ASTOVE ATOLL Norway
THE FINAL FRONTIER Mongolia
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WELCOME... We’re stuck, but that’s a great onset for making a magazine. As we’ve sifted through all the article submissions and hand-picked the right ones for this June-edition, our minds have wandered to far-away rivers and lakes – to sandy flats in tropical paradises and jungle rivers, and we’ve lamented over the fact that all of our 2020 trips abroad have been cancelled. But hey, things will get back to normal someday. And in the meantime, there’s plenty of local places to fish; both familiar and unfamiliar – if one has the imagination and adventurousness needed to chart new territory. The Covid-19 pandemic will shape and define our lives for quite some time still, but there are glimpses of hope. Iceland has opened its borders, The UK is back to fishing, and from June 15th people across Scandinavia will be able to target Atlantic salmon (with some limitations of course). On the subject of salmon, this magazine will provide some great insights. Matt Harris takes you to the Arctic circle in order to tackle Atlantic salmon on hitch flies a nd T arquin M illington-Drake c aptures t he e ssence o f t he legendary Aarøy River in words and pictures. Mongolia, Iceland, and Bosnia and Herzegovina are also featured among the destination pieces in this edition, which – in addition to our salmon writers - features the very talented, Rasmus Ovesen, Martin Ejler Olsen, Peter Lyngby, Morten Valeur, Jonas Borinski, Patrick Duke, and Ivan Dragojlovic. Be safe!
Fly Fishing for the Masters of Destruction Pt1 by Rasmus Ovesen Hitching in the Arctic Circle by Matt Harris Nunavut by Yngve Ask Una – And the Threatened Balkan Rivers by Jonas Borinski Walking on the Platforms of Despair by Tarquin Millington-Drake The Last Refuge of the “River Wolf ” by Ivan Dragojlovic 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 Yngve Ask
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 world’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.
MARTIN EJLER OLSEN
Danish fly fisherman and photo journalist, Martin Ejler Olsen, has years of experience fishing for the many and varied freshand saltwater species in the Danish rivers, lakes, and fjords. He has landed some truly massive sea trout on the fly, and he has a certain gift for hooking up with the biggest fish in the schools. Martin is also a keen tropical fly fisherman. His expeditions abroad has seen him battle bonefish, permit, barracuda, tarpon, GT and sailfish – and being a gifted photographer, these trips have resulted in some great footage.
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.
Matt Harris has been shooting fly-fishing images since 1999 and has been commissioned to shoot images and write articles all over the world. He has shot in Argentina, Alaska, Australia, the Bahamas, Brazil, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Cuba, England, Guatemala, Iceland, Ireland, India, Mongolia, New Zealand, Russia, the Seychelles, Scotland, the USA and Zambia. Matt loves any type of fly-fishing with a passion and is happy to fish for everything from trout to sailfish, but his favourite quarries are big Atlantic salmon and Permit. See more of Matt’s images at: http://www.mattharrisflyfishing.com/
Although he has fished and photographed extensively around the world through his work as the MD of travel company Frontiers UK, TMD’s heart lies with the Atlantic salmon. He has fished Norway, Iceland and Russia every year for the past 20+ years. He was also President of the Ponoi River Company for 10 years and is an international Director of NASF. He is lucky to be a member of the 50lbs + salmon club. You can follow his travels and love of photography at: www.blog.millingtondrake.com.
Norwegian fly fisherman and photographer, Yngve Ask, is a long-time professional, who has covered locations worldwide. He, and his wife Ida, run the production company, Scanout, which specializes in design and story-telling through film and photography. For more information, please visit www.scanout.com or refer to Yngve’s Instagram www.instagram.com/yask_photo/
Having fly fished ever since he was a kid, Peter Lyngby has been working widely across the industry as editor, writer, photographer, film producer, host, instructor, product developer, publisher, webmaster and fundraiser. With a powerful passion for northern pike, salmon, and tropical gamefish, Peter has been traveling the globe for years and is now dedicated to making fishing dreams come true for anglers worldwide through the travel agency, Getaway Fly Fishing www.getawayflyfishing.com.
Jonas Borinski is a Germany-based flyfisherman and filmmaker. Along with his two brothers he runs a website, combining his two passions by frequently releasing quality fly fishing videos about trout and grayling fishing in Germany and Northern Scandinavia. Find out more about the Borinski brothers at www.brothersonthefly.com
Ivan was just a 5-year old when his father took him fly fishing for the fist time. It was a moment that would define the rest of his life. At the age of 25, he became a professional fishing guide and EFFA fly casting instructor - and he has since specialized in several fly fishing techniques both in fresh- and saltwater. Ivan organises guided fly fishing expeditions to many parts of the world, helping his clients achieve the catch-of-a-lifetime. If trophy taimen in Mongolia or Indonesian giant trevally are on your bucket list, Ivan is the right guy for you. You can check out his website here: www.flyfishingmania.com
Morten Valeur is one of the great Danes in fly fishing – an inspiration to many aspiring young fly fishermen, a great fly tyer, photographer and fisherman. Morten has produced several articles, books, and films about fly fishing, and for the last 25 years, he has worked in the fly fishing industry; running his own fly tying distribution company and – recently, starting up the very successful fly hook company, Ahrex Hooks, which he has catapulted onto the global scene in record time. www.instagram.com/ahrexhooks/
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.
Fly Fishing for the Masters of Destruction PART 1
By: RASMUS OVESEN Photos by: RASMUS OVESEN, MARTIN EJLER OLSEN, MATT HARRIS and KYLE REED
The Seychelles, in the western reaches of the Indian Ocean â€“ not too far away from Madagascar, have fast become the GT epicentre of the world. And Astove Atoll is THE place to catch a monster GT on the flats.
Giant Trevally are very accustomed to the wrenching noise of things shattering and breaking. They have powerful and jagged jaws; they pack a nasty and lightning quick bite; and they delight in crushing whatever pitiful prey they manage to hunt down, whether it be a bony baitfish, a hard-shelled crab or even a non-suspecting bird with feathers, beak and all.
“They have powerful and jagged jaws; they pack a nasty and lightning quick bite” They hit such things like freight trains - with blind fury and explosive impact, churning them into bits and pieces. And, as a result, the sounds of death and destruction frequently echo through their cranial cavities and straight into whatever primitive minds that have sparked inside their powerful and sturdy frames.
As a GT fly fisherman, one is also destined to get accustomed to - or at least become uncannily familiar with – various sounds of destruction. GT’s are notorious for wrecking tackle, and after a recent week of GT fishing in the Seychelles – at the stunningly beautiful and wild Astove Atoll, the sounds of rods, fly lines and leaders breaking have become painfully etched into my mind. Along with the repeated knife slashlike sounds of GTs cutting through the surface - backs and serrated fins clear out of the water – in hot pursuit, and the inevitable collision-like eruptions as they would thrust themselves forward, opening their bucket-sized mouths and thunderously inhaling our flies – completely demolishing them in the process, with hooks getting bent out of shape, foam being shredded and ripped into pieces, feathers and fibres scattered all about… Well, the cacophony of it all is enough to send shivers down my spine as I sit here putting symbolic pen to paper.
Additionally, there was that freak incident where the guide – who shall remain nameless – grabbed the leader on a big fish that was close to the boat and in danger of getting snatched by a huge oceanic whitetip shark. His finger got pierced by the top section of the fly rod, as the fish took violently off. Apparently, the leader knot had gotten caught in the rod tip, and as the fish surged downwards, the top of the fly rod followed the directional path of the leader – straight into the guides hand, snapping loudly and ultimately piercing his finger, full blank, splintered carbon fibre shrapnel and all. There was also that incident where a colossal GT hit the fly right below the lava cliffs to the far south of the atoll. This fish violently erupted on the fly the very instant it hit the water – as if it somehow already knew that something was going to fall from the sky – and, once hooked, it took off like a bullet along the jagged, corally shoreline demolishing the whole fly line and ultimately snapping the 120lb test leader. Even in the howling winds the whiplash-sound of that leader snapping was loud enough to stun- and stop us dead in our tracks.
Sadly, there was also that incident where an otherwise perfect interception of a massive, jetblack 70-80lb GT in meter-high surf swells followed by a 25meter+ cast into strong headwinds resulted in a take so brutal that the whole fly line snapped on the strip-set. That fish was to die for, but then again: Had the fly line not snapped on the strip-set, it might very well have surged towards the corally reef edge and broken me off there. Either way, that whole episode was accompanied by the deafeningly quiet sound of my heart breaking. During the course of six full fishing days at Astove Atoll, my good friend Martin Ejler Olsen and I experienced some of the most exhilarating and nerve-wracking GT fishing imaginable. Reminiscing about the trip, I must admit that Iâ€™m still pretty shellshocked and mind-blown about the amount of fish we encountered and how unpredictable, erratic and (at times) super-aggressive these fish were.
I sometimes find myself struggling to keep my composure during an all-important fight, or when a momentous sight-casting opportunity presents itself. But I’ve never shaken to the core – with such a boiling mixture of adrenaline, excitement and sheer, panicky fear raging inside my body – as I have when fishing Astove Atoll. Wading and scouting for GTs there along the corally reefs, roaring surf lines, and jagged lava cliffs is terrifying in an of itself. Casting for one - knowing that you probably just get that one cast before the fish suddenly vanishes again – only adds to the excitement of it all. Ultimately, however, it is the take that renders one a trembling nerve wreck. It is, by all means, truly frightening! Once fired-up and zeroed in for the kill, the Astove GTs will attack with such fury and brutality that one’s first impulse is to quickly dispose of the fly rod and jump out of the water. If that impulse is foolishly ignored and one counter-intuitively responds to the explosive collision by strip-setting the hook, one is in for a gruelling
fight; a fight that will stress one’s tackle and physics to breaking point, and too often result in a harrowing snapping sound.
“Ultimately, however, it is the take that renders one a trembling nerve wreck. It is, by all means, truly frightening” Despite challenging conditions with heavy winds, cloud cover, rain and periodical thunder during most of the week – something very atypical for Astove Atoll, I managed to land 17 GTs, and had I been more stoic, calm and – perhaps – endowed with a little more luck, I might have landed well over 25. And as if that wasn’t enough, Martin and I also managed to squeeze in some absolutely outrageous bonefish-, triggerfish-, and permit fishing. Not to mention an afternoon offshore, where schools of huge barracuda, rainbow runners, milkfish and sailfish kept us busy.
The real monsters – like the fiery-tempered 70-80lb GT that broke my fly line, the massive black one that snapped a 110lb leader on the corals, and the sharklike 120lb+ behemoth that rejected my fly (and broke my dreams), ultimately evaded me. But there was one thing that these fish couldn’t break – my spirit. And I have absolutely no doubt in my mind: I will be back in search for Astove Atoll’s indomitable and raging apex predators – the masters of destruction. Read pt II in the next edition of In the Loop Magazine…
Fact File – Lodging Astove Atoll caters to an exclusive six fly fishermen per week, and the season extends from November to December and March to April. The newly renovated lodge offers full-catering service, exquisite Creole cuisine, and accommodation in single air-conditioned ensuite rooms. If you’re interested in booking a trip to Astove Atoll, or some of the other renowned Alphonse Fishing Co destinations in the Seychelles – including Cosmoledo, Alphonse Island and Poivre, send an email to: email@example.com For further information, be sure to check out these links: http://www.alphonsefishingco.com http://www.seychelles.travel/ Fact file – Transport and logistics The transportation to Astove Island is usually via Dubai to Mahé and Seychelles International Airport. Here, Emirates is an obvious choice, seeing as they have regular flights with appropriate arrival times in relation to the journey onwards: http://www.emirates.com
The plane to Astove Atoll leaves early in the morning, and as a result you’ll need an overnight stay in Mahé. We found Eden Bleu, which is close to the airport, to be very charming, comfortable and relaxing. Eden Island offers beautiful, newly-built apartments, maisons, and villas situated on its own gated island with ambient marinas, cosy cafes, a shopping center, and a view to the ocean along with pearly white, palm-ridden sand beaches. When time permits, Eden Island is also a great starting point for discovering Mahé, the Seychellois capital. For more information, please check: http://www.edenbleu.com For transportation services to and from the airport, logistics or tourism requests, Creole Travel Services is your point of reference: http://www.creoletravelservices.com You’ll continue your journey to Astove Atoll on a 3-hour IDC flight arranged by Alphonse Fishing Co. It departs from the IDC Hangar outside the International Airport, and getting there involves a five-10-20minute taxi-ride. Depending on your itinerary, you might experience a good deal of layover in Dubai International Airport on your way back, and it might therefore be a good idea to get some rest in the Dubai International Airport Hotel, which is conveniently located inside the departure terminal: https://www.dubaiintlhotels.com/
Hitching in the Arctic Circle
By MATT HARRIS
As the sun finally starts to disappear over the vast granite massif on the far side of the valley, I swallow my whisky, and snatch up my rod. Wading carefully and quietly into the long run, I lengthen the line, and send the big sunray shadow arcing out across the golden waters.
It has been a long day, and I have nothing to show for all the long hours of wading in the powerful, icy currents of the early season. My shoulders ache after what feels like about a million spey-casts, and the rest of the Macallan is sitting in the canoe, just a few yards upstream. Yet the wind has dropped away, and the air is warm and full of promise. A big silver fish rolls downstream, and my heart leaps. The sunlight is off of the water, and as any salmon angler worth his salt will tell you, now is the time. Forty yards downstream, just past the wires that cross over the river, the pool starts to tail out, and it takes on a flat, glassy quality that is just made for the riffle hitch. I’m a sucker for the surface fly, and on reaching the wires, I retrieve the fly and re-rig. I cut off the big single hook, and before re-attaching it, I push the leader through the hole in the side of the tube, so that the fly will skate across the surface. Despite the local wisdom that the fish like a big sunk fly, I’ve caught enough big silver stunners
from this brawling river using the riffle-hitch to know what it can do. Unless the water is really high and cold, I always tie on the waking fly with a huge degree of confidence. I find the little “V” wake of the skating fly a great way to read the currents of a pool, and the sight of the V wake has a bewitching, magical quality that seems to just dare the salmon to come and have a go. I’m lost in the meditation of cast and step, utterly at peace in the warm evening air, with the vast, golden ramparts of the mountains all around. Suddenly, way out in the river, a big blur of chrome silver rolls lazily through the surface. It has just eaten my fly. Even as my brain is processing what I have just seen, the line snaps up tight, and the loop of running line comes fizzing up through my fingers. Line starts to peel off of the big reel, and I lift the rod sharply. I feel the violent, magical electricity of a large salmon, and a moment later, the fish clambers into the cool blue shadows of the evening, a sparkling silver behemoth shrouded in spray.
â€œFinally, nearly thirty minutes later, I am gazing down at a stunning silver pearl of a salmonâ€? In an instant, the fish is rocketing downstream, and then it is barrelling up into the air again, as it goes greyhounding back to the sea. I watch helplessly as first fifty, then a hundred yards of line cascades from the big, saltwater reel. My fishing partner and long-time friend Roar comes to the rescue, wordlessly ushering me into the classic Nordic canoe that he has quietly brought downstream. I clamber aboard, and then we are off to the races, chasing the fish off down the river. Finally, nearly thirty minutes later, I am gazing down at a stunning silver pearl of a salmon, as it lays submerged in the shallows. Not the fifty pound monster that I dream of, but magnificent nonetheless: 27 pounds, and covered in the sea-lice that betray it as fresh from the Arctic Ocean. The fish gleams in the clean, clear waters, and it is a thing of utter beauty â€“ its deep, iridescent chrome-silver fuselage is flushed with a shimmering band of sapphire blue and its flanks are tattooed with tiny black spots.
Its eye searches out the depths, and for a moment I marvel at this heroic, indomitable creature, a fish that had ventured across the vast wastes of the North Atlantic to Greenland and beyond, to harass the baitfish through the long, dark arctic nights before returning, somehow, three long years later, to the river of its birth. A big, fresh Atlantic salmon is – to me at least – one of the most beguiling creatures on earth, and the long hours of hard work often involved in catching one always seem well worthwhile when you finally get to enjoy the privilege of seeing one close up. I lift the fish briefly out of the water for a quick picture, and then I nurse it carefully back to full strength, watching it revive in the gin-clear water. Suddenly, with a powerful flourish of its mighty spade of a tail it is gone, and the big rooster tail of spray that the fish kicks up leaves us both soaking wet, and laughing. Happy Days.
I’ve been fishing the Reisa River in Northern Norway for four seasons now, and it is a simply magical place to fish for Atlantic Salmon. Although I would be the first to admit that the fishing can be tough, I’ve had some fantastic fishing on this beautiful and relatively unknown little gem. While I’m still waiting for the fifty pounder that all salmon fishers dream of, I know that they swim up this spectacular little river every year. In the meantime, I’ve caught a good number of stunning silver beauties weighing twenty pounds and more – fish that on most of our home waters would represent the fish of a lifetime. Fifty pounds may sound like an impossible dream, but believe me, on the Reisa it can and does happen. My excellent Reisa guides Morten Berglund and Trond Isaakson have managed fish of 54 pounds and 50 pounds respectively in recent years, and another friend, talented young local angler, Truls Bergmo has pulled out fish of 52 and 44 pounds in the last few seasons.
“In 2017, another great friend, Ken Dunston, put a chrome-silver 45 pound fish on the bank” The big fish don’t just surrender themselves to the locals: my great pal, Jens Olav Flekke caught a 51lb fish a few years ago, and another great mate, legendary spey-caster Scottie McKenzie has caught some belters from the Reisa, including his personal best fish - a fabulous 38 pound salmon caught in June, 2015. In 2017, another great friend, Ken Dunston, put a chrome-silver 45 pound fish on the bank, and it was a vintage season, with no fewer than 7 fish of over 40 pounds, and forty of over 30 pounds in weight reported. Despite these eye-popping catches, be warned: at the risk of repetition, the fishing is not easy. If you want numbers, look elsewhere. The river is crystal clear and the fish are as neurotic as any trout. It takes real cunning to get near them in all but the highest water, but if you can cast
quietly and delicately, with a long leader that falls gently on to the glassy waters, you may just have a chance of fooling one of these magnificent fish. Approach the river with caution. Bide your time, and wait until the light is off the water, unless the river is high or discoloured by rain. Fish through the pool once, and then rest the water before going through again with a smaller fly. I like to fish as stealthily as I can. In all but the highest water, I use a floating line with long, tapered leaders, and small, drab flies in quiet colours like black, blue and green, with little or no flash. I love to hitch a simple Sunray Shadow across the surface, but if that’s not working, then the classic Frances pattern – a fly that is a killer in other countries but seldom used in Norway – is a killer.
Make sure you have all sizes in black, red and my favourite â€“ Fire Orange. A small,1/4â€? tungsten tube can get the fly down without the need for clumsy, heavy tips, and combined with a 15 foot leader, is a great way to fish subsurface with the minimum of disturbance. This tactic can be especially successful in brighter weather, when the fish are less inclined to come up for a fly. In high water, a heavy tip and a big flashy fly like a Green Highlander Templedog is the way to go, but a bigger Frances, German Snaelda or Sunray shadow can also work well. The fish often respond to a big flush of rain in the high Lyngen Alps upstream, and the first hour of the rise is a very productive time. The Reisa is as beautiful as anywhere I have ever thrown a line, and on sunny afternoons, it pays to stop fishing and simply enjoy the stunningly beautiful scenery with just a few good friends and perhaps a bottle of speyside malt for company.
The valley is an enchanted place, with countless sparkling waterfalls cascading all around, and the fragrant scent of the pine trees emanating from the dense alpine forests that carpet the valley floor. Buzzards and golden eagles soar over the old granite crags that stand sentinel over the clean, clear waters of the river, and occasionally, a moose will lumber into view. Now is a time to just appreciate this exquisite wonderland, resting the pool and taking the time to enjoy a plate of sizzling sausages, fried by the river, along with a cold beer, a glass of good red wine, or perhaps another dram or two. Once the sun is off the water, wade back in – now is the time when the big fish of the Reisa come out to play. Fish as quietly as you can, and avoid splashy casts, heavy Skagit heads and clunky tungsten sink-tips, unless high, cold water absolutely necessitates it. Go through the pool quickly – in this gin-clear water, the fish will see your fly a mile away. Fish hard and THINK about fishing the pool
differently every run through. Trust me, a hitched fly or a stripped sunray will often bring one of these big fish up to the surface, and it is just about as exciting as salmon-fishing gets. The Reisa’s fishing hours seem to change from year to year, but they are currently fixed from 10am to 2am – plenty of time to choose your moments, without the pressure of having to get out of bed too early in the morning, after a late night by the river. Come to Reisa knowing that you may hook the fish of a lifetime, and make sure you use stout and reliable tackle. Employ a scrupulously maintained 30lb leader, ultra-strong hooks and a heavy-duty reel loaded with 400 yards of backing. Be ready to jump into the boat in a hurry if circumstances dictate that you have to chase a fish downstream. Don’t be under any illusions – the Reisa is a hard taskmaster. I have had tough weeks here, but I’ve never gone home empty handed, and I’ve sometimes managed to average a fish a day.
When the fish are of the size and quality that the Reisa can offer, it makes the tough times very much worthwhile. There is surely no more beautiful place to be, in between those very special moments of mayhem. Info: If you are keen to try your luck on the Reisa, then I would recommend that you fish out of my friend Roar Olsen’s excellent and intimate Reisastua Lodge, which stands high above a lovely pool on the middle river. Roar’s lodge is everything that an avid salmon angler could want – as well as delicious food served in suitably hefty quantities for guests who have spent a long day wading in the icy waters of the river, there are comfortable beds and a warm, convivial atmosphere. Roar is a keen angler and knows the river intimately. His guides are all excellent boatmen, and they navigate their long canoes through the rapids and riffles with consummate skill. Contact Roar at http://www.reisastua.no/ Matt Harris visits Reisastua every year & will be hosting weeks at Reisastua Lodge in 2021. If you are interested in joining him, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Fly Fishing the Final Frontier Nunavut is a remote Canadian province bordering the Arctic Ocean. It is the northern-most territory in Canada and was officially separated from the Northwest Territories in April 1999. Aside from minerals, such as diamonds, gold and iron ore, the extremely cold and desolate territory is known for spectacular fishing. Yngve Ask and Helmut Zaderer recently ventured there to explore the arctic char fishing. By: YNGVE ASK
As more and more ice keeps gushing through the glacial river I am standing in, my thoughts go to my family. They are experiencing a heatwave at the moment with temperatures in the 30s. It’s late July and the peak of summer here in Nunavut; in this Arctic Canadian province, which is still covered in snow and ice. Helmut and I aren’t here for drinks or for the heat of summer, however. We are, of course, here for the fishing. Big chunks of iridescent blue ice now float by in great numbers and they start to cause severe problems when trying to mend the fly line. The fish, however, don’t care the least. They hit hard - and they play well.
you can possibly imagine. They’er not just silver, however. They are aggressive and actively feeding too, which is great news for a fly fisherman. Not long after they have entered the rivers and start preparing for the imminent spawn, they will turn bright orange, and the big males will develop pronounced kyped jaws. Along with their physical transformation, they will slowly shift focus and cease feeding. The good news for the fly fisherman, however, is that the big males become more and more irritable and aggressive along the way.
We have two species of fish on our minds: Arctic char and lake trout. The area that we’re fishing, however, is probably best known for its Arctic char fishing.
T-Rex Lake trout are looked upon, by some, as an unattractive fish. But, hey, if you are one of those people, you are missing out - big time! Lake trout are the T-Rex’es of the Arctic realm.
In my opinion, fly fishing for sea-run arctic char is some of the coolest fishing you can do anywhere on the face of this planet. When they come directly from the sea, they are as silver as
Up here, a lake trout over 30 lbs is easily pushing 30 years of age. They are aggressive fish with confidence and muscle power, and they are simply a ton of fun to catch.
In most other places, where I have fished for lake trout, they are trolled at great depths on huge lakes with big boats. Here, however, they are in the rivers, which - by and far - are quite shallow. Because they are found here in shallow water they are very attractive to catch on a fly rod. And because they are old and ancient looking predatory fish, which can grow to stupendous sizes, we have come to affectionately refer to them as “the taimen of the Arctic”. Victoria Island We are on Victoria Island, which straddles the boundary between Nunavut and The Northwest Territories. Helmut Zaderer, who is the organizer of the trip, has invited me to come along as a photographer, something I am more than happy to do. It’s been more than 10 years since the last time I was here. Back then, I stayed two weeks in a basic camp on one particular river. It was amazing to experience the runs of fish on that river. In three weeks, 90.000 fish passed through one inlet on their way to a big lake further upstream.
Since then, I have often wondered what the rest of this huge 233.000 km2 Island has to offer. I just sampled a tiny bit of it. This time around, we are fishing the whole island: Lakes, rivers, inlets, and outlets. We have both a Cesna and a Beaver plane at our disposal every day, so we actually get to sample all the different areas of the island. Each day we travel about 300 - 400 kilometers. The whole group meets up in Cambridge Bay; one of the last outposts in the North West passage. From there, we fly about an hour to what will be the camp for the week. Here, we stay in comfortable cabins, and fly out on daily adventures. Tricky I can think of very few aircrafts as iconic as the De Havilland Beaver. The nine cylinder Rotax engine makes a lot of noise. It takes you nowhere fast but it’s not comfortable by any means. Still we love it, because it takes us to some of the most spectacular fishing imaginable and put us in places where great adventures await: Places such as Red Belly and
Crome Ally - places with names that resonate well with fishermen. Four anglers fit into our airplanes, which stay with us throughout the day in case we need to move. The first place that we sample is a short river and its outlet. On the way in, we can see a lot of fish from the plane. We take a wide turn coming in so we don’t spook the fish. My friend Helmut is already half rigged up and, once the plane comes to a stop, he instantly jumps out like a commando, and finishes rigging up his rod as he sneaks closer to the river bank. It is situations like this one that has earned him nicknames such as “The Helmenator” and “Helmut Never Stop Casting”. Having known him for a while, I completely understand where those nicknames come from! Arctic Char are tricky and, oftentimes, moody fish. If they’re not in the mood, they’re just not in the mood - and they didn’t really seem to be in the mood all the time Helmut was swinging his flies. Helmut, despite all his eagerness, simply wasn’t hooking up.
I launched my drone, set it up right above Helmut, and immediately counted more than 10 dozen fish around him. Paradoxically, the fish were noticeably feeding but, as we would find out, they were gulping down tiny insects that we simply couldn’t imitate - despite going through our fly boxes back-to-back several times. It was like a curse, and after having thrown all sorts of flies at these fish for half a day with nothing even resembling a bite, we finally capitulated. An Eye Opener Next up is a really wide river. Maybe 500 meters wide but less than a meter deep. Helmut ties on a huge, pink brush fly and makes his first cast. Soon after, a dark shadow starts drifting slowly downstream looking more like a huge log than a fish. Helmut starts retrieving the fly faster in order not get snagged on the driftwood, but the “log” suddenly shoots forward opening its bucket-sized mouth and inhales the fly. The reel immediately starts screaming, so does Helmut, and to keep him and his reel company, I start screaming too.
Thereâ€™s no doubt in our minds that this fish is huge. However, in retrospect, we had no idea that his first fish - a stunning warrior of a lake trout, was going to be the biggest of the whole trip. In the net the fish weighed in at 20 kilos. This fish was the eye opener of the week. Lake trout were now on the menu, and the lakers were open for business. We got them on both big flies and small flies, but what was probably the most fun was catching them on dry flies. And doing so in near-freezing and gin-clear water made it an even more special treat. The Waiting Game Fishing for arctic char isnâ€™t something you can rush. Arctic char will bite when they are ready. And on the last few days they seemed to finally wake up. I really cannot describe the fishing, other than to say that when it turns on, it REALLY turns on. With their red bellies and big kypes, especially the males look like fish more commonly found along coral reef in the tropics. They seem oddly out of place in the cold arctic realm, but they provide warmth-igniting fights once hooked!
The Land and the People Inuits have lived in the Nunavut region for thousands of years. They didn’t pick the spot up here because of the weather or for the convenience of firewood and building materials, or because life would be easy or comfortable. They where here, in this harsh climate, because of two things: Food and fur - and because something about the serenity and rugged beauty up here resonated with them. It is incredible to see the remains of the tent rings that they used more than a 1000 years ago. They are still very visible in the terrains along the rivers and lakes. It’s humbling to walk the same beaches and fish the same rivers they used to. All in all, experiencing the fishing, the wilderness, and the historical gravity of Nunavut is an eye-opening sensation. If you haven’t already, be sure to put this on your bucket list. Welcome to the 20lb Club After one week of fishing, I left. The very last day, we had some great fishing. I left for home, but Helmut stayed on for another week. I had gotten no further than to Edmonton before he sent med a picture of a 20lb char that he had just caught. Do you want to fish Nunavut? Contact Helmut Zaderer at Fly Fish Adventures E-mail: email@example.com www.flyfish-adventures.com Instagram: @flyfish_adventures
p: Mark Welsh
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And the Threatened Balkan Rivers
By: JONAS BORINSKI
The Una is home to trout, grayling and hucho hucho – the Danubian salmon, which is the biggest salmonid in all of Europe. It’s a truly unique river and fishery, but – unfortunately - it’s also very much like any other Balkan river in that it is facing severe threats.
The Balkan rivers are heart-breakingly beautiful: Set in rugged mountainous terrain with sloping treeclad banks, the heart-blood of the region, which comes in the shape of translucent turquoise water, gushes downstream over their meandering and rocky riverbeds - well-oxygenated and clean. In their turbulent waters, some of the most diverse biotopes and habitats in the whole world are found, and many unique endemic species of trout have found their niche here – including the marble trout, hucho hucho and prespa trout, just to name a few. They have evolved and reproduced over the course of millennia and they have survived the perils of human settlement, industrialization and even war. But with the growing need for energy and the current boom in projected dam constructions, the Balkan rivers and their unique trout populations are now in critical danger of perishing. The River Una in Bosnia & Herzegovina is by many considered the pearl of the Balkan region. Its name means “The One” or the “Unique
River”, and it is a very befitting name in deed. There really isn’t another river like the Una in the world. The biodiversity, the structures and the scenery is unlike anything anywhere else, and the fly fishing possibilities are just as unique. However, just like many other rivers in the Balkan region, the Una is also under threat. And it caught the attention of film-maker, Jonas Borinski, who then decided to make a film about the river and the perils it faces. We’ve had a word with Jonas Borinski about his experiences in Bosnia and Herzegovina, why he decided to make a film in the first place, and what he learned during the course of the film-project. How did you learn about the Una River? “Bosnia? Isn’t that one of those war-stricken, ex-Yugoslavia states? Hmmm, don’t know much about it but doesn’t sound too tempting.” That is what I thought when Christof Menz contacted me in early 2016 with an idea about a fly fishing film in Bosnia.
While filming for another project (about the controversy of C&R in Germany) with him and Uwe Rieder, he told me about the splendid huchen fishing in the Una and the threat from dams in the area. huchen, or Danubian salmon, as some call it, is Europe’s biggest fresh-water Salmonid and it’s native only to the Danube system! I was all ears, although the danger of hydro dams didn’t sound too exciting at first, as pretty much all rivers in central Europe have them nowadays. Why did you decide to make a film about the Una? Making a film about it was actually Christof ’s Idea. Only after I looked into the issue more thoroughly and came across the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe”-campaign, I had to agree with Christof: This was something worth fighting for! We had met for the first time in April and quickly decided to go to Bosnia in July that same year. He continued by telling me about his friend Anes Halkic, a local Bosnian, who had spent his last 12 years protecting the hucho and developing his guiding business on the Una. “Ani”, as everybody calls him, was well aware of the danger of hydro-dams and had been fighting against it with a rare passion. This was all I had to hear: Beautiful scenery, amazing fishery and a passionate character fighting for a good cause.
What is the purpose and intention with the film? First of all, it was clear that not many people knew about the conditions and the general situation down there. Many people nowadays only know the Balkans through its history of war. But the fact is, it offers some of the best fishing and most beautiful scenery in all of Europe.
message is spread and people keep fighting.
While researching the issue, we were quite impressed with how much the kayakers were doing, mainly by their â€œBalkan rivers tourâ€?. To be honest, we were a bit embarrassed that it seemed like us fishermen were doing nothing.
I have been to a number of destinations, in and out of Europe, but the Una is exactly what its name implies: Unique!
With the film, we wanted to achieve several things: Firstly, we wanted to show what is at stake in general as well as from a fishing standpoint. Although we made sure to include science, it was important for us to make it clear what dams mean for the people whose lives depend on the Una and its healthy fishery. Last but not least, we wanted people to know that it is not too late and that there is still hope as long as the
What is so special about the Una River and its fish stocks? Everything! When I went down there, I had no idea what to expect, let alone that this would be my biggest and most rewarding film project yet.
Coming from central Europe, we have a very distorted impression of how rivers should look. We are so used to straightened, boring, concrete-riddled waterways â€“ but a trip to a river like the Una reminds one that a natural, free flowing river is something completely different. By now, 38 fish species of fish have been discovered in the Una alone, which is a large variety and biodiversity compared to other rivers and places.
And according to Boris Davidov, a local scientist who helped us with the film, this is because the Una has a very unique structure, both perfect for the hucho and its prey. The sheer number of fish you can easily see in the Una, is nothing short of amazing. This area is widely considered the last paradise for the huchen in the world. How would you describe the fishing in the Una River? Fishing in the Una is just as diverse as its structure and flora and fauna. While fishing from the shore is certainly possible and frequently done by the locals, looking for hucho is best done from a boat - Either a rafting boat in Unaâ€™s upper, wilder parts, or a traditional stand up boat, which the locals have been using for centuries. As experienced hucho fishermen know, hucho are very difficult to convince, so a healthy concentration of fish, which the Una certainly offers, helps a lot. Even though we focused on hucho fishing in the film, the Una and its tributaries are certainly wadable and offers amazing trout and grayling fishing, especially in Unaâ€™s upper parts - in the National Park Una.
What was it like to be in Bosnia & Herzogovina: to experience the country and the culture – and to meet with the local people along the river? We had chosen the month of July to drive South, along with thousands of other tourists. The highway was packed! Only after we had crossed most of Croatia and passed the junction to the famous Adria, driving became more and more easy until we were pretty much the only ones crossing over to Bosnia, which in contrast to its neighbor Croatia does not belong to the EU. Though only separated by a river, the difference between Croatia and Bosnia couldn’t be more apparent. Driving through various tiny villages and towns, I couldn’t help but feel like I was on another continent. Bosnia is riddled by tiny farm villages and countless ruins that still tell the story of the Yugoslavia war some 20 years ago. It seems like nobody has bothered or had the time or money to get rid of them. A strange feeling came over me as it hit me how little I knew about this area and its history.
It takes only two hours from the Croatian capital Zagreb to Bosanska Krupa, the town we were heading to. We were welcomed by Anes and his family, who I would soon consider the nicest and most warm-hearted people I’d ever had the pleasure of meeting. It didn’t take long to realize just how passionate Ani is regarding fishing and “his Una”. The Romans, he told me, came up with the name “Una” meaning “the one, the unique”, and with a glow in his eyes he added “and it is The One!”. I soon realized that it wasn’t just Ani and his family but that pretty much all locals were just as open and welcoming as him. It was amazing to see how little doubt or prejudice these people showed towards foreigners, especially considering their history. Were there any specific experiences during the filming process that were particularly memorable or surprising? Apart from breathtaking scenery, seeing the relationship between the River Una and the people living alongside it, was really unusual for me.
Rather than just a river, Una plays a big part in everybody’s life down there. When walking through “downtown” Bosanka Krupa, you see people enjoying the river in every way imaginable. From a single viewpoint, you can see people barbecuing, swimming, diving, fishing or rafting.
under construction. Whereas central Europe doesn’t offer more opportunities for the hydro lobby, the Balkans are pretty much untouched. And with Europe’s last free flowing river systems zig-zagging the region, Western banks and investors are now flocking down there in order to make money.
Another thing that I will never forget is filming jumping hucho. Scientists have also been able to document hucho schooling behaviour in the Una, something that was unheard of before. We were fortunate enough to get this behaviour as well as jumping hucho on camera. When you first see the underwater footage, you might think this was filmed in a hatchery but this couldn’t be further from the truth. The fish are 100% wild and the numbers are amazing.
The worst thing is that many of these projects are planned within protected areas, even National Parks. Whereas this wouldn’t be possible in many EU countries, laws are more easily bent in the Balkans, also due to corruption. The locals are usually treated in one of two ways. They either have absolutely no idea about the plans, or the industry tries to convince them with unrealistic promises of jobs and prosperity. According to Ulrich Eichelmann of Riverwatch, about 90% of the locals have no idea what is happening. This is exactly what needs to change.
A lot of Balkan rivers are facing severe threats. Can you tell us a little bit about what those threats are? At the time of filming, we had evidence of more than 2700 hydro power projects being planned in the Balkans, over 70 of which were already
Is there hope for the Una and Balkan rivers in general? It would be very unrealistic to claim that we can stop all dam projects.
However, there is certainly hope! Personally, I am of the opinion that if only one single project is stopped, it is worth it and I think we can achieve much more than that. Considering the Una, lots of project have been planned and were then stopped by local and international people. According to Anes Halkic, our main character in the film, this will probably never stop but people are prepared to keep fighting. One advantage that the Una has, is the National Park Una with its constantly growing number of tourists. People are beginning to understand that soft tourism can bring much more money into the region than a series of dams that only benefit the hydro lobby. Any good tips for people, who would like to get involved in protecting the Balkan Rivers? There are a few organisations and campaigns which are highly active in the area and their websites provide tons of information and ways to help:
www.Riverwatch.eu www.Balkanrivers.net For fishing the Una, contact: www.Unadiscovery.org When and where can people watch your new film? Most likely on Vimeo on demand. The film trailer can be found via the following link:
Flyfish Europe supports RiverWatch and BalkanRivers in their effort to prevent the building of dams and protect the unique strains of trout. To keep up to date, please join us on Facebook and donâ€™t forget to follow: facebook.com/riverwatchAUT/ facebook.com/freeriversfund/
ÂŠ Amel Emric
21,387 existing hydropower plants are blocking fish migration in European rivers. Despite EU regulation to curb new hydropower, 8,785 projects are in the pipeline, threatening every little creek. More than a quarter of these are planned in protected areas. Considering that global freshwater populations have declined by 83% since 1970, this is unacceptable. We at Riverwatch are fighting for the preservation of the last unimpaired rivers as well as the restoration of those already canalized or dammed. We are particularly committed to preventing new hydropower projects. Rivers are so much Â more than just water! www.riverwatch.eu | facebook.com/riverwatchAUT www.balkanrivers.net | facebook.com/balkanrivers instagram.com/blueheartrivers
Walking on the Platforms of Despair ‘Such armaments were often found wanting on the Aaroy steeplechase, like the parade of defeated anglers that had fished its Platforms of Despair. The outbuildings behind the fishing house concealed an elephant’s graveyard of smashed rods and broken tackle.’ (Ernest Schwiebert – ‘Extract from Platforms of Despair’ in the book Death of a Riverkeeper).
By TARQUIN MILLINGTON-DRAKE
I had read these words and those of the internationally known hotelier, Charles Ritz, as a young salmon fisherman. Both writers were icons for me and remain so. It has been my privilege to fish the Alta since 1991, as a result of purely lucky happenstance. I have fished the Laerdal, Namsen, Gaula, Reisa and Lakselv too but the one that most likely sits equal to the Alta, the Aaroy and its Platforms of Despair, seemed like a dream too far. Nobody talked of it a great deal, the impression was that it had sadly faded but the reality was that between two tenants the river had been closed to anyone but a very inside few for nearly 100 years. First from 1921 to 1965 the Russian exile Nicolas Denisoff had the lease on the river and during that time massive fish were caught in the 50 and 60 lbs range with the biggest fly-caught we know of, a 68lbs, fish that he himself caught on a Dusty Miller in the Sea Pool in 1923. He had also caught a 76lbs fish on a prawn from the Tender Pool in 1921. Denissof â€™s long-time lover was the famous fashion designer Coco
Chanel. She also had a relationship with the then Duke of Westminster who fished Aaroy and Alta and proposed to Coco. It is said he was turned down on the basis that there will be other Duchesses of Westminster but only ever one Coco Chanel. During this period from 1934 to 1936 L. R. Hardy, the owner of the tackle manufacturer of rods and reels, fished Aaroy and filmed an advertisement on the river, parts of which can be seen in the film The Lost World of Mr Hardy downloadable through Amazon Prime. Then, having fished with Denisoff from 1955 Jacques Bemberg took over the lease from 1970 after a brief tenure by a Norwegian, Finn de Lange from 1965 to 1970. For a further 42 years he fished it only with his very closest friends among which were de Ganay, de Vicuna and Berne. Only very recently in 2012 did Knut Munthe Olsen (husband of Nina Munthe of the original owning family since 1746), the sole rightful owners of the entire river, re-take the river in hand and run it themselves.
Slowly, the cognoscenti have come to know that Aaroy is back and now, if you are very lucky, there might be the opportunity to walk on its famous ‘platforms of despair’ as christened by Charles Ritz in his book A Flyfisher’s Life. When my friend Richard (aka Lord Aaroy) invited me to join him to fish the Aaroy this June 2017, I could scarcely believe my eyes and, of course, I jumped at the chance. Closer to departure, I was instructed to speak with his friend Douglas who, I was told, was to be one of our fellow rods and knew everything we needed to take. I called Douglas with thoughts of the elephant’s graveyard in the forefront of my mind and he proceeded to make me feel utterly inadequate when it came to being equipped for our adventure. The next call was to Tom Leslie of Fin and Game who himself was gallivanting through Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan but he still managed to muster all the rods, lines etc that it seemed I needed in time for my departure.
We gathered in Oslo and made our way via the Wideroe puddle jumper that rumbled its way to Sogndal. The airport sits atop a mountain because there is not enough flat ground to be had in the valleys thus affording the most stunning views of the Sognafjord as one heads down to the valley. Just a 30-minute drive and we were suddenly on a tiny lane and then crossing a small bridge across a roaring river. Turning right, a couple of hundred yards and we were at Knut’s Aaroy Lodge welcomed by a blue mural of a huge salmon on the wall beside the front door with the old Norwegian words roughly reading… Let St Peter’s master be with you all, who love the virtue and dare to trust being able to take something without apprehension when you fish. As with Alta, suddenly history was all around us. Knut told us the story of how he and his wife, Nina, decided to take the river back in hand. He is a designer and artist by trade and this shows in all he does from the maps of the river he had drawn to the way in which he cooks and plates the wonderful food he served us during our stay.
He was never a fisherman but owning the river made him inquisitive and he began to chat with his guests and tenants during his time at the river during the summers. Slowly he grew curious and soon he began to enjoy the whole essence of the fishing and take more and more interest in his asset until he and Nina elected to move to Aaroy where they built a new house and run the river themselves. Knut’s interest has culminated in his personal best fish at 12 kilo just this season. Their ownership of the river had been very hard earned by the Munthe family in years gone by with challenges going all the way to the High Court until finally it was confirmed that they were the sole and rightful owners of the entire river. Sadly, little is left of the Denisoff era because when he lost the lease at the age of 95 he took down the angler’s villa the ‘English House’, burned much of it and removed or gave a lot away. Some incredible photographs remain particularly one of Christopher Munthe, owner of Aaroy and Nina’s great grandfather, sitting in front of the fishing house with drawings of some of the great Aaroy fish, including Wilfred Kennedy’s (an Englishman and the first person to have a long-term lease) 68lbs taken on a 20ft cane steel-centre Hardy rod in 1894.
One cannot help but be in awe of the surroundings but the best thing about it all is the river lives on; we are not just enjoying the history because just a few steps away, as is the case with Alta, the seemingly impossible is attainable; the river is still great, history can yet be made and we could be part of it. The simple fact is that so few people visit Aaroy, just being here makes us part of the history of this great river. Pools such as Johan’s, Tender, Sunshine, Stone, Prawn and Seat all remain as do the platforms with a little maintenance of course. As is so often the case under the midnight sun, the question of fishing hours is a point of discussion. Knut has elected to tell guests the mealtimes; breakfast 0900, lunch 1430 (main meal) and supper at 2100. These are fixed except when high tide is over these hours and relevant to the fishing which it was for us. Beyond that, there are very few rules other than necessary safety matters. Our co-hosts were Scot and Sherrilee de Bruyn and their young son
Reef from South Africa. They are no temporary employees, they are equally and wonderfully as wedded to the river as Knut himself. Scot came to Aaroy five seasons ago knowing nothing about Atlantic salmon but has learned this unique river and now knows it better than anyone. His real forte are the flats of Alphonse and Cosmoledo and that fishing instinct has served him well here. Sherrilee joined him a couple of seasons later and together they are dedicated and adore this place as much as anyone. Scot does the guiding, Knut the cooking and Sherrilee runs the house. The Aaroy rises from the Hafslo Lake and now comes through two dams before its final 1.5 km to the sea of which just 1200 metres are fishable. 900 metres forms the top section with numerous pools and platforms. The lower section is a further 300 metres influenced by the tides and, though very fast, is less furious than the upper water. The balance is what Charles Ritz called ‘the great rapids’ which split the river in two and are impossible to fish.
This is a torrent of water which must be a grade 5 or 6 rapid and is undoubtedly a temperature barrier for the fish. The last pool above it is the Blumenfeldt Pool, the first pool below it is Teddyâ€™s behind a sloegard (a wooden croy or sluice-type structure built into the river to create lies many years ago) followed by White Stone. T he only place there are not platforms to fish from is White Stone, a lovely wade round the inside-bend of the river and an excellent spot for new fish that have entered the river on the tide. The platforms themselves were designed by Major W.J. Smith who visited the river before the 1914-18 war. His work was carried out in 1919. Knut does his maintenance on the platforms and sloegards at the end of the season when the water flow is minimised by the dam and allows safe entry into the water. Even the pools, especially on the upper part of the river are torrential water and for the most part, one has to get the fly under the torrent to ensure the
fish see the fly. This river averages 80 to 100 cubics per second and the power of the water should not be underestimated. As I learned, a fish running up river is a serious problem because the flyline does not follow willingly at all. We rigged three different set ups. An on-the-heavier-side standard sink-tip, a floater for skated sunrays and a much deeper sink-tip. For me, and I believe for others too, the standard sink-tip was far and away the most successful but we fished the upper water very little because essentially the fish were not going through the great rapids yet due to the water temperature. The water below is more of a traditional fly swing whereas up river is far more technical on presentation and fly control. It was sad that the fish were not up there and it cramped the fishing a little with all four rods focused on the lower water though we all did try the upper water from time to time because we wanted the ultimate Aaroy experience of hooking a fish in the maelstrom from a platform.
Equally, it shows the value of a private party of four rods (five in our case with one shared rod) where everyone mucks in, gets along and works it out. One cannot have it all! I rather missed the plot on the first morning in terms of the high tide being at 0600. I think I was so in awe of and enjoying the place I did not take in the significance of the tide that morning but Niall, Peter and Douglas did to Niallâ€™s benefit with the first fish of our three days at 20lbs. He was utterly delighted to catch his first fish in Norway and a great fish too. I did fish the evening before at White Stone and had a take just behind the white water created at low tide just below the small fishing hut. It was a lip hook-up and with a few headshakes the fish was off. I also had two nice rises mid-morning the next day at the Seat Pool above the great rapids, I slowed the fly down on the third cast and had a nice slow take but again, it lasted seconds. A tiny bit frustrating. Peter was the next to strike and it was White Stone again and a lovely 18lbs mint fresh fish. Lord Aaroy, who had slept a lot and was the consummate host in sending his guests out before him, stepped up on the first afternoon and landed a fish at Teddyâ€™s with little effort. At the end of Day One we had caught the average three fish and lost a couple.
On the second day, it was clear the tide was to be taken seriously and Lord Aaroy despatched me to White Stone for the high tide where I was lucky to take two fish, a truly mint bright fish at 21lbs and another at 15 or 16lbs. The first was quite a tussel because there was no easy place to land the fish. I could not risk pulling it in to the long, flooded grass for fear of the line getting tangled and the fish breaking away so the only option was the rocks but they were very slippery to move on fast so each time I beached the fish I could not get to it quickly enough across the rocks to tail it. A huge pat on the back to Douglas for making the effort to come around to help from the far bank. Lesser men would not have bothered especially while suffering poor luck. That afternoon Peter caught his personal best at White Stone again at 24lbs. I suffered another loss at Teddyâ€™s while Lord Aaroy hooked a fish at Blumenfeldt and being just above the great rapids rightfully laid into it but it too came off. On the third morning Douglas and I found ourselves at White Stone for the high tide with Peter and Niall opposite us at Teddyâ€™s. Douglas was suffering from being in a place where as Atlantic salmon fishers we have all been, time on the naughty step.
Try as one might when it is your turn to suffer bad luck one just has to endure it with a smile until it passes as it always does. I had Douglas fish down ahead of me but given his situation it was almost inevitable that I hooked a good fish around the 30s. As I settled in to do battle Niall hooked a fish on the other bank too. That seemed to be the way, there were magic half hours when things would happen, seeing fish and having takes. I was progressing nicely with my fish and had endured some good runs and was getting him back close and suddenly the hook popped. Nothing to be done. Niall battled on with his fish running down beyond the last platform but he held his ground and kept enticing the fish back to him. In the end it was despair for him too and the hook pulled. Douglas made his way down again and I followed and again I got a lovely take with the fish just breaking the surface. This fish was not so steady, in a flash the reel was fizzing and I was into the backing. I thought it was headed down but
the truth soon revealed itself. The mighty fish had been going up the extremely powerful current at huge speed and had buried my entire flyline in the rocks under the main current. Try as we might to free it, the power of the water is simply too great and the result was only about a quarter of the flyline was retrieved! I had been well and truly Aaroyâ€™d! Yes, despite the lack of a platform at White Stone, there was despair at the loss of a second great Aaroy salmon. That evening, Knut invited us up to his personal brewery next to the upper part of the river where we enjoyed barbecued local sausages and tasted his wide assortment of beers while fooling with an old German World War II helmet. This was a very special evening and drowned any sorrows of lost fish! Except for Peter on the last afternoon, that was to be it for our team. Peter landed a nice 18lbs fish again at White Stone. We had landed seven fish and lost seven, about two short of what might be an expected tally for that time of year.
I felt I should have landed more but one was bad luck, three were the fault of the double hooks which I think were too small for the mouths of these great fish and the last one… well I was simply defeated. What really mattered to us all was to catch just one fish on this famous river, just one. To go home having walked the Platforms of Despair and to have caught a fish. Like Alta, any fisherman that tells you that when fishing Aaroy and getting a take the first thing that enters their head is ‘how big and what am I dealing with?’ is either lying or not a true salmon fisher!
That is the essence of Aaroy, the joy of Aaroy and for me, to be there, to have been so well looked after in such a classic relaxed Norwegian style with Michelin-star food was a true privilege and a HUGE thank you to my host. ‘There is no point in relating in detail all the incidents for the next few days. It suffices to say that, during this first stay on the Aaroy, I was subject to the greatest and most splendid emotions that an angler can hope for. I knew great hopes, mad excitements and bitter disappointments!’ Charles Ritz – A Flyfisher’s Life
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Products in focus Book review: DUMB LUCK AND THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS John Gierach is a long-time favourite of ours, and we’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of his new book; Dumb Luck and the Kindness of Strangers, which contains 22 essays. Both witty and thoughtful, John Gierach has been described as a modern Mark Twain with a penchant for fly fishing. In his new release, Gierach establishes himself further as the foremost existentialist fly fishing writer in our time, and while his texts are typically based on fly fishing forays and expeditions in his home state, Colorado and in Northern America in general, there’s a philosophical and level-headed humourism to his writings that is endearingly universal. If you’re already a fan of John Gierach, you’ll enjoy Dumb Luck and the Kindness of Strangers and find it a flawless and longawaited continuation of his writings. If you’re new to John Gierach, it’s the perfect starting point for getting acquainted with the most compelling fly fishing author of our time: Someone who once again have documented that fly fishing is so much more than simply catching fish. For more info: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/ Dumb-Luck-and-the-Kindness-of-Strangers/John-Gierach/John-Gierachs-Fly-fishing-Library/9781501168581
Book review: TROUT AND CHAR OF THE WORLD Being a scholarly publication with a 777-page count, Trout and Char of the World would appear to be interesting only for those with a scientific interest in salmonids. However, if – like us - you’re into trout, char, and salmon and you appreciate the beauty and diversity of these fish - this book will be a fascinating read, nonetheless. The book is nodoubt the most comprehensive and in-depth work on trout and other salmonids to date. The amount of research gone into mapping out not only the geographical distribution of salmonids across the globe, but also the genetic variation and speciation, is truly remarkable and without historic precedent. The book, which is edited by Jeffrey L. Kershner, Jack E. Williams, Robert E. Gresswell, and Javier Lobón-Cerviá is highly recommended and, for any globe trotting trout bum, will serve as an invaluable source of information about local strains (transplanted or wild) of salmonids. For more information and to order a copy, please refer to: https://fisheries.org/bookstore/all-titles/professional-and-trade/55081c/
Scientific Anglers: UST EXPRESS SINK It’s the beginning of June, there are record-amounts of snow in the mountains, melt-off has begun and is now in full effect and the rivers, consequently, are swollen. The conditions are perfect for catalyzing early salmon runs, but during such conditions they don’t come easy. It’s time for sinking lines and getting down-and-dirty! UST Express Sink is a series of lines for when the heaviest artillery is needed. These sinking lines have been designed for the biggest rivers and deepest pools and have been tailored to perfectly fit double-handers in excess of 14’. The lines feature a short and powerful 11,2-meter-long taper profile (Sink 8 950g is a mere 10,8 meters for easier handling). The series consists of line densities ranging from S5 (750gr) to S8 (950gr), and it’s definitely the fastest sinking range of tapers on the market. For more information, please refer to the European distributor, Fly Fish Europe: www.flyfisheurope.com
Products in focus
Dubbing: SPAWN FLY FISH SIMI SEAL There’s plenty of dubbing out there, but it’s not often that we get our hands on new dubbing products that really impress and make a difference. Especially for the coastal seatrout flies and trout streamers that we tie, we have found the new Spawn Fly Fish Simi Seal Dubbing to be extremely useful and effective. The Semi Seal Dubbing is blended with several shades and nuances of fibres that make the dubbing stand out and come to live in the water. The fibers are long, vibrant, pulsating, and durable and they can be teased to create volume and translucence. The dubbing comes in individual packages and in 12-compartment containers. We’ve tested the Salish Sea Collection, which is perfect for tying Nordic style sea trout streamers, shrimp patterns and more. For more information, please refer to www.spawnflyfish.com
Wading Boots: SIMMS G4 PRO BOOTS The new G4 Pro Wading Boots from Simms have been engineered from the ground up with durability, agility, and ankle support in mind. These pro guide-caliber boots feature TPU overlays for added durability, threaded non-corrosive receptacles for easy insertion and removal of cleats, a molded protective toe cap, and low-profile lace loops to reduce line-catch. Paired up with Simms’ new G4 Waders, you’re probably not going to find a more rugged and elements-shielding wading outfit out there. For more information, please refer to the European distributor: www.flyfisheurope.com
Tested: FORCE FIN FLOAT TUBE FINS There’s nothing better than a day out in one of our Guideline Drifter float tubes or our Anderson Pontoon boats. Being on the water involves several dramatic advantages including increased radius and access. What we’ve found out, after testing the Float Tube Fins from history-rich US fin manufacturer, Force Fin – is that fins aren’t just fins. With the Float Tube Fins, which are based on a one-size fits all bungee-style strap system that fits both boots and stocking feet waders, we’ve been able to kick faster and more powerfully than ever before. There’s also a directional stability and maneuverability at play that we haven’t experienced before, which makes life on the water both safer and more comfortable. The fins accelerate through their unique V-split shape and up-curved blade, which is made from super-tough yet flexible material. The relatively short up-blades make the fins easy to wade in, and the patterned “soles” on them provide great traction when wading across snot-slick banks to get to the water. Whether you fish from a float tube, belly boat, pontoon boat or kick boat, these fins are highly recommended. They fit snugly, provide great comfort, and they will help you conserve power by maximizing the power output of each fin kick. For RRP’s and more information, please refer to the European distributor Anderson Pontoon: https://andersonpontoon.com
Products in focus
Paul Monaghan: CUSTOM PREDATOR FLIES Were heavily into pike and other European predator fish that can be caught using gnarly-big streamers. Recently, we were lucky enough to be able to pick up some of Paul Monaghanâ€™s exceptionally well-tied and highly innovative streamers. Using mostly bucktail, flash and saddle hackles, Paul has managed to create a style, which is uniquely his own â€“ and he spits our one fly after the other that predator fish, whether pike, zander, perch, catfish, hucho or big trout, will struggle to reject. Especially his articulated streamers and tube fly systems are worth checking out. For more, be sure to follow him on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/paul.mono.monaghan/
Weighted Streamers: SPAWN FLY FISH JIG SHANKS If you’re not one of the dry fly purists, you’re probably no stranger to swinging weighted streamers. If so, you need to check out the new Spawn Jig Shanks, which allow you to easily customize your streamers and turn them into articulated jig patterns. Never before has it been so easy to tie streamers that get down-and-dirty but still remain pulsating and lively. The Jig Shanks come in three different lengths (20 mm, 30 mm, & 40 mm), in three different weights (1/10th oz, 1/8th oz, & 1/4th oz), and four different colour options (Black, Olive, Orange, & Pink). For more information, please refer to www.spawnflyfish.com
Bear: ANAGRAM BACKPACK The Angram backpack, which comes in four natural colours, is designed to be your everyday carry. Using only the finest materials and simple design principles the Angram pack is the first bag from Bear to be designed with an equal focus on fly fishing and lifestyle. It’s weatherproof, made in England, and built to last. We find the minimalistic roll-top design very cool, and like the casual and rugged look that Bear have succeeded with in designing this spacious 15L backpack. More information can be found by reverting to Bear Fly Fish’ website: https://bearflyfish.com
Regal THE BULLDOG BITE Building a high quality product is both easy and hard. The easy part is a mental decision to be the best you can be and to transition it through to build the best products possible. The hard part is execution. At Regal Engineering we approach every day and every project with a standard of excellence we have set for ourselves, to be the best, and to build the best! Standards produce quality, quality produces performance, and this is our company tradition. This is a way of life for us and the reason we produceâ€œthe best fly tying vise in the world.
Full Product Range Now Available Across Europe! www.flyfisheurope.com
“Anyone Can Be a Purist…” We’ve had our eyes on Patrick Duke for years. A vibrant soul, who has a contagious ambience about him, Patrick is a fly fishing guide, globetrotter, social media profile, and an extremely talented oil painter residing in Colorado. We were fortunate enough to meet Patrick in Denver for the 2019 IFTD show and have since had the pleasure of interviewing him about his lifelong obsession with fishing, his passion for guiding, and how painting ties up with being a fly fishing industry insider.
Bio// Full Name: Patrick F. Duke Born: Evergreen, Colorado Home Turf: Crested Butte, Colorado. Gunnison River Occupation: Fly Fishing Guide / Oil Painter / Travel Host Website: www.ArtandAngling.com Social Media: @ArtandAngling
How did you get started fly fishing and why? My dad was a fisherman, born into a family tree that hunted and fished for generations in the South. He started fly fishing and ski patrolling in New Brunswick, Main, and after the Navy, he moved to Colorado to raise his family, fly fish, and hunt. My father put a fishing rod in my hand when I was barely big enough to hold one. He let me use his Eagle Claw fiberglass fly rod when I was five, and when I was six, I won my own stick in a Ducks Unlimited raffle. When I was seven, I convinced him that if he bought me a fly
tying kit, I would pay him back in flies. He is still making stable returns on his investment. Fly tying seemed to seal the deal for me. I was enamored with, not just fly tying but, the whole process of creating something with your hands to represent life and use it to trick a fish. I still remember running home from school as a kid. We grew up on a lake, and when the fish werenâ€™t biting in the still-water, we would fish the creek that ran in and out of the lake. Iâ€™d drop my book bag at the house, run to the river, throw whatever bugs I could find into the water, see what got eaten, run back home and try to tie something that matched.
It rarely worked, the dry would sink, or the whole thing would fall apart. It didn’t matter; I was always willing to fail because I knew I would eventually figure it out, and I had so much fun in the process that I didn’t need the end result to make it worth the effort. That is still the mentality that I carry on the water every day. Being an artist what is it about fly fishing and fish in general that intrigues you? One of my earliest childhood memories, I must have been four or five, is holding my first brown trout in both hands and staring at the bright orange spots. I find myself still doing this everywhere I go. These fish we chase on the fly are always so stunning and remarkably unique, from the gold leaf gill plates of a Golden Dorado, to the fluorescent greens of a Peacock Bass, and the chrome armored scales of a Tarpon. These are all things that I am always blown away by, maybe that’s the artist in me. To me, the ability to hold a fish in your hands and have a few seconds to study and admire it is the reward. People always joke about me “gazing” at the fish in all my pictures. Trust me; I’m not gazing, I’m taking mental photos to enjoy later. We only get so much time with each fish, and I want to stare as long as I can. I encourage everyone to take a second or two with every fish they catch and find
one thing unique. I’ve caught thousands of trout, but I can still find something remarkable with every fish, and each new species is a whole new world of different detail work. I caught a giant Sardinata on my last trip to Columbia that I didn’t want to let go. Those fish are so underrated, smashing poppers and jumping like Tarpon. But the coolest part for me; they have a completely transparent forehead, you could see the backsides of their eyes, membranes, veins, it was like nothing I have ever seen. Do you see any commonalities between fly fishing and doing art? There are more similarities than I can adequately articulate, but for me, the most significant commonalities are the challenges presented and the freedom to do it the way you want. I grew up with an older brother and older sister, and I was always in competitive sports. Competitive soccer and snowboarding played a massive roll in my life. Fly fishing was unique in the way that it fulfilled my competitive nature, but I was competing against my abilities. No one was keeping score or judging my performance except the fish. The drive to be a better angler was all within. You didn’t have a coach telling you how to be better or what not to do. This is what I liked about art as well.
It was my escape from boundaries. I get to create what I want, how I wish, to my concept of perfection. I can apply that same train of thought to fly fishing. The ways to catch fish are limitless, dry, streamer, nymph, and many sub-styles within those. Anyone can be a “purist” and say they only fish dries or streamer or Tenkara (haha), but I think it’s the ability to master all of the techniques that make you an accomplished angler. Can you tell us a little bit about your art, what it means to you and how it ties up with your passion for fly fishing? I’ve always had a hard time with the train of thought that; being an artist is “a gift” or “talent” that someone is born with. Painting is a skill, and being an accomplished painter requires that you master those skills. Those skills must be earned with countless hours of hard work and failure, all with a common goal of improvement. I am never content with my own work, and I am always striving to be better. I have the same mindset when it comes to my fly fishing and guiding. No one is born a good angler. You learn a little bit from each day on the water. Your skills and abilities are a testament to those hours spent with your boots in the water and your hands on the oars. Both are always so humbling. With each breakthrough as either artist or angler, you uncover more layers to improve upon. That’s why both pursuits have kept my attention for so long. The more I experience, the more I realize how little
I know. I have found that with all three; painting, fishing, and guiding, to truly become the best, you have to learn to step back and look at the big picture. Going through the motions kills all originality and inspiration. The best guides and the best artists are the ones always willing to try something new and ready to expand their abilities every time they pick up a rod or brush. Has fly fishing helped you become a better artist or vice versa? Fly fishing has given me a life outdoors. My time spent outdoors has given me a unique appreciation for nature and for the landscape I surround myself with every day while fishing and guiding. To me, understanding the subtleties of a landscape is the foundation of creating meaningful landscape paintings. Those artists that possess an intimate understanding of these subtleties, those who have the most experience in nature, are the ones who can capture it and communicate it the best. My best paintings are always inspired by the things I see or experience while on the water and driving home from long days of fishing. You spend a lot of time guiding throughout the season. What’s the best part about that? I do, I guide on the Gunnison River about 120+ days a year and about 100 of those days are crammed into four months. Guiding presents the opportunity to share my knowledge and appreciation of nature with others.
I think my favorite aspect of being a guide is sharing the notion that fly fishing is just a catalyst to connect us all with nature. Whether that means an actual physical connection through line, rod, and reel or an emotional connection, the importance is simply that one creates that link and looks forward to reconnecting every year. The more I fish, the more I watch this sport grow, and the world evolve around it, the more I find that the importance of all guides is to build that appreciation in as many people as we can. It has taken me years, I have gone through many phases as a fly fishing guide, but what 15 years has shown me is that having a good time on the water is the main objective and it’s up to me to find out what that entails for each client. The fish will come, and the client may or may not learn the technique you’re teaching them, (“mend/mend/mend it/ you should mend/ do you remember what mending is?”…), but the main objective is to curate a fun environment. It may sound funny, but for years, all I could focus on was the fishing and the importance of catching fish. This was good and bad. I mastered the fishing side of guiding, but I realized, even though we were finding a lot of fish, not everyone was having a great time. Once I switched my focus, I still had the fishing dialed, and now I could shift to mastering my people skills, just simply making them laugh or sharing good sto-
ries, and that’s when the return clientele started to grow. As a guide who has put 15 years into the game, you get the question, “do you still like guiding.” It’s a legit question because of how many salty, burned-out guides there are at the 10+yr mark. I find myself giving the same answer; the more I do this job, the more rewarding it becomes because as my return clientele grows, the more I get to feel as though I’m fishing with old friends every day. That’s what keeps the fire lit season after season. What are your dreams and aspirations as an artist – and as a fly fisherman? Just to never let the light of either one burn out and to always influence those around me how essential nature and the outdoors are. I want to make sure I’m doing everything for the right reason and that I’m able to find balance with both. I feel like I’m just starting to settle into my life. I’ve been grinding away for so many years just to make sure my bills are paid. Now I have hit my stride, and I can look outside of my bubble a little bit. I am hosting a series of free fly tying classes for kids this spring, organizing a river cleanup event, and trying to get more involved in local river conservation. This is my main aspiration for now; exchange a few days on the water or in the studio for days of giving back to the sport and community that has given me so much.
Any upcoming fly fishing trips that we should know of? ALWAYS... I have four hosted trips coming up that I’m excited about. I’ll be returning to the jungles of Bolivia this August. It’s hard to believe that it’s been seven years since I caught my first dorado on the Secure River. I can’t wait to share this place with clients and see their faces when experiencing this amazing fishery. In December, I’ll be returning to Louisiana to host a program that I have curated independently to chase Bull Reds in the marsh. Last year was the first year of this, and it was an absolute blast. I’ve been fly fishing for Reds for almost a decade now; I love everything about this trip, the food, the culture, the landscape. In February 2021, I’ll be hosting a week in Mexico at the Palometa Club, which will be my sixth year of hosting down there. And then, at the end of August 2021, I’m headed back to the Russian Far East to fish the Zhupanova in Kamchatka. I’m just going back so I can ride in the chopper, ha. I still have open spots on all of these trips except Bolivia, so if anyone is interested, they can head to my website: www.artandangling.com/travel-destinations/ Any tips or advice for fly fishermen out there, who would like to pursue a similar career to that of yours? It’s clearly not about the money; it’s about the lifestyle that these career paths have to offer and the freedom that comes with it. In just the last couple of years, I’ve finally hit a comfortable stride. It took me at least a decade to get to this point.
You will struggle, you will be broke, your parents will wonder what you’re doing, you’ll have to pick up odd jobs to pay bills between seasons, you’ll master the PBJ and PBR, but if you do it right, you will be free. The bottom line is you have to follow your passion. There’s no fixed formula for what I’ve done. I made ZERO money for a long time until I could build my clientele and extend my fishing season. Treat your clients the way you treat your good friends, and they will want to return every year. Fish every chance you get and never stop improving. Value all aspects of a professional guide equally and don’t just focus on the fishing. A good guide is a teacher, entomologist, historian, naturalist, fish whisperer, fly tier, casting instructor, white-water rafter, doctor, psychiatrist, confidante, bartender, story spinner, comedian, river defender and most importantly a good friend. I think, more importantly, a little advice to those readers that are already pursuing a similar career, mainly guiding, but failing in happiness, remember to have a little fun. It’s just fishing, and no one cares that you know more, and you think you can do something better. Being a successful and happy guide, every day, starts within yourself. If you can’t show up to the ramp with a smile and a good laugh, you might be doing this all for the wrong reasons. Treat everyone on the river as a friend, and eventually, every day on the water will be a day spent with all your friends. If any of our readers would like to get their hands on some of your art, where do they start? Head to my website: www.ArtandAngling.com, or you can always follow along on my social media accounts, @ArtandAngling
”TAPÂM - A FLYFISHING JOURNEY - FULL FILM” By DANIEL GÖZ & JAN BACH KRISTENSEN
”Tapâm” is a multi award-winning fly fishing film classic. Two guys venture off the beaten path to a remote part of Central America, this is where they catch giant tarpon from their float tubes in an unreal setting.
Ultimate Candy – tied by Giovanni De Pace on SA280 Minnow
THE SALT SERIES
With the Ahrex Salt-series we’ve developed a range of hooks for the tropical environment – and the tropical species. But don’t worry – many of the hooks come in sizes that make them very relevant for cold saltwater as well. Ahrex Hooks are made without compromise – designed by Scandinavian fly-fishermen for fishing all over the world. We are using innovative technology and the best materials available for each specific hook.
Happy fly tying – The Ahrex Team
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The door to Dream Waters
Pictures by Lax-A, www.lax-a.net
Iceland is home to some of the most beautiful and productive salmon rivers in the world, and the Svartá is among the very finest the island has to offer. It is located in the Northwestern corner of Iceland - 290km from the capital Reykjavik - in the scenic highlands that stretch across the sparsely populated and relatively barren Norðurland region.
The River Svartá derives its name from the fact that is looks quite black compared to the other glacial rivers in the Norðurland region. ‘Svartá’ simply means ‘black’ in the local Icelandic language, but looking black quite simply means that the river is clear - and that the dark boulders, rocks and gravel on the its riverbed clearly shines through the surface.
The river has a loyal following of customers in Iceland, but abroad it is still a rather well-kept secret.
Being a fly only river with just 4 available rods per day, the Svartá receives very little in terms of fishing pressure.
It offers 25 kilometres of prime salmon water, where one immaculate and pristine pool supersedes the other in a meandering surge downstream. The river is home to prolific runs of salmon that start in early July, intensify through august and end in September. The prime time is from late July to late August, and during this period the river is teeming with indomitably powerful salmon ranging from 4- 20lbs with the average fish being around the 8lb mark. The fish are quite agressive, and since the river is fairly shallow and clear, they
can be targeted with light equipment, floating lines, long leaders and small riffling hitches in size 16-18. Some of the most popular flies include Black & Red Francis, Black & Blue, Collie Dog, Blue Charm, Black Sheep, and Sunray Shadow. These flies can be actively stripped cross current to induce takes - or simply skated or hitched calmly across the riverâ€™s limpid water surface. The fishing on the SvartĂĄ is administered by Icelandic travel- and guide agency, Lax-A. They have a comfortable self-catering lodge right on the river, which accommodates 8 anglers.
The lodge is equipped with four twin bedrooms, a kitchen, living room, dining room, a porch and a hot tub. For more info about the SvartĂĄ be sure to check out: http://www.lax-a.net/iceland/fishing-iceland/svarta.html For more info about Lax-Aâ€™s destinations: http://www.lax-a.net/ For enquiries: email@example.com
VOLANTIS INTEGRATED Your go-to fly line for seatrout and other coastal predator fish such as seabass. Developed, designed, and tested by some of the most hard-core and knowledgeable Nordic coastal fishermen in cooperation with Flyfish Europe. This integrated line gives you the best of two worlds: The loading capabilities and casting distance of a shooting head, and the presentation and feel of a traditional WF line.
Designed by Flyfish Europe
THE PURSUIT OF INSPIRED DESIGN By nature, fly fishing is a minimalist activity. Defiantly uncluttered. It’s about being fully engaged and immersed in the moment— connected to everything around you—without being distracted by gear. At Waterworks-Lamson, our goal has been to make gear so technically fluid you can almost forget it’s there. How? By eliminating complexity. Reducing weight. Streamlining design. And using advanced materials and cutting edge processes. Our work has been to strip gear down to the core dynamics. What remains is only the essential. From that discipline come forms where beauty emerges from what isn’t there. That is our method and our paradox: To create products that you can forget about. And in doing so, make them unforgettable
US MADE IDAHO BUILT
Depth-probing for Perch Danish fly fisherman and fly tyer, Morten Valeur, loves to fish for perch - especially on the bigger lakes where he has spent countless hours refining his flies, strategies, and techniques. In the following, Morten will present you with a fly tying tutorial for his most recent super fly, the Flash Tail Beast, and tips on how to fish it. By: PETER LYNGBY
Most fishermen have, at one point or another, spent time fishing for perch. This moody predatory fish, which is distributed all across Europe, is a favourite among kids – and, for some, they turn into a lifelong obsession. Morten Valeur has spent more than thirty years fly fishing for perch. Along the way, he has developed specialized strategies and flies, and he targets perch on the surface in shallow water, and at the deep end with sinking lines. In the following, Morten explains a little bit about how he ties and fishes his favourite perch fly, the Flash Tail Beast, which is specifically designed for fishing with sinking lines. In the beginning, it might seem a little bit daunting to venture out onto a big lake with your fly rod. It isn’t precisely dangerous to be out there, but the lake might strike you as an enormous place, when you’re sitting in a small boat or float tube casting a fly rod with limited scope and reach. However, keep in mind that this was the same feeling that a lot of seatrout fishermen were overwhelmed with,
before fly fishing for seatrout had been fully developed and perfected, says Morten Valeur. He no longer feels like he’s in over his head like he did more than 30 years ago, when he started fly fishing for perch. – I discovered fly fishing for perch rather coincidentally during a handful of trips to Swedish Lapland in the middle of the 1980s, and from then on, I starter targeting perch in my home waters. The great advantage with perch is its availability. And even though really good perch fisheries with actual trophy fish are relatively far in between, there is always perch fishing available. I personally fish a lot on Fussing Lake and Glenstrup Lake, which are the closest lakes with good perch fishing where I live in Denmark, Morten explains. Morten Valeur is honest about the fact that spin fishing is usually a much more effective technique when fishing big bodies of water. But that doesn’t mean a fly fisherman can’t have his fair share of fun and success. It’s just a matter of finding the right approach.
– First and foremost, remember that perch love sunny weather, and that they mainly hunt during high pressure weather conditions. Check the weather forecast regularly and focus on periods when the weather conditions are stable, and the atmospheric pressure isn’t dropping. Perch are very attuned to atmospheric pressure, and sometimes they’ll binge and hunt ferociously, when they sense that bad weather is approaching. It is as if they instinctively know that they have to fill their bellies while there’s still time. When bad weather has finally arrived, the perch can be almost impossible to connect with, says Morten and continues: - When the fish aren’t actively feeding it becomes imperative to effectively locate them. I use a nautical chart, whenever I plan a trip on one of the local lakes. But the many electronic devises on the market today is the way to go if you want to pin-point the schools of perch. Perch follow the baitfish around.
The baitfish follow the plankton movements, and the plankton move around according to the light conditions. Even though, at times, it is possible to find perch in the surface, it is my experience that it is most effective to look for them in the deep parts of the lakes. - I usually target the drop offs, where I can fish the fly effectively down to about five to six meters of depth. Perch are known to school up, and – as a result, the best technique is to quickly cover water until you locate the fish. Once you’ve found them, simply stay put for a while. Usually, if there is one fish, there are more around. Flyfishing without fly casting Throughout the years, Morten Valeur has refined his fishing strategy and he now uses a special method when probing the drop offs. – If I’m fishing from a boat, I usually start off by trolling for a bit in the hopes of coming across a school of fish. If I’m in my float tube, I like to fish the drop offs in a relatively fast tempo.
I only cast the fly out once when I fish from my float tube. I then let it sink to the desired depth, and when I retrieve the fly, I stop once the shooting head appears in the water. I then paddle further down the drop off while constantly letting running line out. Once the full fly line has slipped through the guides, and the line has reached the right depth, I start retrieving again. This method is by far the most effective one, even though – at one point or another – you’ll start missing the sensation of casting your fly rod. That is, of course, if a perch doesn’t suddenly interrupt the monotony, grins Morten. – The idea stems from a pollack fishing trip in Norway. Here, it was crucial to fish deep down and to really keep the fly down there. When perch fishing, I use this effective technique aided by a sink-6 line, and I retrieve the fly quickly, before letting it sink again. My Flash Tail Beast Fly is designed with a plastic rattle that adds a bit of weight and balances the fly, but in order to really rattle, the fly needs speed. Perch are pretty energetic and eager when hunting, but, oftentimes, you risk losing their attention and interest, if the fly moves too slowly, says Morten.
Development and fly design Morten Valeur has spent countless hours at the tying bench, and his current favourite fly for perch, the Flash Tail Beast, has been under development for quite some time. Morten acknowledges that perch are quite opportunistic and far from picky. But that doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t optimise one’s perch flies and look into strike-enhancing features. – In deep water, I basically just fish with two different flies, and they’re both variants of the Flash Tail Beast. One of them is silver and chartreuse, the other one is a purely-chartreuse version that I mainly use when it’s a bit cloudy – or when I’m fishing at dusk. Flash Tail Beast is basically a fusion between my flash-spun pike flies and my other marabou-based perch fly, Krapyl De Luxe. I have then added a few modern elements such as the aforementioned rattle and a so-called spreader, which gives the fly a bit more volume and pulsation than previous
patterns. I have been heavily inspired by the ingenious American fly tyer, Gunnar Brammer, whose exemplary fly designs I would recommend anyone to check out. Perch aren’t picky, and they certainly don’t shy away when they see a big prey item. This means that the flies used for perch can have quite a bit of volume. – It’s my impression that many fly fishermen choose relatively small flies, when they’re fly fishing for perch. My recommendation, however, would be to never use flies smaller than 10 centimeters in length. If you’re looking for some of the fully-grown perch out there, I would actually suggest that you use flies between 12 and 17 centimeters in length. The pattern used should be sturdy and easy to cast. Even though I fish my flies deep down, I never use weed guards on my perch flies. I suspect that weed guards, sometimes, result in lower hook-up rates. There are plenty other features and details in my Flash Tail Beast, though.
And I’m sure you could simplify it even further and still catch good numbers of fish on it, says Morten with a big smile behind the fly tying vise. Tackle for perch Handling flies the size of the Flash Tail Beast demands fairly stout fly fishing gear, and Morten has some important recommendations when it comes to the ideal perch fishing equipment. Especially when taking into account that weighty by-catches catches are often a part of the game. – Nowadays, I mainly use a 6-weight when fly fishing for perch. This is partly due to the large flies that I use, but also because it’s not unusual to hook decent sized pike during perch fishing. As a matter of fact, I have caught some of my biggest pike while targeting perch. Once, I hooked an 11-kilo pike on a 5-weight rod. I managed to land the fish, but it wasn’t a good experience for either of us.
– My fly line is a traditional full-sinking Sink-6 Sonar fly line from Scientific Anglers. It’s my impression that the sinking running line aids dramatically in keeping the fly down. For the same reason, I use relatively short leaders and tippets – oftentimes less than a meter of fluorocarbon and a short piece of knotable shock tippet onto which the fly can be tied in a loop. The otherwise popular titanium traces are too stiff for me – especially for a lively and pulsating fly like the Flash Tail Beast. But a wire trace of some sort is important no matter what, considering the rather frequent by-catches, says Morten and secures another fly hook in the vise.
FLASH TAIL BEAST By PETER LYNGBY
Material List// Hook: Ahrex PR350 # 2/0 – 4/0 Tying Thread: White Tail: Flash – Silver Mix (Silver, holographic silver and pearl flash). Then Hedron Flashabou, Holographic Chartreuse and Grizzly Barred Flashabou, Chartreuse Back: Hedron Flashabou, Holographic Chartreuse and Grizzly Barred Flashabou, Chartreuse Hackle: Flash – Silver Mix (Silver, holographic and pearl flash) spun in a loop. Then Blood Quill Marabou hackle, Chartreuse Body: Plastic Rattle Small Spreader: 1/4’’ Blane Chocklett Body Tubing, clear Gills: Fire Orange marabou wrapped like a hackle, behind the spreader Hackle: In front of the spreader - Flash – Silver Mix (Silver, holographic silver and pearl flash) spun in a dubbing loop Front: Hedron Flashabou, Holographic Chartreuse and Grizzly Barred Flashabou, Chartreuse Hackle: Select black barred Marabou, Chartreuse Head: Fish Mask # 8,5 mm Eyes: Deer Creek Gator Eyes, red
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The Last Refuge of the “River Wolf” Maybe the most interesting feeling to share about Mongolia is that fishing is what gets you there in first place - and the fishing is amazing, trust me! - but the fishing alone isn’t why you will be craving to come back over and over again. The place has some otherworldly magic to it. By IVAN DRAGOJLOVIC, WWW.FLYFISHINGMANIA.COM
“This unbelievable contrast to modern society’s cultivated “nature” is what pulls you back like a magnet” In an era of hectic progress, there aren’t many places left to be discovered where time seems to be standing still, and I don’t mean “still” in the ”Ground Hog Day” sense of the word. I’m thinking about places frozen in time, at just the right moment, when everything in the natural world was still abundant and unspoiled; places that provide you with the opportunity to experience how things were eons ago.
choice of people not to accept the benefits of modern life and to continue cultivating the tradition of nomadic life in harmony with nature.
North Mongolia is just that: The land of blue skies; a land where trees fall and grow on their own, where all rivers are drinkable and where all the food is organic. This unbelievable contrast to modern society’s cultivated “nature” is what pulls you back like a magnet. Fortunately, Mongolia is saved by its huge disproportion of its size and population, remoteness, lack of highways, electricity, and the
This place, somehow, enchanted me. It has ingrained in me some sort of primordial peace and a calm energy that my soul feeds on. And it’s not just me. I have guided many, many clients - clients who have traveled the world up and across. Each and every one is of them come back because of that special feeling, not so much the fish, (even though the fish are some of the world’s biggest of their kind!)
From 2007 and onwards, I have frequently revisited the same river, sometimes even several times a year. - Strange! Some might think. - How come he doesn’t get bored? This part is very hard to explain…
The Shisked River is one of the last true sanctuaries of the Hucho Taimen, the largest member of the trout family. Originating in the Khuvsgul area, the Shisked meanders through northern Mongolia flowing sedately towards the Russian Republic of Tuva. After the border, its name changes to Small Yenisei, which – further downstream – evolves into one of the world’s biggest rivers – the mighty Yenisei. Being nomadic, the traditional Mongolian diet doesn’t include fish. Historically and culturally, the nomads never fished but, instead, mainly fed on livestock and whatever could be harvested in nature. What’s more, Hucho Taimen – “The river wolf ” – has traditionally been considered and worshiped as a sacred animal. These two historical facts have, thus far, protected and conserved the North Mongolia rivers to such an extent that, even now, there are many virgin waters.
However, the remoteness comes at a price. Logistics are terrible, and the only way of getting to the Shisked River is by Toyota Land Cruisers. This part of the travel, however, is to be considered an off-road safari. Itâ€™s actually a pretty amazing experience. Whatâ€™s more, many non-fishing tourists book these kinds of off-road tours just to experience the unbelievable scenery and the sparse but unique wildlife. Driving through the Mongolian steppe, crossing numerous rivers, and climbing mountains peaks over 2.500 meters is also a part of this truly unique adventure. The road to the Shisked camp is an arduous but beautiful one, and the levels of excitement rise gradually by each traveled mile. Knowing that you are getting closer and closer awakens that tingling feeling in your gut we have come to love.
â€œThey start to feed hectically in order to prepare for the harsh Mongolian winter.â€? Mid-September is a period when the weather in Mongolia changes rapidly. The larch pines turn from yellow to green in just a few days, the nighttime temperatures plummet to below zero, the water temperatures slowly go down, and most importantly, the fish know it â€“ and, as a result, they start to feed hectically in order to prepare for the harsh Mongolian winter. The camp itself is situated on the banks of the confluence of the Shisked and Tengis rivers, it was built more than 20 years ago. Being made of newly renovated wooden logs, the lodge offers a community area and a great mix of Eastern and European food. Considering how remote you are, the lodge offers great comfort, and especially the fact that you are able to take a hot shower after a long day of fishing is something a lot of the guests find appealing.
From where the lodge is situated and further downstream, fishing is only possible by walking or rafting, no cars have ever been there, which helps further explain why the river is so pristine. Downstream, more than 30 kilometers of river awaits the fisherman. The fishing itself is diverse and dynamic. Each day is different from the previous one. Some days are slower, but most of them are pretty crazy and I’ve never experienced a full day lacking in action and trophy Taimen photos. In one day, you can have it all: Sun, rain, snow, and wind. You could be out on the river freezing your ass off and half an hour later you will have resorted to short sleeves because you’re steaming hot. Rafting down the river, going back to camp on horses, nights with music, great food and local beer, non-stop activity which comes with unbelievable ease: It all boils down to one of the most amazing and unique fishing adventures on the planet. They say a picture is worth more than a thousand words, and I have thousands of pictures from previous trips to the Shisked. So, I’ll leave the rest up to the editor and keep it short and sweet. The countdown to my September adventure in Mongolia has already began.
CAPT. SHANE SMITH
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