

  • The upper reaches of the Dalaman River

  • The upper reaches of the Eşen River

  • The rivers and lakes around Çameli

  • Dalyan River & Delta

  • Lake Köyceğiz


  1. I had a few hours fishing on the River Dalaman at cameli. The river runs fast and narrow here with over hanging trees and steep banks. Wading is not to much of a problem and after about half a mile of walking I found a pool holding some small trout. Using a small hairs ear nymp I managed to hook in a fish but was unable to land it before it spat the hook. I was using a 9’6″ rod with a short taped leader and found myself constantly tangled in the trees. Although I didn’t catch again this trip served as a good rece and i will fish this river again but will take a 7′ rod.