ARAPAIMA ON THE FLY Greenland
WITH SANNA KOLJONEN Africa
LIFE ON THE FARO SIDE Bolivia
Europeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s free online fly fishing magazine
Photo by Fly Fishing Nation
We have just returned from Newfoundland and Labrador, where we had the pleasure of fishing the world-renowned Igloo Lake – a spectacular brook trout fishery southeast of Goose Bay, in the middle of nowhere. It took a while (48 hours and four additional flights) getting back home because of hurricane Dorian, and the distances involved suddenly felt more pronounced than ever. Now that we’ve resettled into our suburban lives in the Nordic capitals – and everyday life, routines, and work have again somewhat overwhelmed us and numbed our senses – our recent adventures seem so distant, and Igloo Lake seems like a place out of far-removed world. We’ll relive the trip soon enough, though. There’s a film edit to be made, an article to be written and pictures to be edited. And there’s a good chance a certain 8lb trophy brook trout might pop up in conversation from time to time. There is plenty of joy to be found in reminiscing about trips already in the books, but aren’t we all constantly looking for the next memorable experience? Aren’t we all looking for the next fix; the next sip of excitement and wonder to quench our thirst; to appease our desire for new fly fishing adventures and ecstasies? In the 16th Century, Shakespeare begged the question: Can one desire too much of a good thing? Well, when it comes to fly fishing, we don’t think so. When it comes to fly fishing, there’s no harm in excess. Desire, however, sometimes hurts. It hurts a little bit to edit a magazine like this one: a magazine that provides glimpses into spectacular fisheries in faraway corners of the world that spark all these unignorable escapist ideas in our heads. The current edition features contributions from like-minded adventurers. The Fly Fishing Nation, Florian Kaiser, Frederik Lorentzen, Sanna Koljonen, Rand Kaplan, Greg Ghaui, Claus Eriksen, Tight Loops Fly and Lars Christian Bentsen. Enjoy! Tight Lines// The In the Loop Crew
Photo by Frederik Lorentzen
A Jungle Slam Adventure Pt.2 by Stephan Gian Dombaj Thousand Shades of Orange and Green by Sanna Koljonen For the Love of Lapland by Frederik Lorentzen Life on the Faro Side by Greg Ghaui and Stuart Harley Tsimane Gold by Florian Kaiser British Columbia for the First Time by David Lambroughton And much much more...
Contributors RASMUS OVESEN
In the Loop Magazine C/O Cast Away Media Org no: 999 320 147 www.intheloopmag.com
By Stephan Gian Dombaj www.solidadventures.com
VISIT US ON
Oslo-resident, Rasmus Ovesen, was handed his first fly rod at the tender age of eight, and he has been a borderline fluff chucking fanatic ever since. Rasmus has written articles for some of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most renowned fishing magazines, and his travels take him to remote areas across the globe in search for fish that will test and challenge his skills to the maximum. He has seen his fair share of exposed backing in the tropics, but his heart truly belongs to the soulful realm of trout and salmon fishing.
STEPHAN GIAN DOMBAJ
is one of the most influential fly fishing journalists and photographers in the new Millennium. Stephan is extremely dedicated to the sport, and he splits his time between guiding and travelling. Having written for a myriad of renowned magazines across the globe, Stephan has become a household fly fishing name, and he continues to amaze with his spectacular photography and adventurous mindset.
We choose not to print this magazine and we are happy not to use paper and harmful inks as used in a conventional printing process. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher.
With her twin sister Karoliina, Sanna was introduced to the world of fly fishing at the age of 13 by her salmon geneticist mother. It wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t until 2014, however, when fly fishing became a big part of her life. What Sanna loves the most in fly fishing are the amazing places it takes her to, being outdoors, meeting likeminded easy-going people, continuous learning, and last but not least, catching big fish.
Frederik is a Copenhagen-based photographer and filmmaker. His everyday job involves working with different fishing brands and writing articles for the Danish magazine “Sportsfiskeren”. He has lost his soul to fly fishing, and when he travels, he spends as much time fishing as he does shooting pictures. In Denmark, he primarily fly fishes for sea-run brown trout but, during the last five years, salmon fishing has become a more and more time-consuming passion of his. www.instagram.com/inwadersmedia
Florian has fly fished for more than twenty-five years in the northern and southern hemisphere in fresh- and saltwater for many different species - enjoying outdoor sports, mountain biking, photography, and good wine along the way. Fly fishing is only one of his hobbies, but probably the one he loves the most. In his everyday life he is a business consultant. Florian is an ambassador for Marlo Reels, Scott Fly Rods and Stroft leaders. Follow his trips and adventures at: http://theflyfishingfamily.blogspot.com
David Lambroughton splits his year between British Columbia and New Zealand and lots of stops in between as he gathers his photos for his annual Fly Fishing Dreams Calendar. His calendar comes full of info on the people, places, passion and fly patterns of our sport and is sold all over the world. More information is available at: www.salmonhunters.de
A proud Tanzanian national, Greg also has some Southern African flavor, having attended primary school in Zambia, and finishing the rest of his education in South Africa. After two years spent in the hustle of Dar-es-Salaam, it was time for a lifestyle change, and his attention was turned on the magnificent Mlimba tiger fishery, which had long been on his radar. Greg has spent countless hours exploring fisheries across the African continent, and he now works as a guide for Tourette Fishing.
WANNA CONTRIBUTE? Do you have any great fly fishing photos, videos, or stories that you would like to share with our readers? If so, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We are always looking for quality material for In the Loop Magazine, and we look forward to reviewing your material.
A Jungle Slam Adventure PART 2
By STEPHAN GIAN DOMBAJ
Stephan Dombaj and Paulo Hoffmann from Fly Fishing Nation spent the better part of two months, fishing for Dorado, Peacock Bass, Arapaima, and more exotic jungle fish. Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pt II of a three-piece adventure tripâ&#x20AC;Ś
The majestic Pirarucu, or Arapaima Gigas, is one of the largest scaled freshwater fish and grow up to 350cm in the wilderness of the Amazonian basin. A fish that has prowled the rivers, lakes, lagoons and backwaters of the Amazon River and its tributaries for the abundant baitfish â&#x20AC;&#x201C; it only took us (man) a couple of hundred years to butcher the population down to the brink of extinction in the mid-80â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s! Their ability to breath oxygen through a rudimentary lung system allows them to hunt in the shallowest of waters where others cannot. This ability has proven to be a blessing in disguise because gulping air makes the Arapaima easy to locate and subsequently easier to net/ spear. Yes, the traditional way of hunting these gigantic, prehistoric creatures is ambushing them with a large spear from a wooden dugout canoe and this practice is still performed by the local Indians today. However, where commercial fishing is regulated, the populations of wild arapaima are recovering.
The abundance of bait and the fish’s ability to grow extremely fast do help this situation. Areas such as the Mamirauá Reserve in Brazil have set a prime example for sustainable conservation of the species (amongst many others), regulating the local commercial fishery by kill quotas, while at the same time allowing the communities to partake in and profit from active ecotourism and recreational angling. Since its establishment in 1996, the largest flooded forest area in the world is now home to the densest population of wild arapaima. Coincidence? We don’t think so. The revenue of the ecotourism that flows into these communities helps them to sustain their way of life, while at the same time allowing easier access to clean water, medicine, and education. This model of cooperation between the local Indians and the department for tourism has set a trailblazing example for many other ecotourism operations throughout the Amazon basin. Untamed Angling was among the first to introduce this principle to the fly fishing world with its jungle opera-
tions throughout South America. Pirarucú Lodge is comprised of a series of floating bungalows, connected by wooden footbridges – utilization of solar energy and a wastewater treatment system aims to minimize the impact on the environment. Navigating these lakes, channels, and lagoons or even just staying at the lodge is eerily satisfying. The richness of the surrounding wildlife is truly astonishing. Caimans slowly gliding through the water and large Arapaima gulping air only a few feet away. The air, the forest, the water – everything is alive. Drink it in, let it act on your soul. A LETHARGIC KILLER Arapaima are a lethargic fish. Although their primitive lung enables them to breath in the open air, their way of life is designed to save energy in this oxygen-poor environment. The frequency of their breathing cycles largely depends on their swimming and feeding activity, and in the murky waters of the Mamirauá Reserve, the breathing is really the only indication of activity you may get from these fish.
Rather than hunting down their prey, arapaima ambush it by waiting for it to swim by, simply sucking it in by gulping gallons of water in a split second. We have had a couple of occasions where we actually saw the fish eat our fly. And although you do feel a hard take in your line, all the fish really does is suck in the fly with a lot of water, without actually moving its body. What this means for us is that we need to get the fly right up in the face of the fish to trigger any reaction. While we are limited to a certain size of fly and the depth it is fishing in, we have the huge advantage of being able to slow down the retrieve to an almost stationary movement. Slowing down the fly so it stays longer in the taking zone made the most sense and triggered the most reaction. On the other hand, fishing a fly slowly in an area where you don’t know the depth of the lake, or how deep the fish are, can be pretty freaking frustrating. No bite = no idea if you are doing the right thing, and even if you get a reaction it
might be just a coincidence. The lakes are – depending on the water level – somewhere between 1 and 20m deep. Anything from slow intermediate lines to heavy sinkers might be appropriate, however finding the right approach for the right time and place is a daunting task. So little is known about the behaviour of the fish from a fly fisher’s perspective, it is hard to stick to a fly or technique, if you don’t get any positive feedback, it may just be that you’re in the wrong place, or the fish are simply not active. WHEN THE FISH CONGREGATE… Whilst, during the rainy season the fish spread out into the flooded forest areas, during the dry season they get condensed in the main channels and deeper sections of the lake. A higher density of fish in less space makes it easier to get the fly in front of one! The activity of the fish in certain areas of the system, however, seems to rapidly switch on or off, largely dependent on the time of the day.
During the early morning you might see a lot of fish gulping and thrashing in a tight channel, later this same spot may seem deserted, while fish start showing more frequently in the deeper lake. The Indian guides seem to have developed a sixth sense for these fish and will know where to take you at any time. But then there still is the issue of what is the right fly, if there is such thing. Arapaima naturally feed on Redbelly Piranhas, Arowanas, smaller Catfish and other baitfish that might cross their path. The variety and diversity of the endemic fish species is amazing. No other fish I know of has a bonier mouth â&#x20AC;&#x201C; not even Tarpon â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and just looking at the skull on the fish market in Manaus gave us a pretty good idea of the kind of hook and strip-strike you would need to penetrate these jaws.
Quite frankly, getting your hook stuck in the bone is close to impossible. Only a few soft spots in the corner of the mouth and in the tongue allow for a hook to safely sit in. STRIP SETTING IT RIGHT Our first few days were a frustrating display of how the hardest strip strike you have ever performed on a fish can still result in it simply spitting out the fly. Line burns on both hands, but no fish after a handful of takes. A proper hookset with a solid hook is one thing, but good timing on your strike and a fair amount of luck are needed to survive the first few jumps. If the hook is still in place, then you will have a good chance of landing the fish.
A miserable hookup ratio during our first day’s fishing was frustrating, especially after seeing the size of some of these fish many of which easily exceeded the 200cm mark. Upon returning to Pirarucú lodge after three weeks fishing in the jungle and seeing the sheer size of some of these fish, we had an entirely new perspective on this fishery. And although there is no other place in the world with this density
of wild Arapaima, you would generally go there to catch a real monster – it is the biggest scaled fish in the Amazon system after all. The mission “Arapaima on the fly” is doomed to fail just by its external conditions, but Pirarucú Lodge in the Mamirauá Reserve (operated by Untamed Angling) is the place to go if you do want to take the challenge.
GIGAS (Full Film) by Fly Fishing Nation
Thousand Shades of Orange and Green By SANNA KOLJONEN Photography by HENRI HELLSTEN, SAMPSA KÖYKKÄ, LAWSON JONES and SOLID ADVENTURES
There are many things in life that we take for granted and rarely ever reflect on. In the Loop-writer, Sanna Koljonen, participated in a study done by the University of Eastern Finland and it gave her a welcome opportunity to reflect on a recent trip to Greenland, her passion for fly fishing, and what makes up the DNA of a great fly fishing trip.
Last autumn, I participated in a Finnish research project conducted by the University of Eastern Finland, the aim and purpose of which were, inter alia, from a tourism development standpoint, to identify and analyse what elements make a fishing experience memorable for an individual. As I was answering the questions one by one, I realised that I’ve never really thought about fly-fishing in such an analytical way: What are my motives to fish? What makes a fishing experience a success? What drives me to try a new place or return to an old one? What do I do out of habit and which things do I actually have the highest regards for? And finally: What are the elements of a fantastic fishing trip? Prior to this, without any deeper thoughts attached, some of my fishing trips just seemed to be better than others. During the interview, as I tried to analyse the elements of a fantastic fishing trip, one particular trip I made last season kept surfacing in my mind time after time: the one I did to Greenland last Sep-
tember. It had all the three main elements that I came to realize formed the essential parts of an excellent fishing experience – at least from my point of view: pristine waters in the wilderness, big and beautiful fish, and good company. PRISTINE WATERS IN THE WILDERNESS Greenland is the definition of remote. Besides the airports, there is barely any infrastructure on this; the world’s largest island. This means access to rivers requires hours of travelling by plane and by boat, which of course, in the end, is worth all the travelling. Once you reach your destination, the only living beings beside you are the Arctic chars, reindeers and eagles. To me, fly-fishing at its best includes turning off your phone and laptop and changing the city lights to northern lights – a wilderness experience that has become a luxury for most people. Being bound to metropolitan life most of the time, I never understood urban fly-fishing.
On the contrary, for me, the wilderness experience has always been an essential part of fly-fishing: I want to let go of all the hustle and bustle, disconnect from the inane city life and connect with nature – and myself. The experience is both liberating and empowering. The jewel of Greenland that was my destination in September, Kangia River, is located on the Southwestern coast of Greenland. The fishable part of the river is as much as eight kilometers, all the way from the river mouth and onwards to a waterfall that forms a natural boundary for the spawners. This means that if you fancy testing new waters, you can hike along the river through new stunning
and scenic fishing spots every day. And believe me, making your first cast in a pool full of fish that no one has fished before, only to see a curious Arctic char grabbing your fly and charging downstream like a cruiser definitely gives you a rush to remember. BIG AND BEAUTIFUL FISH When it comes to catching fish, I must admit I’m very simple: I want big fish. As I’ve sometimes said in my most modest moments that, I’d rather catch one 120 cm salmon than a hundred grilse, describes my attitude well. In Greenland this meant that I targeted one of those 4–5 kg chars rather than catching a hundred medium-sized fish.
For me, however, it is not just the size but also the look that counts. As I release all the salmonids I catch on a fly, I do not care about the taste. And even though it’s a commonly known fact that the fresh chromers are even tougher fighters, my heart still pounds in a different way when I see a coloured one. Spending the last week of the season in Kangia meant that most of the fish had already been in the river for a while and lost some of their sea strength but gained in colours instead. This meant that the river was just a flood of rioting colours; a thousand shades of orange and green. I’ll never forget the colours of my first big char in Kangia River – it was the most beautiful mix of emerald green and mandarin orange I’ve ever seen in my life. The transformation from steelhead-like muscular chromes to more oval-shaped, slightly thinner, colourful creatures is incredible. Their dinosaur-resembling look reminded me of how ancient these fish are and how long they have existed before us. There is still so much that we do not know about sea run Arctic char.
Unlike salmon, the Arctic char in Greenland do not die after spawning but return back to the ocean. This means they must stay in the river for a shorter period of time and that they cannot cope without food as long as salmon because it would atrophy their intestines. To me, it seemed logical that this would also be part of the reason why the char in Kangia were generally much more eager to take a colourful fly placed in front of them than their cousins tend to be. Despite the fact that the spawning time was definitely drawing closer and the activity of the fish was slowing down, we had shamelessly good fishing and incredible moments throughout the whole week. The abundance of char is something that is hard to put in words. Let’s put it like this: Think of a river that is packed with as many fish as you can imagine, then triple it and we’re getting closer. The guides estimated that the eight kilometers of the river that was accessible to the fish held around 100 000 Arctic char. That is as much
as Europe’s longest free-flowing salmon river, the 520-kilometer-long Torne River, held during its record year 2014. While observing that army of char swimming in Kangia, I made two conclusive observations: 1. 2.
In Kangia, there was probably more fish than water in the river, and... in all the rivers we have in Europe that are impacted by humans it is total bullshit to claim that river ecosystems could not naturally take more fish.
GOOD FISHING COMPANY Wanting to flee the city life and the masses doesn’t mean I don’t want to have anyone around me. I just want to be able to choose the people I spend my time with by the river. Fly-fishing is seldom easy, and you seldom catch fish all the time – this I’ve learned by heart as a salmon fisher. My rule of thumb, based on experience, is: the less fish you catch, the more the company you fish in matters. Fishing, at least salmon fishing, is also a good test of friendship.
This is because salmon fishing is so intense and nerve-wracking that if you can handle each other when salmon fishing, you will definitely be able to handle each other off-fishing. My advice is: choose the people that will comfort you when you lose a big fish, who will make you food when you’re all exhausted, who will borrow you a sleeping bag when yours is too light and who will put a smile on your sun burn and mosquito spray-tasting lips after yet another all-nighter where you got skunked. Without friends, fishing wouldn’t be the same. In Kangia, I had the pleasure to fish with guys from a Finnish TV show called Arctic Waters – guys with whom I fished a lot last season and who had become good friends of mine. Besides the TV crew, there was a bunch of enthusiastic and definitely slightly crazy Finnish fly-fishers. I’m used to being among the craziest when it comes to fishing, but these guys took it to the next level. Many of the guys would hit the waters before I had even brushed my
teeth and would fish nonstop until it got dark, on the best days landing approximately 50 fish a day, and never getting tired of it – definitely my type of fly-fishers! The brightest star of the camp was undeniably the owner of Solid Adventures, perhaps most known as the founder and former owner of Loop Tackle Design, Christer Sjöberg. Christer’s hospitality was overwhelming and his passion for fishing so genuine it was inspiring to just be around him. Add to that the late evenings spent at the lodge bar, listening to incredible fly-fishing stories from the exploratory days of the Kola Peninsula or saltwater trips from the early 90’s – stories that got carved in our minds as some of the best moments of our stay. I also learned that a guiding principal for Christer during his most adventurous life had been that we all get old, but you can decide whether you are going to be the one listening to or telling the stories – and he definitely seemed to live according to it.
THE FUTURE OF OUR RIVERS The research I participated in was a personal affirmation that pristine waters in the wilderness, big and beautiful fish, and good company are the elements that make up a fantastic fishing trip to me. Another realisation I made was that places like Kangia River are a rarity today. As the use of natural resources is getting more and more fierce, river systems and fish stocks have been exposed to numerous forms of exploitation that have left an imprint on nature that we as humans cannot be proud of. For us to be able to find rivers like Kangia nearer than in Greenland â&#x20AC;&#x201C; or at all â&#x20AC;&#x201C; in the future, a revolutionary shift in the management of natural resources has to take place and the value of pristine waters and healthy fish stocks has to be understood before the last piece of pristine waters and healthy fish stocks are destroyed. And this is what brings together the research of the University of Eastern Finland and the sustainable business-approach of Solid Adventures: they are both contributors of evidence to the widespread benefits and potentials of pristine waters â&#x20AC;&#x201C; evidence that helps us challenge the old, destructive ways of using natural resources.
For the Love of Lappland Why drive 2200 kilometers north, passing incalculable rivers and lakes on the way, to get to Swedish Lappland? Copenhagen-based photographer and filmmaker, Frederik Lorentzen, didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have any answers until he finally made the trip himself. Now, he feels the love for Lappland in his whole body and soul. By: FREDERIK LORENTZEN
It seemed crazy: We were going to drive 2200 kilometers north from our hometown, Copenhagen, to spend the summer in the arctic realm. If we’d turned the car around, headed south instead, and driven through Germany and France we could’ve spent our summer in Spain or Italy. Instead we chose Sweden, Denmark’s neighboring country. It seemed neither exotic nor extraordinarily exciting, but we had some flyfishing to do, and we’d heard the possibilities up north were numerous. I still vividly remember how crazy it was when we started passing all these fishy-looking rivers and lakes. My face was pressed against the window and every time I saw a fish rising from afar, as we’d drive by yet another lake or river, I would be shouting it out loud. The first leg of the trip must have felt like an excruciatingly long ride for my friend. However, once it was my turn to drive, the roles completely changed. He got just as excited and loud when he was finally able to liberate himself from the steering wheel, just sit there, and look out the windows.
Since my first trip to Lappland, I have been there many times - and even though I now know quite a few different places, it seems like I could explore the area for the rest of my life and still only have seen the tip of the iceberg. For the first however-many-years, I never thought of traveling to Lappland during the fly fishing off-season, but at one point I was offered a photo-assignment taking hunting pictures during the autumn and this was when I first saw the real beauty of the Lappland wilderness and landscapes. The yellow and red colours of the trees, and the first Northern lights bedazzled me, and I got eager to learn how the rest of the year would be up there. Three months later, in the beginning of January, I was back. Everything was different: The open landscapes were all covered in snow, and I wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t actually expecting to like it that much. I thought the short days and endless darkness would be depressing. Instead I found myself overly excited in the hours that had light and when it was dark it wasnÂ´t nearly as dark as I had thought. The snow somehow lit everything up.
We were drinking coffee around a campfire and watching the Northern lights, and I suddenly realized that I was addicted to winter in Lappland. I might actually just be addicted to Lappland. It´s hard to envision a time of year that isn’t worth a visit to Lappland. I would go anytime, and I´m just waiting for an invitation or an excuse to go again soon. The salmon fishing in Lappland has become a great part of the fishing I love. There are huge areas to explore without the boundaries or limiting formalities such as beats or rotations. I guess these were the realities of our forefathers and the pioneers of salmon fishing. They had unlimited access to vast areas and were only restricted by personal, logistical and physical limits. Most of the salmon rivers in Lappland are huge, but you still get that feeling of fishing pools, lies and seams that hold fish. Every cast counts and there’s an omnipresent feeling that, at any time, the line might become taught - and sometimes it does! For more information, please visit: http://arcticheli.se
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LIFE ON THE FARO SIDE:
Fly Fishing for the Elusive Nile Perch By: GREG GHAUI Photography by: STUART HARLEY
One of Africaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most sought-after fish, besides tigerfish, is the legendary nile perch â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a species of freshwater perch that grow to well over 100 kilos. Tourette Fishing have scouted a new area on the borders between Cameroon and Nigeria in search of nile perch, and in the following guides, Greg Ghaui and Stuart Harley, reveal what they found.
One pre-season evening, I walked downstream out of our half-built camp along the riverbed. A few days back, Stu and I had come with 9-weights to prospect for tigerfish, and had been pleasantly surprised as we rotated positions fishing our way along a fiery looking cut that you could only ever dream of holding fish, our increasingly sparse fly patterns attracting plenty of action along the way.
once don’t take on the form of hippo pugs, then it feels like we’re finally on the brink of completing a puzzle. To come here again hoping to see them is a long shot, more of an excuse to get out of camp but at least it provides a motive and some direction. Besides, if elephants don’t make an appearance, there is a very good chance something else will, and even better odds on it being completely worthwhile anyway.
Near the bottom of the run, as we debated following the channel where it crossed to the other side, we had seen a couple of rows of elephant tracks, and this is what has loosely drawn me back here. There is no shortage of tracks anywhere within the riverbed arena, but there have been big elephant shaped gaps in many of the classical river vistas we have been in, and I keep waiting for my eyes to snag on a swinging trunk in the distance.
Sitting chest deep in a diminutive mid-channel with a small clear pool in its wake, I notice that I’ve cropped up on quite a few radars already. Three separate monkey species seem to have similar agendas to me this evening, and Guereza Colobus, Tantalus monkeys and Olive baboons are raising varying levels of curiosity and caution from the trees above, banks and the beach opposite me respectively. Between them, on the river’s edge, is a bushbuck ewe lying folded but with her head upright and alert. I’m not exactly sure why, but I decide then that I will only leave when she does, and it is immediately reassuring to be on her watch.
This place just has pachyderms written all over it, so when the huge round sinkholes trailing up out of the water and along the beach for
Respite from immediate responsibility, heat, flies and dust allows me a sudden break from the present too, and in my mind I slow pan up and away from my rock pool until I can get some wide angle perspective on how I find myself in this rather fortunate position facing the startling Atlanticus Mountains near the Cameroon/Nigeria border. EXPLORING THE FARO RIVER We spent the whole of last week fishing and exploring a section of the Faro River and trying to get a handle on its vital signs, and what they could tell us about catching the huge nile perch here. We took an incredible amount on board in a very short time, mostly because we had to, it was all there happening, and we just plugged ourselves right into the middle of it. Fishing the pre-dawn chill and deep into the night, plus everything in between, we raced through the bases quickly and are strangely familiar with the river in no time, and all that tells us is just how much there is still to know. Ed caught a truly massive fish one
night in ludicrous circumstances, and it gave us all a glimpse of what we came here hoping for, and what was really possible. Just what that fish stands for in the bigger picture of the future of this river basin is a whole other issue that it is becoming increasingly hard to ignore. For it to have happened at all, and to have been there to experience it first hand was one thing, but if that fish could represent a chance through fly fishing to pull back a few punches for an area that is on its knees fighting for survival without even knowing it, how special would that be? The bushbuck is suddenly nearly back at the bank thicket, and already quite hard to see in the fading light. The content cercopithecoids are also gravitating towards the tall timber, and in my mindâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s eye I can still see the giant released fish paddling out of our torchlight and back into whatever world it came from. Just in these three events, the Faro has briefly looked me in the eye, acknowledged me and turned back to once again steadfastly face the oncoming era, and whatever it brings, with or without me.
A UNIQUE RIVER SYSTEM Since that early season evening, we logged many more hours of intimacy with the Faro, and although Elephants did make some appearances, the perch (and plenty of other fish) made many more memorable features. While going about our simple and single-minded business of trying to catch fish on flies for fun, we were completely taken in by this special river and valley that keeps it. The river, the rocks and the heat are your closest companions here and each deserve a special mention for their outstanding qualities in their respective fields. The Faro itself is a ragged, raw, clean gash of different shades of blue and green, shallow and light over the sand like a graze or deep and dark where it punctures into the gorges. The rocks are a range of rampant scabs and keloid scars of python-patterned Gneiss clinging to the channel. Others that look like the massive high water swell and chop has been galvanized, forged and left in place while the channel recedes.
Sometimes it feels like they are the most alive and thriving entity, and that it’s their metabolism that makes them too hot to touch in the hostile high sun hours. The heat too has a geological quality to it, like it is laid down consistently every day in thin sedimentary layers, compressing out any moisture and accumulating a full igneous density that actually hums around your ears and cures wrist thick Lord Derby Eland steaks into prime biltong (jerky) in less than 60 hours. We clocked 42 degrees Celsius in the shade while having lunch on the final day of the season, and if you consider your supporting casts include the fastest tsetse flies on the planet, an insatiable thirst, and the Harmattan (a prevailing dust cloud of varying intensity), you have to find something to cling to - to remind yourself why you are here. Luckily, like everything else here attached to the river, you never have to look far. A SPECIES OASIS The Faro is a type specimen oasis, fringed with fresh foliage and deep shade, and sheltering a staggering sub-surface biomass.
The sparkling clear water lays a lot of it startlingly bare (wading is like herding clouds of baitfish that billow out with each step), but there is still so much mystery that it seems like the visibility is only a small concession for the fly fisher’s benefit. There is an unbelievable amount on offer to the itchy angler who is willing to meet it and fish it on its terms. This river has exactly what you want, and only it really seems to know what that is. All it asks is some curiosity and persistence, which combined with a bit of strategy and adaptation can wreak all kinds of carnage. If seeing is believing, then ignorance is sometimes bliss - I wouldn’t have believed most of what did happen without having front row seats to it. There is a wild and loose energy that dares anything to go down, and fly fishing is the perfect catalysts it seems. The chronicle of Ed’s exploratory fish, or how we came to be in possession of an entire pelt of the best natural, but illegally traded, tying material might be the best examples to try to sum this up, but they would fill whole articles of their own.
There is just not much that is conventional about any of it, too many contrasts that keep it from being classified. Wading Patagonia style freestone channels and sight fishing, for three species of Tigerfish. Bouncing between tippets from 5X to 80lb in a session. Nymphing braided runs lottery style for fish species never caught on fly before. Throwing huge flies for big nile perch, but then retrieving them cautiously and stealthily, gently trying to coax an eat out of something that could fit your head in its mouth. In the dark. With 50 hippos letting off steam somewhere in front of you. Everything you love about fly fishing are the only things you will recognise about it here, because there is just no template for fishing like this. Catching fish this big, in water this small, at night, on foot, in big game country. With this many moving parts, the permutations for what is possible are limitless. Nowhere else can match this for sheer accessibility to nile perch on fly, and it is an astounding fishery without even con-
sidering them. Lines, flies, leaders, approaches, retrieves, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all open for experimentation, adaptation and invention with glorious rewards at stake. The Tigers are absolutely electric and borderline impossible to handle on a rod. The barbs are subtle, spooky and abundant. The perch are just an enigma. These and everything else are the open book of entertainment that face you every day on the Faro. A FRAGILE EQUILIBRIUM My early season quest for elephants, and the season-long pursuit of perch distil down the equation to its simplest formula. In many ways they are the Faro, the two mega faunas dominating the spheres of land and water that define the valley. They sit balancing atop the rock solid foundation of ecology that is needed to support healthy populations of anything this big, starting with the multitudes of earthworms whose activity and casts have bizarrely shaped almost every square meter of undisturbed terrain, performing services that have allowed every subsequent level in the ecological hierarchy to thrive.
The equilibrium and level of complexity that has been attained here is in stark contrast to what is happening in Cameroon, and much of Africa and the developing world. Returning to the riverside after spending a few days in Garoua buying camp building equipment hammered home how this ecosystem is by far the most complete, pristine, and functional entity that we encountered in a place now defined by chaos, inefficiency and gross imbalance. It deserves to be protected solely as an example and reminder that peace and stability, balance and complexity are not foreign concepts but are in fact a part of the local heritage, and not a remote destination at the end of the long road we seem to be hurtling down. The elephants are hanging in by a thread, but at least there is a space still there for them, and while the perch are very much present in awesome force, they are tied to the same precarious fate as they only can be. To ask either of them to take an interest in our squabble to protect or condemn them would be well below their standings.
The Faro is in the elite bracket of wilderness that still exists as it does because it always has, entirely removed from our influences until now. It is going to have to be us who will have to manoeuvre, to decide which way its fortunes will fall. By picking up our fly rods, we are throwing ourselves into the fray together, and in doing so, buying time and creating awareness in the hope
that they bring with it the lifeline needed to protect this amazing area. It seems that in uncovering the first truly great nile perch fly fishery, we are just in time to try and save the last one. What an incredible opportunity, and what a journey it will be! For more information: www.tourettefishing.com
Highly addictive! Follow Florian Kaiser and Katka Švagrová into the dense Bolivian jungle in search of trophy dorado in the pristine headwaters of the Amazon: A place where an old, forgotten world comes alive and big bars of gold can be sight-fished in knee-deep water.
By: FLORIAN KAISER Photography by: FLORIAN KAISER AND KATKA ŠVAGROVÁ
The Bolivian Jungle and its Golden Dorado provide a special appeal for every seasoned and global traveling fly fisher. During the last years Dorado were pretty much everywhere on social media and more serious publications. And that is not without a reason. Fishing for Dorados in South America is special. Those merciless, forceful but at times still tricky kings of those jungle rivers are a thrill to hunt with your barbless Deceivers. And – be warned – it is highly addictive! Add to the outstanding fishery a breathtaking destination in terms of remoteness, integration of indigenous Tsimane people, untouched nature, ambience and extravagance and you end up with the classic and trendsetting Tsimane lodges by Untamed Angling in Bolivia. Copied but never matched, the three lodges are second to none. Seven years ago that place linked to my heart, I went back once more in the meantime and was now on my third visit with my fishing friend Katka, a young and super professional fly fisher and guide from the Czech Republic.
This trip let me witness the joy of discovering Tsimane a second time as it was the first trip to Tsimane for Katka. Our plan was to go remote and to spend as much time in an out-camp on the upper part of the Secure river as possible. At least that was the plan. Sometimes health dictates other plans as Katka, somehow, ended up bringing some unwelcome souvenirs from the international travel. Thus, we had to start fishing the first days lodge-based, which wasn’t entirely bad as it got her used to fish for Dorados. Casting close to structure again and again, working the water structure was no issue for her as her routine, dedication and casting abilities are second to none. We caught lots of small Dorados. In September 2018 we did not catch quite as many fish in the 10 – 20lbs range as I would have expected and was “used” to from my trips before. There was, however, a simple explanation for that: a huge log jam downriver that limited the migrating bigger Dorados to swim upriver.
Nevertheless, compared to my two visits, the sheer number of fish between 3 and 7lbs was an excellent sign for fish population in the years to come. (By the way, a good reason to come back for the fourth time). Personally, I prefer excellent fishing in combination with excellent accommodation. Tsimane provides all that. After a 2 Â˝ hour flight in a small plane you touch ground right in the middle of the Bolivian Jungle, a short boat transfer brings you right to the spacious lodge facilities where hosts and guides welcome you with appetizers and drinks. After a few moments you feel at home and calm down and at the same time get excited facing the fishing to come. As your anticipation rises to a critical level you start rigging one of your two 9â&#x20AC;&#x2122; 8# rods (e.g. a Scott Meridian or Radian) you brought with a WF-8 (or 9) intermediate tip. You attach a barbless (never anything else!) black and orange Deceiver to 40cm of 30lbs wire, connected to 40-50lbs level leader. Now you are ready to sneak down to the home pool and kiss your first Dorado.
The fascination of Dorado is based on their super aggressive character, their trout-like beautiful shape, gleaming golden coloration, the way they terrorize the river and their finical behavior at times. You might be able to catch fish by fish on certain days and on other days the one fish makes all the difference. Sometimes you fish with big bulky flies that cause a wake in the murky water of the lower river sections casting close to huge logs from the drifting boat. All of a sudden - BOOOM - you think you hooked a trunk but as you feel it moving you realize that a 15lb Dorado just inhaled your fly, the fish already acrobatic in the air making you scream and giggle with joy. In other situations, particularly the clear low headwater sections of the rivers you might fish small sparsely tied flies in dull colors sneaking quietly up the river as if it was a trout stream in Slovenia. The only difference is that in the background you hear that characteristic sound of a Jaguar some kilometers away and a Tsimane points you silently in the direction of a good sized Dorado in the distance.
The Tsimane know their river in every single detail and even the excellent, friendly, and hardworking Argentinian fishing guides once in a while ask for their guidance. Fishing usually is done lodge based in some kind of a beat system, guides change day by day and fish various sections of the rivers with you and your fishing mate sharing a boat/ guide and a couple of Tsimane guides that take very good care of you. After a short boat transfer you have reached your beat for the day and start fishing from the drifting boat or fish the faster running kind of rapid sections wet wading. A special appeal for the fit and seasoned angler is provided by the upriver out camps. All three Tsimane lodge sites provide that special option. You might miss luxury comfort of the lodge but nature and fishing is even one step up. Those upriver camps provide you access to sections of the rivers that in clear low water conditions are New Zealand trout stream lookalikes but are inhabited by one of the most aggressive freshwater species out there. You are right in the middle of the lungs of our Mother Earth. You are at a truly pristine place and are blessed to experience that.
When you are there, reflect about the situation of our oneand-only planet and what you can do to make it a better place for generations of humans and animals to follow! I could bore you with endless stories about Katka’s close to fanatic fishing attitude, her fear of (non-existing) spiders and snakes, her catching an estimated 20lbs dream dorado on the second attempt, her anger about losing that fish in her first attempt after I made her fish barbless (without a tight line and a too long fight you might lose every fish), about special Mr. Outcamp, or her thrill and excitement about that “trip of a lifetime”. I don’t want to bore you by accounting how we all caught at least one of the pleasantly challenging Pacus. All of that is only of true relevance for the ones that did experience it. You will make your very own lasting memories and adventures when you go and experience that magic place! The comfortable lodge camps are made of either several safari tents (or huts) for two guests each (en suite), staff huts, kitchen, storage, and one big house for dinner and fish tales after and before the fishing sessions. As the jungle is very friendly during the dry or “good weather” season as the Tsimane call it, you might have your after dinner Whiskey and cigar outside on the veranda. Insects are rather few during the season. Nevertheless, it is recommended to wear long clothes during the day and at night - and to use insect repellant and sunscreen accordingly. The only real danger in the jungle is caused by bloody angler behavior and a slight chance of sting rays that can be avoided by taking care.
Some final words for preparation: take two to three rods in the 8 or 9-weight range that last and won’t break upon the first abuse (I’ve had that happen before with other brands). Scott Radian or Meridian 9’ 8# are an excellent choice, two WF floating and two intermediate tip lines each and one sinking line. 40 barbless deceiver flies with hook sizes up to 4/0 in a combination of black and bright colors (especially black and orange/yellow are good, but not exclusively). Add some fruit or surface flies for Pacu. Leaders should be 40lbs level with 30 or 40lbs Stroft wire shock tippets. Bring stripping finger gloves, long nose pliers and good fitness to fish heavy lines for a week. Take the best wading boots with traction you can get: The latest Simms Flyweight with studs are perfect! Take a warm Patagonia jacket and a real rain jacket as the occasional cool days tend to be cold and wet. Add a waterproof backpack such as the ones from Patagonia or Simms and you are safe in case of a dip or shower.
The typical season is late June to early October. All three lodge destinations are managed in the same caring way and provide unique fishing. Are you hooked? For me it is about time to set up plans to go back there for the fourth time! Last piece of advice: book your trip to Tsimane soon you will have a blast! CONTACT: Tsimane is and Untamed Angling destination and all details can be found at www.untamedangling.com If you have questions contact the author: email@example.com http://theflyfishingfamily. blogspot.com
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For Big Flies in Hot Places: SCIENTIFIC ANGLERS AMPLITUDE TROPICAL TITAN The Amplitude Tropical Titan is a 2019-release from Scientific Anglers that is made for scorching temperatures, salt, sun, big streamers and BIG fish. The line features Scientific Anglers’ revolutionary AST+ slickness additive, which provides superior shooting abilities and increased durability. The line is designed with a high contrast floating textured taper, which measures out a 13,1m. It is heavily tapered to build mass in front, comes built two lines sizes heavy (use designated line weight for your rod) and is capable of delivering big flies to distant targets with a minimum of blindcasting. Amplitude Tropical Titan is the choice if you’re into chucking streamers for finicky flats fish such as bonefish, permit, snook, giant trevally and tarpon. It comes in seven line weights ranging from WF 6 – 12F. For further information, please refer to: www.flyfisheurope.com/sa/
2020 Calendar: FLY FISHING DREAMS BY DAVID LAMBROUGHTON In the Loop-writer and world-renowned fly fishing photographer, David Lambroughton, has now released his 2020 calendar. It is the perfect gift for yourself or a fellow fly fisherman - someone who is a part of the rat race but who would like to be reminded of the real world, future trips on the horizon and the fly fishing dreams that are yet to be fulfilled. David’s pictures speak for themselves; they’re razorsharp, ambient and inspiring. They effectively sum up what fly fishing is all about, and they’ll light up anyone’s office, kitchen wall or fly tying cave. The Fly Fishing Dreams calendar is distributed in Europe by Salmon Hunters in Germany, and the retail price is 15 Euros (+ shipping). More information is available at: www.salmonhunters.de
New Book Release: PIKE FEVER BY JENS BURSELL While Pike Fever isn’t exclusively about fly fishing for pike, it does involve 30+ pages on the subject – in addition to 100+ pages, which evolve around universal themes such as biology, feeding habits habitat, seasonal progressions, overall conditions, general fishing tactics and much more that is just as important to fly fishermen as it is to bait- and spin fishermen. The book is vividly illustrated with beautiful images, and the fly fishing chapters are penned by Rasmus Ovesen with additional filler shots by one of Europe’s foremost fly fishing photographer, David Tejedor. Pike Fever is released internationally on October 1st. and it will be available in Danish, Swedish, German and English. It is a whopping 376 pages and it can be found in leading tackle stores across Europe and online: www.releaserigshop.com
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Bear Fly Fish: UNIVERSAL “LESS IS MORE” PACK Bear was started to be more than just another fly fishing brand, says CEO, Oscar Boatfeild. “We wanted to produce products of the highest quality, at affordable prices, that would appeal to a new generation of anglers and use the profits to help a new generation get involved in the sport. We live by the principle of ”Less is More” we think that as anglers we take too much out with us on the water, which actually impedes our ability to fish effectively. By taking less we genuinely think we catch more fish! From this principle the Universal Pack was born”. The Bear Universal Pack is designed to take everything you need for a day on the water. With everything that you use regularly (tippet, floatant, forceps, nippers, fly box etc,) at hand on the exterior of the pack. It can be worn as a chest pack, hip pack or sling pack, and can be used with any belt. It is as close to waterproof as you can get without having a fully waterproof zip (they are very expensive). We have submerged the pack and haven’t had any water ingress, although we wouldn’t advise that it be done for an extended period of time! For more info please refer to: https://bearflyfish.com
TIGHT LOOPS FLY:
A Fly Fishing Couple in Big Land You’ve probably seen their work online or in some of the premier US fly fishing publications. If you haven’t, you’ve missed out on something epic. Aimee and Chase of Tight Loops Fly are adventurers that share a fascination for native trout in pristine waters, and they’ve spent the better part of the last 10 years documenting their trips across the US and Canada in search of wild places with wild trout. The culmination of their work is their new film Big Land, which is now available on Vimeo on Demand: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/bigland We’ve had a chat with Aimee and Chase about their career paths, about being a couple that fly fishes together and how everything ties up with their philosophies of life.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background – and what you do for a living? Chase: I had a crazy childhood; my family is from Montana, but I grew up in the middle east (Israel) and only got to fish during summer vacations back in The States, which I think helped fuel my obsession. For as long as I can remember I’ve considered myself an artist, and decided to go to college to study Illustration, but in a strange confluence of events I switched majors and decided to study film, animation, and video at the Rhode Island School of Design, in Providence, RI. I’m glad I did, because moving there is how I ended up meeting my wife! After college I worked in the film industry for
a few years, hated it, got a job working construction instead (quarter life crisis, I guess?) but after about 5 years of that I’d had enough, and for the last several years we’ve both been working as full time creatives, making videos, taking photos, and selling my fine art prints. Aimee: I was born and raised in New England. I had been working in the horticulture/floral industry and started making the transition into working for myself doing photography. I taught myself how to shoot film at a young age and had been developing my own black and white for years. Went to college for photography for a year in Boston before jumping ship and moving south.
You do ambient fly fishing films. Do you have any interesting background info about yourprevious/ongoing film projects? Chase: It’s interesting you bring up the ambient films. Sometimes I wonder if anyone enjoys them as much as I like making them. I think as anglers our experience on the water is often very ambient; we spend long hours doing nothing but watching water pass in front of us, with the sound of birds and the breeze around us. The fish catching part is exciting and flashy, but most of it is just spent passing time in natural surroundings. I try and replicate that a little bit in our films, while still trying to make it interesting and not just a screen saver. For the past couple of years, we’ve been working on a project in the National Parks of the American West, shot entirely on Super8MM film. It doesn’t have any fishing in it, it’s essentially just a collection of static landscapes. I thought it would be interesting to try and take something that is so often represented in big epic wide landscape imagery and cram it into a tiny little 8mm square. Can’t really say if it’s been successful or not, but we look forward to completing that sometime soon. Because processing film is so expensive, we’ve had to work on it in little chunks here and there. How did you get into fly fishing in the first place? Chase: My family’s from Montana. Ever
read “A River Runs Through It”? Yeah, I didn’t really have a choice. Aimee: Chase actually introduced me to fly fishing, but my dad taught me to fish when I was very young, and I spent a lot of my childhood chasing Striper fishing saltwater with my Aunt Pat & Uncle Jay. Fast forward maybe 12 years, I never imagined I’d be fly fishing, I honestly didn’t know much about it until Chase introduced me to it. What’s it like to be a fly fishing couple? Chase: I don’t know that I really view us as a “fly fishing couple”. I think we’re a couple that shares a lot of interests, which has its pros and cons. For years, I only fished alone, and being alone was a big part of it for me. Now that my partner in life is also my fishing partner, I don’t really get that solitary experience any more. At first it was an adjustment, but now I’m just really glad to have the company. Every now and again I’ll go out on solo trips, and at the end of the day I just feel kind of lonely. Also, Aimee catches all the biggest fish, so it gives me an opportunity to see fish I normally wouldn’t! (laughs) Aimee: I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about it that way, but I feel really lucky to have so many things in common and be able to share them with each other.
Did fly fishing have anything to do with you two ending up together? Chase: Definitely not. Skateboarding and punk rock did, mostly. Are there any challenges involved with being a couple and being fly fishing buddies at the same time? Chase: So far so good. Ask me again in 10 years. All joking aside, we just really enjoy each other’s company, so at that point, it really doesn’t matter what you’re doing as long as you’re doing it together. Aimee: See part above re: “Aimee catches all the biggest fish...” (laughs) You’ve recently released the film Big Land. What have been the most profound lessons during the filming? Chase: Maybe, that you can do anything you want, all you have to do is ask? At first the trip was just a total fantasy and totally out of reach. But once we started taking it seriously, we realized that there’s no difference between us, and other people that go on big adventures. The only thing holding us back was fear of failure. And granted, BIG adventures aren’t for everyone, but I think we all settle for less because ourselves, our peers, or society at large tell us that our goals are unreasonable, and we should settle for mediocrity. You don’t have to fly to the middle of the Labrador interior to find an adventure, but I guarantee there’s something you want to do that you’ve been telling yourself you can’t because of time, money, etc etc. Reprioritize your life, and make it happen. You’ll be glad you did. Aimee: Our expedition to Labrador was a real test of my self-confidence and how willing I was to step out of my comfort zone. I was honestly pretty terrified of what we would get ourselves into out there. I came away with not only a huge sense of accomplishment for pushing myself, but a renewed confidence in my ability to survive in such a wild place. It’s changed my life in ways that I can’t put into words.
What has been the most rewarding part of venturing into the “Big Land” on a fly fishing adventure? Chase: Just seeing that place and experiencing it first-hand. We live in a world where wilderness is disappearing fast, and our climate and ecosystems are changing. We have short lives, and there’s no way to see it all, but we want to spend our time trying to, and advocation for the places, others can’t visit themselves. Aimee: Being able to experience such a wild place and the camaraderie that developed between all of us out there. It was an experience I will most certainly never forget. You’ve travelled all across the US. Can you tell us a little about your favourite places to fly fish? Chase: We’re really blessed to have so much public land and access in this country. You really can’t go wrong fishing anywhere, but over the years we’ve become the most interested in native, healthy ecosystems. So, the Rocky Mountain West for cutthroat, and The Northeast for brookies are definitely favorites. Aimee: Give me small streams and wild native trout and I’m a happy camper.
”WOLF BAY LODGE - FLY FISHING FOR MASSIVE PIKE” By IN THE LOOP MEDIA
Wolf Bay Lodge is situated on the shores of Phelps Lake, Saskatchewan. It’s an immense and shallow lake with incalculable bays that are home to huge northern pike. For more info: www.monsterpike.ca
The door to Dream Waters THE RIBNIK:
The Hidden Gem of the Balkan Region Ribnik is a short but sweet river in the republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is home to an incredibly dense population of grayling but, oftentimes, its brown trout steal all the attention. The brown trout are well-built, beautifully coloured and BIG. But they can also be quite finicky to catch in the riverâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s gin-clear water.
By: RASMUS OVESEN Photos by: MARTIN EJLER OLSEN, RASMUS OVESEN, ADO ADMIR JEGINOVIC and TOMMY JOSEFSEN
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA has only just recently started showing up on the mainstream fly fishing radar. Too long in the haunting shadow of the Yugoslav Wars, the numerous pristine rivers in the sparsely populated country have gone largely unnoticed by the international fly fishing community. Rivers such as Una, Pliva, Sana, Neretva and Ribnik are destined, however, to become part of the vocabulary of traveling fly fishing. Not only are their cold, nutrient-rich and well-oxygenated waters teeming with fish, they’re also among the most strikingly beautiful in all of Europe – being, as they are, meanderingly carved into one of Europe’s most monumental and mountainous reaches. Admitted, there might be fisheries management issues to be solved in the years to come regarding fishing pressure, stocking practices and habitat protection. But there is no doubt, Bosnia and Herzegovina deserves a spot in the limelight. After all, there aren’t many places in the world with such a richness of endemic trout and salmonid species – species like the danubian salmon, Adriatic grayling, brown trout, marble trout and softmouth trout. And there aren’t many places in the world with such a richness of unique
rivers – karst and chalk rivers that spring from the ground and form watersheds with a seemingly never-ending succession of waterfalls, canyons and emerald green pools. The Ribnik is one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s most famous rivers. It’s short and sweet. Only about 5 kilometers in length, shallow and full of gravel and vegetation – and, not least, fish. Grayling are the predominant species in the river, and they are abundantly distributed throughout the whole length of the river. Native brown trout are also present in good numbers, and at the very source of the river, specimens in excess of 8 kilos can be found. THE RIBNIK, which is a tributary to the mighty Sana, is found in northwestern corner of Bosnia and Herzegovina some 225km away from the capital, Sarajevo. It is a spring fed river that comes out of the underground upstream form Gornji Ribnik. It has stable water temperatures throughout the year, a fairly moderate drop gradient, easy access, and a maximum depth of around 80cm, which means it is easily waded. Furthermore, there is a rich aquatic plant life in the river, which means that there are also plenty of food for its resident fish – especially in the form of Gammarus, sedges and mayflies.
If you visit Ribnik during the summer and fall months, you’ll have plenty of time to single out some of the biggest grayling and cast to the pods of brown trout that are holding in the deeper pools. The hatches are prolific and by the end of the day, you will have gone through your entire fly box back-toback several times. During summer and autumn middays, the fish are rising steadily on hatching midges and blue duns. Presentation is key, however, and even the best of imitations will be cold-bloodedly studied and cynically rejected if the drift isn’t just right. You’re likely to find yourself fishing #22-28 CDC emergers, ants and mayflies painstakingly tied onto 8X tippets. But with such an incredible concentration of fish to be spotted, you’ll probably hook up with and land a good number of solid grayling up to 55cm – and, not least, a handful of handsome brown trout. Fishing licenses can be obtained via the LTG Company. Licenses are 40Euros per day, and the fishing is strictly barbless catch and release. For more information, please refer to: https://ribnikflyfish.com
FISHING IN BOSNIA There are several endemic fish species in Bosnia – including hucho, softmouth trout and marble trout. In addition, there are grayling, brown trout and stocked rainbow trout. Given the extremely rich biotopes in the region, the fish grow to immense sizes – and trout in excess of 10 kilos are caught on a yearly basis. They are found in rivers across the country, and some of the most famous ones are Ribnik, Pliva, Una, and Sana to the North and the Neretva, Drina, Buna and Trebizat to the South. Most rivers are managed by local fishing clubs, and fishing licenses need to be obtained locally prior to fishing. A local guide is recommended, as the fishing can be rather challenging at times. For more information, please refer to: http://www.flyfishing-bosnia.com LOGISTICS Bosnia and Herzegovina is pretty well-connected with the rest of Europe. One can fly to Sarajevo, the capital city, but depending on, which rivers you intend to fish, it might be better to consider a flight to Split in Croatia. Flights to Split are convenient and cheap, and rivers such as the Ribnik, Una, Pliva and Sana are within comfortable driving range. If you choose to fly to Split, we can recommend the rental car service, Uni Rent, which is conveniently situated at the airport: http://www.uni-rent.net (Their staff happen to be fly fishermen). Bosnia and Herzegovina is a relatively small country of some 51,129 km2, but it’s very mountainous, and there aren’t many major highways. As a result, it takes about 4 – 6 hours to get from the rivers in the northern parts of the country to those in the south.
CLAUS ERIKSEN’S FOAM FLY By LARS CHRISTIAN BENTSEN
If you live in Scandinavia, and fish for sea run brown trout in saltwater, you’ve heard of Claus Eriksen - a well-known, some would say legendary, Danish sea trout fisherman. Claus is the managing director of the shop Go Fishing, and also co-star in the fantastic film series by Niels Vestergaard, Sea Trout Secrets. The much-anticipated episodes 7 and 8 in that series were released in April 2019.
The Sea Trout Secrets films contain loads of knowledge, tips and tricks, but we were quite intrigued by Claus’ foam flies and the way he fishes them. If you’re interested in seeing exactly how Claus uses his foam flies, you can rent or buy the film online (see more below). But we felt that
something important had been left out - how Claus ties his foam fly for seatrout in the salt. So, we benched him in front of our cameras and let him loose, and here’s the result. In this film, Claus shows how to tie the fly, and tells in depth why it’s tied the way it is.
We also sent few follow-up questions to Claus. You state in the film that the foam flies are as effective as “ordinary” flies. Do you really mean that using foam flies exclusively for a full day will produce the same number of fish as a day with “ordinary” seatrout flies? “Yes, definitely! I’ve spent numerous trips in the company of friends, who’ve fished ordinary flies, where I have fished foam flies. These trips have shown that foam flies catch more or less the same amount of fish. I’ve also tried fishing a stretch and getting a number of contacts, where fishing the stretch afterwards with a shrimp fly provided no contacts. To me, this means that the fish that were actively feeding reacted well to the foam fly. But I’ve also had fish interested in the foam fly that didn’t hook up, which I was able to catch afterwards on a small shrimp or scud. There is an extra bonus with the foam fly. Each and every fish that is inter-
ested, you actually see. That doesn’t happen with subsurface flies. And I’ve often been surprised at how many fish react to the flies without really taking them. So, in general, I often experience more action with a foam fly than I do with subsurface flies.” In Sea Trout Secrets 8, you show that the foam flies can be effective all year round, in waves, in calm water, but are there circumstances where you are more liable to tie on a foam fly? “The thing is that the foam fly produces good experiences all the time, because you see everything. That’s important to me, and so I want to be able to see the fly the whole time. So even though it works, I rarely use them in waves, I mainly use them in calm or flat, riffled water. I’ve caught sea trout on foam flies all year round - even along an ice edge in February. But they are best when the water temperature climbs above 10 degrees C, because the fish are extremely active at this temperature”.
In our fly tying film, you make underline the point that you see your fly more as a type than a set pattern. Despite floating under all circumstances, and being as durable as possible, are there features you’ve worked specifically to get? “A foam fly must stay afloat when stripped across the surface. The double layer of folded back foam helps greatly, and I find it important that the foam is folded and doubled rather than a double layer cut square. That tends to result in a fly that dives and spins. The rubber legs are there to provide movement.” You tie the fly on hooks as well as on tubes. In Sea Trout Secrets 8 you demonstrate the special montage used on the tube, and why it’s effective when combined with a small treble. Do you find that the tube and treble give more hooks-up than the hook? “There are different scenarios. Most days, the takes are very positive and there’s really no difference between the two. But on some days the sea trout seem more cautious and take short. On those days the tube fly version is definitely better. The tube does have one disadvantage since the treble sometimes catches on the foam and tangles the whole setup, so I prefer using the fly on a hook.
When we’re out there, it’s not as if we constantly see shrimp, sculpin and other prey in the surface and the prey certainly aren’t pulling a small wake and pushing air bubbles like your foam fly. Do you think the sea trout take the fly for something specific, or is the take a result of opportunistic fouraging? “The foam flies are simply meant to imitate something edible - nothing in particular. Sea trout are curious creatures and they are simply triggered by the disturbance on the surface - just as when a salmon rises to a hitched fly.” Are there special features along a coastline that will trigger you into tying on a foam fly? The initial thought is of course that they are effective over shallow water, but what are your experiences? Are they also effective over deeper water? “They will catch sea trout everywhere. In the beginning, I primarily used them over shallow water but today I use them everywhere. From shallow water in the fjords and inlets to deeper water on the open coast
with strong currents. I don’t think there are any limitations. Fishing foam flies is a choice. It’s hardly any better than subsurface flies, but definitely not worse either. But it’s far more fun and far more intense. You see everything and for the method to be really effective, you need to be constantly aware of the fly, keeping an eye on it all the time. That’ll sometimes make you weary after watching the fly dance, cast after cast for a long time. I simply change to a subsurface fly and fish that for a while to give the eyes a rest. Then it’s back to more foam-fun.” If you want to see more of Claus fishing foam flies, check out Wide Open Outdoor Film’s website: http://www.wideopen.dk/video-demand-vimeo/ Here you can rent or buy Sea Trout Secrets 8, or indeed any of the other innovative films made, filmed, and produced by Niels Vestergaard. Thank you, Claus - for joining us for a day of filming and for answering these follow-up questions.
ESTANCIA LAS BUITRERAS | PATAGONIA | ARGENTINA
â&#x20AC;?Experience World Class fly fishing and lodging in beautiful Patagoniaâ&#x20AC;?
Come visit us in Argentina and find out why anglers from all over the world call Las Buitreras one of the best and most dynamic searun brown trout destinations on the planet. For more information please visit our website www.solidadventures.com or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For news and updates on our latest scouting adventures and more please follow us on Facebook and Instagram
BY THE SEASON:
British Columbia for the First Time If you have ever thought about making that first trip to British Columbia, it would be hard not to be a bit overwhelmed with the project. The sheer size of B.C. is daunting; almost as large in land mass of California, Oregon and Montana combined and for you Euros, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bigger than both France and Spain. So, it can be hard not to feel like an ant on a super large picnic table looking for the cookies. Add to this, the seasonal changes, and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll also pay more attention to the timing of your trips. By: DAVID LAMBROUGHTON
STILLWATERS… Years ago, I wrote a story about “Where Montana Meets Alaska” and that exactly describes British Columbia; a magical place with myriads of lakes, trout streams, and steelhead rivers crammed in between the arctic and the Pacific midwest. As a photographer, it’s been a wonderful gift to me and my annual Fly Fishing Dreams calendar for over 30 years now and counting. Stillwaters… You can always tell when the countless small lakes start to open in early spring as you start seeing car top boats whizzing down the highway. In May and June, with the longer days, these fisheries start firing on all cylinders and hundreds of little rustic fishing lodges around the province are renting out their lakeside cabins and boats. But if you would want to step it up a bit, Google: DouglasLake.Com. This is a working Cattle Ranch with a whole bunch of well managed lakes on it, and like almost all the B.C. trout lakes that can produce some large fish, MayJune and September-early October
would be their best months. Other well-liked lodges, that are within an hour or two from the fishy city of Kamloops, would be Tunkwa Lake Lodge, Knouff Lake Lodge, and south of town, Roche Lake Lodge. But if you want to really focus on some lake fishing, just go to Riseform.Com. This is the website of Brian Chan and it will open the whole stillwaster scene for you. Brian and his good buddy Phil Rowley have put out tons of info; books, videos, seminars (at great lakes!), blogs, hosted trips, TV Shows, etc. They have been the Gold Standard for B.C. Lake Fishing for decades. THE TROUT RIVERS…. With so many super large lakes and rivers that both feed and drain them, there are some famous intersections where large trout intercept the newly hatched salmon fry. Places like Little River or the Adams River in the Shuswap Lake System comes to mind, as does the Babine River, or where the Horsefly River meets Quesnel Lake.
But these fisheries and others like them can be hard to time, even for the locals, and it often intermingles with snotty spring weather, sitting in a boat, or the need to be on the water at daybreak. So my journey through all this has steadily pushed me towards the smaller rivers and streams that have the fishing I like best with hatches, dry flies, light rods and no need for anything but a floating line. Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a few notable rivers. Chilko River; Draining Chilko Lake in the Canadian Coastals, this is one of the most stunning settings in all of B.C. and being that it comes off a lake, always crystal clear. The resort, Chilko Lake Lodge (info@chilkolake lodge.ca), would be the place to stay and thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all kinds of things to do beside chasing the rainbows and some very large dolly varden. The outflow of the lake also has nice evening caddis hatches. Stellako River; Flowing out of Francois Lake, the Stellako runs clear and has some really good hatches, the big stoneflies too, and June or early July would be a good time for it. There is also a nice little lodge right where it leaves the lake, called Stellako Lake Lodge (phone: 250-699-6695).
Thompson River; Every time I go to the Thompson, I swear I’ll never return. It’s BIG, very slippery, flows through a dry forbidding environment that can easily hit 40 degrees Celsius in July and August, but it’s a fish factory where the trout move up and down the river to meet both hatches and intercepting the salmon fry migrations. We float it in small boats (Water Striders) and if you don’t have much experience running rivers, you might want to take a pass on it because you could end up on the 6 o’clock news. But when people from far-away places contact me looking for info or a game plan for a nice B.C. Trout Trip, this is what I tell them. Fly to Calgary, Alberta and rent a car and do a day or two floating on the Bow River, which regularly produces New Zealand/Argentina-sized rainbows and browns. They are stunning photo fish and the best fly shop in town, with top guides, is Fish Tales Fly Shop (.com). They can organize your float trip and put all kinds of X’s on your map to start your road trip south that will take you to the
Crowsnest Pass and right past the front door of Vic Bergman’s Crowsnest Anglers (403-564-4333), a great source of on the spot info, as well as guide trips. Just taking a day and driving up the Oldman River and through “The Notch” is worth it in itself just to see this area. From here you quickly hit the pass and the B.C. border and then you’ll have about a 1 hour downhill glide to the Ski Town of Fernie and a landscape that seems like it might have been purposely designed for west slope cutthroats; big mountains and snowpacks to feed cool water into streams all summer long and the wonderful Southwest exposure of the Elk River Valley that bugs, fish, and wildlife love. Me too. I usually hit Fernie in mid to late July on my way home from Montana/ Idaho and it lights me up. After the often grueling, high focus days of matching hatches on rivers like the Henry’s Fork, Silver Creek, or the Beaverhead, it’s fun to just put on an #12 Elk Hair Caddis (with rubber legs!) and just fish the water and feel like a kid again.
But some drake hatches and other mayflies can kick off selective feeding at times. But still, if you’d like to introduce someone to fly fishing, this would be the place. Being a ski town, there are tons of places to stay but my annual choice is the Snow Valley Motel (250-423-4421). It’s inexpensive, has Kitchenette Units, and is within a 5 minute walk to the two fly shops in town, plus several nice restaurants (The Curry Bowl or the Bridge River Bistro) and you can park right at door, which is nice with gear, ice chests, etc. To hook up with some really good fishing guides and do some floating, go to DaveBrownOutfitters.Com and look at all the rivers they fish in the area. Dave’s a great guy and has been on the scene for about 25 years. He could also float you down the St. Mary’s River near Kimberly after you continued west after your Fernie stop.
Now, from the Kimberly Cranbrook Area, you turn north and will be driving up the west side of the B.C. Rockies. Your skills have been honed and every stream you cross will have fish but driving up high on the Skookumchuck River, near the hamlet of the same name, or fishing the White River below Whiteswan Lake would be your best choices out of many. From this point you are about 2/3’s your way through the Calgary to Calgary Loop and not that far from the town of Golden, home of Dave Burns and his Golden Gillie Guide Service; email@example.com. Dave guides on the Upper Columbia and a number of lakes, many of which lend themselves to sight fishing and I just saw a photo of Brian Chan holding a fish out of one of them that was just short of 12 pounds. By this point, if you’ve fished half the waters I mentioned, you’ll likely be dragging your arse on the ground as you close the loop and turn east and you might need a day just cruising by Lake Louise and Banff on your way back to Calgary. In all the trout world, I don’t think
you could find more attractive scenery than this loop in the B.C. Rockies. It’s basically a mid-July to mid-September season and barbless hooks for all waters, province-wide. I like that. CHASING THE SUMMER RUNS… THE 100 DAY SEASON Steelhead run up the rivers of B.C. every month of the year but outside the mid-July to mid-October window it can be tough sledding with few fish or miserable weather - or both. So, the summer runs are the main attraction and first up for me would be Vancouver Island. According to biologists on the Island, all the summer runs will be in their rivers by mid-July, after enjoying the best water conditions between Spring and Summer, to make the jumps and find their canyon pools. But this certainly would not be fishing for everyone. It can be extremely physical as you crawl over the deadfalls, hike around the canyons and if you ever wore waders you could die of heat prostration. Wet wading, as with the B.C. Rockies, is almost always far more comfortable.
But it’s easy, on these island fisheries, to find yourself cut and bruised and looking at your rod-reel and camera and wondering how much you can sell this useless crap for. Then you try one more pool and there they are, a dozen bars of chrome, quietly finning in the tailout, and once again, all is well. It’s upstream fishing with both dries and stonefly nymphs and would be what you would get if you morphed New Zealand trout fishing with the famous Skeena steelhead rivers. If you’ve read the wonderful books by Roderick Haig-Brown, it’s just something you have to do, and it makes the pages come alive.
to about 25 miles upstream. You can also go through a draw system and doing it on your own, either by camping at the bottom end or helicoptering (West Coast Helicopters) to the top and rafting it, with care.
Now comes August, the center month of the 3-month long season on the Dean River, which is to steelhead fishermen what the Alta would be for the Atlantic salmon crowd. The fish are not quite as large as the fish from the famous Skeena Rivers but often t-shirt weather, warmer water to skate dries on, brighter/fresher fish and the best scenery of all the steelhead rivers more than makes up for it. To pull this trip off, you have 4 lodges spread out from the mouth
The fishing itself is not too complicated. Take a cast, let it swing, take a healthy step downstream and repeat. Think mowing the lawn as you cover the water.
Then comes the month, I always wish was twice as long… September. It might be the best all-around fishing month of them all and it can be hard deciding where to go. But the steelhead gang starts showing up in towns like Terrace, Hazelton, and Smithers and they follow the runs as they make their way up this massive drainage.
With a couple of friends and some boats and car shuttles, you can easily find water to fish on your own or even just drive to. But if this is your first time, you can pad your bets with some guidance. Here’s some good choices for that.
Poplar Park Farm (kathylarson860@ gmail.com) on the Kispiox River, near Hazelton, would be a top choice. It’s sort of a B&B, except with all the meals and an easy river to float that isn’t going to kill you. There are also lots of pools where you just park your car and hit the trail to the water. Another good all-inclusive setup would be via WestCoastFishing.Ca in Terrace. Gill Mckean and his wife Mandi have a lodge set up at their home and are booked fairly solid for all the right reasons. By mid-September and into October, Smithers becomes the place to be and there are several lodges in the area. But I’d first get ahold of Steve Morrow, whose an extremely wellliked guide and who always seems to be in the center of everything steelheadwise, and April Vokey is lucky to have him as a Brother in Law. Check out info@epicwatersangling. com. Steve also works with Kimsquit Bay Lodge on the Dean earlier in the season and is a calm and relaxed wealth of info.
One more option for planning a steelhead trip to B.C. would be to simply contact Ken Morrish at Fly Water Travel (.com). Steelhead Fishing has always been his passion, he’s fished every decent river from Northern California to Alaska, and he books anglers into all the best lodges in B.C., including those on the Sustut and Babine Rivers. I’ve been fishing British Columbia since I was a kid in the 60’s and every year I love and appreciate it even more. Like New Zealand, the waters are there for all or in the words of Roderick Haig-Brown, “I like to fish waters that are open to everyone and not the privileged few.” Immigrating to British Columbia in the 70’s after I got out of college was the smartest thing I ever did.
LIFE AND LOSS:
An Homage to a Dear Fly Fishing Friend I met Bill in Argentinian Patagonia at gorgeous Las Pampas Lodge. It is in the Rio Pico area of Chubut Province and has a stunning view of the Andes. He was with a group of veteran fly anglers from the American Northeast. They loved the place and returned for two weeks each year. After fishing each day, the anglers, and their guides, all meet back at the lodge and relax. During social hour we enjoyed Malbec, lies, embellishments, exaggerations, and then a late dinner of terrific Argentinian food. The gentlemen were very kind and welcomed me, as a solo, including me in each eveningâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s festivities. I enjoyed Billâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s friends. He, and I, made a special connection that week so we stayed in touch over the years through social media. By: RAND KAPLAN
Last year, I had a fine experience swinging flies for king salmon on the Alaska Peninsula. I was keen to return and was lucky to get two spots for this year. I sent out an email one evening to a handful of friends to see if I could find a buddy to go. It’s nice to pick your own room and boat mate. Bill responded to my offer in a hurry. He told me he wanted to join me but had come to understand he would get a better response from his dear wife Pat if he didn’t interrupt her sleep. He said he would be back to me the next morning. His acceptance email was waiting for me when I awoke. Most pleased to have a willing victim I did offer an honest assessment that we would be fishing the first week of the season and we might beat the fish to the river. He was undeterred and very excited to make the trip. He was unintimidated to learn to fish with a two-handed fly rod. Willing to try a new, frustrating, but very effective method of fishing, at 75 years of age. Bill was willing to spend a week, and a boat load of dough, with a crazed Oregon hippie that he had spent less than twenty hours with in Argenti-
na. Bill was game and he was all in. Well, we were early, and the fish were running about a week late. By mid-week of our adventure Bill had not landed a fish. I had caught only a few. The river looked great. Water color was right. Just not many fish. The king migration was coming but time was getting shorter for us. Little did we know things were about to change. That morning I had a forty-five-minute fight with a big chinook buck and was able to land him. The biggest fish I’ve ever caught in fresh water in a run called “Avenue of the Giants”. I was subdued as Bill was still hoping to land his first fish of the trip. At mid-day, mid-week of our trip, we were enjoying lunch in the boat solving the world’s problems. After lunch I sat relaxing in the boat and watched Bill fish. Within minutes he hooked, and after a colossal struggle, landed the biggest fish of his life. Every knot held. The barbless hook was held with enough tension to stay in the chinook’s hard, black, mouth. Bill was coachable. He listened to his guide.
Improved his fighting technique and the best thing happened. He had fished the world over, and while I grinned, his ship came in. We were no longer subdued. Whoops, a quick grip and grin session, and a terrific bear hug followed. Bill was overjoyed. I suspect, on the most recent high tide, a pod of big kings made their move out of the Bering Sea, over the bar, and up the river. Big kids had arrived, so fresh outa’ the salt, they were still wearing sea lice. That evening on the porch outside the lodge. Evening light was making the mountainous spine of the Alaska Peninsula glow. Bill was working on the one cigar he allowed himself per day. We were both thrilled to have landed fish of a lifetime. I thanked him for coming and dealing with the risk of arriving before the fish. Thanked him for sticking with it for days without success - without complaint. He told me that I “didn’t understand. He had come to be with me.” I had no words and got a little misty. We hugged and took in the view. We caught some more big fish that
week. We lost some too. I lost my biggest ever after a half hour. The tippet broke while we were trying to bring it to net for the fourth time. I remember him. Chrome and hard to turn. Bill caught another all-time best while two Bald Eagles watched. He proclaimed it the best trip of his life. You can be skunked mid-week on the trip of a lifetime. I will remind myself of this. We both expressed our desire to return next year. We also did some scheming on other future fishing adventures. Bill and I spent the whole week together, beside bathroom time, and we never bugged each other. Our world views were complimentary. We bragged a lot about our wives. We both married up and were smart enough to know it. Bill’s angling improved a remarkable amount over the week. He had confidence in his technique and was eager to go around again. I had a new fishing buddy. That’s a big deal. Our addiction is a lodge owner’s dream. Once you feel the pull of a king it sticks with you. They are big, and difficult to land, which makes success all the more fulfilling.
In the Anchorage airport Bill and I hugged goodbye. As I walked away, I threw him a kiss. I surprised myself as this is not something I’ve done to a man before. He didn’t seem to mind and I kinda’ liked it. Now I’m glad I did it. Bill died in New Haven Connecticut, just days after his seventy sixth birthday, two weeks after returning from Alaska. He had fished hard with friends in Vermont. On the way home he started feeling poorly and things began to fall apart for my dear friend Bill. Infection claimed him. I only spent two weeks with Bill, but he was my brother. We had plans. Pat, Bill’s wonderful wife, stayed in touch as they tried to save him. She was remarkably composed and thanked me for inviting him on the trip of a lifetime. I am so pleased he enjoyed our adventure so much. It helps but it hurts. I have now grieved for Bill more days than I spent with him. That says a lot about the man. When I fish the sweet water, the honey holes in the best spots on earth, I will salute Bill. Thanks Buddy - Rand Kaplan
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