SPRING 2021 // #28
THE PERFECT ALPINE FLY FISHING ESCAPE By Marina Gibson
MOUNTAIN SOLITUDE AND CELTIC CULTURE By Ceri Thomas
A Northern Fly Fishing Paradise www.intheloopmag.com
Breaking Lock-Down on the Belousiha River #28
Fly Fishing Escapism in the Carribean Europe’s free online fly fishing magazine
Photo by JESS MCGLOTHLIN
A beckoning question seems to be on our lips at all times these days: Will we be able to travel and fish as we see fit this summer? The answer, unfortunately, isn’t a finite one – far from it! It’s still too early, and the times too uncertain, to be absolute sure about anything. But we certainly hope to be able to cross a few boarders in search of fish and new adventures this summer. Vaccines are being rolled out across Europe –and the rest of the world, and if the threat of new strains of mutated virus doesn’t put a stop to the progress that is being made, Greenland, Iceland and Russia await us – and, who knows, perhaps some faraway tropical destination? Have you made any plans for the 2021-season yet? If not, go ahead and start planning. Sure, the times are uncertain and, the way the world is right now, your plans might not come to fruition. But it’s always good to have something to look forward to; something that motivates you to sit down at your vise and fill some fly boxes, prepare lines and gear and do online research. If you need any inspiration for future trips, there’s hopefully some to be had by reading this; our 28th edition of In the Loop Magazine. It features great contributions from fantastic people that we owe tons of thanks and appreciation. In this issue, you’ll come across the works of Johann Du Preez, Jess McGlothlin, Håkan Karsnäser, Justin Stuart, Emily Rodger, Ceri Thomas, Dan Mella, Marina Gibson, Stephan Dombaj, Dron Lee and many more. Enjoy the read, and – whatever happens this season, take care of yourself and those around you. Stay safe and keep fishing!
Photo by THE FLY FISHING NATION
The Perfect Alpine Fly Fishing Escape by Marina Gibson Breaking Lockdown on a Budget by Justin Maxwell Stuart Spoilt for Choice in a Northern Fly Fishing Paradise by Dan Mella The Places We Find Home by Jess McGlothlin The Rewa Rodeo by Johann du Preez Mountain Solitude and Celtic Adventure by Ceri Thomas And much much more...
Contributors JOHANN DU PREEZ
In the Loop Magazine C/O Cast Away Media Org no: 999 320 147 www.intheloopmag.com
Johann is a South African fly-fishing guide and artist. He spent his early guiding days on the African continent chasing everything from tigerfish to triggerfish. These days he spends most of his time in the jungles of South America. Currently working for Indifly he has many opportunities to live out his passion for conservation and community-based fly-fishing. His love for fly fishing adventure is only rivalled by his love for art. He is an accomplished artist and amateur film maker and is always striving to walk the fine line where fly-fishing becomes art. To see more of his work go follow him @johanndupreez_art
email@example.com JESS MCGLOTHLIN
By Stephan Dombaj
VISIT US ON
Based in Missoula, Montana, Jess McGlothlin works as a freelance photographer and writer in the outdoor, travel and fly-fishing industries. While on assignment in the past few years, she’s learned how to throw spears at coconuts in French Polynesia, dodge saltwater crocodiles in Cuba, stand-up paddleboard down Peruvian Amazon tributaries and avoid hitting wallabies while driving through the Australian outback. See more of her work www.JessMcGlothlinMedia.com
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.
Marina Gibson is a truly passionate angler who was lucky enough to spend much of her childhood chasing salmon, trout and sea trout. Following in the footsteps of her talented mother Joanna Gibson, herself a devoted fly fisher, Marina has dedicated a significant part of her life to the pursuit of every type of fish at every available opportunity wherever in the world that may be. Check out: www.marinagibsonfishing.com
Dan Mella was born and raised in Kiruna and represents the sixth generation of fishermen in his family. In 1832, his ancestors received a royal decree to fish for salmon in the Torne River. In 1977, he got his first fly rod and fishing has shaped his life ever since. The Kiruna mountains and their rivers have guided his choices. His co-ownership in Fishingnorth has allowed him to visit the Kola Peninsula and Patagonia over the years. He fishes about 100 days per year, mostly for trout, Arctic char, grayling and Baltic salmon. As a fishing coordinator for Kiruna municipality, he is lucky to be able to combine his passion with his dream job. For more info: www.kirunalapland.se/fishing
Justin Maxwell Stuart, after a decade of service as an infantry officer with the British Army, on retirement reverted to his life-long passion for fly-fishing. With an eye for a challenge and adventure he founded WhereWiseMenFish, an international destination travel business in 2007, followed by Shadow Flies, a fly tying workshop with over 120 employees, producing in excess of 1,000,000 flies every year. Both fishing and the manufacture of flies for Atlantic Salmon have been the corner-stone of both businesses, but his passion to continue to explore and record on camera and film his exploits have taken him to an exceptional wide and varied array of destinations around the world. www.wherewisemenfish.com https://www.instagram.com/justinstuart1908/
Born and raised in Wales, Ceri Thomas has fly fished for 25 years and has been involved in the tackle trade for a large proportion of that time, including a stint with fly line manufacturer Airflo. He has travelled extensively to destinations such as Cuba, France, Ireland, USA and Iceland, fishing for many species, although his main passion remains casting a line for trout in the beautiful lakes and rivers of Wales – where there are always new waters to discover and explore! Ceri regularly writes for several UK print based publications and promotes Welsh angling as marketing manager of www.fishingwales.net
Dron Lee’s mission is to make fly tying and fly fishing more accessible to the general public by sharing his vast knowledge and experience through fly casting and fly tying clinics. He started his online platform, Fly Tying Nation, in order to share free tutorials and here he has proven himself as an extremely versatile and innovative fly tyer. His work is recognized worldwide and is acknowledged by many leaders in the industry – and, as a result, he’s been made Pro Tier by Semperfli and Deer Creek. To learn more about Dron, you may refer to his website at: http://flytyingnation.com/ or check him out on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/dron_lee/.
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.
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Twilight time. After five hours of casting under the midnight sun in Swedish Lapland, Nathaniel Riverhorse Nakadate calls it a day/night. TONY CZECH
The Perfect Alpine Fly Fishing Escape Whilst every destination angler, family and outdoor enthusiast begins to scan the horizon for a late notice getaway, most travellers are looking for somewhere that is accessible, inexpensive and scenic where they can reconnect with the outdoors and the delights of nature.
By: MARINA GIBSON Photos by: THE FLY FISHING NATION
“My quest was to seek out my first brook trout” I’m appreciating my home waters and neighbouring countries more than ever before right now. The moment the flight corridors opened up at the end of July 2020, I booked a spontaneous fishing trip to Austria with Fly Fishing Nation; the perfect Alpine fishing escape for a few days. The fresh air, snow-capped mountain and abundance of gin-clear glacial rivers and lakes full of wild fish was highly desirable. Austria’s charm will capture most, with its valleys full of wildlife and enchanting chalets, summer and winter contrasts and the unspoilt landscape with which the balance of human presence and nature is to be envied. After the ski lifts close in May, the snow begins to melt, the lakes shed their icy mantle and the valleys transform from white to green. Come July the pristine and meandering rivers and emerald green lakes become an
epicentre for hikers and fishermen alike My quest was to seek out my first brook trout, as well as catching some high-altitude brown trout and grayling. The Hotel Braurup Fly Fishing Nation - who were leading the trip - took us to an enchanting town called Mittersill. Although Stephan Dombaj had fished in the area for seventeen years, he still knew of waters that he’d not yet visited. We stayed at Hotel Braurup, which was divine; I’ve been skiing here in winter and have always hoped to visit in the summer. This was a trip I had been waiting to go on for years. The hotel is a family run business and owns the fishing rights to a number of streams and lakes in the Mittersill area.
This place is a fisherman’s paradise and is very convenient as you simply need to pop into the hotel’s fishing shop on site, buy your licence and you have 130km of running water and four alpine-fed lakes at your disposal including a high mountain lake sat at over 2,000m above sea level. We first took a car transfer from the bottom of the mountain; there were several other people in the car with us, most of whom were fishing too. The drive was breathtaking; especially the theatrical features of the waterfalls. There aren’t many places in the world that have private valleys with only one taxi transfer up and down a day, apart from local residents who can drive up there. The only thing we had to keep in mind was that the taxi would pick us up at 5pm prompt and they would not wait for us. I’m almost certain that fishermen have been so glued to the river that they’ve forgotten the time and have missed their transfer down. Thankfully there are a few traditional Austrian restaurants with accommodation, but best to keep track of the time.
The Kimmler Ache River We walked, stalked and crawled 3km up the Krimmler Ache river in search of its gold and we found it hiding in and around the rocks. I noticed the brook trout were far more shy than the brown trout and grayling and you would suddenly see a brook trout dart out from behind a submerged boulder and take the fly. Brook trout are native to Eastern North America in the United States and Canada, but were introduced elsewhere in North America, as well as to Europe and Asia. They have adapted well to the cool waters of streams and lakes in Austria, a perfect place for them to reside. They’re the most vibrant of the trout family and average 30cm in length and weigh approximately a pound. The higher the altitude the smaller the fish and the ones in lakes can be larger due to a richer diet. They have a dark green/ brownish base colour, which darkens across the back, the main body has a distinctive marble pattern, much the same as a tiger trout which is a hybrid between a brown trout and a brook trout. The majority of the brook’s body is painted with small yellow and red dots, sometimes surrounded by blue halos, they have a fiery orange underbelly and perfect white tips on the pectoral, pelvic, anal fin and tail.
We were using a mixture of jig nymphs and CDC dries and later in the day we had a spectacular session on CDC emergers. The grayling and brown trout were sitting in the deep pockets, riffles and even the shallow areas in the last pool we fished. The air was warm, and the skies were blue, you could almost wet wade. Although the water temperature was so cold that I don’t think I would have braved it. When the first grayling of the day came to the net I shouted, oh my, it’s a banana grayling. They were so yellow on the belly and some of the prettiest grayling my eyes have ever seen. As you crawl along the long grass and pull your leader through the rings, the cowbells fill your ears with chimes, soothing your body in preparation of each cast at the flighty wild fish. The Finkausee and Hintersee For the following three days, we fished Finkausee and Hintersee and caught a mixed bag of high altitude grayling, brown trout and brookies. We drove through the valley, feasting our eyes on the beauty all around
us. Driving the meandering roads to Finkausse, passing scenic views with widening eyes and admiration for nature. Sky scraping mountains and waterfalls, roaming cows and wooden chalets tucked into the secluded hillside without another soul to be seen. As the car drove over the brow of the hill, we were able to catch the first glimpse of Finkausee. The emerald glacier water was calm, the skies were blue and in the distance the mountains behind were covered in snow. In July and August, you can expect hot weather so the lake can turn a milky colour due to the glacier water, this can make the fishing tough because it makes it harder to spot the fish. If you stick to the confluences and areas with any structure, then you’ll still be able to seek them out. Otherwise, the water is gin clear and offers a paradise for sight-fishing, dry fly fishing, nymphing and evening belly boat fishing. Fishermen have the opportunity to catch beautiful brown trout, grayling, rainbow trout, brook trout, lake trout and even burbot on the fly.
“We managed to catch some stunning grayling and brown trout” When we arrived at the waters edge, it was crystal clear and most of the visible fish were holding in the deeper holes and a few were further up as it shallowed, including the biggest, which was leading the school. We managed to catch some stunning grayling and brown trout on tiny nymphs and had a few takes on dries. Later that afternoon we had some spectacular dry fly action as we moved further around the lake. Like Hintersee you’re totally immersed in the mountainous topography, snowy caps, pristine waters and fresh air. We all know that getting outside and immersing yourself in nature is both mentally and physically beneficial, especially if you are feeling stressed, and going fishing can be the perfect antidote. In the Mountains Hintersee is a high-altitude mountain lake 1313 meters above sea level in Felbertal Valley. The lake is 300 meters long and 200 meters wide. It fills with rainwater and glacial run off from the surrounding mountain ridge, so as you can imagine this water combination makes for the most scenic and spectacular coloured water, especially on a sunny day.
The first day we visited Hintersee we made a lakeside burger on a grill and with satisfied stomachs we headed to the water and proceeded to fish around the edge starting with the nearest side closest to the car park, this area is surrounded with weed beds and you can sight cast for cruising fish, most of which are regularly sipping flies off the surface.
and spawn in the tributaries. They’re notoriously difficult to catch and most of the time you will need to cast a long sink line with heavy streamers and strip it all the way into the shallows. So, I’m told, autumn fishing is the time to hunt for them as they start migrating to the rivers to spawn and because of this they feed extensively and are more aggressive at this time of the year.
Hintersee is also a destination for avid hikers and explorers; there are 108 hiking routes around Hintersee, including a flat graveled path around the lake, which is just over 5km long and ideal for families with young children. For the more ambitious fishermen you can hike up to Plattachsee, Langsee and Tauernsee. You can expect to catch small brook trout and brown trout with the most exquisite backdrops.
The only sighting we had of one was when we were fishing a cove-like area of the lake. I was targeting a grayling in the shallows just off a sloping drop off and I was interrupted by a loud splashing commotion in the middle of the lake. Stephan and I witnessed a large brown trout being T-boned by what looked like a huge lake trout, it swam around in circles showing off its triumph like a cat with a mouse. When it was bored, it spat it out and disappeared and left the poor trout swimming on its side for half an hour until it came close enough where Stephan could net it.
Migratory Trout On the left-hand side of the lake there is a steep hillside of trees, between the gaps you can spot an array of fish in different shapes and sizes from small brook trout to large lake trout. Lake trout are lake run brown trout, which migrate to the lakes to feed on easy prey
When the predator drops its prey, you have a small window of opportunity to cast your fly into the area to tempt the lake trout for another easy meal.
We nursed the beautiful red spotted brown trout in the shallows facing upstream between two rocks in a nearby stream and after 20 minutes it shot off underneath the undercut bank. Let’s hope it recovered. The grayling I had been stalking before the excitement was still there and after so many refusals it finally took a pink shrimp with a double beaded head. It was a very special fish to catch because to grow to a decent size like that would take a long time due to the lake being frozen for 7 months of the year.
“I would sincerely recommend Austria to anyone” Endless Opportunities We were so spoilt for choice with water that four days were not nearly enough, but the most exciting thing about the hotel and its waters is that you could keep coming back and fishing new ones every time; but also revisit your favourite spots from your previous trips. I would sincerely recommend Austria to anyone, as there’s something about the Alphine atmosphere that is incredibly soothing and healing of one’s body, soul and mind.
Recommended kit for an Austrian summer fishing adventure: Clothing: Waders & wading woots, warm clothes, thermal layers, hiking boots, waterproof jacket, backpack. Dry Fly Fishing: Slow and delicate action 8ft6 4wt or 8ft 4wt - floating line, size 18 – 22 dry flies: We found that the CDC emergers worked the best. Nymhing: 10ft 3wt - closed frame and large arbour reel with yellow, fluorescent monofilament or equivalent, two tone or multi tone strike indicator, tippet rings, low diameter monofil and jig nymphs in size 16 – 22 with 2.5 – 3.5mm tungsten beads. If you would like to go after pike in their predator lake a 9ft 9wt fast action would be suitable for turning over big tube flies.
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Breaking Lockdown on a Budget I started WhereWiseMenFish, a small destination travel business over 15 years ago. As much as the memories, tales and videos from the trips I have run the name, WhereWiseMenFish has always raised an eyebrow and sparked numerous comments over the years, 99% of them very positive. The most amusing one was from a very capable Danish fly angler/guide who shall remain anonymous who on hearing about my enterprise said, “Justin, cool name, but can you really name your company ‘Where WHITE Men Fish’. I have laughed about that ever since.
By JUSTIN MAXWELL STUART
One of the less positive appraisals which tends to pop up on the WhereWiseMenFish-You Tube channel alongside any remotely exotic destination is ‘Where RICH Men Fish’. Social media has its pros and cons and whilst unflattering comments are to be expected in a public forum, they can also be exasperating due to the lack of appraisal as to what is involved in establishing and then maintaining lodges in remote and hard to access locations. Naturally an organised guided overseas trip is going to cost a lot more than a day ticket to a local river or lake, whether free access or not. Unrecognised in criticism over cost or restricted access, is the ceaseless ongoing owner investment into not just providing a reasonable level of lodging but more importantly the vital contribution they provide, at a minimum, maintaining the status quo of that specific eco-system, but equally, the effort and resources to bring some rivers back from the brink.
Russia’s Kola Peninsula To assume that a riparian owner or lease holder simply pockets the dividend is in almost all cases a misnomer. Wealthy people may indeed buy fishing lodges but, as far as I am aware, they are not wealthy on account of them! I have always been interested in seeking out and, where possible, providing support to destinations which are both affordable, have something noteworthy about the fishing and offer an experience a bit beyond what one might find at home. This, then, is the story of the Belousiha and Voronya rivers, approx. 2 ½ drive from Murmansk. Atlantic Salmon fishing, on Russia’s Kola Peninsula, that is affordable on a mediocre budget, on rivers that had been almost completely written off due to damming and subsequent poaching. Anyone who has fished on the Atlantic Salmon Reserve (ASR) or indeed most of the rivers on the Northern Kola coastline will have frequently flown over Tumanny, the ASR logistics helipad at the bumpy end of the most Easterly road that runs from Murmansk.
“It was one of the most powerful rivers” For those who have overflown the area, if you managed to keep your eyes open during the helicopter flight, you would have seen one of two substantial man-made reservoirs complete with two very significant hydro-electric power stations, responsible for much of the power on the Kola Peninsula, and the source of the various pylons that snake along the coastline to secret ‘cold war’ military outposts. Between the two dams runs a ragged boulder-strewn scar, the original footprint of the mighty Voronya river and the home to some of the biggest salmon on the Kola Peninsula. Originally 155Km in length, it was once one of the most powerful rivers on the Kola Peninsula. That chapter in the almanack of salmon fishing almost came to an end with the construction of the dams… almost, but not quite! Dams and Economic Hardship The damming of the Voronya immediately cut the migratory route of the salmon. Salmon ladders or a compensatory hatchery were never part of the Soviet plan! Salmon numbers crashed! Those fish that did return were ruthlessly poached. The economic hardship that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union does not allow one to place undue blame on poachers who sought to put food on their table or indeed some profit from their sale.
We do not need to look far into our own national history to see similar actions, even if under different circumstances. Regardless of reason or need, numbers plummeted, and it is likely that the only reason a trace of the original run of salmon remains is on account of the sheer power and size of the Voronya River and indeed the tenacity of the Atlantic Salmon. A pair of keen Russian anglers saw an opportunity, initially to enjoy the fishing amongst friends on the intimate Belousiha, a tiny tributary which joins the Voronya close to its mouth. Driven by the same passion, that is at the heart of almost all owner/operators of remote fishing lodges, emerged a very basic camp, catering for just 4 anglers. Robust anti-poaching controls were put in place to grasp back control of an eco-system which was fighting to survive. In 2015 they extended the lease to the Voronya, and although the fishable section of the river is only a sliver of its original length, it was established without question that not only did it
have a viable run of Salmon, but that they had retained the genetics and with it the size of their forerunners! Two salmon rivers on the brink of oblivion were saved! The Summer of 2020 Jump forwards and it is now August 2020. The camp has been expanded and substantially improved but the prime months of the season had passed with no international anglers having had the opportunity to fish at Belousiha, or indeed any of the rivers on the Kola Peninsula. Clearance for foreigners to enter Russia was granted by the Russian authorities on the 31st July and our WhereWiseMenFish team, consisting of an unusually young team, with three under the age of 25, and including two ladies, (another area where WhereWiseMENfish as a name has landed me in trouble, even though it most certainly is not exclusive), scrambled to arrange visas, flights and Covid tests! It goes without saying that all the stars were never going to align perfectly!
Despite an exceptionally deep winter snowpack across the Kola Peninsula, a warm spring resulted in early season water levels so high that the authorities issued a flood evacuation plan in case the Voronya dams failed. The huge amount of meltwater had meant that the Voronya had been high all season and was only really approaching a normal height from August onwards. The Belousiha by contrast benefited directly from the early high-water levels, although two months in, and with little more than a few grey clouds all season, it was now very low! None of the above did anything to subdue the huge amount of excitement that everyone felt, not just to have escaped the tentacles of lockdown, but to be in Russia, in a wild and new environment and with two salmon rivers to conquer. Rain clouds were forecast all week and whilst they did little more than freshen up the rivers, having cloudy skies on the Belousiha in particular made all the difference.
Two Rivers – Tons of Possibilities When fishing with a full team of 8 rods pairs of anglers are typically split with 3 days on each river. There is however quite often some flexibility, with some being drawn inextricably into the big fish, big rod camp of the Voronya, whilst others, the stealthy Icelandic approach on the Belousiha. More action is almost always had on the Belousiha, however pictures of huge silver leviathans from the Voronya mean that it is never an easy decision if an option arises! This, it has to be said, is one of the very appealing aspects of this lodge. Having two rivers at your disposal which both require very different styles of fishing. Quite frequently water conditions on the two rivers will be at complete opposites to each other and juggling between more action with a light rod vs the chance of the fabled ‘fish of a lifetime’ can create a level of decision anxiety should you decide to break from the standard rotation. The Voronya is unquestionably a less forgiving river.
Fish tend not to show all that frequently and its size can be intimidating. The fishing is loosely split into 3 beats with each area having lots of water to cover. A level of mental resilience is required, with a full day encompassing many casts and the potential to come away after 2 or 3 days empty-handed! If that does not sound appealing, then it is also a reality check. Big fish rivers, wherever they are in the world, do not typically give up their treasure without a significant level of perseverance, even when embraced with a much larger budget!
“A level of mental resilience is required” The Voronya The fishing on the Voronya on the first two days was challenging on account of some consistent rain alongside very cold winds straight from the North pole. It was a good reminder that conditions can change very quickly inside the Arctic circle, even during a summer devoid of rain.
From Belousiha Riv
“Our friends from Denmark, Frederik Laks Lorentzen and Jeppe Søgaar “actors” - the brave and noble guides; Mariano Wainstein, Guido Perillo The film depicts fishing on the river Voronya, which is the main river of August and proceeded till the beginning of September
ver Lodge With Love
rd Nielsen, filmed their trip to the Kola Peninsula. Along with the lodge and Sergey - they made this wonderful movie about love and fly fishing. r of the Belousiha River Lodge. Their fishing trip started in the middle r with many new experiences, reflections and highlights”.
I bitterly regretted having sacrificed a few minimal accessories in my packing, specifically gloves, scarf and a woolly hat, instead opting for additional drone batteries and camera paraphernalia alongside bulky and extensive fly selections for the group! But the fish were there and with some perseverance and kinder weather, despite the fact that we had all been praying for rain since our arrival, Hugo added an additional 14lbs to his previous personal best (PB) with a 24lb hen on Day 3, whilst Alistair, with ‘a few’ more years of salmon fishing under his belt, also broke his PB, by a smaller margin, with a 26 ½ lb cock fish the following day. The Belousiha The Belousiha is the chalk to the Voronyas cheese! Despite very, very low water, almost every pool either offered some action and a chance of a fish or one or more landed over the week. A stealthy, tactical fishing approach is important as was fly selection. Pools that would appear to be totally devoid of fish when fished with one style of fly would come to life with another.
We hitched, stripped, floated, sunk and when required, bombed pools with a wonderful arsenal of flies. For a river that would appear to be showing not just its bones but the base of the coffin as well, it produced a heartening amount of activity. The fun and excitement of spotting and then enticing a fish to take, even when not landed, should never be underestimated regardless of the eventual tally. By way of an indication as to the activity that could be found on the Belousiha, on the final day I opted to switch partners and take some lessons from ‘Big Fish Hugo’. Having walked to the top of the river to the canyon, I tried my luck fishing deep, spurred on by guide Max’s tale of a fish he had spotted that was larger than any salmon he had seen before alongside Alistair’s success the previous evening, where he had hooked 6 or more salmon despite only landing one. Fishing from the high bank pulling a heavy Francis out of the depths, several fish flashed from the deep to take the fly, although they all turned out to be Trout.
Meanwhile Hugo had set himself adrift in a float tube chasing a number of salmon splashes in the lake below the canyon, although this adventure was quite quickly aborted in mid-lake when he calculated that the tube was losing air at a faster rate than he could paddle back to the bank!! His exertions were not entirely in vain, as he had seen a very large fish within casting reach of the bank, and we proceeded to do our best to bombard it from the shoreline, although sadly without contact. Watching from Above We then worked our way down the river, fishing all available pools with 2 decent fish lost and one landed. The landed fish was especially eventful as Max, whilst running to grab the net, managed to wedge his wading boot so firmly between some rocks on the bank that he had to ‘undress’ and net the fish in his bare feet, recovering the boot and waders with considerable difficulty later! After lunch we spent a substantial period of time perched on another cliff top, fishing down into the pool below. I provided surveillance top cover with a drone,
hoping to get a ‘fish take’ shot, whilst simultaneously operating camcorder and go pro. Hugo under Max’s close instruction and using the full array of artillery from our combined fly collections set about the task in hand. Eight or more times salmon flashed from the deep to nibble, nudge or swipe at his fly offerings that ranged from hitched flies, bombers, micro Icelandic patterns, steady favourites, secret weapons and up to 2 inches of copper tube. With each new fly we would get a flash of interest and a communal ‘aaargh…did you see it’ before the pool once again went quiet and we resorted to a new pattern. Zero score to us despite a monumental effort but it would be no exaggeration to say it was a thrilling way to spend a couple of hours. Although by the end of the day we had only landed two salmon, we had enticed, rose or lost at least 8 x that amount. Status after a Week of Fishing The Belousiha was definitely kinder to our overall catch total for the week, even if the actual fish landed were not large.
The bigger Belousiha fish, as in any salmon river, are typically sullen takers in low-water, so it was no great surprise that we did not come into contact with them. Sam & Hebe were both rewarded with their first salmon with Sam’s father Howard finally achieving his goal in getting Sam his first salmon after many years of trying. Hideko, on only her 2nd ever salmon fishing trip managed a commendable 2 more fish to her tally. Due credit should also be unreservedly passed to John, the older statesman of our party, for not just catching salmon but more importantly embarking on the trip with the resilience of a war veteran, despite the concerns of Covid.
In total we landed 32 fish and lost 34 (mainly Alistair ;-)), enjoyed countless toasts amongst ourselves and our Russian hosts, and returned feeling a whole lot better about life and lockdown, all on a relatively meagre budget of €2,500/rod. Belousiha lodge is certainly ‘new’ to the Russian salmon options available. It may not have the kudos of some of the more prolific and better-established operations, but it is a very reasonably priced alternative and with sustained good management definitely an option for those on a Wise Men budget.
WhereWiseMenFish take on the mighty Voronya and intimate Beloushia in late June 2019, fly-fishing for Atlantic Salmon on Russia’s Kola Peninsula. An easy drive from Murmansk it is a hidden gem overlooked by anglers fishing the Northern Kola Rivers.
KIRUNA IN SWEDISH LAPLAND:
Spoilt for Choice in a Northern Fly Fishing Paradise By: DAN MELLA Photos by: HOOKÉ
Kiruna – Sweden’s northernmost town that is moving – is not only a uniquely accessible destination north of the Arctic Circle but also one of the most diverse fly-fishing destinations in Europe. Situated right on the border between the Scandinavian mountains in the west and the taiga in the east, Kiruna municipality boasts over 6,000 lakes, seven rivers, and countless streams and brooks. More possibilities for fishing adventures than can be explored in a lifetime.
Kiruna is something of a rarity as a world-class fly fishing destination far north of the Arctic Circle that is easily accessed by train, road and daily scheduled flights. From Kiruna Airport, a twenty minute drive takes you to two of the greatest grayling and brown trout waters in Sweden – the Torne River and the Kalix River, which make up two of Sweden’s four major national rivers. In theory, you could be feeling that tug on the end of the line within an hour of touching down at the airport. As a fly fishing destination, Kiruna stands out in terms of the diversity it offers. Known for its grayling, arctic char, brown trout and Baltic salmon fishing, Kiruna is also gaining increasing international interest as a premium pike destination. Fishing for big, strong and often aggressive Arctic pike is an intense, adrenaline rush experience!
The Arctic Scenery While the mining town of Kiruna cannot be described as picturesque, and especially not during its current relocation process, the magnificent Arctic scenery is always present in the background. The rivers flow from the high glaciers of the snow-capped mountains in the west and surrounding the town is barren tundra, wetlands and lakes, and endless boreal forests that stretch into Finland and Russia. For the angler, who is accompanied by an adventurous family looking to do more than simply fish, there are a multitude of activities available in and around Kiruna. Icehotel 365 in Jukkasjärvi offers ice experiences yearround and the world’s largest and most modern underground iron ore mine, LKAB, can be explored with a guided tour. The indigenous Sámi culture is also part of Kiruna’s unique offering and identity, as are the northern lights and the midnight sun.
The Right of Public Access Thanks to Sweden’s unique Allemansrätten, the Right of Public Access, you are free to pitch your tent in the remote wilderness and enjoy complete solitude, or the company of any wildlife that might cross your path. If you prefer to have access to amenities there are several public camping sites in and around Kiruna, and simple but warm and comfortable cabins can be rented either privately or as part of an all-inclusive fishing experience.
day’s fishing over a glass of lingonberry juice - or maybe something stronger?
Make sure there is a wood-fired sauna on the premises, bastu in Swedish, as there’s really nothing better after a long day of fishing. Staying at a hotel in Kiruna is also an option, thanks to the proximity of the town to quality fishing waters.
If you are short of time, learning from the knowledge of a professional fishing guide who has years of expertise in the area will save you time and allow you to enjoy the experience to its fullest. Thanks to accessible fishing waters and high service levels, Kiruna is a popular destination for incentive programs from both Sweden and abroad. An overnight fishing package that gives a taste of what the region has to offer is often enough to whet the appetite for exploring the destination further.
If you stay in Kiruna or are visiting to stock up on fishing gear, don’t miss the chance to order a cheese steak sub with reindeer or moose meat from the downtown food truck – a perfect stop before you visit a local bar to reflect on the
An Area Worth Exploring Kiruna demands exploration and a combination of good quality roads and a vast network of gravel roads makes it possible to reach most parts of the municipality by car. There are helicopter transfers available to the mountain regions and areas without road connections, including options where you fly upstream and paddle downstream.
The Swedish author and fly fisherman Gunnar Westrin has been returning to the landscapes of the north frequently since his first visit to Sandåslandet in 1971. Still, Kiruna continues to deliver. Towards the end of the summer of 2020, he joined me on a grayling excursion to the upper parts of the Torne River: “Our guests from the south broke their personal record every day, while Dan’s smile grew bigger and bigger. Despite the summer’s unusual circumstances, both in terms of the pandemic and the persistent high water flows, Kiruna delivered world-class fishing and one of the most spectacular grayling fishing experiences I ever had, in terms of weight.”
Fly fishing in Kiruna When to go Kiruna’s northern latitude, 145 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, makes the fishing season short but intense. Typically, the season begins in June and continues until the end of September. The pike season opens at the beginning of June and the grayling season two weeks later, from June 15. The grayling is the first insect-eater of the season. What to bring For successful grayling fishing and a good chance of catching trophy grayling, I recommend bringing mayfly imitations (in June) and, for the rest of the season, flies that imitate the four stages of the Caddis Nymph Pupa. The biggest grayling are usually caught at the beginning and at the end of the season. I recommend bringing light 8-10 rods in classes 4-6 for grayling and arctic char, and classes 7-9 for brown
trout and pike. Hooks in sizes 1016 are preferred. Dry flies, nymphs, streamers, zonkers and wet flies are commonly used. When booking a fishing package through Fishing Kiruna Lapland, you will be provided with all the necessary information about recommended gear prior to your departure. Dress for the Arctic The night temperature can drop below freezing even in summer, especially in the mountains, so packing warm, layered clothing and a good sleeping bag is a must. If you arrive in September, a good head torch will come in handy. Midnight sun & northern lights From the end of May to mid-July, fishing in Kiruna takes place around the clock as the sun never sets. Fishing under the midnight sun is unlike any fishing trip that you have embarked on before.
Also during the first half of August the nights are bright enough for late evening fishing. By the end of August the nights have darkened and the dancing northern lights are again visible in the sky. Statistically, you have the best chance of seeing the northern lights at the autumn equinox, which during 2021 - occurs on September 22. Guided fishing tours & more information Fishing Kiruna Lapland offers a wide range of guided fishing tours suitable for groups as well as solo travellers. Please find inspiration and information about packages at: www.kirunalapland.se/fishing For more information contact Destination Manager Dan Mella directly, at: firstname.lastname@example.org
“IN MY HOME WATERS Another lovely morning dawns, and once again awakens my yearning for the magic of the Torne River. My expectations grow during the brief car journey along the gravel road; right, left and then right again. A short walk along an invisible trail leads me to one of my most treasured spots, beside this magical river. I feel welcome. I breathe in the surrounding environment. It is late August, you can really feel that nature is settling down, following an intense summer. The Siberian jay, the journeyman’s unwavering companion, calls for my attention.
In the distance the black-throated loon, this mythical bird of the wilderness, sounds its ghostly symphony, everything is as it should be. The sounds, the fragrances, the tranquil neck of water wants to show me what it has to offer. A couple of clearly visible, waking fish really pique my interest. As the fire lights up and the coffee pot is filled to the brim, I tackle up for a pleasant day of hopefully amazing grayling fishing. I can actually, confidently claim that this is one of the best grayling waters in Europe. I let a large balsa wood pupa plough its way along the edge of the stream, to the
rock on the bank that has never let me down. I have fished this stretch more times than I can remember, during all snow-free seasons. I know something will happen within the next few seconds. Calm, heavy tugs make the rod bend one more time before the hefty lady yields. I unhook the magnificent fish, without so much as touching it. The day proceeds in much the same way, large grayling bring me joy and contentment. After a couple of hours of intense fishing, I stretch out by the campfire. I am no longer a young man, my mind drifts. How many miles have I not walked, rod in hand? It is, nat-
urally, a difficult question to answer, and actually, a wholly uninteresting one too. The point is to make the most of every day. For me, fishing has been the motivation for miles and miles of hikes through forests and mountains. My life’s journey has taken me to other countries and new waters. These journeys have made me happy, in that I have found many majestic fish and had interesting encounters with kindred spirits. At the same time, the journeys have convinced me that it is right here, near the Torne River, that I belong. Knowing, recognising the mountains, forests and streams, grants me a calm that I can only find by my home waters.”
p: Mark Welsh
Introducing the Transfer and Transfer XL with QuickFit adjustable temples and ChromaPop™
The Places We Find Home By: JESS MCGLOTHLIN
“I grew up in a strictly DIY fishing household. We built our own boats (wooden drift boats for the big rivers of the American West), childhood craft sessions involved Merkin crabs that looked little like the original pattern, and many of my early childhood memories happened on the water. The idea of paying money to stay at a fishing lodge was something that I, a rural kid growing up in Montana, could hardly fathom.” Fast forward three decades and a plethora of miles later, and I’m sitting at the Grand Slam Bar at Belize’s El Pescador Lodge, sipping a Belikin while editing images from the day’s fishing. I’m hot and tired, but the beer is cold and the images populating Lightroom make me smile. A freshly-arrived angler strikes up conversation and we chat. It’s the typical fishing lodge conversation: How was your trip in? How’s the fishing been? Yeah, we just missed that hurricane, didn’t we? 2020’s been a beast, yeah? And then he says something about El Pescador—I don’t even remember what it is—and I, focused on a particularly compelling image of one of the day’s tarpon on my screen, answer back distractedly: “Yeah, it’s nice to come home now and then, isn’t it?”
“Home has become places like El Pescador, where Mariano serves cold beers and ceviche” The words stop me short, and after a moment I grin at the other angler. It’s true. Some places, even though they’re far, far removed from our postal address, are home. I keep a little apartment in Montana, but it’s not home. Not anymore. Home has become places like El Pescador, where Mariano serves cold beers and ceviche with a smile and Dunia brings out coffee and a breakfast burrito to the rod rack every morning with a smile, knowing I’ll not put the camera down to eat breakfast. Home is sitting in the bar after a long day on the flats, or the sandy boards of the dock under my bare feet as I run out to shoot images of the guides arriving for the morning. Home is airport terminals and window seats on small island-hopper planes. It’s the tropic humidity in the air and a travel-worn camera in my hand.
Home is seeing a stranger with a rod tube at the airport and thinking, “Hey, I know what you’re about.” 2020 has been a hell of a year. For those of us who rely on travel to make a living (like many of you reading this, I imagine) it’s been something that wasn’t in our business plans. (If it was, call me. I’ll buy you a drink.) The world sealed up, and while we’re slowly seeing parts of it open again, it’s going to be a slow road. We’re finding ways to adapt. It’s what we, as anglers, do. After being stuck stateside for longer than I ever have been in my adult life, stepping off the plane in Belize the second day the country reopened for international travel in October felt good. Despite the logistics hoops, the COVID tests, the long health screenings, and the ever-present masks, stepping off a plane onto foreign soil felt oddly like coming home. It was a feeling that was only multiplied when I arrived at El Pescador, immediately kicked off my shoes and, camera in hand, headed out to the dock.
Home is what you make of it. The last year, we’ve all been sharply reminded of that fact. And I’ll relish every opportunity I have to travel home—to waters around the world that have become home—more than ever before. Working out of fishing lodges around the world has introduced me to a cadre of the most exceptional people I could hope to meet; friendships melded by a shared interest: the fish we seek.
“After nearly seven months of being closed” Here are a few scenes from the first week of Belize’s reopening, after nearly seven months of being closed due to COVID-19. We had a small, savvy crew of anglers at the lodge, who quickly became fast friends as we navigated this strange new world together: daily temperature checks and health screenings, masks in public places, and a new process at the airport. In true 2020 fashion, we weathered one tropical depression and narrowly missed a Category 4 hurricane. Wind, rain, and challenging conditions met us most days on the flats. But we didn’t care. For many of us, we were home!
The Rewa Rodeo We followed the bubble trail in the murky water in the hope of seeing the giant fish resurface. It had rolled once before. Just out of reach. Rovin lined up the boat with where we last saw it and then we waited. It wasn’t long before the 7ft shape reappeared in front of us. A massive head broke the surface as the fish took a gulp of air, its serpentine body followed as it rolled back down. It disappeared as quickly as it came up, but we could still see the faint line of bubbles as it cruised off. I laid a cast out over the furthest bubbles. I let the fly sink and began the slow strip. There was no interest. By JOHANN DU PREEZ
I picked up the line to make another cast, but by now all sings of the fish had disappeared. I took a shot in the dark. I placed the second cast a little beyond where I though the fish would be, and I let the fly sink. “Wait, wait…wait… now strip slow” was the command from Rovin who was at the back of the boat. Anticipation was building and each strip felt like an eternity. The line was slowly gliding over my fingers and that is when I felt the solid thump. “Strip! Strip! Strip!” Rovin shouted from the back. I tightened my grip and began to set the hook with a series of violent strip-strikes. “Hit him again!” Rovin shouted with even more intensity. I kept setting the hook until the arapaima swam off with such force that it ripped the line out of my clinched fist. Fish on! It left a wake that rocked the boat, but it did not jump. It was then that we realized that it was a much bigger fish on the end of my line. We went back and forth for a minute or two before the fish decided it was time to show itself. It erupted from the water
with incredible force. Spraying water and half-digested baitfish in all directions as it shook its head violently from side to side. It came crashing down and swam off again, tearing line from my reel. Rovin and I knew we had bitten off more than we can chew. What is normally a four-man task was now left to the two of us. Eventually we managed to get the fish closer to the bank. Rovin jumped into the pond and grabbed the leader. For a moment he had a grip on the fish, but it burst free from his arms. By now Rovin was chest deep in the water, trying to get a handle on the giant fish. There was nobody to manage the boat and we kept getting pulled in deeper. Rovin pushed the boat back towards the bank until we were tight against the trees. I shuffled to the back of the boat and grabbed on to the closest branch of a small tree. Now I was stuck in an awkward position; with rod in one hand connected to furiously bucking animal and the other holding on to the tree to keep the boat from getting pulled deeper into the pond.
I could not hold on to the tree and get the fish under control. My only option was to clinch the rod between my legs, get a piece of rope and tie the boat down. It was a chaotic affair to say the least. Screams of Joy Echo through the Jungle After a few missed attempts I got the boat tied up properly. I got the rod back in my hands and then the tables began to turn in our favour again. By then the fish was probably just as exhausted as we were. About fifteen minutes hooking into this fish, Rovin finally got her in his grasp. Screams of joy echoed through the jungle. It was a true giant, measuring 210 centimetres from tip to tail. This was the biggest fish I had ever landed. All the blood and sweat was worth it and now I fully understood what the Rewa Rodeo was all about. We all took a well-deserved rest, gave the fish time to recover and take a few necessary breaths before she kicked off into the murky water. Every time I think about that fish; I am reminded just how special the Rewa River is.
What is more impressive than the fact that you can catch a 2m+ fish on fly is the story of how these fish were saved by the people of the Rewa Village. On the Brink of Extinction Arapaima are the world’s largest scaled freshwater fish and indigenous to the Rupunini River system in Guyana. They are beautiful fish with intricately marked heads. They have large olive-coloured scales with vivid red striping across their tails. These beautiful scales and skins became sought-after at exotic trade markets in Brazil. The extremely tough arapaima skins were also used to make exotic leather products such as cowboy boots. Although their skins were a valuable commodity, they were mostly wanted for their meat. Arapaima have firm white flesh making it a popular freshwater table-fish. All this sparked the wide-spread harvesting of arapaima. To make matters worse these fish become extremely vulnerable during the dry season when they get trapped in small ponds and oxbow lakes in
the jungle. During these low water months, the fish could easily be netted or shot. This made arapaima a soft target for poachers and in the 1980’s they were harvested to the brink of extinction. In the late 1990’s arapaima were so scarce that the village of Rewa decided that something had to be done. Arapaima numbers were getting so low that harvesting was no longer feasible. They took the initiative to stop killing these fish and instead to protect them. Along with the protection of arapaima they initiated the protection of all the other wildlife in the rainforest. With the help of Conservation International (CI), in 2005 the Rewa community founded an Eco-lodge, a first of its kind in Guyana. The killing of arapaima became illegal and today across Guyana they are being protected. Not only did this save arapaima from extinction, but it also re-established balance in the eco-system. The number of giant river otters has risen as well as the number of black caimans.
There are multitudes of monkeys and other small mammals to be seen and even the bird numbers have been rising steadily since the intervention. The Rewa Eco-Lodge About five years after the eco-lodge was established, Oliver White along with a few Indifly members did the first exploratory trips into the jungle. Their goal was to catch arapaima on fly. After many trials they managed to land their first arapaima at the Rewa Eco-Lodge. This set into motion a partnership that would take Rewa to the next level and put arapaima fishing on the map. Since then, arapaima sport fishing has grown in popularity and today the Rewa Eco-lodge is a world-renowned fly-fishing destination. Not only is it a phenomenal arapaima fishery, but it offers a wide variety of species to target on fly. From peacock bass to payara and arowana there is never a dull moment. There is more to this story than simply great fishing. The involvement of Indifly has been beneficial not only for the fish, but also for the people
of Rewa. People like Matt Breuer has put in years of work with Rewa to establish a strong foundation to build on. Indifly’s goal is to empower the people of Rewa to the point where they can drive the entire lodge and fishing program on their own. Indifly also brought a science team that spent countless hours researching these arapaima. They began a tagging program that is still ongoing today. This has given us great insight into the life of arapaima, from how quickly they grow to how far they travel and how they breed. We also now have a much better understanding of how to revive and release these fish successfully. The current known mortally rate of caught arapaima before release is around 1%, this is incredible considering how fragile these fish can be. Each fish is treated with tremendous care. Once a fish is captured it is fitted with a pit-tag, this tells us if a fish has been caught before or not. Sustainable Fishing Practices Each fish is measured in length and girth and all this data is recorded, along with where the fish was caught and by whom it was caught.
Even more important than the pit-tag data, is how the fish are revived. Depending on their size a fish will be allowed to take two to three breaths of air before being released. Two or three men will cradle the fish just below the surface; this allows the tired fish to lift its head out the water to take these much-needed gulps of air. The fish will be held like this for as long as it takes the fish to revive. Before being released, each fish is also fitted with a brightly coloured bobber on a 10ft line. The line is connected to the fish with an elastic band that can be pulled off the fish once it has fully recovered. When the fish is released the research team can now easily track the movement of the fish. The science team will follow the bobber around and count each time it comes up for a breath. If the fish fails to come up, they can locate it and intervene, although it is hardly ever necessary. A fish is followed for 45-60 minutes before the bobber is pulled off.
This labour-intensive procedure ensures that the fish are released in good health. They will even defend the fish against black caiman if they try to snatch the recovering fish. All the knowledge that has been gathered over the years has been passed over to the local research team at Rewa. One of the heroes of this story is Winston Edwards, a man who used to hunt arapaima for a living, is now one of their greatest guardians. Winston is the head arapaima researcher at Rewa and is responsible for the tagging and recording of all data on these fish. His passion for arapaima conservation is remarkable and inspiring.
Winston is just one of many passionate people who work at the eco-lodge. Everybody, from the cleaning staff to the world-class guides are loyal to the lodge. The Rewa Eco-Lodge has given purpose to this small village in the jungle, but what they have given back to conserve the natural world is far greater than that.
CLICK TO WATcH
The Brand Buffet
Fly Men Fishing Co: FLY TYING KITS For the past 10 years, Fly Men Fishing Co has stayed at the forefront of fly tying and put out lots of great new and innovative products. Now, they’ve launched a series of fly tying kits for specific – and very effective - patterns; kits that come with elaborate and easyto-understand instructions and the materials needed to tie a number of a given pattern.
flies and filling rows in your fly box with the same patterns, we can definitely recommend these kits. We particularly enjoyed the FishSkull Skulpin Bunny kit, and it was a great reminder of how much is means to have the right materials lined up and to work consistently with great attention to detail. It really can help you become a better and more consistent fly tyer.
There are 10 kits available, at present. They We’ve tried out the Fish-Skull Skulpin Bunny can be found on Fly Men Fishing Co’s website: kit, the Glass Minnow Guide Fly Kit, and the Fish Skull Forage Fly kit and have enjoyed https://flymenfishingcompany.com/collecthem all. If you’re not used to tying series of tions/fly-tying-kits
Simms: FLYWEIGHT SHELL JACKET Simms’ new Flyweight Range also includes a new GORETEX PACLITE® PLUS-backed Jacket. The Flyweight Shell Jacket provides maximized protection and great wearing comfort in a light weight, packable shell for demanding outdoor activities. The jacket is perfect for hike-ins and for summer days on rivers and lakes where you are constantly on the move. For more information: www.flyfisheurope.com
AM Fly Tying: JUNGLE COCK CAPES Are you into fly fishing for salmon? We certainly are, and we’ve found that tying the flies for Atlantic salmon is part of what makes salmon fishing so much fun. We’ve also learned that while salmon flies without jungle cock are sometimes frowned upon – because they can’t see??? – they still catch salmon. But then there is just something so very charming and elegant about a classic salmon fly with pretty jungle cock feathers incorporated into the design. Some of the prettiest and most consistently high-quality jungle cock we’ve ever seen comes from AM Fly Tying in the UK. They import sustainably farmed jungle cock, and they ship all across Europe. AM Fly Tying is a small, privately run fly tying business, and – as we’ve found out, they offer great customer service. For more information, please refer to: https://www.amflytying.com
Simms: FLYWEIGHT WADERS Simms have just launched their new Flyweight Range, which is based on a design idea that lets you customize your own setup for hikein fly fishing trips. The who whole concept is based on the 5.11® HEXGRID® attachment system, which allows you to attach items such as, for instance, packs, net holsters and bottle holders. The new Gore-Tex Pro-infused Flyweight Waders feature a 5.11® HEXGRID® panel for attachment, as well as a dual-access dump pocket and zippered stash pocket. For more information: www.flyfisheurope.com
The Brand Buffet Scientific Anglers: VOLANTIS INTEGRATED CLEAR CAMO - FULL INTERMEDIATE When developing the Volantis Range, Scientific Anglers teamed up with accomplished Danish and Norwegian coastal anglers. The result is a series of lines that are perfect for Scandinavian coastal conditions and for chasing seatrout and seabass. The latest addition to the range is the new Integrated Clear Camo – Full Intermediate line, which has a single strand monofilament core and a clear camo coating that blends in among bladderwracks and other weeds – and that we’ve found to be really stealthy in lightly turbid water. The line, which is available in 5, 6, 7, and 8 weight, is based on the proven Integrated taper design, which combines the best of two worlds: of WF lines and shooting tapers For more information, please visit: https://www.flyfisheurope.com/sa/
LIGHT BLUE CAMO / ORANGE / CAMO
Waterworks-Lamson: LITESPEED MARINE The Marine version of Waterworks-Lamson’s Litespeed reel is equipped with a hybrid drag system, sharing some elements of the tried-and-tested Cobalt drag (a reel we’ve used a lot in the Seychelles): Fixed spindle, large heat wicking conical surfaces, and click stop drag knob. The reel incorporates close tolerance composite bearings, and comes equipped with a linear spring set optimized for each reel size. The reel holds an IPX8 waterproof rating to 100 ft. We’ve found the reel to be extremely lightweight, and since it comes with a dependable, waterproof drag, a large arbour spool design, and is made out of bullet proof materials we’re absolutely certain it will perform well for tropical flats fishing – as well as salmon and brackish pike. For more info, visit the website of the European Dealer, Flyfish Europe: www.flyfisheurope.com
Fulling Mill: NEW FLY BOX RANGE They’re designed and made in Britain, Fulling Mill’s new fly box range features five great, and thought-through fly boxes that we’ve found to be both durable and highly functional. Each box features a polycarbonate shell joined with a stainless steel hinge. Inside you will find high density precut foam, precisely engineered to ensure your flies stay put until called upon for that higher purpose. The boxes come in a number of different sizes and
formats to suit your specific needs, and they’ve been optimized so you can really cram them full of flies and still have a great overview of your fly selection – something that the clear lids and contrast colours in the main compartments further augment. These boxes are highly recommended and come at a competitive price tag, and further information can be found on Fulling Mill’s website: https:// www.fullingmill.co.uk/Latest-Fly-Boxes-UK
UST Express Sink: DEPTH-BOMB FOR ATLANTIC SALMON If you’ve got early season salmon fishing planned, you know there’s a risk of swollen rivers that are challenging to fish. That’s why Scientific Anglers have teamed up with Flyfish Europe to design the UST Express Sink tips. These 750 – 850grain lines are tungsten coated and provide the fastest-sinking solution to catching strong, early-run salmon. The lines feature welded loops, integrated line Identification, a tracer section and Scientific Anglers super-smooth and durable AST-coating. For more information, please refer to www.flyfisheurope.com
The Brand Buffet Book Release: MULLET ON THE FLY We’ve spent countless summers chasing mullet with minimal success. And after catching a few decent fish, it’s something that we’ve put behind us – albeit reluctantly. Mullet are fun to catch, but they can be tricky and frustrating as hell. That’s why we were delighted to find a new book on the subject of catching mullet on a fly rod; “Mullet on the Fly” by Colin MacLeod. As it turns out there was a heck of a lot, we didn’t know about catching mullet on a fly rod, but over the course of 300-some pages, Colin masterfully reveals all the tricks and know-how needed to succeed; from tackle, flies, knots and locations to the strategies involved in catching mullet (whether it be thick-lipped, thin-lipped, golden grey or Mediterranean mullet) in different conditions. The book is extremely thorough and in-depth, and written by a true capacity on the subject – someone who is obviously genuinely passionate about mullet. Whether you’re already into fly fishing for mullet or you’re curious to give it a shot, this book is well worth your time and money. It’s highly recommended! For more info: www.anglebooks.com/mullet-on-the-fly-by-colin-macleod.html
Upavon: PREMIUM HD FOAM, GUNVILLE AND BIG GAME FOAM CUTTERS Upavon is a British fly tying company which has launched a great range of foam products for tying poppers, terrestrials and buoyant streamers such as Booby Flies. We’ve been lucky enough to get to test their new product range and we’re impressed! The HD foam is extremely buoyant and durable – and comes in a range of really solid and great looking colours - using the Big Game Cutters, it’s easy to make cylinders for saltwater (or pike) poppers. The Gunville Cutter range, on the other hand, is perfect for making small foam cylinders of varying sizes for terrestrials such as ants and beetles or for Booby Flies and other Stillwater flies. The Foam Cutters are made in the UK out of stainless steel, they mount easily on a drill, and they range in diameter from 19mm to 2,8mm and with a cutting depth of 45mm. For more info, please visit: https://www.upavonflyfishing.co.uk
Book Release: THE FEATHER MECHANIC Few people are more passionate or knowledgeable about fly tying materials and fly tying techniques than South African actor, fly tying instructor and fly fisherman, Gordon van der Spuy. And now, the fly tying community has been blessed with a comprehensive book that presents a “form-follows-function” fly tying philosophy that focuses on the practical aspects and significance of tying flies: The importance of focusing on how a fly will present itself and perform in a given situation, and how the materials play into that objective. The book is a tongue-in-cheek kick in the butt to all the Internet warriors that chase likes instead of fish; the ones that relentlessly post images of eye-catching flies that have never seen any water – and perhaps never will! (Without that, perhaps, being a tragedy or a loss). To the rest, it’s a gentle reminder to stay on track and focus on spitting out fishy flies, and it does so by providing countless insights, tips, tricks and reminders about the things that make a difference; the subtleties that make flies fishier and more effective. It’s one the most significant books to come out about fly tying in recent years and is highly recommended - whether you’re a seasoned fly tier or new to fly tying. For more info, please refer to: www.anglebooks.com/the-feather-mechanic-a-fly-tying-philosophy-by-gordon-van-derspuy-and-tim-wege-53692.html
Patagonia: LONG-SLEEVED R1® FITZ ROY 1/4-ZIP A super comfortable and highly versatile fishing top for layering or wearing on its own, made with moisturewicking Polartec® Power Grid™ 93% recycled polyester/7% elastane fleece that provides outstanding insulation. Breathable, stretchy and packable. For more info, please visit: https://eu.patagonia.com
The Brand Buffet
Review: AQUATECH AXISGO FOR IPHONE 11 Why do we buy new smart phones all the time? Aside from battery problems and broken display glass, that is. Well, lots of improvements are made on a continual basis when it comes to the cameras modern smart phones are equipped with. As fly fishermen, smart phones have really revolutionized how we document our catches and experiences along our favourite river, lakes and coastal stretches, and while they still can’t fully compete with DSLR’s in terms of image quality and versatility many fly fishermen have found out that they make up for it in terms of reduced weight, functionality and availability.
We’ve been long-time fans of AquaTech’s DSLunderwater houses and now, AquaTech has launched its AxisGo underwater house for Iphone 11 (one for Iphone 12 is on its way). And we’ve had a chance to get our hands on one and shoot underwater images with it.
Now, many new smart phones are water resistant, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are completely waterproof – and it doesn’t mean, either, that they are saltwater-resistant. This is where the AxisGo comes into the picture. And seeing as it can be equipped with a dome, it makes is possible to shoot those action-packed split images that have made fly fishing heroes out of fly fishing zeroes on social media outlets AquaTech has specialized in underwater hous- such as Instagram. es for high-end DSLR’s and other semi-professional camera equipment. They’ve carved out a In testing it, we found the AxisGo to be extreniche and have established a name as a brand to mely easy to use, highly ergonomic and very be trusted. (Afterall, trust is an issue when you versatile. It locks your Iphone firmly into place put several thousand Euros worth of camera with the click of a small locking mechanism, and it features a full access touch screen back equipment underwater).
plate that allows you to operate the Iphone like you would otherwise. The casing and dome (which can be bought separately) appear to be extremely durable, and we’ve been happily surprised to find that the dome is very scratch resistant too. The AxisGo housing seems super durable and we’ve used it in both freshwater and saltwater with no issues at all. The images turn out surprisingly good – as good as your Iphone will allow them to be, of course – but especially in clear water and good light conditions, the images come out great! Since an Iphone’s touch screen doesn’t work as well underneath water as it normally would, here’s a tip that we found to work well. Open your camera app and prepare for shooting, then slide the dome into the water with your Iphone upside-down. This way, your display will be out of the water and the camera and dome in the water. Doing this you can see most of your motive and shoot your images with greater ease, comfort and accuracy. You can buy the AxisGo as a complete kit, which includes a dome and dome cover, a BlueTooth pistol grip, a protective case, acrylic polish and a protective sports leash: Everything you need to start shooting great split shots and underwater stills and film. Unless you’re looking into shooting professional underwater images and split shots, the AxisGo is a very advantageously priced option – one that is both lightweight and intuitive to use. We highly recommend it and look forward to using it more on our trips this summer. For more information: https://aquatech.net/collections/axisgo
Regal THE BULLDOG BITE Building a high quality product is both easy and hard. The easy part is a mental decision to be the best you can be and to transition it through to build the best products possible. The hard part is execution. At Regal Engineering we approach every day and every project with a standard of excellence we have set for ourselves, to be the best, and to build the best! Standards produce quality, quality produces performance, and this is our company tradition. This is a way of life for us and the reason we produce“the best fly tying vise in the world.
Full Product Range Now Available Across Europe! www.flyfisheurope.com
PROFILE OF A FLY FISHERMAN
Emily Rodger We’re totally in favour of 50/50 on the water, but - as it looks right now, perhaps especially in Europe - there’s still a long way to go. To get more women into fly fishing, it’s important that female fly fishing ambassadors are provided with the platforms they deserve to make an impact and facilitate recruitment. Emily Rodger, a former 2x UCI GF Cycling World Champion, an avid outdoors person and keen fly fisher is one of those empowering people who is capable of making such an impact. Having pursued a career as a professional athlete, Emily is a goal-oriented and uncompromising individual, who is determined to make the most of her life. And, as she will tell you, fly fishing ties seamlessly up with this mentality. We’ve had a chat with Emily about her background, about her competitive career, and about how she got into fly fishing and where it has taken her.
Home Country: Canada Facebook: www.facebook.com/emilyrodger83 Instagram: www.instagram.com/erodger
Tell us a bit about yourself? I was raised in New Brunswick, Canada, and come from a family of 4 girls. I worked as a dental hygienist before pursuing my passion for triathlon and cycling. I am a 2x UCI GranFondo World Champion (both Time Trial and Road Race), Canadian Masters National Time Trial Champion, 70.3 Ironman world qualifier etc. Along with my successes in sports, I have certainly had more than my fair share of setbacks. I have survived 2 very serious cycling accidents (struck by vehicles on 2 separate occasions while riding). These accidents resulted in multiple broken bones, a brain injury, and extensive soft tissue/ facial damage. I returned to racing after both accidents but decided to take this past year off of racing so that I had more time to pursue other endeavors. I work as a Health and Life coach and am working towards my certification as an Executive Business Coach. I thrive off of encouraging and supporting others as they choose to live their life to the fullest ! How did you get started fly fishing and why? The idea of fly fishing came to me in the year following my first cycling accident. I was still undergoing surgeries/treatment, recovering from a brain injury, and, despite all of that, I was back to training and racing. Although I wouldn’t admit it at the time, I was not only suffering with the effects of a brain injury but also with PTSD
from the trauma I had experienced during that accident. I was slowly becoming a person I no longer recognized, and I lived in constant fear of getting hurt again. I struggled being around people, and started spending more and more time on my own. I was living in Arizona at the time, and would go up to Oak Creek in Sedona on my recovery days from training. I loved just sitting by the water, away from everything and everyone. During those moments, I wasn’t thinking about my injuries, my accident, racing, or all of my fears and anxiety I was living with—I was simply captivated by trying to spot trout. That’s when my memories of fishing as a child came back to me. I remembered being 4 or 5 years-old and trying to catch trout in a brook by my childhood home. I remembered so vividly the joy I experienced when I was finally able to catch one. That was the type of joy that was missing in my life, and that is how the idea of fly fishing came to me. I didn’t know anyone else who fly fished, so I hired a guide and was out fly fishing the following week. Taking that initial step to try fly fishing was one of the greatest choices I’ve ever made. You’ve travelled all over the world. What’s the most exciting place you’ve fished and why? The Amazon jungle! I had always wanted to travel to Brazil, and as soon as I found out that I could fly fish there, I was planning my trip.
I love traveling to remote destinations, learning about different cultures, and targeting new species of fish. The jungle provided all of that and more! I fished at two different lodges while there, Rio Marié and Pirarucu. What really appealed to me about these lodges was the emphasis that they put on conservation and protection, both for the environment and for the indigenous tribes who inhabit the land. The compassion and passion that the staff of these lodges have for the jungle, its people, and the fish was unlike anything I have ever experienced before. It was exciting to see how beneficial fly fishing can be, both from an environmental standpoint and also socially. Not only did I catch beautiful fish but I also witnessed firsthand the true meaning of community. What is the most memorable fish you’ve caught and why? I landed my most memorable fish this past June. Originally, I was supposed to be traveling to various destinations to fly fish but, just like everyone else, my plans were cancelled due to COVID-19. I made the most of my cancelled international plans and made new plans, exploring rivers closer to my home in Atlantic Canada. After navigating the new logistics of booking with a lodge and hiring a guide, I was out on the water again. On my final day and final hour of fishing with Restigouche River Lodge in New Brunswick,
Canada (my home province), I landed a 36-pound Atlantic Salmon! The hen gave me the fight of a lifetime, showing me the pure strength and stamina that these fish hold. That silver salmon was the perfect reminder to always make the most of your given situation—a silver lining indeed. What is it that intrigues you about fly fishing? Fly fishing intrigues me because there are so many different variables that go into it. I love the technical aspect of it and how many things need to come together in order to land the fish I am chasing after. It reminds me of planning out my training and race execution. Some things I am in control of, while there are other things that can/will occur that are completely out of my control. When it all comes together, it’s magical. When it doesn’t come together, it makes for an incredible learning experience and opportunity for growth. Things in life won’t always go as planned, but fly fishing provides great practice of learning the skillsets necessary to cope with that uncertainty! Fish also live in the most beautiful places. While I don’t need to have a reason to travel and explore the world, chasing fish sure does provide a great one! Is it difficult, at times, being a female in a male dominated sport? I have encountered difficulties at times but it isn’t something that I have allowed to be an issue for me.
I try and stay true to myself and what it is I want to be doing - or pursuing, regardless of my gender. There will always be people out there (male or female) who might try and bring me down, intimidate me, or diminish my experience but ultimately, it’s up to me how that affects me. I choose to put my energy in to trying to make fly fishing more welcoming and less difficult for others instead of getting caught up in the ways it has been difficult for me. Europe has very few women in fly fishing. Do you have input on how to attract more women into fly fishing? Regardless of your gender, if you are reading this article and haven’t tried fly fishing, then I encourage you to try it. There was already something about fly fishing that piqued your interest enough for you to even read this magazine—I think that is reason enough to give it a try! We live in a world where we are conditioned to overthink, procrastinate, and make excuses. We spend too much time in our minds and not enough time in our hearts. Listen to your heart and what it wants to be doing, then take action to make that happen. I also believe that passion is contagious and when we share stories, photos, and experiences with others it ignites curiosity in them to experience those things as well. I believe the emphasis should be put on
encouraging others to find things that truly bring joy to their lives. With that, I think that more people will naturally find themselves out on the water! What are the most important lessons you’ve learned along the way as a fly fisherman? The importance of patience and perseverance. This lesson really came to me in the summer/fall of 2017. I was in France, had just won my 2nd world title in cycling, and was racing another stage race there before returning home to Canada. During that last race I was hit by a car while descending down a mountain. I spent 8 days in a hospital in France before I was able to fly home to Canada. I lay in that hospital bed feeling defeated. I had worked so hard to get to where I was, only to get knocked down again. I thought a lot about fly fishing while in the hospital, and I would try and imagine myself being on the water as a way to cope with the physical pain I was experiencing. Visualizing the water flowing downstream reminded me that these hard times would pass but that I was going to need to swim upstream to get back to where I wanted to go. I thought about Atlantic Salmon and the challenges they are faced with while returning to their natal rivers—their journey is far from easy. From the river, to the ocean, then back to the river, they constantly face challenges.
They fight their way through countless predators, push through fishing nets, endure environmental changes, relentlessly leap up waterfalls, often to just get knocked down over and over again. They also know when to be patient, sitting in pools when water levels drop or temperatures get too high—timing is everything. I have learned that patience and perseverance go hand in hand. There are times when we need to work hard, push through, and persevere, and there are also times when we need to just be still, to rest, and be patient. You’re an elite cyclist. How do you split your time between cycling and fly fishing? I took this past year off of racing so I was able to be more flexible with my schedule, choosing to spend most of my time on the water and growing my business. In previous years, I would fish around my training and race schedule. On days that I fished when I was living in Arizona, I would be on my bike at 4am so that I could get out on the water around 10am. When I was back in Canada, I would fish in the morning, train in the afternoon (when other anglers would be taking their siesta!), and then fish again in the evening. Most cycling races tend to be held in places that have incredible fishing, so I would try and find a way to incorporate them both. Last summer when I raced in Italy, I went over a few days early so that I could fish. That way I am able to get the best of both worlds! I really try and plan my days as efficiently and effectively as possible so I can get the most out of them (all while making sure I get my 8 hours of sleep!).
Has fly fishing taught you anything that translates into being a better athlete? Fly fishing has enabled me to become a more balanced and healthier athlete. There was a time when I allowed training and racing to take priority over everything in my life. I missed out on family events, my nephew being born, friends’ weddings etc. When I was with my family and friends, I often struggled to be fully present, and my mind would still be on training. Fly fishing taught me the value of staying present in the moment. It provided me the space I needed to evaluate what truly was important to me.
The more time I spent fishing, the more my priorities started to shift. I recognized that the bike didn’t need to come first in order for me to be successful at it. What I needed to put first was my faith, my family/friends, then cycling/fly fishing. When I made this shift, my life became more fulfilling. I became happier, stronger, and even more passionate to live a life of purpose, authenticity, and integrity. That all made me a better athlete, but most importantly, a better person.
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”GAULA, SEARCHING FOR A DREAM” By FOCUSONTHEFLY FLY FISHING
This is the full movie we presented to RISE fly fishing film festival. Gaula is one of the most legendary salmon rivers in the world and we wanted to introduce its character using the musings of 3 anglers that really feel a deep love for it. Fabrice Bergues: http://www.speyetcompagnie.com/ Norwegian Fly Fishers Club: http://nfc-online.com/
AMflytying was fo Mukans family. Ba AMflytying are ma fly fishing equipme our tradition of exc expectations whils
ounded in 2009 by Andrey Mukans following successful generations of fishing within the ased in Ripon, North Yorkshire, our small family run business is operated with you in mind. arket leaders in providing hand crafted fly tying materials and tools along with essential ent. With quality at the heart of everything we do and passion for perfection we continue cellence. We firmly believe customer service is paramount and that exceeding customer st offering exceptional value for money is the key to running a successful business.
The Latex Tail Sculpin he See t n actio
Dron Lee is an innovative fly tyer out of Malaysia. He runs the website www.flytyingnation.com and has been extremely influential, internationally, with a steady flow of new tying techniques and creative imitation patterns that, not only look amazing, but also fish amazingly well. In the following, Dron Lee presents his Latex Tail Sculpin; a pattern that will do equally well for European brown trout and Scandinavian seatrout. Oh, and let’s not forget marble trout and hucho!!! By DRON LEE
Material List// Tail: Hook: Weight: Eye: Fin: Head and body: Colour:
FTN Latex tail Ahrex NS115 Deep Streamer D/E #4 DIY belly weight out of 1mm lead sheeting 3mm epoxy eyes Squirrel Zonker SR Under Fur, ICE UV dubbing, Deer Creek Mega Lazer Dub Pro Markers
1.Secure the tying thread and prepare the thread base on hook.
2. Tie in some Deer Creek Orange Mega Lazer Dub.
3. Tie in some ICE UV dubbing on top of the Deer Creek Orange Mega Lazer Dub.
4. Fold the dubbing back over and tie it firmly down.
5. Tie in some SR Under Fur, underneath the hook shank.
6. Fold the SR Under Fur over and back, and tie the fur firmly down.
7. Now pull the hook through the latex tail (pre-cut into the right shape and coloured with marker pens).
8. Firmly secure and tie down the latex tail.
9. Now tie in some more SR Under Fur right in front of the latex tail.
10. Fold the fur back over and tie it firm- 11. Reverse the vise head 180 degress and 12. Reverse the vise head another 180 dely down. Then tie in 2 pcs of Squirrel tie in some SR Under Fur on the belly of grees, then fold the zonker strips, forming a Zonker strips. the hook, fold it back and tie it down. loop, and tie them down as shown in picture
13: Tie in some SR Under Fur in front of 14: Now continue tying in additional SR 15: Repeat the step 14, until you’ve built the zonker strips. Under Fur, fold it back and tie it down to a suitably sized head. create the head profile
16: Now, tie in the belly weight. It can be customized depending on how heavy you want the fly to be.
17: Repeating step 14, continue building 18: Trim the SR Under Fur with a pair the head. of good scissors and provide the fly with the right shape.
19: Color the head with markers to get the colours and patterns you like.
20: Use 3-minute epoxy (or similar) to 21: Glue on the 3D-epoxy eyes. build a base for the eyes.
The development of the Latex Tail Sculpin started 5 years ago. My initial idea was to incorporate a latex flipper tail on a sculpin pattern. I like latex as a fly tying material, and I like the fact that latex is very supple. Sculpins move very erratically and by incorporating a latex tail on my new sculpin pattern, I was aiming for a certain action – and for a tail that would flap and lift in a jigging manner, thus creating a very lifelike sculpin movement pattern. The whole idea, basically, was to imitate a fleeing sculpin trying to dive down and hide in the sand or pebble along the bottom.
makes the fly glide down in a natural swooping manner, instead of heading straight down (like a jig fly would otherwise do). A conventional strip and pause presentation will create a tail flipping action which is very similar to how a real sculpin moves and behaves in the water.
The latex tail is pretty long compared to the hook, but it allows for free movement. And the shape of the sculpin head with a curved belly
An extra heavy-wire streamer hook with a down-turned eye - in this case, the Ahrex NS115 - was ideal for this application.
For weight, I’ve incorporated and extra-heavy DIY belly weight system where I’ve cut into shape a 1mm thick lead sheet, which I’ve then tied in near the hook eye. I’ve done this to replace conventional dumbbell eyes and to create a curved belly - for the gliding action.
THE ALL-NEW LITESPEED MARINE The Marine version of Litespeed is equipped with a hybrid drag system, sharing some elements of the Cobalt drag; fixed spindle, large heat wicking conical surfaces, click stop drag knob. The LS M incorporates close tolerance composite bearings, and comes equipped with the same linear spring set found on LS F, optimized for each reel size. Like our Cobalt reel, it holds an IPX8 waterproof rating to 100 ft. LS M frame and spool share the same open structure as LS F, with emphasis on greater stiffness and stability. The art of the fly reel derives from the science of the fly reel, but at the end of the day both art and science, when held in balance, serve to make us smile. Manufactured in the U.S.A. and assembled in Boise, Idaho.
US MADE IDAHO BUILT MORE INFO
THE HUGE CADDIS FLY
The Grandis By HÅKAN KARSNÄSER
In this fly tying article, Swedish fly tyer and fly fisherman, Håkan Karsnäser, shows you how to tie a big and buoyant caddis fly – and along the way he explains what to pay particular attention to when tying and fishing with caddis flies.
Material List// Hook: Thread: Body: Wing: Head/thorax:
Ahrex FW 570, size 6. Black GSP. Brown seal’s fur, natural and sand colored CDC. Natural CDC and varnished partridge feather. Deer hair.
Caddis are important food items for both brown trout, grayling, and rainbow trout. To us fly fishermen this means that imitations of the different stages in their lifecycles shouldn’t escape our attention and that we need to reserve some space in our fly boxes for them. When it comes to adult caddis flies, good floatation is key. Being able to skate the fly on the surface is essential. However, the fly mustn’t float too high. It’s important that it can be dragged under the surface and rise back up again. For this particular purpose, I began combining CDC and deer hair some years ago for my caddis imitations. I’ve arrived at a design that fulfills all the functional parameters I look for in my caddis imitations. CDC for the body and wing provides good floatation, a fine silhouette and a nice footprint on the surface. The wing of varnished feathers adds further to the profile. The fly is simple to tie and can be tied in most sizes to imitate all hatches. And it’s an extremely durable fly too.
VOLANTIS INTEGRATED Your go-to fly line for seatrout and other coastal predator fish such as seabass. Developed, designed, and tested by some of the most hard-core and knowledgeable Nordic coastal fishermen in cooperation with Flyfish Europe. This integrated line gives you the best of two worlds: The loading capabilities and casting distance of a shooting head, and the presentation and feel of a traditional WF line.
Designed by Flyfish Europe
Mountain Solitude and Celtic Adventure By CERI THOMAS Photos by ALAN PARFITT, CERI THOMAS, TIM HUGHES and WYNN DAVIES
A proud Celtic nation surrounded on three sides by the sea, Wales ‘Cymru’ is a country of natural beauty with rolling green hills, craggy mountains, and majestic glacial valleys. The lilting rhythms of ‘Cymraeg’ an ancient language still fill the air and the national Welsh dragon flag flutters above fairy-tale castles.
Everywhere you go in Wales you will see a land shaped by water, in our rivers and lakes you will find excellent fly fishing opportunities for trout, sea trout, salmon, grayling and pike. In the sea we have bass and mullet in abundance. Wales has many sporting species that will readily take your fly. Of them all, Wales is especially home to indigenous brown trout, which can be found in almost every river and stream. From fish the size of your hand, through to 7lb (3kg) specimens from the fertile post-industrial rivers of the south such as the Ebbw, Tawe and Taff, flowing waters in Wales are blessed with prolific stocks of Salmo trutta In resident and migratory forms, including the sea trout ‘sewin’ of west and north Wales ,that can run to over 20lb (10kg) in rivers like the Towy and Dovey. While our fellow Celtic nations the Scottish have ‘lochs’ and the Irish ‘loughs’ Wales also has many lakes, which we call ‘llyn’ or ‘llynnoedd’ (plurally). It is perhaps these which offer the best fishing adventures for wild brown trout. Although only a
relatively small country, Wales has over 550 trout stillwaters, including natural glacial lakes and breath-takingly beautiful man-made reservoirs; so you are never far from a lake with good fishing. Endless Variation Variety is key, no two llynnoedd are alike; even waters just yards apart may have vastly different characteristics. You will find deep, inky black lakes tucked away in heather clad crevasses, crystal clear corrie lakes in natural amphitheatres under steep cliffs, and gentle moorland waters where the waves lap gravelly shores. Each llyn in Wales is unique with a special character. Thanks to cool, oxygenated water that allows for productive fishing even in summer heat, almost all our lakes have abundant stocks of pretty, hard fighting brown trout, which typically range from 30cm to 50cm. Some reservoirs are also stocked with rainbow trout and other varieties, such as blue, golden and tiger, which can run to 8kg in weight.
Generally, though, llyn fishing in Wales is not about ‘big fish’. Our waters are perfect for those who seek solitude and value wild fishing in stunning, varied surroundings; places where you will find enough adventure to last several lifetimes, where the fish are free rising and abundant. A Tour of Llyn Fishing in Wales For me, there is nothing better than exploring the llyn fishing we have in Wales. There is so much choice that you could easily fish a different llyn for each day of the season, which runs from March to Mid-October. Whichever lakes you choose, they are always situated in the most enchanting terrain, making them a magical place to cast your fly. Here, I’ll take you one a tour of some of the best parts of Wales for llyn fishing. All you will need to bring is a 5 or 6-weight rod from 9 foot to 10 foot in length, a fly box with some traditional wet fly and spider patterns, some small dark steamers and dry flies that imitate terrestrial insects, caddis and small mayflies. The only fly line you will need is a floater.
Waders are a useful option, but not essential, since many of the lakes can be fished from their rocky shores without the need to enter the water. Should you wish, a lightweight float tube can be carried in a rucksack and used as an enjoyable option. North Wales – Majestic Mountains Let us start at the fertile Isle of Anglesey known in Welsh as ‘Ynys y mon’ a bastion of ancient Druidic heritage. Here, there are many lowland lakes with fishing for larger wild brown trout, such as llyn coron, which also has a run of sea trout and llyn cefni, which has good browns and rainbows. Cross the Menai straits to the mainland and you’ll discover the epic landscapes of the Snowdonia National Park, one of Britain’s truly wild places. The number and variety of lakes here is astonishing, from glacial valley waters like llyn Cwellyn that hold brown trout and the ‘torgoch’, a remnant population of arctic char, to the savage gran-
deur of high mountain lakes such as llyn fffynon loer ‘The well of the moon’ and the majestic llyn Idwal, where a giant is said to lie entombed for all eternity. On the southern edge of Snowdonia lies Blaenau Ffestiniog, a slate mining town full of heritage and history, a place that roofed the world in the 19th century. It was here that the local work force would emerge from the darkness of the mines and escape to the mountain lakes to fish. These quarry men lived for fly fishing, forming the Cambrian Angling Association in 1885, developing their own ‘ffestiniog flies’ and seeded trout fry into many lakes in the region. The Ffestiniog mountains are literally peppered with scores of glacial lakes, of varying ease of access and potential. Some are near to roads, whilst others require short hikes or sometimes a few hours trek through scenic paths. High above ravens fly and mountain goats scramble across the rugged slopes.
Lakes of note include the dramatic llynnoedd Gamallt, where trout freely slash at skated caddis imitations, llyn llagi with its solemn, black cliffs that tower high above the lake, the majestic moorland expanse of llyn Conglog, where 4lb (1.8kg) trout are caught each year, the picturesque llyn Cwm Orthin with its abandoned slate tips and chapels, llyn dubont ‘the lake of the black bridge’ with its epic views of the Moelwyn mountain range and shallow llyn Cwm Corsiog, where trout rise freely amongst the weedbeds to falls of heather fly. To the south of Ffestiong we come to the Rhinog mountain range, again home to many glacial lakes that are hidden away in deep, heather clad clefts formed by tumbled and fractured rock, in which lurk trout from just finger size to an arm’s length, a place for only the most adventurous, hardy angler where long hikes and steep climbs are the norm.
Further on, the peak of Cadiar Idris ‘the giants chair’ looms at the southern end of the National park. There are several rocky mountain lakes around it such as llyn cau ‘lake of the enclosure’ all holding moderately sized trout, but in the valley below lies the gentle expanse of Tal-y-llyn lake ‘llyn mwyngil’, where large and beautifully marked wild trout of over 50cm and 4lb (1.8kg) can be found. Mid Wales – Land of Rolling Green Hills From Cadiar Idris southward, the mountains soften somewhat into the green rolling hills of mid- Wales, where reservoirs such as Llyn Vrynwy, Nant y moch ‘stream of the pigs’ and Llyn Clywedog cover a vast area of water. Clywedog has superb rainbow trout fishing, as well as other trout species that are stocked, in addition to wild brown trout. It can be fished from hired boat or from the bank. Make sure you are here in June, when a beetle hatch falls onto the water from the bracken clothed hills. The legendary ‘coch-y–bonddu’ beetle brings every fish to the surface to feed in a frenzy.
There are natural lakes and many lead mining reservoirs from the Victorian era hidden in the hills of mid Wales. From Aberystwyth in Northern Ceredigion to the Plynlimon massif you will find dozens of these waters, which in many cases are quite fertile and can produce quality wild trout to 6lb (2.7kg). Aberystwyth and Talybont angling association (https:// fishingwales.net/fishing-locations/ talybont-angling-association/) have lots of great fishing in this area, lakes such as llyn Oerfa ‘the cold place’, llyn Conach and llyn Rhosrydd are worth investigating. Beyond, in the heather clad moorlands of central Wales lie hidden gems such as llyn Gwyddior, which has brown trout averaging 40cm with fish to 4.5lb (2kg) caught each season, while llyn Bugeilyn ‘the shepherds pool’ swarms with eager, hard hitting fish, known as the black finned trout of Wales. To the south the Cambrian Mountains roll on for miles, an open expanse of hills and grass covered wilderness, an area sometimes known as the ‘green desert of Wales’.
In this heartland you will find the ornate and beautiful Elan Valley dams and the mighty Claerwen reservoir. In the remote hills surrounding them are natural lakes, such as the lonely llyn Gynon and the famous Teifi Pools, where six llynnoedd can be found close together. All of these waters offer a different experience with varying levels of accessibility, from parking right on the banks to a walk-in of a few miles. South Wales – Breath-Taking Beacons As the Cambrian mountains peter out, the distinctive hills and mountains of the South Wales Brecon Beacons rise, said to be named after the ancient practise of lighting signal fires to warn of attacks by invaders. In this National Park there are natural glacial lakes but not in the numbers as you will find in mid and north Wales. The Beacons instead has many reservoirs, nearly 20, that were constructed in the 19th century for water supply. These are found in the vast and dramatic valleys or ‘cwms’ of old red-sandstone.
The geology here makes for more fertile water, so quality wild trout can be expected and in some there are rainbows. Of special interest is Tal-y-bont, a majestic, 3.5km long expanse of reservoir that is well known for producing golden natural brown trout that thrive in the richer water, averaging around 40cm with many ranging to 50cm or more. The lake produces from opening day on March 20th, so it is a great place to enjoy some early season sport. In the summer, evenings are the best time, when hatches of chironomid and terrestrial insects can bring hundreds of rising trout to the surface. Nearby is Cantref reservoir, in the ‘Cwm Taf ’ valley which has easy access with good stocks of brown and pretty rainbow trout. To the West of the Beacons are Crai reservoir and Ystradfellte reservoirs, both notable for their fine scenery, where rounded mountains sweep far above, and in spring the banks are festooned with blossoming haw-
thorn trees. It’s simply idyllic countryside, with plenty of free rising brown trout to test your skills. To finish the journey are the dramatic slopes of the upper Rhondda valley and the Rhigos mountain. Below it lies llyn fawr ‘the big lake’ once a natural lake that was converted to a reservoir a century ago, in the process revealing a hoard of submerged Celtic artifacts, including cauldrons, swords and spears; gifts to the deities of the other world no doubt. It’s waters today provide great trout fishing for rainbows. Getting to Wales and accessing the fishing Getting to Wales from Europe is easier than the other Celtic nations with similar fishing, since we are much closer to Northern France, Netherlands and Germany. This allows visitors to drive to Wales using the Channel Tunnel, which in this current world of COVID allows you to be safe and practice social distancing even on your journey. From Folkstone it is then a mere 3 hour journey to the Welsh border.
Wales also has an airport in the capital city Cardiff, from here to drive fully from South to North Wales will only take 3.5 hours, or if you fly into London South Wales is just a 2 hour drive from Heathrow. Access to the fishing in Wales is easy, thanks to a network of angling clubs that issue inexpensive day, week and season tickets for visitors. These can be purchased in most tackle shops or online with fishing clubs, or through the Fishing Passport, an internet scheme set up to allow for easy purchasing of day tickets. Day tickets are typically just £10 to £20 (12 to 22 Euros) and often include multiple lakes and rivers under the same permit. It is rare to see another human being, let alone another angler so exclusivity is almost guaranteed. You will also need a national rod fishing licence from Natural Resources Wales, which can be ordered online for 8 days at £12 (15 Euro).
Wales has a tourist information website completely dedicated to fishing: www.fishingwales.net. Here you will find every place to fish in Wales along with contact details for the fishery owners and angling clubs. There are also contacts for Welsh fly fishing guides and outfitters should you need one, fishing tackle shop locations, places to stay including fishing hotels and campsites plus essential information on Welsh fishing seasons and regulations. Wales may not be the most publicised fly fishing destination, but if you are seeking true adventure in breath-taking surroundings with the added advantage of not having to travel to the ends of the earth then it is worth serious consideration. ‘Croeso I pysgota yng Nghymru’ Welcome to Fishing in Wales
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Home Country: USA Website: www.jacquelinestella.com SoMe: www.instagram.com/jackiewatercolorart/
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into painting? Before my painting career, I have been a concert violinist all my youth. I’ve traveled to beautiful cities around the world to perform in concerts and share my passion. I was fortunate to be honored with scholarships and sponsorships as well as numerous awards such as Royal Orchestral Society in England and Yale University Alumni Association. While I was earning multiple degrees from prestigious schools in Europe and the United States, I have met many inspiring artists and scholars in various fields. In addition, the most awakening experience was teaching underprivileged students and performing for people who were suffering from terminal diseases. I believe in the healing power of music and art because I have seen the positive changes it can make in people. Even though music has been my heart and soul, I’ve made a decision to leave my career as a musician and become an artist. But the truth is, I’ve never left one to be the other. I always loved both ever since I was little and I have always been painting throughout my life. I’ve always played music dreaming the most beautiful paintings, and I’ve always been painting beautiful songs without words. How I grew up, what I have learned and experienced, what I have achieved as a musician… I believe all these make me who I am as an artist and reflect in my art.
What made you decide to mainly use water colors? Watercolors makes me breathe. Watercolor is clear like fresh air. Watercolor flows like a beautiful continuous melody. Every fish I paint is dancing alive freely in water. I feel intoxicated with magic when I paint watercolors. I especially love the sophisticated tone of watercolors that no other medium can offer. You paint a lot of fish, fly fishing and fly tying motives. What has compelled you to do so? I used to do fashion illustrations and whimsical illustrations. But there are limits in illustration and designs and I am not the type of a person who can enjoy doing the same thing over and over. So I wanted to free my spirit by painting my favorite as a lover of wildlife and fly fishing. The majority of angling artists paint fish because they are master fishermen/ women and they know fish so well. I am the opposite. I don’t know much about it, and that makes me dream of it all the time. It is full of mystery to me. There is so much life under the water that we will never fully understand. Fish are such exquisite creatures living in their own amazing underwater world. That’s why I love to paint the actions and emotions of fish as an admirer rather than just illustrating what they look like.
I also love to paint interaction between people and fish. Two living creatures from two different world meet for a brief moment... How fascinating is that?! It is breathtaking if you think about it. I wonder what fish think when they see us. How do they feel when they are released back in the water? That is why I love painting fisherman portraits. Nothing is more exciting for me than painting complex emotions that were exchanged at the split second. The things you cannot just express in words. One of the main attractions that separates fly fishing from spin fishing is fly. Flies are not only aesthetically pleasing but they also have a significant meaning in them. Have you thought about how fly fishermen/ women spend endless hours acquiring knowledge about nature, preparing materials, and creating the fly with incredible amounts of patience, dedication and craftsmanship…? I was blown away when I realized; it is not just a shape of an insect or fish, but it represents the soul of fly fishermen and fly tiers. This is the reason why I started my “Art of Fly Tying” Series paintings. My painting of a fly is not about a random beautiful fly someone tied. It is about the soul of fly fishermen that connects us with nature. It is about you. Can you feel that through my painting…?
How did you get started fly fishing and why? My access to outdoor sports activities was limited since you cannot afford a day off due to injuries as a violinist. But I do remember how much my dad enjoyed fishing. Fishing was his favorite hobby. Once in a while we all went fishing together as a family, and I remember his smiles vividly. It seemed like his work stress was all gone when he was fishing in the nature. Pablo Picasso said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” I cannot agree more. Then, during my college years, my best friend used to take me to rivers and the ocean. I immediately felt a deep connection in my heart and soul because fly fishing is a fine art without a doubt. What is it about fly fishing that intrigues you? Fly fishing is truly fascinating. I think a fly rod is just like a Violin bow, crafted by artisans, a musical instrument that sings. When you cast a long beautiful loop, I hear the fly rod sings the music of nature like the violin sings the music of people. I am obsessed with the beautiful casting people make. It probably sounds silly, but I can watch people casting for hours. And the handle shape of certain fly reels reminds me of the F hole (sound hoIe on the violin).
And of course, the flies, the fabulous colors and patterns of flies.… How musical and artistic, right? I love everything about fly fishing even without catching any fish. How do you split your time between fly fishing and painting? Painting is my passion so it gets the top priority of my time. But even when I am not out on the water, my mind is always somewhere near the water in the wild. And when I am fishing, I am always dreaming about being in my imaginary painting. In your opinion, do fly fishing and painting complement each other – and if so how? Absolutely. There is a strong connection between fly fishing and art. Do you know, music, art, math and science are all tightly connected? They are inseparable. Albert Einstein was a scientist and violinist, Leonardo Da Vinci was a scientist and artist. Just like that, fly fishing and art are interwoven with each other. Beside all the fun and exciting part of catching fish, fly fishermen/women appreciate the artistic elements in fly fishing. The purpose of my art is to help you relive and magnify your most wonderful memory through my artwork when you cannot physically go fishing.
Has fly fishing helped you become a better painter – or vice versa? Fortunately, I live in Connecticut where I can go flyfishing both in freshwater and saltwater. I love being out there enjoying the nature. Fly fishing shows me a world I have never seen. Because the destinations for fishing trips are not the same as people’s usual travel destinations. One time, when I was fishing in Montana, there were thousands of mayflies and beautifully orchestrated rising trouts. I literally cried and just stood in the water captivated by the marvelous nature. Without fly fishing I wouldn’t have been able to experience that. And these enchanting experiences are the inspirations for my paintings. What are your aspirations as a fly fisher? I was planning to visit Cuba to catch permit in spring 2020. Permit is one of my favorite fish and I was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, my trip was cancelled because of Pandemic lockdown. Hopefully I will be able to make a trip to Cuba soon. Despite the fact that I have traveled to many countries around the world, I haven’t really seen the wild life side of them. So many of my future trips will include fly fishing for sure. Fishing in Norway, Iceland, Russia, Ireland, Italy, and Seychelles are on my next bucket list. Do you have any cool projects coming up; fishing- or art wise? I am currently working on a couple private commissioned projects. Even though I do constantly receive collaboration requests, it is not that easy to find a good fit. But I am always open for a new project and collaboration that fits my philosophy.
We’ve had a look at your t-shirt collaboration with Simms. Very cool! How did that collaboration come about? Thank you! It came totally as a surprise. Simms contacted me that they wanted to purchase my artwork and commission projects. I was thrilled because we all know that Simms has been one of the leading brands in the fishing industry for a long time. It is so exciting to see a major brand like Simms introduce artist series and I feel honored that my art is a part of it. Currently, two of my paintings (Bluefin Tuna and False Albacore) are out in Men’s Solar Tec Tee Ocean collection. Two additional paintings of mine (Mahi Mahi and Striped Bass) should be coming out soon. Hope to see many of you rocking the shirts! Any advice to fellow fly fishermen, who aspire to do fish art? Paint what your heart tells you to do. Unlike illustrations/designs, painting should be beyond the technical questions. Some paintings are lifeless and worthless while some are priceless. The magic of art is in the artist’s heart who paints. That gives life to art and makes each artist and each artwork unique and priceless. Paint your heart and soul and you will see it come to life.
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