San Francisco Bay Fishing for California Halibut and Striped Bass

I’ve done this type of fishing before in the San Francisco Bay Area where I’ve caught fish there. It seems like a lot of people don’t really know about this type of fun despite the thousands of people moving into the San Francisco Bay Area each year. However, there is some skill required for this as you have to know how to feel the bottom of the sea floor so you are not snagged on something. You’ll know if you have a fish hooked on as there is no mistake about that pulling sensation on your fishing rod.

I’m surprised that both California Halibut and Striped Bass fishing is still going strong because usually this type of fishing is usually best during the spring and summer, not during autumn. But I’m not complaining! It’s been awhile since I’ve fished for both Halibut and Striped Bass, especially for Halibut so it’s a nice change fishing for this flatfish again. Why does everyone else do the typical San Francisco Bay Area tourist stuff when I’d rather be out there on the water to fish and test my fishing skills? I have no idea. I guess sightseeing is easier than utilizing line-feeling capability while drifting out on a sea boat but man, there are so many people who cannot feel the bottom of the ocean. This aspect of fishing out on saltwater is very important because otherwise you will get hooked up on the bottom or on rocks to you eventually end up breaking your fishing line. Back to square zero where you have to re-tie your line and hooks/bait. However, this drift bottom fishing (like Rockfishing but using live bait) is quite easy to master compared to trying to cast a fly rod accurately and far!

water salty SFBay SF East Oakland Berkeley Emeryville marina vessel trolling drifting SF tourism better view from boat water

I think you can get far better views from a fishing boat than being in the city. There was a guy from the Netherlands on the boat as well and he was amazed how much better the viewpoint was while catching fish in the SF Bay.

On this trip, the Striped Bass were really easy – there are so many of them that they are just flat out plentiful, but that California Halibut was a different story. I was literally fishing right next to this one guy and his cousin who were absolutely just killing it on the Halibut. Every drift on the fishing charter boat was a Halibut hooked up. I even heard other people catching a Halibut…. all except me. I lost hope as the clock ticked away especially when the boat captain said that he was giving it 10 more minutes and the dude next to me hooked another Halibut. Sigh…. and just as I was complaining and joking to the boat captain, I look at my rod and it’s shaking up and down! Fish on! I immediately run over and start cranking the reel. As soon as I see the fish, I keep the tension on the line so as not to pull the hook out of its mouth since I was simply waiting for the deckhand to run over with the net. Once the deckhand netted it, I was screaming for joy like I caught the 20+ pound pike back in England! That was a literally an 11th hour, last ditch, hail Mary fish since the boat captain announced on the speaker, “Okay, he finally caught one. We can go home now since the Wisherman got his.” You bet that I’m a Wisherman and a Fisherman. I don’t want any failed fishing trips like Danube Salmon in Slovenia or Atlantic Salmon in Scotland. Nope, success here!

California halibut flounder Paralichthys californicus left and right side eyes large tooth flounder flatfish fishing good meat fish eating hard to catch

The last cast and fish of the day and I finally caught my Halibut! It was irritating watching the fishermen next to me catch one over and over again while I was empty-handed on the Halibut count.

Striped Bass California Halibut San Fransisco Bay Area fishing fishin' saltwater waters outdoor fun amazing fish oceanic water salty SFBay SF East Oakland Berkeley Emeryville marina vessel trolling drifting

2 Striped Bass and 1 California Halibut – a good day of fishing if you ask me. All good for the dinner plate.

Note: Don’t eat too much fish that is caught out of the San Francisco Bay for safety reasons. The SF Bay (and its water sources) has been severely polluted over the years that only in recent times has the water quality actually improved. So make sure you ration your fish and crab intake. If you happen to be lucky enough to catch a Sturgeon, I recommend that you let it go because of the toxin buildup and not to mention that it would be a good idea to allow the population to build back up.

Note: There are different species of Halibut out there but the ones in the San Francisco Bay Area are California Halibut. They are smaller than their Pacific Halibut cousins that are much bigger and dwell in much deeper waters. California Halibut are different in that they stay in more shallower waters and happen to be quite plentiful and easier to catch by staying in the bay. However, compared to Rockfish and Striped Bass, Halibut can be very fickle biters as they will completely destroy your bait but won’t stay on the hook meaning that there is no fish on the other end of the line which makes them quite irritating to hook and land one.

Contact:

http://www.fishemeryville.com/

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Fishing for Marble Trout in Slovenia – Returning to make up for the lost Danube Salmon the previous year

Due to my failure to catch a Danube Salmon or any fish in Slovenia the previous year, a return trip had to be made in order to correct this discrepancy. Sure, I’ve failed to fish and catch an Atlantic Salmon in Scotland but at least, I still caught fish the next day while saltwater fishing. I didn’t have that chance with Slovenia so this was the time to do it for Marble Trout! A chance for redemption! And like the Zebra Trout in Spain, Marble Trout is a subspecies variation of Brown Trout that can only be found in Southern Europe around the Adriatic basin countries of Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia. So for me, this was a special type of fishing trip to undertake since this type of Brown Trout is just not an everyday occurrence.

Maybe after all that fishing experience gained from the trips I’ve made since the last time that I was in Slovenia: California, UK, Germany, Portugal, Czech Republic, and Spain. So I thought that I was truly ready for this time around with a good belief that I won’t go with a “blank” on this trip: fish will be hooked and landed! No ghost bites either. Real fish will finally be landed in Slovenia! And after getting my fishing practice in the last month by going to the Czech Republic and most recently in the UK, I wanted to think that I would be ready! I even thought that going to Spain was a major help as well. But perhaps, the Fishing Gods will watch me in trying achieve fishing success in this country where previously I was unable to.

NOPE.

It was harder than expected due to the sheer amount of people at the rivers either fishing, kayaking, or playing around. That does not make a good place to fish as all the trout are easily spooked. And all that casting practice? Well, I had to re-learn my fly-fishing cast because of utilizing different mechanics from big deep waters to short surface casting. Oh man…. I got a few bites but no takers. Until I finally caught one small Rainbow Trout! All right! Maybe the Fishing Gods listened to my Slovenian fishing plight. Although the targeted species was Marble Trout, I’ll take at least one landed fish as a good sign to come. That also eliminates the “BLANK” space I had for this country so that at least has been eliminated from my traveling and fishing history.

first fish rainbow trout in this river hard conditions spooky fish unwilling to bite too many fishermen people

My first fish ever in Slovenia. A tiny Rainbow Trout that decided to give me a small fraction of an ounce of excitement. But the “Blank” was now officially gone.

The second day was better, much better. I think it was because there were less people resulting in less pressure on the fish that I got more quality takes. And before I knew it, bam! I finally got a fish to take and landed it!

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Maybe a change of shirt and hat contributed to my second day’s success? I’m not sure but it helped.

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It was a better start than the previous day so I had gotten my fishing practice in… at least!

As for the Marble Trout – I think kept losing my marbles over them. I finally hooked one spooked Marble Trout and after a few seconds, the fly popped out! Nooooooo! This would happen again and again that losing some Marble Trout seemed like a regular occurrence. And then my perseverance paid off. I finally did it! I finally caught a Marble Trout! I can now cross the Marble Trout off of my bucket list!

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My first ever Marble Trout that I cast, hooked, and landed!

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Looking at this fish, a trout, you can see the pattern on its side similar to a marbled rock which gave its name to this trout.

Note: Marble Trout is not a separate fish/trout species but it’s actually a subspecies of Brown Trout, kind of like the Zebra Trout that I caught in Spain. The markings are significantly far more different on Marble Trout and makes them look like the pattern on a stone marble on their skin. The big threat to them is no doubt over-fishing (which conservation efforts are taking place), pollution, habitat loss, and hybridization with regular Brown Trout. Like I stated before, these fish are only found in the Adriatic Sea river basin so I think it’s a great idea to make this trip to go catch an elusive Marble Trout!

And what made this second day even better was that I also caught an Adriatic Grayling on a fly as well! I caught the Slovenian Triple Slam! I was extremely happy since many people don’t ever catch a Grayling in that upper stretch of the river. And even fewer catch a Rainbow Trout, Marble Trout, and Grayling all on the same day!

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I’m hooked onto a fish! I didn’t know what it was until I brought closer to shore.

Adriatic Grayling fall autumn late summer back to school only for serious anglers fishermen lone traveler traveling fun outdoors

My first ever Adriatic Grayling caught! I’ve caught Graylings before in the the UK, but this was the first time that I did it on the fly rod! My guide told me that catching these Graylings is pretty difficult in that part of the river as the population for some unknown reason dropped quite a bit.

The rest of the second day was quite difficult as I would hook fish but I couldn’t get them to stay on long enough to land them.

great view of the river, trees, and mountains

A great view of the river, trees, and mountains. But no more fish for the day. I think the Fishing Gods were thinking that they already gave me a “Triple Slam” so be happy with that!

On the last day of fishing in Slovenia, the pressure to redeem for last year’s failure was well passed so it’s all about having fun catching whatever fish I could. And I have to say that it’s already been a great trip so far since I caught a Marble Trout and the Triple Slam. So yes, it’s been great fishing unless you count my early morning struggles of trying to hook and land a fish. Gosh, that third morning was tough despite the river being completely free of other anglers. Just a few sun-bathers and kayakers. That was it. But after several hours of casting and moving and casting, I finally hook a Rainbow Trout!…. only to lose it because it broke the line. Damn….. back to square zero. Of course, I was disappointed but after some more moving around and casting more, I finally hooked onto one and landed it!

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It took awhile that morning, but I managed to finally reel in the first fish of the day! A nice long Rainbow Trout. These trout fight much better than their reservoir counterparts.

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My second fish of the day…. well, it was there until the Trout escaped. Leaving me with an empty Fish Guitar.

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There’s my fish guitar! Swimming nearby and eventually back to its resting place.

Now the momentum was on and I started catching more and more fish despite some of them being really spooky and wary of taking a fly. All Rainbow Trout, no Marble Trout nor Grayling. It was a lot of work but it was worth it to finally hook and catch fish regularly!

And then it happened! I catch something that completely catches you off guard! At first, my guide and I were conversing, “Alright a fish!…. Ah man. It’s another Rainbow Trout!” We both thought Rainbow Trout because this fish jumped up in the air as it was hooked in the mouth. Rainbows generally jump to do aerial acrobatics in order to spit the fly out. However, as I fought the fish and brought it closer for my guide to net it, he couldn’t find the fish. “Where is the fish? I can’t see it!” And then he says the words I’ll never forget, “Oh wow! It’s a hybrid! That’s why I couldn’t see the fish!” After a few more seconds of struggling, he finally nets the fish for me. Yes! I caught something weird, something RARE! According to him, very few people catch a Marble/Brown Trout hybrid in the wild. It was probably years since he last saw one. So basically, in the span of one week, I have caught another Fish of a Lifetime!

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Another fish of a lifetime! a Hybrid Marble Brown Trout! Many go to Slovenia to fish but never get to catch one, much less even see or hear about someone catching one!

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An up-close and personal picture of the Hybrid Marble/Brown Trout caught in the wild in Slovenia! People have fished for years and have never caught one of these! Look at the unique look of this fish, it’s like a Marble Trout but yet not a Brown Trout either.

Tip: There is not that much to do in Slovenia unless you are going to Lake Bled or do winter sports. That’s why I recommend going fishing – it’s highly underrated because no one knows about it and the Slovenes actually take care of their environment and natural resources – someone told me that the fishing is better in Slovenia than in nearby countries such as Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia. Having never gone to Serbia nor Bosnia and never fished there, I can’t debate it so I’m not sure. But for me, I had my fishing opportunities and I took them in Slovenia!

Tip: Slovenia has emerged as a big-time tourist destination due to a variety of reasons so going to this country during the summer will be full of tourists, tourists, tourists. I thought most of the people would be gone by the end of the summer which was not the case. It’s still barrels full of tourists, overwhelming the locals. Even the fishing conditions are very different from season to season, week by week. So expect the unfamiliar and unusual such as extreme rain and wind during the summer! You never know!

Contact:
http://socafishingguide.si/

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A return to the UK to fly-fish for an epic Pike of a lifetime!

I thought that a fishing trip, not just for the predator fish that I was after was necessary, but it was based on the fact that I needed more fly-fishing practice. Despite catching some fish in the Czech Republic, most of it was not on a fly rod which was why I needed some additional fly-fishing muscle memory retention for what is to come in the future. I won’t say what it’s for but it is coming…. but it’s soon….

Anyway, on a nice late summer day out on the water in the UK, I was going fishing for some possible big Pike or Zander, the top two targeted fish species on this trip. So any practice of hooking up, fighting, and landing the fish would be nice practice for the future. To start off the day, it was incredibly hot. Unlike the last time of fishing in the UK when the weather was a bit more chilly and bearable, the humidity, the burning sun, and rising temperatures were making the conditions a bit too sweaty since this was not the tropics! It’s a bit different feeling when you’re in Mexico or Costa Rica when you expect the high temperatures and heat… just not in southern England! But the good thing about summer time is that the Zander are usually on the hunt. Despite their more willingness to bite during the late afternoon as evidenced with my experience in New York by their Walleye cousins, there are still good chances to catch a Zander in the morning which is exactly what happened to my rod as I felt a bite and the rod started bending towards the water! Fish on! Zander on! After a minute or two, the fish was netted and brought on board! Great start for the day!

fishing tourism guided guides fly fishing fly rods pike predator tight lines catch and release wild stocked fish freshwater

Within the first hour of fishing, I had a few pecks at my hook but eventually, a Zander couldn’t resist taking my fly and I reeled the first fish of the day! I think this one is about 5-6 pounds or so.

After the first fish was in the boat, I would get sparse action of a few “maybe” bites as the fish were really picky and not biting all the way: some bites here and there but nothing concrete until a Rainbow Trout took my fly. Well, at least, I got some action…. so I thought….

So after hours and hours of casting over and over again, a fish took my sunken fly… alright! Some action. A fish is on…. huh…. this… is…. a…. big…. fish! I could feel the full weight of this fish as it would take me to the bottom back and forth as we fight in this tug of a war game! Big fish is on! And after fighting several minutes, I get a glimpse of it in the water – it’s a massive Pike! Game on! Game on! Keep fighting, keep fighting! After winning the battle through my war of attrition of tiring the Pike out after a battle of over 10-15 minutes in total, I finally bring the fish into the net and onto the boat. After weighing it, it was official: I landed my first 20+ pound pike on a fly rod! 22 pounds! Unbelievable action.

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After about 10-15 minutes of hooking and fighting this fish, it was finally landed. I felt a high sensation like I won a major championship game so lifting this fish for the picture was like lifting a big major trophy! And from this picture, you can see that it’s big, very big! Many people have fished for years trying to catch a 20+ pound / 10+ kilogram Pike but I did it! I spent a lot of years learning how to fish, fly-fish, tactics, strategies, and finally, my luck and experience paid off in the Pike lottery sweepstakes! My biggest Pike of all time! An epic, fish of a lifetime on a fly!

It’s a fish of a lifetime! People have tried to land a Pike of over 20 pounds or even over 10 kilograms for years but I have done it in 2 years since the first time I fished in the UK!

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This Pike did not want to cooperate for the camera so I had to force this shy but yet large Pike to pose for the awesome Kodak moment. I was really embellishing the moment because after catching Pike for years which I felt that 8 pounds was my plateau, I finally broke through the ceiling of double-digit Pike. The Fishing Gods must have heard my prayers!

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To ensure that others have a chance of catching a Pike this big of a monster, it’s important to employ “catch and release” for these fish. You never know…. I might come back and catch this fish again, when it’s a lot bigger!

The day ended on a low whimper as it turned into slow mode again but I still managed to land one more Zander (my biggest one in Europe yet!) but it appeared that all the Zander bites stopped early on that day. Usually, Walleyes and Zanders will continue all the way into the night but I guess for me, nope. I guess I like to think that my big Pike has told the local fish to stay away from my lines and/or the Fishing Gods have also instructed the fishes that my wishes have been granted so keep out. No more freebies. Fortunately for me, I was fine with that after catching that monster of a Pike! They say in Finland that catching a 10 kilogram (22 pounds) means that you have graduated to master fisherman. I don’t know if I’m truly a fishing master or not, but I’m continuing my fishing education regardless.

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The last Zander and fish of the day as the sun began its inevitable drop below the horizon. After the monster Pike, this was simply too much dessert!

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Bundesliga 2 game: VfB Stuttgart vs St. Pauli

I have seen VfB Stuttgart play last season twice when they played against Schalke and against Eintracht Frankfurt, however, in both games, Stuttgart lost those games which didn’t help the team down the line last season when they faced off in the Bundesliga relegation playoffs, playing against (at that time second league) Union Berlin. Union, however, pulled it off by winning the playoffs which sent the Union to the first league for the first time in club history. This left VfB Stuttgart holding the empty bag and slapped back down to the second league, where they just got promoted from the previous season. Oh well, it happens. That’s football. That’s sports – you just don’t know when someone wakes up on the right side of the bed to shock everyone.

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It’s August and it’s raining… that is NOT summer. Can the football gods at least give us some good weather since it’s summertime?

However, I didn’t go to Stuttgart to watch the home team play. No, instead I went to Stuttgart to go watch St. Pauli play! Tickets to their home games in Hamburg, Germany are absolutely impossible to obtain as they are sold out all the time due to having a cult-like fan base (as well as more season-ticket holders than seats available!). Now granted that their home station, Millerntor-Stadion, is almost half the capacity of Volksparkstadion, home stadium of their crosstown rivals, Hamburger SV, which makes the tickets much more difficult to find in addition to all the season ticket holders hoarding all the tickets. So that was my reason why I decided that I would go to a St. Pauli away game to watch not just the team but also their supporters who are also known as hardcore leftist politics fans. St. Pauli (also known in Germany as Sankt Pauli (German spelling)), however, the team did not start off well in the season compared to last year when they were threatening to be near the top of 2nd league and attempt to get promoted. This year… not so much as they are near the bottom of the rankings. Of course, things could change over time like what happened to Hamburg SV when they were in first place one year but slowly over time lost their place and almost got the relegation treatment. I think the following year the team finally got relegated.

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The crazy, old St. Pauli fans cheering on their team from Hamburg. For being visiting fans, they were probably the loudest that I’ve heard for any visiting team in Europe. They sure are passionate about their team.

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Known as the teams with the brown and white colors, the St. Pauli players come out to warm up in the rain.

Because of the severe World War II bombings of Stuttgart during the 1940s, the city does not really have any super-standout attractions other than the car museums and the major football club. So, it might be a good idea to make Stuttgart one of those passing through cities or a quick stay over to go elsewhere or going to a football game. I think Stuttgart is playing a little bit better this year only because they are not going against the top talents in the first league.

In this game, I still saw the same struggles that they made last year that the team cannot pass effectively which means they can’t score effectively which in turn means that they can’t win games that well. Stuttgart had some problems getting it going against St. Pauli, which after watching the team play for awhile, appeared to be a counter-attacking team like Paderborn or Schalke in the Bundesliga. That’s how the team went up 1-0 in the first half nullifying all the other good attempts at goal scoring by Stuttgart. However, Stuttgart turned up the pressure against St. Pauli, despite the bumbling and stumbling of their offense at times, to score and equalize in the second half! Off of a corner kick which stayed on the ground instead of being airborne.

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Stuttgart (the team in black colors) would vary their playing style by going from a 3-5-2 to 4-3-1-2 to 5-2-3. Almost the entire game, the team was in attack mode which paid off in the end especially with their second goal.

After some more back and forth, Stuttgart scores it in the last minute to pretty much wrap up the 3 points! The home fans go wildly crazy as the St. Pauli fans are in complete shock. It was just pandemonium to the max that even a fan ran out onto the field! Luckily, nothing happened as security immediately grabbed him and escorted him with force off the field. That was the first time that I have ever seen that happen in a game where a fan jumped out onto the field. I’ve seen it in the United States and on TV but never in a live game in Europe. I guess you go crazy when your team does great things…. or bad things.

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First time being at a DFL Pokal (German Cup) game! SV Wehen Wiesbaden vs FC Köln

Almost every European country has its own cup game that usually involves several divisions among its football league. So basically, some (but not all) fourth league teams, third league teams and second league teams get the opportunity to play against the first league teams. There are shockers when a lower-ranked team will knock off a higher league team so it does happen. To me, the first rounds are basically a gate-ticket opportunity for the lower-ranked teams to sell tickets since a big-time team will be coming to town. After the first few rounds is when things get super serious and you can easily figure out who’s who – the contenders, not the pretenders.

In this game, it was SV Wehen Wiesbaden vs FC Köln with FC Köln being the visiting team and after spending one season in the second league and winning it, the team is back to the first league as it should. Wiesbaden has also been promoted, going from third league to second league after being in third place of the third league and winning the relegation/promotion playoffs. The team has started seeing some success after spending quite a bit of time in the regional and third leagues, but maybe it’s finally time for the team to see success finally? Who knows… they could do well or do badly to where they get relegated back down to third league.

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Both teams were gearing up for the initial whistle to start off the game which would turn out to be a great one.

But this game was a great game as Wiesbaden kept putting the heavy pressure onto FC Köln in the beginning. A bit different when Paderborn last year when Paderborn would just counterattack and win the game that way. Wiesbaden would high press and attack from all sides but FC Köln was just too resilient and ended up scoring 2 goals in the first half. But after the halftime break, Wiesbaden continued its relentless attack and scored its first and second goals to tie the game, shocking the visiting team and visiting fans. As the final horn sounds, it’s time to go into overtime as these games are not considering away goals advantage. Nothing happened in the first overtime, but in the second overtime, FC Köln strikes a third goal to put the home team away… until Wiesbaden in complete desperation manages to equalize with its third goal!

SV Wehen Wiesbaden stadium arena pitch green fans soccer rainy day

It’s hard to tell from this picture but to the right, is a construction side. I believe the team, with its great recent success, has decided to make some upgrades to the stadium especially if the team makes it to top flight football. One of the footballs actually flew over into the construction side – oops.

The game goes into the penalty shootout which was a roller coaster as well! Blocked shots, massive pressure…. it had it all but Köln wins in the end by scoring the last and definitive winner but I could see that both sides were tired. Köln was pushed to the limits.

rainbow football game soccer bundesliga germany deutschland hessen

Near the game’s end, there was a rainbow because of all the rain throughout the game which made for some slippery moments. Some might have wondered if this was a sign for Wiesbaden to win because last year, the team knocked off St. Pauli in a surprise upset.

The game was just wild, wacky, and fun. Despite the Police Chief of Wiesbaden making a speech to the fans to behave properly, nothing really bad happened other than people were throwing beer when the home team scored. People threw beer at the opposing players (because Brita Arena is smaller than most stadiums, bench players that warm up near the end sideline are a lot closer and within throwing distance) which is a complete no-no. I remember even when Wiesbaden equalized on the second and third goals, the fans threw beer in celebration and a couple fans jumped on the railing!

Overall, it was a great game as both teams were pushed to their limits going all the way to the penalty shootout which you don’t see much unless it was a deadlock which in this game, it was.

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