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Seychelles

ASTOVE ATOLL South America

DORADO FEVER Iceland

THE BLEND OF BLANDA The Amazon

WHISPERS IN THE NIGHT www.intheloopmag.com

#26

Europe’s free online fly fishing magazine


WELCOME... What do you when a paralyzing pandemic sweeps across the globe and traveling is no longer a viable option? You either sit back and wait until it all blows over – or you get busy fishing your home waters. In our case, some of the home waters include salmon rivers that we’ve never really had our eyes set on before. However, spending our summer chasing their chrome migratory runs with double-handed rods has been a mind-blowing experience. We’ve fly fished for Atlantic salmon in Iceland with singlehanded rods before, but – as it turns out – there is something extremely addictive about feeling the pull of a freshly-run salmon hooked, against all odds, in a huge swelling river. We cannot help but fear that, like so many before us, we will be driving around all summer next year, sleep-deprived, zombie-like, and with maxedout credit cards looking for the next fix of chrome-infused adrenaline. Until then, of course, there are a few magazines to put out and this (issue 26) is the first of them. It features contributions from Tarquin Millington-Drake, Rasmus Ovesen, Martin Ejler Olsen, Jasper Pääkkönen, Garrison Doctor, Stephen Carella, Ilias Karanzas, Kirk Deeter, Brian Grossenbacher, Rodrigo Salles, Kristof Reuter, and more. Enjoy!


#INTHELOOPMAG Presents

Fly Fishing for the Masters of Destruction Pt2 by Rasmus Ovesen Whispers in the Night by Rodrigo M. Salles The Blend of Blanda by Tarquin Millington-Drake In Pursuit of the Jungle’s Apex Predator by Kirk Deeter Dorado Fever in South America by Stephen Carella Flyfishing for Toothy Critters by Kristof Reuter And much much more...

ASTOVE ATOLL

PAYARA

ICELAND

ARAPAIMA

DORADO

PIKE


Contributors RASMUS OVESEN

In the Loop Magazine C/O Cast Away Media Org no: 999 320 147 www.intheloopmag.com

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FRONT COVER

By Ross Purnell

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.

KIRK DEETER

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.

Colorado-resident, Kirk Deeter, is a globetrotting fly fisherman, who has been an active contributor to several US-based fly fishing media channels over the years. He currently holds the position of Vice President and Editor-In-Chief of Trout Unlimited, where his passion for salmonids and conservation work go neatly hand-in-hand. For more info: https://www.instagram.com/troutunlimited/


TARQUIN MILLINGTON-DRAKE

KRISTOFF REUTER

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.

Kristoff Reuter is based in Munich, Germany, and currently studies environmental engineering. He’s an avid fly fisherman, who is prepared to tango with any fish species that will hit a fly – and as a part of the Danica Dudes crew, he has become increasingly involved in fly fishing photography and film. Being an expert fly caster, Kristoff also spends time running casting clinics with both single- and double handed rods. For more info: http://www.danicadudes.com and https://www.kristof-reuther.de/

RODRIGO M. SALLES

STEPHEN CARELLA

Jungle Fly Fishing explorer and Untamed Angling partner and CEO of Brazilian operations, his home waters are not more, not less than the Amazon jungle rivers. Working in Amazon deep into Indian reserves, allows Rodrigo to access really virgin waters every season. Having fishing his entire career in the jungle for Freshwater Dorado, Peacock Bass, and other jungle species shaped him as an angler. Even being exploring waters in other remote fresh and saltwater destinations, the jungle is his favorite place to be. His expeditions and operations in complete partnership with Amazon natives are in the cutting edge of jungle fly fishing. Exploring wild and remote waters in the Amazon with the natives and discovering new species and to catch on a fly rod is one of his favorite things in the sport. Follow Rodrigo at: https://www.instagram.com/rod_salles/

is a Fly Fisherman, well known Fly Tier and general all round fly fishing content creator from Scotland. He will target any fish species on the fly from the wild specimen Grayling on the river Tweed in Scotland, to the hard fighting Golden Dorado on the Corrientes river in Argentina. Stephen’s work has been published in industry magazines and his main fly fishing passion is to chase Atlantic Salmon on the major rivers across Scotland, aiming to capture some inspiring content along the way

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.

info@intheloopmag.com


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ASTOVE ATOLL:

Fly Fishing for the Masters of Destruction PART 2

Are you dreaming about traveling to the Seychelles to fly fish for GT’s, permit, triggerfish and bonefish? If so, you should check out Astove Atoll. In the following, we’ll provide you with all the info needed to plan a trip there.

By: RASMUS OVESEN Photos by: RASMUS OVESEN, MARTIN EJLER OLSEN and KYLE REED


“It’s a place of rare beauty, where the daily dramas of a pristine and virtually untouched ecosystem play out vividly in front of your eyes”. Continued from last issue… Astove Atoll is situated in the Indian Ocean, due north of Madagascar and some 1000 kilometres southwest of Mahé, which is the main island in the Seychelles. The atoll offers a rare glimpse into a world, which has changed very little over the years passed. It’s a place of rare beauty, where the daily dramas of a pristine and virtually untouched ecosystem play out vividly in front of your eyes. Wild pigs and goats roam the island as do huge tortoises and colourful terrestrial crab species. Several endemic species of birds can also be seen darting about in the tree tops and palm trees among colourful

butterflies, but it isn’t until one has a look below the water surface that one realises just how prolific the wild life is. The flats, lagoon and reefs are teeming with life, and along the Astove Wall, which is best described as gazing down into the Grand Canyon, you’re likely to see anything from huge sharks, sea turtles and dolphins to sailfish, rays, barracuda and wahoo. The Astove Wall consists of the large flats and reef dropping a vertical 90 degrees, from knee-deep water to an abysmal depth of a kilometre. No wonder that the famous and acclaimed marine pioneer, Jacques Cousteau, shot his underwater documentary “The Silent World” here!


POPLIPS


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 en-suite 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: reservations2@alphonsefishingco.com For further information, be sure to check out these links: http://www.alphonsefishingco.com http://www.seychelles.travel/ 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 the villas at Eden Island, 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:

Gear and Equipment Since the species diversity at Astove Atoll is quite overwhelming, you’ll need a versatile range of tropical fly rod-and-reel setups. You’ll generally need a minimum of four setups:

Its shallow lagoon, jagged coastline and endless flats surrounded by sheer drop-offs provides the giant trevally with a unique and versatile feeding habitat and, as a result, giant trevallies are extremely abundant.

An 8-weight setup for bonefish and triggerfish, a 10-weight setup for permit and milkfish, and two 12-weight setups for giant trevally – all of them pre-spooled with tropical floating lines. The reason why it’s a good idea to have an extra 12-weight setup on you at all times is that it enables you to switch quickly between poppers and streamers when sight-fishing for giant trevally. Furthermore, because giant trevallies are known for breaking rods, melting down reel drag systems and emptying backing reserves, a backup 12-weight setup is essential.

Besides GTs, Astove Atoll boasts trophy-sized bonefish, bluefin trevally, triggerfish, barracuda, milkfish and Indo-pacific permit. And if one ventures offshore, one can catch yellowfin tuna, dogtooth tuna, wahoo, groupers, sailfish and much, much more just meters from the coral reef edge.

While the gear required for bonefish, triggerfish, milkfish and permit is similar to that used elsewhere in the tropics, the gear needed for giant trevally is in its own league. Here, you’ll need the very best saltwater fly rods in combination with a fly reel that can stop a span of wild horses.

https://www.dubaiintlhotels.com/ The Fishing If you’re in the market for targeting the biggest flats-caught giant trevallies in the Indian Ocean, Astove Atoll is the place to be.


I found the Scott Meridian rods and Waterworks-Lamson reels (including the Cobalt) to do the job beautifully! As a life-insurance during the utter mayhem and chaos of a giant trevally outburst you’ll need a minimum of 300 meters of 80lb backing in combination with a specially designed fly line – such as Scientific Angler’s 100lb test Sonar fly lines. The fly line is then linked to the fly via a 2-meter long 100 – 130lbs fluorocarbon tippet. It may sound completely out of proportion, but it is all due to the fact that a giant trevally needs to be treated with extreme strictness and maximum pressure during the fight. Otherwise, they will run off and you’ll risk getting spooled or being cut off on corals and other subaqueous structure. The flies, that are most commonly used at Astove Atoll, are specifically designed and developed for the fishing here. Fulling Mill, in England, have launched a series of flies developed in close cooperation with the guides at Alphonse Fishing Co, and they can be found here: http://www.fullingmill.co.uk/


The giant trevallies are fished with either NYAP poppers or gnarly streamers tied on the strongest possible 6/0 – 8/0 saltwater hooks like the Gamakatsu SL12s. They should be bulky, pulsating and have big, staring eyes – and it’s an advantage if they’re made out of materials that don’t suck in too much water. Among the local favourites are the Brush Fly, GT Mullet, Bus Ticket and Serge’s Wrasse. When it comes to wading equipment, clothing and such, you can pack like you normally would for similar tropical trips. Otherwise, Alphonse Fishing Company provides in-depth information about what to bring prior to the visit at Astove Atoll. Giant Trevally (Caranx Ignobilis) The Giant Trevally – or GT - is a member of the jack family, Carangidae – a family of aggressive predatory fish distributed throughout the tropical waters of the Indo-Pacific region. GTs are found across the marine range stretching from South Africa to Hawaii including Japan in the north and Australia in the south, and although they sometimes school up, they are predominantly solitary predators.


Phenotypically, the giant trevally is recognized by its rather steep head profile, ovate and moderately compressed body, protruding eyes, powerful tail scutes, its spiny dorsal fin and strongly forked cordal fin. It varies in colour from a charcoal black to a silvery colour with occasional dark spots and discrete marblings. They are broad-shouldered and muscular fish that are capable of both explosive bursts and long-distance surges. Size-wise, GTs have been recorded up to 170cm in length and weights in excess of 80 kilos. However, a 50lb+ fish caught on a fly rod is considered a trophy. They are ferocious apex predators that grow relatively fast, reaching sexual maturity at the age of roughly three years and 60 cm in length, and it is believed that they can grow to about 25 years of age. GTs inhabit a very wide and varied range of offshore and inshore marine environments, but the biggest individuals seem to prefer deeper seaward reefs and drop-offs with good structure and diverse forage resources. They will, however, patrol shallow water on occasion both for hunting and reproductive purposes. GTs primarily feed on other fish such as bonefish, mullet, snappers and eels – but they will also feed on squid, shrimp, crab, lobster and even birds and turtles.


Payara:

Whispers in the Night I learned from my grandfather how to fish, and over the years I’ve explored some of the world’s most demanding locations for anglers. But one experience on the banks of the Xingu River in the Amazon jungle was like no other.

By RODRIGO M. SALLES


The long night was preceded by an unbelievably hot afternoon. The air was heavy and humid, and the sky was filled with massive dark clouds. The Kayapó people abandoned their usual evening social activities, which traditionally involved youth eagerly listening to stories and myths skillfully shared by their elders. They also sang, danced, told stories, and walked around the village visiting neighbors. From past excursions, I’ve learned that when they stay in their huts it’s a sign to remain aware. Something just might emerge from the darkness. The Kayapó are the indigenous people who call this jungle home and know it better than anyone. Even the dogs were nervously barking. Trees began to shake, and suddenly a loud noise came from the north. It sounded like a big dinosaur stomping through the thick jungle snapping trees as if they were mere matchsticks. It reminded me of a soundtrack to a Hollywood thriller. Up came strong gusts of wind, hot and humid. Then, debris started to fly — sand, leaves and branches. The

wind was stronger than I’d experienced in 25 years of jungle explorations. Before long, our tents and the palm leaves covering the Kayapó huts were flung great distances through the air. Fly rods and our tying material made colorful paths in the storm. The screams of the village children mixed with the howling wind, creating an even more chaotic scene. What came next was the strongest rain I’ve ever felt. Lightning illuminated the hills. The thunderstorm bore down for an hour. Then, our guides, Ireô and Tonhore, two of the Kayapó natives who, just a short time earlier had been watching our fly tying session with keen interest, helped us find our tents and other belongings scattered throughout the village and along the river’s banks. Everything was soaking wet, and we started to feel cold. The sky was angry with the land, said Ireô, and the Xingu River was the only one who could bring peace. The sky revealed its anger in the form of rain.


“It’s a spirit of an animal that came from the most hidden place of the jungle.” The land would be washed and the river would receive the moisture and give it back to the sky the next day. But for now, the night was just beginning. It took hours to get our tents back to functional conditions. When we began tying flies again, Ireô and Tonhore were focused on the persistent lightning. And, it seemed they heard something. Ireô asked, “Can you hear that?” I heard nothing. After 30 seconds Ireô repeated, “Again, can you hear?” I answered, “No, Ireô, I can hear nothing, but what you are hearing?” “The whisper of the night. It’s a spirit of an animal that came from the most hidden place of the jungle. He came to the trees to tell a story to the other beings in the jungle.”


“And what does he say?” I asked. “He whispers the song of the wintertime coming. The spirit comes at night after a big rainstorm to tell all animals that the winter is coming. I learned that from my grandfather,” he said. In the Amazon, the seasons are: Summer when it’s dry and hot and the river levels are low, and winter when it’s rainy and rivers levels are high. “What else?” He rolled a tobacco cigarette, and we started to smoke together. He explained that the whisper of the night, the call for the beginning of the rains, awakens jungle animals, plants and even fish in the river. It’s the moment where all living creatures come back to life after months of torrid sunny and dry days. The most emblematic fish for the Kayapó of the Xingu River — payara, or vampire fish — are considered by some to be the bloody lord

of the jungle in Amazon rivers. No other sportfish in the jungle can be so scary, and at the same time so mysterious and fascinating, for a fly fisherman than a payara. With their razor-sharp fangs, the payara come from darkness to bleed their prey to death. There are no other freshwater fish on the planet with saber-style teeth made to penetrate and slash their prey with the precision of a samurai. They kill first; then come back to eat. From the darkness of the deep runs and pools, payara swim in schools. Very quickly, they take a strong bite that bleeds their prey to death. Could you find a more appropriate name than vampire fish? For a fly angler in the jungle, hooking that fish could be the ultimate challenge. Getting a big payara on the fly, a fish over 15 pounds, is something any angler would never forget in their fishing life. Imagine the tough and powerful take of a large peacock bass, and then the fight of a freshwater dorado. The silver-bodied payara are like the two combined.


“It’s considered the river king where all life came to earth, and where it continues to give life to those who reside on its banks.” But, unlike other sportfish species that have been fished for decades, we have little in the way of fly fishing techniques on payara. The payara are a completely new challenge for a fly fisherman in the jungle. And the Kayapó are our best connection to understand these fish and catch them as they have been fishing for payara since time immemorial. They understand their behavior in different seasons, and they can read the water. After chasing payara in many other places, I discovered that the Kayapó hold inside their land what may be the most important payara fishery in the Amazon — the Xingu River. This river tributary is the clearest watershed in the Amazon. Its emerald green waters are a dream for any fly fisherman. The river flows south to north in the Brazilian Am-

azon into a gigantic granite plateau in between hills, with many rapids, runs and deep pools. It is the perfect place for a trophy predatory fish. For the Kayapó, the Xingu River holds special meaning. It’s considered the river king where all life came to earth, and where it continues to give life to those who reside on its banks. The payara is half fish, half myth for the Kayapó. Their ancient ritual to transform young natives into men, and more importantly into warriors, involves being cut with the big teeth of a payara that the youth caught in the river. The old chiefs and shamans make the ritual of scarification with the teeth, mainly on the young Kayapós arms and legs, for several days. Those scars represent power.


The Kayapó believe by bringing the force and power of the most important predator of the Xingu River, they will be transformed into better fishermen. At first light, we were ready to be in the water. The payara usually feed at night. Dawn and dusk are the best times to fish for payara, as they come to the surface and roll (just like tarpon). But, by the end of the dry season, schools of fish start to gather for intense feeding. They need to accumulate energy before the spawning season that happens in mid-rainy season. Because payara are then active throughout the day, it’s the peak of payara fishing. The more the fish come upstream into the fast and oxygenated waters by deep pools with lots of baitfish, the better the chances are for catching payara. There’s no room for mistakes with these fish. We were prepared with 9-weight outfits, with floating lines, intermediate tips and deep-sinking tips. As soon as we left the village, we arrived in a big pool surrounded by runs and rocky areas. Mist came to this peaceful place, and Ireô put the canoe into the pool. I just asked why that specific place, and he said, “You will see.”


I got my line out, and cast the big black streamer 45 degrees upstream, letting it sink and controlling the drift with the line in my hands and making long strips. After I got the tip of the head of the fly line back in my rod, I got a violent take. It was so fast and immediate that I couldn’t set the hook. I remembered that payara kill and come back to feed, so I kept stripping, with more twitching for action, and then: BOOM, a strong and powerful take permeated through the line and I could finally set the hook. I felt the fish come to the fly to feed, and the sequence was a violent fight: burning fingers, fly line flying out from the boat deck, and all the while I tried to control the situation. When I got the line on the reel, the fished jumped,out where the fly line was, demonstrating how fast they can come to surface. Ireô screamed, AITÉ, which means, “Here you have it!” That day, those mysterious jungle whispers brought to me and our guides a dozen payaras, including an incredible triple hookup of monsters, maybe the first one in history. And it brought to me an understanding of why the whispers of the night were so special to those of us who chase payara. Those whispers are luring the big vampires out from the darkness, and we just need to be there without fear.


ICELAND:

The Blend of Blanda

By: TARQUIN MILLINGTON-DRAKE Photos by: TARQUIN MILLINGTON-DRAKE and @EMILY_GRAHAM_MEDIA


Some will and some won’t have driven through the north-western Icelandic town of Blönduós: Always a happy place signifying progress while driving north. Even the most senior policeman is a very happy, positive man and a wonderful guide, fisherman and photographer. His stories of drug manufacture in remote farm locations in his area and incompetent Chinese tourists wrecking cars left, right and centre are worth a lack of concentration while fishing. On the way one has passed among others the Kjós, Leirársveit, Thverá/Kjarrá, Grimsá, Langá, Hafjaradará, Nordurá, Hrútafjardará, Midfjardará, Vididalsá, Vatnesdalsá and lastly the small but famous Laxá y Ásum. All rivers of great stature that produce extraordinary Atlantic salmon fishing in clear water when they are on form.


If you remember crossing the bridge at Blönduós you will have noted a big milky river tumbling its way to the sea. As you leave the town, the river to your right looks vast, a wide expanse of water that you cannot help wondering how you could possibly fish it. The milkiness and its power look almost scary. As you make your way along the valley you lose sight of the river, it seems to be a sort of braided glacial mess of channels some with clear and some with milky water. Then you begin your climb out of the valley to push on into the next and looking down to your right is a river you may have admired for all the years you have done that drive. It lies in a stunning valley which disappears away from you. On you go over the top and into the Varmahild valley and refocus on your destination. This is what I have thought and have been thinking for decades along with the knowledge that the river has been pasted and pounded for many years by people worming and killing fish. Over 4800 fish in one year, 4800

wild Atlantic salmon killed… who does that these days? But in 2020, due to my dear friends Ingo, David, Halldor and Erik (the first three intimately involved in the IWF – Icelandic Wildlife Fund (https://www.iwf.is) – dedicated to trying to stop or reduce the salmon farming projects in Iceland) electing to take on the river and try and restore it, I had the chance to learn and experience more. The clue is in the name Blanda which means ‘blend’ or mix. I wonder when it was given this name and if it was referring to the water or the species in the river. The Milky Waterway There is no getting away from the fact that the water in the main river is milky but it is not cold and, when you wade in, you will be surprised that you can see your wading boots. It is no more milky than some of our rivers are peaty but a wading stick is comforting. The salmon do rise, I used a floating line in some pretty cold, wet, windy and high-water conditions and saw all my takes.


No, it is not crystal-clear water but the fish behave the same or, actually, perhaps more aggressively (they are revered in Iceland for their aggressive takes) taking hitched/skated flies off the surface - so please, give it is a second thought. While we are on the subject of water, reliable water levels are fast becoming an important consideration for Iceland especially after the 2019 drought. Blanda enjoys reliable hydro water with the main threat being premature overflow, which wipes out the river. This has never happened in the fishing season to date but it is why the river closes earlier than others to ensure that no guests have their fishing ruined. Beat One is the most famous or perhaps infamous beat. It is where the huge numbers of fish have been caught and killed over the years. The more the fish were killed, the less good the upper beats were and so it was a self-fulfilling prophesy that nobody wanted to fish the upper beats. For the true fly fisher Beat One is actually quite limited, a morning or afternoon session will do and that manifested itself in guest reactions this year. They were far from married to Beat One despite its productivity. But, to be clear, there is no denying that Beat 1 is one of Iceland’s most productive salmon beats particularly famous for its early spring fishing.


Above the Fish Ladder Once above the fish ladder, there is no denying that, for a time, there is a large expanse of river which looks impossible to cover. The answer is that basically, with a few exceptions, nobody tries to cover it because soon the river narrows and offers almost endless superb pools, which offer wonderful double-handed rod (12 to 14 ft) or single-handed fishing. For the number of rods fishing, there is endless space and the challenge is to be brave enough to explore and try other places when you know the fishing is good on the regular pools. Six to eight rods disappear from Beat One through the main river. The top part has a deep canyon with stunning pools which are rarely, if ever, fished but that may all change. The hoped-for plan (still to be tested) is to raft the beat, stopping to fish each pool from its best side and then continue on to the next pool. There are also plans afoot to have boats to cross the river to open up access to pools previously never

fished. I should explain where the milk comes from. It comes from Lake Gilsárlón through a hydro scheme and appears well up the main river. Above that is the crystal-clear top of the Blanda or Refsá river fed by clear waters from Lake Blöndulón. The ‘blend’ takes places at around 39 kms from the sea. Above that is miles of clear-water salmon fishing, which further ‘blends’ the mixed experience of staying and fishing at Blanda. Sea-liced fish are caught regularly on the Refsá. The Svartá Back to that stunning river, we admired as we climbed out of the Blanda valley. It is not easy to see from the road but that too enters the Blanda to ‘blend’ with the main river. It is called the Svartá and itself produces 200 to 300 fish per year (10-year average) to three rods. There is also a superb junction pool where the two rivers meet. Svartá is best from late July and also enjoys sea-liced fish.


“No Kill” Policies in Effect Before I address the ‘blend’ of species let me be clear; the Blanda system is not a grilse system by any means. Plenty of fish in their teens and twenties were caught while I was there and by subsequent guests and the mix of sizes will only get better with the no kill policy. The Blanda has one of the highest multi-sea-winter ratios in Iceland. I do not believe that the Icelanders have realised what incredible fishing this system has. The Svartá again has a trout/char (freshwater char) beat above the salmon fishing where upstream nymph and dry works well with light single-handed rods. I know, I did it catching 2lbs + char and 3lbs + wild browns. The stunning, fat 3lbs brown trout and its big head, which slowly emerged to take my indicator, amidst fast water are my takeaways from my time up there. This area has also been beaten up but no longer and again will only get better and stronger now it will be fished lightly with no fish taken.


Look again, and the Refsá has freshwater char up to 6lbs in its upper reaches (for those wanting a long, athletic walk and adventure) also catchable on nymph and dry fly and the trout have not even been checked out. By simply fishing the main river you will learn that there are beautiful silver sea trout up to 7 or 8 lbs, probably more, which are caught almost daily. You will see sea-run char sipping flies in the quiet water and look even harder and you will realise that the main Blanda has wild brown trout up to and over 10 lbs which can be caught on upstream nymph, skated muddlers and who knows what else because nobody has really tried. I have seen them up to 8lbs and the biggest this year so far was 9 lbs (end of July). These fish are related to the same legendary, ice-age trout of Lake Thingvallavatn with their famous broad shoulders; they are proper leviathans. I have witnessed trout and sea trout slamming the skated muddler time and again on the same cast. I cannot think of another river which offers such a spectacular ‘blend’ of species all in one system. The ‘Blanda Slam’

of a salmon, sea trout, brown trout, sea-run char and freshwater char all in one day is there to be achieved. More than Just Fishing Finally, still on my ‘blend’ theme, I know the birdlife in Iceland is spectacular but the Blanda valley has to be among the best with copious numbers of adult and chicks of very tame duck, geese, snipe, curlew, whimbrel, redshank, sandpiper, ringed plover, golden plover, terns, ptarmigan, great northern diver, red-throated diver, godwit, oyster catcher, dunlin, whooper swans… the list goes on and they are very photographable. Included in this list were good numbers of the red-necked phalarope, a special bird for its rare westward migration against prevailing weather over to North America and down to Ecuador. I will be bringing the big lens next year! The lodge is in great shape and has been well restored by my friends and that project will continue. Their greatest need is to sort out the drying room which is too small and dries nothing because it is a walkway.


They are radically changing the way the river is run starting with ceasing to kill the fish, reducing rod numbers from 14 to 8, likely including the Refsá as part of the main offering and the Svarta as well as the trout beats so they are really bringing the number of rods way down from the 21 rods of the old days under certain circumstances in certain weeks to create something very special. Furthermore, hooray…finally… a lodge willing to operate normal hours unless weather is extreme. 8 am to 1pm and 3 pm to 8pm with dinner at 9 not 11.30. What’s not to like? I was ready to dislike Blanda but for as much as I was ready to dislike it, I liked it. I like it for its strong, aggressive salmon and the variety and quality of the pools it offers, the excitement of the other species and their size and the methods of catching them, the blend of experiences from the main river to the clear Refsá or Svartá to the trout beats up the top as well as the sea trout and giant ice-trout in the main river. In my last two hours fishing Blanda I caught a salmon on skated sunray, a big wild brown trout on upstream nymph and a sea trout on a skated muddler. What is not to like?! Whoever named Blanda was inspired because it really is the ultimate blend of fishing opportunities and therefore unique in Iceland and not at crazy top Icelandic prices. I say to Erik, Halldor, David and Ingo, you made an inspired decision and I think you will have an incredible river on your hands with time. One week messing about the Blanda will not be enough for me – too much to enjoy! https://www.frontiersiceland.com/blanda Email: tmd@frontierstrvl.co.uk


p: Mark Welsh


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ARAPAIMA:

In Pursuit of the Jungle’s Apex Predator

By: KIRK DEETER Photos by: BRIAN GROSSENBACHER


The arapaima is the ultimate freshwater gamefish - an ancient and frantically leaping behemoth that is as difficult to find as it is to hook and land. Follow Kirk Deeter and renowned photographer, Brian Grossenbacher, in pursuit of this legendary predatory fish.


Climbers have Everest. Surfers have Mavericks. And fly-fishers have the arapaima. Granted, most fly anglers are far older, fatter, and smoothskinned than the types of souls who would endeavor to tread at an altitude where commercial airliners fly, or ride a lethal wall of water at speeds that make white sharks blink as you buzz past… But we still dream, and tilt at our own windmills, and chase “holy grails.” The cool thing is that our grails are always living, elusive creatures… and the only reward most of us really wish for is a mere chance to connect with them for brief instants, perhaps touch them in passing, and ultimately let them go. For the fly angler, the quest most often starts with a trout. Having figured that puzzle out enough to gain some confidence, you might then find yourself wading a tropical flat, searching for bonefish… or standing in a sideways snowstorm, lobbing thousands of casts, hoping for a tug from a wild steelhead. Then you might decide the fickle permit

is worth the effort. You might pull on a prehistoric tarpon (and it only takes one of those to change your world forever), or a mako shark, or a colorfully-exotic peacock bass. Then, the more “sophisticated” you become, the more you realize that the old “trash fish” carp that’s been swimming in the dirty water right down the road all along, is far from stupid, so you try to figure out how to catch it with a fly also. Trust me. It’s an expensive, exhausting, always fascinating, sometimes dangerous vortex that sucks you in, and consumes part of your soul. But at the end of the odyssey, the final stop on the road is where you’re going to find one fish, and one fish only. The arapaima. ------The arapaima is the largest freshwater fish (with scales) on the planet. It can grow to over 300 pounds, and more than several feet long.


Native to South America, it once flourished throughout the Amazon drainage and other tropical river systems. But it also had the unfortunate characteristic of being incredibly tasty, so it was commercially fished, and eaten, into submission throughout most of its natal range. The arapaima has hence been propped up, farmed, and transplanted internationally, but aside from some carefully cultivated, human-manipulated habitats where arapaimas have been nurtured and protected, there are scant-few places in this world where wild arapaima populations exist. A quiet, endemic southwest corner of the tiny South American country of Guyana—specifically the Rewa River drainage—is one of those last places. All of that is not meant to suggest that arapaimas aren’t mighty. Indeed they are. Hook a tarpon and it will rip line from your reel as it bolts toward the horizon. Hook an arapaima, on the other hand, and it’s just as apt to attack the boat and slap the gunwales with its tail, leaving the angler fumbling and shattered, trying to figure out just what the heck to do. Arapaimas are apex jungle predators. But they aren’t toothy, vicious creatures. Their mouths are hard buckets of bone, meant to inhale and crush whatever swims around them.


Arapaimas are also supremely subtle in a way that defies their size. For the angler, the challenge is twofold. First you have to find them. Though they live in stagnant murky waters (usually jungle ponds created when raging tropical rivers recede from their banks), they’re air-gulpers. You’ll either see a scant trace of bubbles in the slack water, or often times, you’ll only hear a muted “gloop” that stands out amongst the constant whining and wailing of insects, birds and monkeys in the canopy. Or, if you have sharp eyes and are lucky, you might just catch a glint of pinkish-crimson, the only telltale scales along an arapaima’s otherwise muted and camouflaged flank, as it slinks through shallow brown water. At that point, you have to guess if it’s headed to the left or to the right. And that’s when it gets really difficult. Because you are usually fishing in relatively serene water—and because arapaimas have the most sensitive lateral lines of any fish in the

world, which can sense vibrations from great distances—a rushed, clunky cast will never work. Somehow, some way, you must figure out how to hoof a fly that’s several inches long (most often, one that looks like a small peacock bass… most anglers go to South America to fish for peacock bass… when arapaima fishing, you cast with a peacock bass fly…) and drop it several inches in front of the target, then make it look alive, without undo commotion. It’s like trying to throw a small chicken with a 14-weight, 50 or 60 feet, without making much of a splash. Then don’t fumble with the line, and try to make that fly swim “naturally.” Assuming you can pull that off, if the fish follows and grabs the fly, it gets even more difficult. While the arapaima does not have dagger teeth, their mouths are stony-hard. Imagine trying to sink a finish nail into a cinder block, from 50 feet away, by pulling on a fly line connected to a 60-pound fluorocarbon leader. That’s what trying to set a hook into an arapaima feels like.


Nine times out of 10, you’re left heartbroken. On the tenth try, you’re left with a near heart attack. ------We anglers often hear of scenarios where people are responsible for saving certain fish. Because we love the fish, and want to catch the fish, we do what it takes to protect the ecosystem and keep the fish around, both for ourselves, and also for future generations. And that’s always wonderful. In the case of the Rewa River, the indigenous Rewa Village (and the Makushi Indian tribe) in southern Guyana, we’re already seeing how the fish, and the ecosystem, can save the people. Guyana is an amazing place. Roughly the size of Idaho, this small South American country is home to more bird species, for example, than all of North America. It also boasts the most endemic species—species only to be found in that place—than anywhere else on the planet.


It also doesn’t take long to realize that this part of Guyana is also home to the “largest” of most critters… the largest river otters in the world, the largest spiders, the largest land rodents, large bats, large fish, large jungle cats, and yes… the largest snakes (anacondas) to be found anywhere. And in truth, it’s also apparent that, as is the rule of the wild jungle, most creatures want to eat you, from the smallest water-born parasites and insects, to the jaguars and crocodilian reptiles. You have to be careful where you tread, in and out of the water. And as we spent a few nights sleeping under a tarp in the open jungle, slung in hammocks and draped in mosquito netting, I couldn’t hide the feeling as I nodded off (uneasily) that I was akin to a perfectly-wrapped prosciutto ham, dangling under the trees. But our native guides were ever vigilant and there to protect us. They have now found, through the unlikeliest of circumstances, that anglers… and fishing… might well be

the key to them sustaining their culture and way of life. Like many indigenous communities in the South American forests, the Makushi—who only a generation ago, did not speak English (the official language in Guyana) and did not trade with currency—have faced constant pressures to develop their lands and trade their traditional ways of life, for the sake of profit and progress. There’s gold to be mined in the jungle. There’s money to be made by clear-cutting the trees. There’s also money to be made via poaching, and selling exotic birds, and so forth. But because fly-fishing came to this area, the Makushi now have an alternative. By opening a modest “eco-lodge” operation, catering to a mere handful of anglers who seek to catch—and release—the wild arapaima fish in this region, for only a couple weeks in the spring, and a couple weeks in the fall every year, they can maintain their village, and their landscape, with minimal impact.


In fact, what impacts that have resulted have been positive—for example, a new clean water system, a new school, radically improved healthcare, and steady employment for those many who directly and indirectly cater to this quest for catching, and scientifically studying, the last, great wild fish on earth. It’s truly remarkable. Proof, even, that fly-fishing, even in limited doses, can be the catalyst for saving the last intact indigenous cultures, and places, on the planet. -----People often ask me: “What is your favorite fish?” Or, “What was your favorite adventure?” Or “What was you’re your favorite story you ever wrote?” And, of course, I can never give a straight answer, because that’s like asking a parent who their favorite child is. I love all the fish, and all the adventures, and more importantly, all the people I’ve shared those experiences with. I have equally fond

memories of catching 10-inch native cutthroat trout in the backcountry in Colorado with dear friends and mentors, as I have catching 100-pound tarpon or mako sharks with other close friends. Flying in Russian helicopters chasing gargantuan rainbow trout with mouse flies… wading Bahamian flats… two-handing for Atlantic salmon in Iceland… It’s all good. All incredibly meaningful. Wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. But if the question were couched just a little bit differently, to ask: “Where did you feel the most alive, on any of your travels?” Well, in that case, the answer would be simple. I think of one particular evening, running down the Rewa River in Guyana, in a boat with Oliver White (who had guided me and taught be all about arapaima), and Al Perkinson (who had the vision to connect sport fishing with Guyana and arapaima)… with native guide Rovin Alvin manning the motor in the back of the boat.


We had been up-river, and landed an arapaima in a secluded lake. Darkness had fallen, and as we motored downstream toward Rewa Village, I couldn’t help but notice the hundreds of red, beady eyes along the riverbank (black caiman eyes). And I knew if we hit a rock or a stump in the darkness, and were thrown from the boat, we’d be in deep trouble. But Rovin knew that water like the back of his hand. (It’s amazing how a shared respect for nature can foster instant camaraderie and respect among people who come from vastly different places). And the stars and sky were so stunningly beautiful, like shimmering diamonds set on a deep blue, velvet backdrop. It was so raw, and primal, and honest… all the while I’m thinking, “How in the world did I ever get here?” Yet, at the same time, I knew I was there for a reason. And I knew I had experienced an ultimate story… and perhaps an ultimate purpose.

Fishing, and catching, and sharing those things are one thing. But doing that, with effect, in a place so natural, so wild… and knowing how we all might actually be able to do something together to keep that around… Well, that has stuck in my mind ever since. I still have dreams about the arapaima, and Guyana. You can think about many things with your eyes wide open. It’s what you dream about, after the fact that speaks back to you with greatest effect. -30-


RI

DA


AMS DIVIDE

Š Amel Emric

IVERS UNITE

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  more than just water! www.riverwatch.eu | facebook.com/riverwatchAUT www.balkanrivers.net | facebook.com/balkanrivers instagram.com/blueheartrivers


GOLD RUSH:

Dorado Fever in South America A modern-day Gold Rush is taking place in South America which is attracting prospectors from all across the World in the hope of striking it rich. The Gold on offer here though isn’t found in small fine granules or the occasional nugget if you’re lucky, this gold is readily found in heavy, perfectly formed bars.

By STEPHEN CARELLA Photos by CALUM CONNER


Although you may not require the likes of heavy duty D10 bull dozers and huge monstrous wash plants to get access to the gold on offer in South America, you will need some heavy machinery of a different kind. To get your greedy mits on these bars of gold, you will need some heavy nine- and ten-weight fly lines, loaded up on powerful nine-weight rods with monstrous six- and seven-inch flies adorned with heavy lead eyes. The gold you will be chasing in South America won’t just sit in the one spot waiting for you to come and collect it, it will be on the move and will take some serious convincing if it is to give up its riches. I am of course, as you may have suspected, not referring to boring actual real gold that could make you a millionaire. No, I am referring to another more valuable natural source of Gold that will deliver a lifetime of riches, in the shape of incredible memories and fly fishing experience‌ the Golden Dorado. The Golden Dorado has long been a

species which I have been fascinated by owing to the fact that it is not only a fish with breathtaking beauty, but it is an apex predator with an infamous reputation for savage takes, incredible fighting strength and impressive acrobatic leaps out of the water when hooked. It is native to warm freshwater systems throughout regions such as Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and Northern Argentina so to fish for them involves adventure. The Corrientes River When the opportunity to visit the Don Joaquin River Lodge based on the Corrientes River system in Argentina presented itself, I jumped at the chance to broaden my horizons and target these incredible fish on the fly. The Corrientes river is a vast water system which begins in the Ibera wetlands, which is the largest source of groundwater on the planet. It flows through wetlands and marshes and as such, harbours what seems like endless amounts of islands and fresh water vegetation.


It is in and around these natural areas of dense vegetation and naturally formed features that this predator resides most often, waiting to ambush its prey. I travelled to Corrientes with my friend Callum Conner and it’s fair to say that we were both hugely excited by this opportunity and desperate to get out onto the water and put ourselves to the test. On our first morning out on the river, our guide and captain for the week Chullito would take us into a section which was almost like a river basin with dense island shores surrounding the boat. A key feature of this area was the freshwater reeds rising high from the water surface showing the potential of holding nice Dorado and we were instructed to cast our flies into any open section of these reeds to prospect for the gold contained therein. Frantic flurries of surface water activity where the baitfish were trying their best to avoid an unseen predator only served to heighten the senses.

The First Few Casts I had travelled 7,000 miles over 24 hours to reach this moment. So, with nervous energy and adrenaline coursing through my veins I sent my first cast into a small clearing in the reeds and started stripping. First cast nothing, second cast nothing, third cast and a definite pull on the fly which made my heart beat even faster under the scorching sun. I tried that spot again but whatever was there, was no longer interested, so I quickly pulled up my intermediate line and switched to another clearing in the reeds, first cast nothing, second cast nothing‌the third cast landed tight to the reeds. I started stripping and then bang, a savage take from a powerful fish which was putting the nine weight through its paces. After the first 30 seconds of the fight, there was no sign of the tell-tale acrobatics of a Golden Dorado though and, instead, what I had hooked into was a big and aggressive Piranha which, although it wasn’t what I was after, is still a super cool fish to have caught on the fly - so I was still a happy man.


Shortly after that fish was released, a nice Dorado powerfully leapt a few feet above the water to my left and Callum had hooked into the first one of the trip. With that first sparkling gold bar in the bank, it was clear that our tactics were working and the fish were there and our motivation levels went through the roof and it wasn’t long after that until I had also hooked my first ever Golden Dorado. The take was brutal, the fight intense, and with the visuals of an angry Dorado leaving the water on a few occasions throughout the fight, it made for a thrilling fishing experience. The key to catching the Dorado is to keep the fly in the zone for short periods of time. If you don’t get a take after the first few attempts, you have to quickly change spot and keep searching the likely areas to increase your chances of hooking up.


The head and jaw of the Dorado is seriously tough so you have to strip set the hook before lifting the rod high and you must maintain tension at all times. Failure to achieve all three of these things will result in lost fish. In order to present the fly close enough to the various water features which hold fish you have to manage casting both a short and long line with heavy flies and handle the strong cross winds which can make casting from a boat with a fishing partner and guide really difficult. In order to cast effectively you need to make good use of the double haul technique as this helps ensure that you can put out a long enough line when the key areas are set at distance, and you must be comfortable casting under pressure as when the guide puts you in a likely spot, the boat is drifting along with the current. So you only have a short window to make your casts count and try and induce a take from a fish lying in ambush. If you don’t cast quickly and

effectively then you will miss your chance at a good fish, and when the guide has skillfully maneuvered you into position with a boat… it’s your duty to take that chance. The Side Channel To navigate this vast freshwater system, the fishing is primarily done from the boat but with the occasional section of river offering the chance to wade, and it was in one of these sections where we experienced the most electrifying and intensive fishing of the trip. As Captain Chullitto brought the boat to a stop by a heavy section of grasses, we found ourselves looking across a small stream which had broken away from the main river no more than five feet wide and we dropped off the side of the boat into the watery vegetation, no more than a couple of feet deep. It was a fast flowing section which on face value, I would suggest we would have been more at home fishing with a 7ft 2 weight trout rod such was the intimacy of this passage of water.


“Surely there can’t be Dorado in here”, I thought as I started to ponder how to cast a 9 weight rod, loaded with a 10 weight line and 6 inch fly with lead eyes over the first section of grass and reeds, before landing it in the small stream where it could be grabbed by an angry fish. As I was wasting time assessing how best to approach this challenge Callum had already waded further up the stream and on first cast, the water erupted in a furious display of power as he landed a cracking Golden Dorado of notable size which clearly showed that my initial thoughts were wrong, and that this small intimate stream was indeed holding big aggressive predators. The wonders of this incredible water never cease to amaze and as soon as I had watched him land this stunning fish, I sent out my first cast into the flowing channel. As the water flow was so good, my instincts were telling me to let the fly swing for the initial part of the cast and after a few seconds it was attacked on the first strip back and

I too was rewarded with an up close and personal battle against a seriously powerful Dorado. We hooked nine fish from that small stream all between 6lb to 9lbs and landed seven of them, creating a fly fishing memory that will last a lifetime. This was a special place, and I felt incredibly lucky to be a part of it. Lodge Life The Don Joaquin Lodge itself is a fantastic venue to stay and experience this type of fishing. The rooms are very comfortable, the food is fantastic, and the service impeccable. We were treated to unforgettable lunches sitting in the shade of the various islands of the river system on each of the days we fished. Cooked on open fires, constructed by hand, and served with cold beers or fine wines straight from the cooler on the boat, which was an essential source of refreshment whilst spending 10 hour days in intense 34 degree heat chasing gold.


When we retired to the lodge at the end of a long day, a lovely three course meal was served before we lounged on the veranda. Here we’d take in some of the most stunning sunsets I have ever seen whilst smoking a nice cigar and drinking down a fine Malbec reflecting on the days achievements. One of our topics of conversation in these moments of reflection was just how good our captain and cook for the trip was. Chullito or “Chullo” as we affectionally came to know him as deserves special mention. His vast knowledge of this expansive waterway was humbling. His skill in navigating his way through water channels, which were often obscured by the dense vegetation, and putting us in spots which produced fish over and over again was so impressive and I am very grateful for his hard work and effort.


What to Expect The Corrientes river is a thriving ecosystem teeming with life, and extensive flora and fauna are home to such a vast array of wildlife. While there, we witnessed wild boar roaming the islands, anacondas making their way across the river, carpinchos going for a swim and a variety of unique bird life such as storks and jabiru. It’s a genuine aquarium for fisherman with the opportunity to not only target the Golden Dorado but to also take some time to fish for Pira Pita, Pacu and the stunning Surubi Catfish, all of which we landed to complete the Corrientes grand slam. Pound for pound though, the Dorado has to be one of the hardest hitting freshwater species you can target with a fly rod. Its stunning gold flanks contain beautiful markings, and the large teeth filled jaw line instantly gives away its best asset for hunting prey. Every single take is memorable, the fights explosive, and when a Dora-

do leaves the water it’s a visual display of its raw power that leaves you wanting more. This trip was without a doubt one of the most physically demanding challenges I have ever experienced, but also one of the most rewarding. If you too are looking for a new way to challenge your technical ability and fly fishing skills then visiting the Golden Dorado in its natural habitat has to be on your list of adventures. Having now been caught up in the Gold Rush I can relate to how those old timers of yesteryear felt when they first struck gold: It’s a feeling of contagious excitement that you can’t contain, which soon becomes a driving sense of madness to keep searching as you must get your hands on more and more gold. This is what they refer to as… Gold Fever. I have come to identify it as Dorado Fever… and I am all the richer for it. For more information, please refer to: www.donjoaquinriverlodge


Products in focus

NO MORE PLASTIC IN OUR OCEANS

Embrace The Ocean: MARITIME BRACELETS OUT OF PLASTIC WASTE Here’s one for the accessorizing fly fisherman; a new range of 100% recycled maritime bracelets from “MBRC the ocean” - a start-up based in the Netherlands. The bracelets are made out of plastic waste and recycled PET bottles and 15% of all proceeds are donated directly into the MBRC Foundation in order to fund global projects such as beach cleanups. The foundation is supported by over 1,000 international volunteers across the globe and local offices are popping up with the intent to clean up our beaches and oceans. For more info: https://embracetheocean.com/en/


Patagonia: MEN’S TOUGH PUFF PANTS It’s slowly getting colder and colder, and standing waist deep in your local river won’t be very enjoyable, soon, if you don’t have the right layers to put on underneath. The Patagonia Tough Puff Pants have been designed for wearing underneath waders, and they are made from stretchy (part-recycled) polyester with 60-g FullRange® 4-way stretch insulation – and they are Fair Trade Certified-sewn. For more information, please visit: https://www.patagonia.com/fly-fishing/

YETI: PANGA DUBMERSIBLE BACKPACK 28 The Panga Backpack from YETI is a very sleek and intently designed fly fishing backpack, which provides 100% waterproof protection for your most valued carry-along items such as spare clothes, flies, and camera equipment. Designed with a Hydrolok zipper and a Thickskin Shell made out of high-density nylon and thick TPU lamination, the backpack is both puncture- and abrasion-resistant. The inside features an interior sleeve and a stowaway mesh pocket to help you keep organized. And the DryHaul straps and removable chest strap and waist belt help you obtain the perfect carrying fit. For more information, please visit: https://eu.yeti.com


Products in focus

New Fly Rod Range: THE ALL-NEW SCOTT CENTRIC Few fly rod ranges have displayed the same kind of longevity and long-term appraise as the Scott Radian freshwater rod range. The Radian has been the go-to rod for many devoted fly fishermen across the globe since its inception more than six years ago. Now, Scott Fly Rod Company is set to launch its replacement: The new Centric rod range. According to Scott, the new Centric rods; “combine new tapers and multi-modulus lay ups with a new resin system to increase fiber density and reduce weight, and they feature a new generation ARC reinforcement for greater stability along multiple axes. New custom rolling equipment allows us to control fiber placement and density with new levels of precision”.

We’ve had a chance to cast the 9’ #6 and have been blown away by how easily it loads, how steady the tip is, how fast it stabilizes and how on-point it is – especially at distances between 15 and 25 meters. And being a Scott rod, hand-made in Montrose, Colorado with more than 45 years of expertise, it is a true pleasure to the eye. If you are a fan of the Radian fly rods, just wait until you get your hands on a Centric! The Centric rod range spans 9 different rod models in line weights from 4 – 7. For more information, please refer to www.scottflyrod.com


Wamth-Ignitor: SIMMS COLDWEATHER HOODY New for Fall 2020 is the Coldweather Hoody from Simms. Featuring a warm waffle fleece lined flannel design and an adjustable hood with flat braid cord, it will meet the demands of both fly fishing hipsters and pragmatists. When worn as an outer layer during fly fishing stints it boasts two practical fly-box compatible chest pockets with corded loops to dock retractors or nippers. The hoody comes in three colour ways; Dark Bronze Buffalo Plaid, Rusty Red Plaid, and Slate Buffalo Plate. For more information, please visit: www.simmsfishing.com or the European distributor, Flyfish Europe A/S: www.flyfisheurope.com

Fly Tying: REGAL SCRAP TRAP The Regal Scrap Trap is a great fly vise accessory, which attaches to your fly vise with the aid of magnets. The trap is great for collecting all trimmings and leftovers while tying flies, and it can be adjusted into position so it’s there – but not in the way. The trap is made out of rugged cordura and is easy to empty out once it has been filled up. For more information, please refer to www.regalvise.com – or the European distributor, Flyfish Europe A/S www.flyfisheurope.com


Products in focus RepYourWater: HYBRID FISHING SHIRT Colorado-based RepYourWater specializes in fine arts and ethically sourced and recycled fly fishing apparel and goods. Their new Hybrid Fishing Shirt is made out of ultralight, quick-drying UPF50+ fabric and features integrated soft-feel sleeves with crew cuffs, a ventilated back, and an oversized hood. It’s been designed to offer comfortable fit and superb functionality, and 3% of the proceeds from each sold shirt go towards RepYourWater’s conservation partners, which include Trout Unlimited and the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust. For more info: www.repyourwater.com Fly Tying: SPAWN 90-DEGREE JIG SHANKS Jig flies have long been a stable source of great catches in, for instance, Slovenia, but on a global scale they’ve only just recently come to the fore. Now, Spawn have launched a series of Jig shanks for tying articulated jig flies, and besides making for livelier flies, they also increase your landing rate by diminishing the leverage effects during the fight. The 90-Degree Jig Shanks from Spawn are made in stainless steel, and they are extremely sturdy and easy to use. Simply insert a streamer hook of your choice, some weight in the form of, for instance, a tungsten bead and tie on. The jig shanks come in 15mm (60-degree), 20mm and 40mm. For more information, please refer to https://spawnflyfish.com Fly Tying: SPAWN SUPER SHANK COLLECTION Game Changers have fast become the go-to flies for streamer fishermen across the globe. These flies are super versatile, lively and, not least, deadly. Plus, they can be tied in whatever sizes suitable for the target species. Now, Spawn have launched a shank collection, which consists of a 12-compartment box with 12 different sizes of stainless steel shanks ranging from 9mm – 20mm. Two boxes are available; a 60-pack with five of each shank size, and a 180 pack with fifteen of each shank size. For more information, please visit https://spawnflyfish.com


Fly Tying: KILEY’S FISH FINS If you’re into tying realistic sculpin or gobius patterns for salt- or freshwater, you should check out the new Kiley’s Fish Fins from Hareline. These rugged thick-cut latex fins are super-realistic and very easy to use. And they visually improve baitfish patterns in addition to making the flies flutter and vibrate. Three sizes are available; Small (for hook sizes 8-12), Medium (for hook sizes 4-8), and Large (for hook sizes 4 and bigger). Each pack contains six sets of fins and tails, and a total of four different colours are available. For more information, please refer to: https://hareline.com

ProSportfisher: REALISTIC CADDIS WINGS If you’re into tying caddis patterns, the ProSportfisher Caddis Wings should be on your pending material list. These synthetic wings are surprisingly high-floating and very realistic. They come in sheets ranging from XS to XL. Each sheet contains 20 super-durable wings and they can be painted using marker pens to perfectly imitate the caddis that flutter around at your local river or lake. For more information, ProSportfisher’s website: www.prosportfisher.com

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JASPER PÄÄKKÖNEN:

The Fly Fishing Viking You’ve probably seen him covered in blood and soot on the gory hit series, Vikings – or you’ve been glued to the screen as he starred as Felix Kendrickson in Spike Lee’s 2018 drama, BlacKkKlansman. But did you know that Finish actor and rising star, Jasper Päakönen is a keen fly fisherman and a fierce advocate for the environment and our precious wild fish stocks? We’ve sat down to have a chat with Jasper, among other things, about his passion for fly fishing, and how he divides his time between acting jobs and his penchant for fly fishing adventures across the globe.

Bio// Born: July 15, 1980 Home Country: Finland Social Media: www.instagram.com/jasperpaakkonen/


Image: History/HBO Nordic


When did you get started fly fishing and why? I started fly fishing at the age of 11 after getting mezmerized when I saw some fly fishermen in the rivers of Kuhmo in Eastern Finland, where I had learned to fish for trout years earlier with my dad. I remember seeing someone catch fish with self-made flies and I thought it was simply magical. ”This guy made his OWN flies from hairs and feathers, and he’s catching more fish than anyone else? And on top of that, his casting is so much more beautiful than my ”chuck-the-Rapala-with-myAbu-reel” spin fishing!” is pretty much what I thought in amazement. From that moment on, I decided that I’ll be a fly fisherman.

Photo: Juuso Syrjä

I didn’t have anyone to teach me so I went to the local library and got all the books about fly fishing and fly tying I could find and learned from the books. Damn - nowadays everything is so easy with Youtube tutorials! It probably took me 30 times longer to learn how to tie a March Brown than it would today, hahaha. Anyway, a couple of years later my dad (who by then had also given up his spin rods and converted into fly fishing) and I were among the founding members of the Helsinki Fly Fishers Club, and at the age of 14 I started working in the best fly shop in Helsinki, both behind the counter as well as tying flies for the shop to sell. Ever since then, fly fishing has been my biggest passion.


Photo: Juuso Syrjä


Photo: Antti Rastivo


Photo: Mikkeli


What is it about fly fishing that fascinates you? I don’t know if there is one answer to this question. Or more accurately: Throughout the years the answer has changed. In the beginning it was all about the aesthetics of fly fishing: The beauty of a nice back cast, the beauty of flies. Then the difficulty and the challenge of catching a trout with a self made fly. Then the realization that, as a fly fisherman, you are never ”ready” or ”complete”, but that it is an eternal learning process. And later on, the appreciation and understanding of the importance of free flowing rivers and healthy fisheries, and the passion towards protecting them. And, as my favorite poem on fly fishing states, when you are fishing you ”can find solitude without loneliness”. Fly fishing is not just a hobby, but more of a passion and a whole lifestyle. Has fly fishing become more important to you over the years as you’ve become increasingly involved in the film industry? Not really! Haha. I’ve always thought of myself as first and foremost a fly fisherman, and all other titles (such as being an actor) are secondary. If I had to choose between acting and fly fishing, it would be an easy choice.

Do people in the film industry “get” why you’re into fly fishing? It depends. Some do, and some are even envious of me having such a strong passion towards something else than film or acting. Others find it weird, or even confusing: Some actors think that in an actor’s life, acting should always be priority #1, and they don’t really appreciate it when I say I would quit acting any time if I had to choose between the two. Does fly fishing help you mentally prepare for work – or is it merely a distraction? Both! Haha. Whenever there are no schedule problems, meaning work doesn’t interfere with my fishing plans, they can complement each other. Fly fishing is a great balance to the hectic nature of my work. But sometimes work is a huge distraction. When we were shooting Vikings, I really had to get creative with scheduling so that I was able to squeeze in some epic salmon fishing trips to Norway and Iceland when we were shooting all summer long in Ireland.. What are your fly fishing ambitions for the future? My most important ambition is being able to help fund dam removals in Finland, and raising awareness on the destructive nature of hydro power. But purely on the fishing side...


Photo: Antti Rastivo


I’m hoping to get a chance to fish the Atlantic Salmon Reserve sometime. I’ve fished pretty much every single other river in Kola, but the three rivers of ASR are still something I haven’t experienced. You’re heavily involved in conservation and political lobbyism on behalf of the environment. Any projects we should be aware of? I was able to play a part in the biggest dam removal project in Finland, where 3 major dams will be removed starting next year. I donated 25,000 euros to the removal and was able to raise a couple of hundred thousand euros from wealthy fly fishermen I am friends with, and that money was the last missing piece in the multi-million-euro removal project. Besides that, on a slightly smaller scale, we started a charity campaign on a fly shop that I co-own. We donate 1 euro per sold fly to an amazing non-profit organization that restores habitat for endangered trout populations. The campaign page can be found here: https://www.superflies.com/category/ charity-flies?noredirect=en-GB The story of Superflies is actually quite funny: last year I was shooting Spike Lee’s new film Da 5 Bloods in Chiang Mai, Thailand. On my days off I visited a couple of fly tying workshops and found a perfect partner to commercially tie the flies, a small ”factory” where workers were very happy and taken

good care of, with higher than minimum wage salaries, health care etc. I had a concern that fly tying factories are sweatshops that exploit cheap labor but the one we chose is far from that. So, I made a huge order of flies and we opened Superflies.com. Spike Lee thought I was crazy when I told him what I’d been doing on my days off... Haha! How can other fly fishermen get involved and help our aquatic environments and fisheries across Europe? The power of social media is something that shouldn’t be underestimated. I have seen first hand how big companies, politicians, and other key players have been forced to change their irresponsible ways after receiving negative comments from fishermen on their Facebook and other social media profiles. Public feedback, especially negative feedback, has really forced many industry players to change their policies when it comes to management of fisheries and rivers. I urge everyone to comment on the social media walls of hydro power companies, and to express their opinion on what is right and what is not. The more negative feeback these companies publicly get, the more pressure rests on their leaders when it comes to re-evaluating their future policies. And the same goes with politicians and their decision making.


Photo: Stephan Dombaj


Photos: Antti Rastivo


Photo: Antti Rastivo


What are you’re fishing plans for the upcoming year (with the corona pandemic in continued effect)? As mentioned, I’m hoping to be able to travel to Russia to fish the ASR, but safety must come first, so even if the border opens, I have to make sure it is a responsible idea to cross the border. Besides that, I’m continuously monitoring the news regarding the border situation between Finland and Norway: if the border opens, I’ll squeeze in some salmon fishing in Finnmark where I have a summer cabin. Earlier this year I was lucky to fish Rio Gallegos and Solid Adventures’s Glacier King program in Patagonia – followed by Jurassic Lake, right before the corona madness started. I caught my biggest ever sea run brown trout and chinook during those weeks, so the season started nicely. --------------Jasper is involved in the Superflies Charity Campaign, which supports Virho; a Finnish non-profit organization that has successfully helped native salmon in Southern Finland return from the brink of extinction. For more info: www.superflies.com


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Ultimate Candy – tied by Giovanni De Pace on SA280 Minnow

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The door to Dream Waters

Thingvallavatn Iceland

Pictures by ION Fishing, Nils Folmer Jorgensen and Tarquin Millington-Drake


If you’re into fly fishing for monster brown trout, you’ll definitely want to check out Iceland. And if you’re into the biggest and baddest brown trout of them all, you should check out a lake called Thingvallavatn. (Pronounced “Think-vatla-vat’n”). Thingvallavatn is located half an hour’s drive East of Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland. It is a beautiful geo-thermic rift valley lake with a surface of 84km2, which remains cold throughout the year with water temperatures rarely exceeding 4 degrees. There are, however, some hot

springs and rivers coming into the lake, and here, massive and ultra-powerful Ice Age brown trout come in to digest and heat up after having prowled in deeper water. When things go really nuts, schools of more than 100 brown trout will be circling around close to shore, and with an average weight around 3-4 kilos – and fish in excess of 10 kilos thrown into the mix, the fishing can be completely outrageous. Access to the lake can be tricky, and the fish can tricky to locate. The two best beats, which consistently hold trout because of heavy thermal activity,


are managed by ION Fishing - and they are located in the Southern part of the lake. They have tongue-twisting names like Þorsteinsvík and Ölfusvatnsárós, and while the fishing can sometimes be as tricky as pronouncing the names of the two beats, day catches of 10-15 wild brown trout per rod aren’t uncommon.

Last year, there were regular reports of fish between 9 and 12 kilos, and a fish around 13,5 kilos was landed. The ION record is considerably bigger though. It was caught a couple of years back and measured to 102cm with an estimated weight around 17kilos!!!!


Additionally, there’s great arctic char fishing to be had throughout the warm summer months. The ION Beats are catch and release only, and four rods are available per day. The fish are found close to the shore and depending on the general conditions, they can be caught on everything from streamers to nymphs and dry flies – as long as

the presentation is just right. Oh, and there’s one other pivotal thing: Make sure you have in excess of 250meter of backing on your reel, if you don’t want to get spooled. The Thingvallavatn brown trout are built like bulldogs, and broken leaders, straightened hooks, and reels emptied of backing are part of the daily routines.

To book a rod, please get in touch with ION Fishing:

http://ionfishing.is/


They also offer world class lodging: http://ioniceland.is/


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COASTAL MACKEREL:

Tactics and Flies for “Mini Tuna� Fly fishing for mackerel comes with a funny feeling; as if something is a bit off. Warm and sunny days are to be preferred - the hotter the better; quite often you will be hooking the fish just a meter or two from the rod tip; and the fish usually attack the fly with an almost daft vigor. Basically, mackerel act the opposite way of most other coastal saltwater fish. But it just makes them more accessible and fun to catch!

By: ILIAS KARANZAS


Fly fishing for mackerel isn’t exactly hard work. It’s easy, so easy in fact that during the right conditions you can hook and land over a 100 fish in an afternoon. They patrol the edges between the shallows and the deep water constantly searching for their next meal, so casting from a good vantage point near a drop off will eventually result in fish. My way of approaching mackerel is quite relaxed. I live 5 minutes from the sea and mackerel have been a part of my life since I was a small child. I tend to fish for them a bit differently than most people. I use the same kind of equipment; 7-weight rods, 7 - 9 foot leaders and small baitfish and shrimps flies. It’s my attitude towards these fish that differs. You can catch mackerel all day long if you want to, but I prefer waiting: Waiting for the conditions to be just right for the hectic close encounters with hectically feeding schools of fish. First, you need to locate a spot where baitfish are present along the shoreline. Secondly, you need

to arm yourself with patience. The schools of mackerel restlessly patrol the shorelines during the summer months, and they’ll show up eventually. They’re always on the move and once they find the baitfish, they go into a sudden feeding frenzy of epic proportions. Suddenly there will be mackerel everywhere charging at everything that looks edible. Just imagine, tens of thousands of fish in a collective mass psychosis making the surface boil. That’s what awaits you. What I do is: I sit down with a Coke in my hand – up on a cliff, fly rod by my side, line and leader pulled out and prepared, with my ears tensely waiting for that unmistakable sound that makes my heartbeat go from slow to fast in a millisecond: The boiling sound of mackerel going nuts on the surface still, to this day, makes my adrenaline rush. It starts with the panicky sounds of baitfish fleeing on the surface, gradually more and more of them, until the sound of thunder starts to build.


By then, I’ll be up on my feet, eyes flickering across the water surface with my fly rod in a clenched grip. From my vantage point I’ll spot the fish some three hundred meters further up the shore slowly coming towards me. The trick then is to fish the edges of the boil – not the middle as it will just result in foul-hooked fish. Fishing the edges, you’ll get the reaction and contact you’re looking for. As the fish get closer, I place my first cast. It’s some 15 meters in front of the fish, but I immediately start stripping the fly back at a great pace. I quickly hook and land one of the front-runners, 2 minutes later the whole school is upon me and I’ve already landed and released five fish.


Fishing along the edges of the frenzy I land another five fish before the school slowly dissipates. I then manage another four fish that are idling around in the area waiting to catch up with the school. I keep one of them and then I sit back down once again, start a small fire out of driftwood, and smoke my freshly caught quarry in the fire letting the smoke, the salt, and some wet seaweeds provide some extra taste to this gift from Mother Nature. I enjoy the rest of my Coke while eating my dinner up on the cliffs along the Swedish Westcoast. In the distance, I hear the sound of panicky baitfish fleeing for their life, and the sound is getting louder. My rod and line are laid out on the cliff right beside me. I’m prepared!


FLY TYING:

MAKRILL FLUGAN By ILIAS KARANZAS

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Material List// Hook: Wide gape saltwater hook #4-8 Tying Thread: White Tail: Orange polar fox Body: Orange polar fox fur Wing: Grizzly saddle, white, chartreuse, blue and black bucktail, Crystal Flash Eyes: 3D Eyes Head: UV glue


REVIVING ENDANGERED TROUT POPULATIONS – ONE (SUPER)FLY AT A TIME If you are like the vast majority of fly anglers, you probably stand for supporting native fish populations and reviving endangered ones. Turning positive sentiment into concrete contributions is now easier and more fun than ever – you can make a difference by buying flies! “We wanted to lower the threshold for people to support conservation projects. That’s why we created a ‘Charity Flies’ selection on Superflies.com, from which we donate 1€ (about 1.2 USD) for each fly sold directly to organizations that we know are producing results,” explains Jasper Pääkkönen, co-founder of Superflies, devout fly fisherman and familiar face from the tv series Vikings and Academy Award-winning movie BlacKKKlansman. Although Superflies was only launched rather recently, the charity campaign has already produced some tangible results. “We’re just getting started, but have already raised about 1 500€ during the summer for a non-profit organization called Virho in Finland. They have done remarkable work in restoring trout and salmonid habitats in Southern Finland,” Jasper continues. Relying mostly on private donations, Virho has removed dams and reconstructed spawning grounds resulting in thriving trout rivers, where the local population was already nearly extinct.And it’s not that Superflies customers would be paying a premium for these donations – in fact quite the contrary. “Our Charity flies are actually sold at a considerable discount compared to our standard selection, so we basically try to just cover our own costs with them instead of making a profit,” Jasper says. “Another reason why we are able to sell them at such a low price is that unlike our standard selection, some of them might contain minor blemishes like a slightly longer wing or different color rib compared to the original recipe. However, I wouldn’t be endorsing these if I wasn’t pleased with the quality and using them successfully myself!” Tuomas Eskelinen, who co-founded Superflies together with Jasper nods in agreement. “Those who know Jasper would agree with me that he has got to be one of the most fastidious guys out there when it comes to fly fishing. His attention to detail can even go a bit overboard sometimes,” he laughs. “From a quality control perspective that is of course an asset.” Charity flies are available on Superflies.com starting 1.89€. For each one you buy, 1€ will be directed for the fish.

Super salmo as a d delive

WANT


Location: Glacier King, Argentina Fly: Willie Gunn charity tube, 4,19€

Location: Rio Gallegos Fly: Sunray Shadow charity tube, 3,89€

Location: Rio Gallegos Fly: #10 Ake double hook, 4,49€

rflies.com is an online shop that focuses solely on quality flies. It currently features over 300 different on flies alone (and counting) including international classics and Scandinavian specialties, as well diverse assortment of trout flies, saltwater patterns and more. Flies are shipped worldwide with ery times around 1-2 days in Europe and about 5 days elsewhere.

T TO SELL SUPERFLIES AT YOUR LODGE OR FLY SHOP? For wholesale inquiries, please contact: antti@superflies.com.

Location: Finnmark, Norway Fly: hitched Sunray charity tube, 3,19€


TRUST IN YOUR HOME WATERS:

Flyfishing for Toothy Critters

We flyfishermen tend to travel a lot. Most of the time, it´s a foreign river, another species or some other climate that really trigger us. Especially today, in the Instagram-era, you´re constantly exposed to fish porn from other places and regions – and it nourishes one’s urge to travel even more.

By KRISTOF REUTER


“It´s the possibility of seeing a fish come out of nowhere, attack your fly right in front of your feet with its mouth wide open” What do you do when you cannot afford a big trip to some remote destination every single time you feel like wetting a line? Well, here’s an idea: How about giving that overlooked, local fishery a chance? It certainly makes sense if you want to spend as much time on the water as possible. And I promise you, there´s some cool fishing to be found just around every corner – just waiting to be discovered. To me, this means targeting the European apex predator; the pike. Although I live in southern Germany, I do not have a lot of trout water close by. Fly fishing for trout usually involves a one-and-a-halfhour car drive and it’s too far for a spontaneous trip. Luckily, pike are abundant in nearly every type of water, maybe except for the really fast and cold

trout streams or the salt, and consequently I fish several rivers, lakes and ponds that are more or less right around the corner and offer decent fishing throughout the year. The proximity, however, isn´t the only reason why pike have quickly become my favorite target species. It´s the possibility of seeing a fish come out of nowhere, attack your fly right in front of your feet with its mouth wide open, eyes full of fury and a body language that’s revelatory of bad, bad intentions. These moments of pure adrenaline oftentimes leave me with uncontrollably shaking knees. It´s what keeps me awake at night and it´s what keeps me coming back - even after several days getting skunked in shitty weather doing nothing but swinging heavy flies on sinking lines.


Pike fishing really isn’t for everybody, but once you’re addicted to it there’s nothing to free your mind except another vicious attack... So, let me take you through a typical season of pike fishing in southern Germany. In most waters here, pike season starts in the beginning of May. The pike have now spawned and they are hungry and ready to feed again in order to put on some weight. (Love-making, as you know, can be exhausting). Pike tend to gather up in shallow areas during the spawning. And, usually, they stay there a good, long while after the spawning because the shallow water warms up quickly – something that makes it attractive for both prey and predator. This combination of hunger and warm water really gets the pike in an aggressive mood, and big, funky flies that are fished fast tend to trigger the bite.


As the days get hotter in July and August, the pike fishing usually slows down. Rumor has it that these predators can´t stand the heat and simply hang out in the shade, chillin´ without even thinking about attacking anything. We had the same idea when Lukas, Kris and Maxi came to visit me a late August-weekend to fish my childhood river. It had been bloody hot the whole week, and that particular weekend was no exception. With temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius and not a single cloud to be seen, all we thought about was focusing on asp, another furious predator, and one that is known for feeding during even the most brutal of dog days. Our tentative plan was to use only the cooler hours in the morning and evening casting big streamers for pike and - not unlikely - catfish. But things turned out very differently! It turned out to be one of the best fishing days we spent that year not for asp, but for pike! We were catching one pike after other, ranging from small to big, and they all gave one hell of a good fight in the

warm water and fast current. Sheltered places like small bays, undercut banks or back eddies that were close to faster currents and therefore still rich in oxygen, turned out to be the best spots. The flies did not have to be as big as usual. Lukas, for instance, caught his personal best fish on a smaller red-and-yellow Buford of about 10 centimeters. (Perhaps the pike were now targeting the rather small baitfish we saw in enormous amounts...) The fact that we weren´t wearing any waders and could take a refreshing swim every now and then was just the icing on the cake during a picture-perfect day! In September, when the leaves turn from green through yellow to some fancy orange or red, autumn slowly emerges and the first few colder nights signal the fall migration. As the water temperatures drop significantly, the smaller baitfish leave the shallows and seek shelter in the deeper areas - and the predators, they follow in hot pursuit.


“If you want to target the sharpest predator in our waters, you have to become even sharper!” These migration patterns differ from one river to another, and in deed sometimes even between two stretches of the same body of water. Figuring them out can take a lifetime, but if you’re able to gain some insights your chances of finding good numbers of pike rise significantly. The constant connection between prey and predator is one thing that really fascinates me. I am a firm believer that you become a better fisherman if you are capable of thinking like a pike, because you need to understand the fish and its behavior in order catch it on a regular basis. A friend of mine once said: „If you want to target the sharpest predator in our waters, you have to become even sharper!“


As I’m writing this (it’s the end of November), the really good fishing is just about to start. As it gets colder and colder day by day, rain and wind mix in and especially after the first couple of frosty nights, the pike fishing really picks up. I don’t know why, but I think it really is the first frost that triggers their feeding habit, as if they suddenly realize that they need to; “hurry up, winter is near!”

ly differs between different water and sometimes also based on the weather conditions. But as a general rule, lowlight conditions such as morning and evening are good if it’s not yet too cold. If the water temperature really does get low during mid-winter, the best time, in my opinion, is usually early afternoon when the water has warmed up a little.

If you find the right spot - which at this time might involve good structure like a sunken tree, a big stone or a slow back eddy with deeper water and forage close by - and you present your fly at the right time, you have a good chance of getting several eats within a short time span. When the days get shorter, it really is all about good timing (and of course a bit of luck).

Winter fishing can still be very frustrating at times. If you can´t get the fish to bite, be it if you haven´t found them or they just aren’t in the mood - and you´ve spent hour after hour outside in the cold with your fingers numb and your shoulders sore from casting heavy lines - you will, sooner or later, come to the point where you´re asking yourself: „Why the heck am I doing this?!“.

In my experience, pike have some kind of feeding window, an oftentimes short timespan during the day - and sometimes even during the week - when they are actively looking for a meal. It usually takes a couple of outings to find out when these feeding window occurs, because it usual-

Getting skunked is something you definitely have to get used to, when pike fishing during the winter months. At least that´s how it is on the waters that I am fishing. There´s generally a lot of fishing pressure in Germany, which means that the fish are fewer and more “educated” than elsewhere.


I always enjoy being out on the hunt, and if I catch a fish, well - then it´s even better. But I´m not taking anything for granted. This kind of fishing is not a numbers game! There are days when you get a couple of fish per session, but usually it is all about that one fish. I know this can be totally different in other parts of Europe, like Sweden for example, where more than 20 fish per day doesn’t seem to be anything special. I, for my part, feel more related to the guys overseas who are chasing musky... When the days start to get longer and the temperatures rise again during late winter and early spring, this is the absolute best time for pike during the whole year. Our pike season ends in mid-February, when the pike get a well-deserved break in order to reproduce. But the last few weeks of the season are really something special if the conditions are right – and in my part of the world this means no winter runoff. In my opinion, there are several reasons for this: First of all, the water is

usually pretty clear at this time, with hardly any weeds anymore. This means that the fish can see the fly from a much longer distance, which is a huge advantage since streamers are relatively inconspicuous underwater, at least in comparison to all those lures the spinning guys use. Clear water conditions are actually not too good during the rest of the season, since it usually goes along with low water that generally doesn´t put predators in a hunting mood. Besides, pike seem to be a lot spookier if the water is clearer than they are used to. But then - and this is actually the second reason the pike are getting hungry as hell since their metabolism starts to roll on again as the water gradually gets warmer after a long cold winter, and they need to put on some weight before the spawning. Thirdly, the pike are already gathering in certain spots of the river - probably for some kind of pre-spawning partner check.


I´ve found spots where a whole bunch of pike were following my fly whilst others seemed total fishless. If you´re able to find one of these „gathering spots“, you´re off to some crazy-good fishing. To finish off my little manifest I want to talk a bit about something that every flyfisher has a foible for: Tackle. But first note that you really don´t need a lot when fishing for pike. Tackle-wise, it’s a fairly simple deal. I personally like a rod with some backbone; ofr instance a #8-10 Scott Tidal or Meridian. I then match the rod with a good Scientific Anglers line, for example the Titan or BFT lines, which – due to their short and powerful tapers can really carry a big fly The harmony between these components play a really important role, which too many people underestimate. Your combo should allow you to load the rod quickly and carry the big streamers to your desired fishing spot with as few false casts as possible. This makes pike fishing so

much more effortless and therefore so much more fun! The reel is usually less important, but it should have a brake you can rely on when it´s needed, balance the rod and be saltwater resistant, since brackish- or coastal water offers some real outstanding fishing for our toothy friends. Having multiple spare spools is very handy, since this allows you to change between several line sink rates in the blink-of-an-eye. Finish off with a strong monofilament leader with a 0.80-1mm bite guard and a snap for quick fly change, and, last but not least, a couple of flies in different colors, actions and profiles, tied on very sharp and durable hooks (I prefer Ahrex). Then you’re good to go! If you want to learn more about our local (pike) fishing in Bavaria or simply feel like talking toothy critters, do not hesitate to contact us through our blog page, Facebook or Instagram! www.Danicadudes.com @DanicaDudes


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FISH, EXLPORE, CONSERVE:

An Interview with Garrison Doctor

More and more people get involved in the fly fishing industry not for selfish reasons but to reinfuse it with positive energy: To heal, inspire, educate, or conserve. One of those people is Garrison Doctor, who is the co-founder behind the small Colorado-based start-up; RepYourWater. A fly fishing apparel-, goods-, and fine arts company, RepYourWater has committed itself to a green business model with ethically sourced and recycled materials and a 3% push back to conservation partners. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve had the pleasure of catching up with Garrison and getting better acquainted with the diligent Colorado-resident, businessman, artist, and fly fisherman. Bio// Full Name: Garrison Doctor Born: Boulder, Colorado, USA Home Turf: Colorado, USA Occupation: Co-Founder, Designer & Marketer at RepYourWater Website: www.repyourwater.com Social Media: @garrisondoctor


How did you get started fly fishing and why? “There is no fishing tradition in my immediate family, neither my mom or dad have any interest in the sport, but for some reason I have always been captivated by fishing and catching fish. I had a little spinning rod from a very young age that I took camping and I had fair success in little meadow creeks for browns and brook trout. When I was about 9 years old, my dad and I went camping at a high mountain lake here in Colorado where you could see the shallow cruising cutthroat trout. I had a terrible time with my spinning gear, I spooked every fish I cast near, but there was a guy there fly fishing and having great success. So, I begged and pleaded for a fly rod and the rest is history.” Being an artist what is it about fly fishing and fish in general that intrigues you? “While my passion has always been fishing, my dedication and education have been in fine art. The fact that every fish and their markings are unique makes them a really fun subject. I could do a series of 100 brown trout and not be bored with brown trout because there is so much variation.” What came first for you – fly fishing or art; and why do you think? “Art came first, I have been drawing and painting since before I can remember.

Part of this is due to the fact that both of my parents are artists, so I grew up surrounded by it, and part of it is an aptitude that I have always had.” 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? “Creating art and fly fishing are both things that are very important to my life and my mental health. When doing either activity, I am intensely focused and in the moment. The creative process for me, when I am working on a drawing or painting, is intensely energizing.” What is it you’re seeking to capture in your art? “I think my most successful pieces are ones where if you see it in person, or look closely, you can see the technique of the drawing or painting. Whether that is pastel or brush strokes. I also want my subject to look alive and I think that life comes from the eyes, so I spend a lot of time on eyes. Fish eyes are really interesting to look at and paint or draw.” How do you split your time between fly fishing and art? “It is always a balance, and at this point in my life they fuel each other. I am very lucky in that fish art and design is part of my business, so I make a point to spend at least one day a week in my home studio.”


Has fly fishing helped you become a better artist or vice versa? “I think that my artistic eye has helped me in fly fishing a bit. I love to tie flies as well as fish, and my art contributes to that part of the pursuit.” What are your dreams and aspirations as an artist – and as a fly fisherman? “As an artist, I hope to continue to evolve, improve, and produce a wide breadth of pieces. As a fly fisherman. I hope I continue to have the opportunity to explore new places and learn new aspects of the sport.” What is your best advice to other fellow fly fishermen who would like to experiment with art? “Start simple – both in terms of medium and subject matter. Begin in black and white and work with a high-quality reference image as inspiration.” Any upcoming fly fishing trips that we should know of? “It is a strange time for travel plans, but we are scheduled to fish in Chile, Iceland, and Bolivia first half of next year. We shall see…” If any of our readers would like to get their hands on some of your art, where do they start? “Have a nice selection of prints and some originals for sale at: www.repyourwater.com/pages/fine-art”


You’re the mastermind behind Rep Your Water. Can you tell us a little bit about the organization and what your aims and goals are? “Well first off, I would be remiss if I did not point out that, while I am the creative force behind RepYourWater, my wife and fellow co-founder Corinne is an integral part of the brand’s success from RepYourWater’s inception to current operations. We are a small team, just three full time employees at the moment, and we have a blast day-to-day. We are growing from logo wear hats and

shirts to a much more diverse line that includes everything from tech forward, super lightweight, performance shirts to whiskey glasses. We have always made conservation a cornerstone of our values which is why we push at least 3% back to our conservation partners. We are now pushing that forward and working with our supply chain to incorporate sustainability into a lot of our products. From recycled polyester to bio cotton our line will increasingly tell a sustainability story.”


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In the Loop Fly Fishing Magazine - Issue 26  

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