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Fly fishing & photography magazine

www.flymage.net

Nยบ 10 December 2011


10

Fly fishing & photography magazine

www.flymage.net

Nยบ 10 December 2011


,

Christmas is a time to be with the family and your closest friends. Nobody wants to be alone. Or... do they?

4

Taking along the lighting gear to take fishing pictures is quite a hassle, but the results can be surprising.

42

In search of the most unexplored places for fly fishing in the Arctic. Tales of the Great North in search of giant char and pike.

62

Watch the first fly tying video in our new monthly series. Mikel Exlexpuru reveals the secrets of his designs step by step.

96


CHRISTMAS AL NE Text & Photos: Ray Montoya


Three hours south of Hawaii, our Air Pacific flight touches down at Cassidy International’s aging World War II runway. Eight of us deplane, collect our luggage and wave good-bye to the Fiji bound passengers peering out their plastic windows, perhaps wondering, where in the hell they were? James Cook had the same reaction when he arrived Christmas Eve, 1777, hence naming the atoll Christmas, but had nothing positive to note about the island in his log.


C

hristmas remained uninhabited for the next century. Inevitably, missionaries arrived and began planting coconuts palms and exploiting any Polynesians they could lure to this barren atoll. On the 8th of November, 1957 Britain detonated its first atomic bomb. The botched explosion scorched the southeast half of the atoll, shattering the ear drums of many locals and killing millions of tropical birds. In total, the Brits and Americans detonated 32 thermonuclear devices above Christmas over a six year period. After the ban on testing, the island sank back into obscurity until 1983, when Kiribati took procession. To date, there has been no formal investigation of the environmental and

health effects of those cold war tests. The British did return quite recently to finally clean up their rusting military hardware.

A

week on a bonefish flat will leave you salivating for more. Two weeks will have you seeing phantom fish when you close your eyes at night. The year I turned forty, I fished three bonefish destinations over the course of a month-the Cook Islands, Los Roques and Mexico. All I could think about when I got home was getting back to those flats. I have revisited Mexico and Los Roques numerous times, as well as Belize and Cuba, and now finally, after eleven years, I’ve made it back to the South Pacific.


Initially, I attempted to book Christmas through a reputable outfitter; unfortunately, most would not accommodate a solo angler. After an exhaustive inquiry, I finally decided to simply purchase a ticket and do it on my own. When boats are scarce, many of the lodges truck their fishermen into the flats, so I knew it was possible to reach them on foot. I also knew that finding these flats and more importantly, the fish, would require an intimate understanding of the tides and feeding habits

of the island’s resident bonefish. Even with a little local knowledge, you’ll also needed a GPS, a good map, and most importantly, the luxury of time. Making decisions each day as to where and how to fish was the most liberating aspect of this trip, and believe me, I didn’t always get it right, but having the time to slow down and lose myself in the serenity of the atoll and its people, made this trip extraordinary. All said, if you are not familiar with Christmas or bonefish, I strongly recommend a guide.


With more than forty named flats on Christmas and two weeks to fish, my plan was simple, just explore.


I discovered a chain of small lagoons near Banana today. Meters from the road, bonefish tails twitched and waved, beckoning me to pull over. These small inside lagoons offer just a fringe of fishable water along their shore line. To reach the more expansive flats, I needed to continue west, crossing several motus. Along the way, I came upon an I-Kiribati man fording

a channel with a bicycle balanced on his shoulder. Once across, he mounted his bike and disappeared through a thicket of Naupaka towards a bank of green clouds. Such clouds mark the presence of large shallow flats, so I followed. The tide was receding fast when I finally reached flats, but I had enough time to land a few nice bonefish before it completely pulled out.


In my continual search for flats, I encountered an elderly man on a bicycle today. Later that morning, I followed his instructions to a lovely channel flat. The first fish I encountered was tailing obliviously along the edge of the channel. On my third presentation, it pounced on the fly and ran with it for half a minute before straightening the hook. There were other bonefish that day, but none could supplant the memory of that first fish’s blistering run, or of the elderly I-Kiribati man I had shared a moment with.


During my nap under a naupaka this afternoon, I was attacked by a tiny white tern. It was a persistent little bugger, hovering centimeters above my head, trying to shove a sardine into my eye. I continued shooing it away before realizing that its chick was in the branch above me.


My walk today led me to one of the longest unbroken flats that I’ve ever seen. Either direction would entail a full day’s fish, but I chose the path that put both the wind and sun to my back. Ignoring the little guys resulted in successfully landing five broad shouldered bonefish. A guide, concerned with getting his clients high numbers of fish would have missed some of these larger fish. There’s nothing more frustrating than being hooked up to a small bonefish while a fish three times larger cruise by!


The winds have been most brutal just when the afternoon tide starts to come right. Back casting has proved to be the most effective way to present a fly, though I still occasionally catch one in the back of my head. Spring tides are not making things any easier, turning otherwise clear flats milky green. I never made it all the way to Poland as I was once again sidetracked, this time by three striking flats, Smoky, Taina and Nine Mile. I remembered traveling to these flats by boat back in 1999. They were good back then, but stingy today. I caught a few bonefish, but mostly ended up stepping on them.


Aroita asked if I could take dinner early today as her daughter was dancing for President’s Banquet. After the dancing and obligatory speeches, the President cut a cake and the pig was carved. It wasn’t long before two official aides approach me. I thought that I might be in trouble, but apparently the President was curious about my presence and had requested my company. Over the course of the evening we discussed a variety of topics ranging from the depletion of fish

resources, to the impact that rising sea levels might have on the sovereignty of island nations. The President seemed relaxed and genuinely interested in my opinion. I could imagine fishing with this man. When I thanked him for his time, he pointing out that the pleasure was his as he was about to spend the next week sitting in village mwaneabas (traditional meeting houses) addressing the many issues of his people. He then he added with a laugh, and eating way too much food!


I returned to the large flat near the copra camp where I knew there were easy bonefish. After several fishless hours, my feet raw and tender from grinding salt and sand, my desire melted. Dejected, I started back, plodding through the flat, thinking only about cold beer and dry feet. While retracing my way back to the copra camp, suddenly, miraculously, a bonefish appeared, then another. At first just singles, but later, small schools. My confidence bolstered, I stayed out on the flat until dusk, landing nearly a dozen bonefish.


As I passed by the copra camp that evening, a girl sat near the lagoon combing out her hair. Nearby, younger kids were playing in the channel, their laughter and squeals set against the last bit of light. Minutes later the sky was ablaze, silhouetting a stand of windblown coconut palms. The universe was perfect again.


Island communities, at least the most remote and arid ones, depend on a regular delivery of basic essentials via freighter. The Air Pacific flight certainly brings in some cargo, mostly fresh produce, but it’s expensive. Daily staples like oil, petrol, rice, flour, sugar, canned goods, cigarettes, mail, and beer all arrive by boat from Tawara. The boat is very late. In fact, it just left and I’m told it takes about two weeks to get to Kiritimati. The island has been out of rice for the past

week, as well as sugar, beer and soft drinks. I asked my cook, Aroita, what do people eat when the boat is so late? Is there enough breadfruit on the island to supplement the lack of rice? She laughed; there are only a few breadfruit trees and even fewer papayas. I-Kiribati are fishermen not farmers. Have you seen any gardens? I had not. So what do people do when supplies run out, I asked? She smiled, we eat coconut and fish, that’s all there is on Christmas.


My old Tibor holds 300 meters of gel-spun backing, but I’ve never had a fish take more than a third of that. This morning’s first bonefish took more than half of it, and did it twice. I was soon back on the road nearing Paris when another amazing flat appeared. Close to open sea, I found Paris’s three flats gin clear. They are some of the firmest, whitest, most beautiful flats in the lagoon. Paris held plenty of large bonefish, but they were very weary, behaving as though they had recently seen flies. I eventually gave up on these nervous fish and made my way back to shore, hoping to find a flat that had not been recently fished. By now, the tide was beginning to turn and the winds were kicking up a bit of swell. Nearing the beach, I spied a bonefish tailing in the surf, similar to the way permit feed in back in Oman. Well, once I got on to these guys, it was nonstop action for the rest of the day. I must have landed two dozen bonefish, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I enjoyed every minute of it.


Ray Montoya Originally from New Mexico, in 1994 he moved his family overseas teach at International Schools in West Papua, the Philippines Islands and for the past nine years, Oman. He purchased his first fly rod in 1972 and has traveled and fished in over twenty countries. Ray has published numerous fly fishing articles. We published his Oman Diaries in Flymage issue#7.


Under the surface


Nicolai Munch Andersen


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ENGLISH BLOG: CLICK ON THE IMAGE


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SPANISH BLOG: CLICK ON THE IMAGE


LIGHTS AND ACTION


We accompanied Javier Fdez del Rivero on a photo shoot. Recently his goal has been to achieve perfect lighting, with the aid of artificial light. Despite the troublesome task of taking all the gear along, assembling it and even rescuing a spotlight from the water when the wind tipped it over, the experience was well worth it.


Fly fisherman, photographer and avid traveler, Javier Fernández del Rivero looks for really special scenery and lighting for his pictures. With the addition of artificial light he takes a step forward in his great pictures. Do you remember trout jumping out of the water chasing dragonflies? If you did not see them, please download our magazine Nº 6. Please visit Javier´s website: www.javierf.com


IMAGES SHOWN ARE SCREEN CAPTURES FROM THE ACTUAL FOOTAGE OF EACH EPISODE.

TEN FANTASTIC FLY FISHING FILMS ALL IN ONE 3-DVD COLLECTION!

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TARPON IN MEXICO

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TROUT MECCA IN MONTANA

SHARKS IN THE FLORIDA KEYS

DORADO IN ARGENTINA

RAINBOWS IN ALASKA

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ubscrption Here


Tales of the Great North Text: Peter Christensen Photos: Peter Christensen Rasmus Vive and Peter Lyngby

“I grew up in the Danish countryside on a little farm as the only kid in a small village. With no friends, I spent a lot of time alone in the local woods. Through my imagination even the smallest perch from the local lake was a magnificent and wondrous creature, and Nature became my best friend in a way. But as I grew older, the friendship began to grow stale, and I dreamt of more distant places to rekindle the magic. Since then, wanderlust has been the driving force of my life and taken me to places all around the Arctic circle and beyond.�


Northern lights over the boats way up a small backwater on Innoko River. Alaska


A lot in life is about doing things the easiest way possible, where as fly fishing is about doing something as poetically and challenging as possible. I like that it is a sport for dreamers, bordering madness in a pursuit of something rare and beautiful in a harsh and relentless world, armed only with the most inefficient weapon you can think of – a delicate line and fragile rod.


Lucky Luke like fly cast through a super wide angle lens. Greenland


In the Arctic, I find a perfect playground for my kind of fly fishing. There are tremendous expanses of land where few people ever go, and if you search long enough, pristine fishing to find. I find happiness in the simple life of just fishing and exploring. The mystery of the pathless woods makes me feel like a kid again, and besides I enjoy the self-reliance and challenges wild Nature offers me.

Male Arctic char in full spawning colors caught after six weeks in the wild. Canada


The char fishing in Northern Canada can be both easy and challenging. Sometimes you hit massive concentrations of fish, but they can be hard to find and quickly become suspicious of the fly. On the larger rivers the char fishing is like BC steel-heading – throwing big Intruders on Skagit lines with double hand rods. On some of the smaller rivers, a 9’ foot 7-weight is all you need.


The fishing can be pretty demanding, but the rewards are equally big. I’ve spent a total of over 3 months chasing char in Northern Canada and experienced both fishing that was so good I couldn’t believe my luck, and really tough periods with literally whole weeks with no fish. The runs can be hard to predict, and the weather up there can go from summer to winter in hours. In July and August though, the Canadian Arctic is mostly benign and generous, and there is some amazing fishing to be had.


Female char on a freezing cold day on 7-week trip of frustration. Summer didn’t really begin that year in Arctic Canada, and the char run was late and small.


Female char in spawning colors. Greenland


I prefer planning trips myself. There is nothing wrong of course with guided fishing, but to me fly fishing is a very intimate, poetic, imaginary vocation that doesn’t mix so well with the lodge experience. The biggest pull in fly fishing for me is the journey to get to big fish in remote places – the hardships, the people you meet along the way, the uncertainty of the project, the effort to try making a dream come true. The way I look at it, fly fishing and life in general is much more intense and rewarding if you put yourself in unpredictable situations, or put another way – if you go looking for trouble and adventure.


Camp in a muddy swamp under the stars. Alaska


Grizzly bear. Alaska


Going to Alaska to fish for pike was an old dream of mine, since I first heard stories of impossibly huge pike back in the 90s. The Innoko River, which probably has the best pike fly fishing on the planet, contrasts the more travelled and well-known areas of Alaska in every way imaginable. The Innoko snakes through endless, monotonous plains. No mountains in sight, no clear streams, no salmon jumping up foamy rapids. Just a big, watery maze of perfect pike habitat. The pike’s menacing and fierce aura is why it is so much fun to fish for – it is the perfect villain, but also a tremendously beautiful and awe-inspiring predator, worthy of the highest respect from fly fishers.


Peter with the pike of his lifetime, caught after some intense times in the Backyard. Alaska


The planning was not super complicated. Generally, it is easy to plan a trip in North America if you have some outdoor experience. We found a great bush pilot near the Innoko area, who helped us with inflatable boats, generators and motors, which is hard to bring over from Europe. We filled up two Beaver bush planes to their maximum capacity with boats, provisions, fuel, generators and all the other gear needed to fish and film a month in the wild. We had around 50 kilos of camera equipment with us, and of course – being paranoid fly fishers – back-ups to the back-up fly rods and reels.


A bush plane en route to a Backyard in Nowhere.


The Innoko River is a tributary to the Yukon River, Alaska’s largest river. It is a soggy, flat wilderness of backwaters, sloughs, lakes and small clusters of solid ground. Fishing there is a strange experience – it is not a beautiful place by any conventional measures, but it does have its own haunting, strange atmosphere, that I ever so slowly learned to appreciate.


Mikkel Poppelhoej, rising star on the fly fishing scene, navigates through the Innoko drainage to find fuel in a remote, Native village.


It sounds insane when you reduce it to numbers, but we had only around 15 days of fishing as we spent a lot of time changing camps, filming and getting to know Native people from a local village. So, in around 2 weeks of fishing, we caught close to 1000 pike, with an average weight of around 8-10 lbs. We didn’t weigh any of the pike to secure minimal stress, but we had around 30 pike estimated at over 20 lbs., with a few close to 30 lbs. Of course, all the big ones are in the film from hook to landing!


Mikkel Poppelhoej draws first blood in Alaska with a solid pike.


It turned out that the people were a lot more dangerous than the animals out there. Like I said before, I love fly fishing expeditions that have an element of uncertainty, and the Innoko trip certainly was wild and unpredictable. At times it felt like being in a western because the situation out there in the Backyard got pretty tense, but people can see all that in the full film.


Dean, a Native moose hunter, poses with Mikkel and his recent kill.


Peter Lyngby, magazine editor and pike fanatic, tries to keep his balance as a huge pike dances across the surface.


I’m sure I’ll fish in North America again at some point, but I’ll never be back on the Innoko – I was happy to get away from there unharmed.


Peter with a sheefish or inconnu – a by catch during the pike fishing.


Click here to watch the trailer It was a little nerve wracking to release ”A Backyard in Nowhere”. Mathis and I worked almost a year in the editing cave. In other words, each minute of the film has taken a week to edit. Before we began this, I didn’t realize the time and effort that goes into making fly fishing films that are actually worth watching. But thank God! - the response from the fly fishing world has been really positive. As fly fishing film makers, we cater to a tiny market and appreciate all the support we get tremendously, so if you like our trailer you can order the full DVD 52-minute at:

www.flyfishingwestern.com


Peter Andreas Christensen, film producer, photographer and writer focusing on fly fishing and wilderness adventures. Peter recently released his debut fly fishing DVD, ”A Backyard in Nowhere”, a fly fishing western from Alaska’s dirty and lawless backcountry. Other adventures have taken him to Patagonia’s windswept plains, down the sweeping rivers of Canada’s Arctic, over the rugged volcanoes of Kamchatka to the serene wilds of New Zealand. Peter’s work has been published in a wide range of fishing media in North America, Australia and Europe. E-mail: peterachristensen@gmail.com


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Flymage Magazine

BACK ISSUES

Issue #1 - June 2010

Issue #2 - August 2010

Issue #3 - October 2010

Issue #4 - December 2010

Issue #5 - February 2011

Issue #6 - April 2011

Issue #7 - June 2011

Issue #8 - August 2011

Issue #9 - October 2011

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Contributors in this issue Ray Montoya - Peter Christensen Javier Fdez del Rivero - Mikel Elexpuru - Juan Urán John Langridge - José Luís Garrido - José Luís García

E D I T O R S José H. Weigand Angler, photographer and TV fishing editor at Caza y Pesca channel on Digital+ from the last 14 years. Contributor to some international magazines, blogs and forums.

Antonio Goñi Antonio Goñi, fishing video producer, photographer and angler. Currently producing fly tying series “The Silk corner” at Caza y Pesca channel on Digital+.


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Flymage Magazine Issue #10 English