FALL 2021 // #30
PATAGONIAN ADVENTURES By Brian McGeehan
COLOMBIA PAYARA MANIA
By Tarquin Millington-Drake
SEYCHELLES Providence Atoll
Salmon, Scotch, and so much more #30
Down a Windy Gravel Road
Europe’s free online fly fishing magazine
Photo by James Manning
Some trips make more sense than others – both in the planning stages and in retrospect. Since most of our plans this summer were cancelled, we recently did an impromptu trip to Northern Norway in pursuit of adventure and thrills. Our aim was to catch a species that hardly ever gets caught on a fly rod; a species that most people would find inane and naïve to target with a fly rod. Well, we’re dreamers so – despite all the odds being stacked against us, we flew to the far North to target halibut. Yes, the bottom-dwelling fish that most people target in the abysmal depths of the sea. With highest of hopes and the lowest of expectations, we set off to fish our 12-weights in combination with sinking lines and 30-centimeter-long flies that looked more like wigs than actual flies. The fishing was far shallower and more visual than we’d expected, and the results surpassed our wildest expectations. Sometimes, you get lucky. But, then again, doesn’t fortune favour the bold? You can check out our Instagram story for a few highlights from the trip. And don’t be surprised to find an article about targeting halibut with a fly rod in one of our future editions. This edition includes contributions from the likes of Brian McGeehan, Ad Maddox, Christian Kirchermeier, Tarquin Millington-Drake, Michael Carr, Peter Lyngby, Jonathon Muir, Francois Botha, Robert Dotson, Justin Kennedy, and more… We hope you enjoy it!
Photo by Armando Giraldo
Payara Mania by Tarquin Millington-Drake Down a Windy Gravel Road by Justin Kennedy ”Tiger!” ”Tiger!” by Francois Botha Low Pressure Trout South of the Equator by Brian McGeehan The Funny Fish by Michael Carr Salmon, Scotch, and so much more by Jonathon Muir And much much more...
Contributors In the Loop Magazine C/O Cast Away Media Org no: 999 320 147 www.intheloopmag.com
Although he has fished and photographed extensively around the world through his work as the MD of travel company Frontiers UK, TMD’s heart lies with the Atlantic salmon. He has fished Norway, Iceland and Russia every year for the past 20+ years. He was also President of the Ponoi River Company for 10 years and is an international Director of NASF. He is lucky to be a member of the 50lbs + salmon club. You can follow his travels and love of photography at: www.blog.millingtondrake.com.
By Robert Dotson
VISIT US ON
Jonathon grew up salmon fishing on the rivers of Scotland and Atlantic salmon are still his main passion. Working for Farlows Travel in London, Jonathon now organises bespoke fishing trips and hosts salmon fishing groups in Norway and Russia, as well as sea trout fishing trips to Tierra del Fuego. Jonathon is never far from his camera and drone and also produces photo and film content to promote overseas fishing destinations. Contact Jonathon at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Brian McGeehan is an avid fly fisherman, traveler, and advocate for conservation of public lands and conservation of wild trout fisheries. Brian is the owner and outfitter of Montana Angler Fly Fishing based in Bozeman, MT which operates fly fishing lodges, a retail fly shop and a destination fly fishing travel program. As a father of four active children, he recognizes the value of sharing his passion of the great outdoors with future generations. For more info: www.montanaangler.com
Francois Botha has been obsessed with exotic fly fishing destinations for as long as he could wield a rod. These outlandish and sometimes downright crazy expeditions into the unknown realms of the world have also fostered his passion for storytelling, photography and conservation - forever pushing the boundaries of fly fishing and venturing beyond the edgelands of exploration. For more info: www.instagram.com/franbo_fly_fishing and www.instagram.com/goliathexpeditions
James Manning is a photographer from the Northeast. His love of photography and fly fishing led him to move around the world and document anglers. From Ireland to Chile and Hawaii to Fiji. He is now a full time firefighter in New York and continues to travel and capture incredible moments on the water. www.instagram.com/theanglerslens/
Gabe Rivest is a professional biologist, who has had the chance to work on several fisheries projects in the Yukon Territory over the years. Before that, Gabe was a canoe/fishing guide, so a fair amount of his working career has evolved around exploring rivers and lakes throughout the Yukon. In 2013, Gabe organized and led a 2-month canoe trip through the Peel and Yukon Watershed, to create the award winning documentary, Paddle for the North. For more info: www.flyfishyukon.ca and www.instagram.com/gabe_rivest
Robert and his wife Kelli hunt the kiwi backcountry, remote ocean flats and freshwater rivers worldwide in search of predatory fish. But their wanderings ultimately end in rediscovering their first love - the mystical home waters of the Henry’s Fork in Idaho. The yearning for images that ignite the imagination of waters yet to be discovered plagues Robert’s artistic pursuits. For a taste of the journey visit http://www.robertdotson.com
Michael Carr is an English teacher and a writer from New Jersey. He chases stripers with his fly rod whenever and wherever he can. When not teaching, writing, or fishing, Carr is a volunteer EMT. He is currently working on a collection of fishing essays in the off hours between hikes, pond trips, and driveway hockey with his sons.
Moved to the Yukon in the fall of 2009 and took up fly fishing shortly after. Fascinated by the river systems and clear water, Justin purchased an underwater camera housing and started photographing life underwater. Justin moved to Australia for a few years where he worked as a newspaper/action photographer and tested his fly fishing skills in the world of saltwater. After chasing pelagics and dodging crocodiles in Northern Australia, Justin and his family moved back to the Yukon in 2019 and is back exploring these waterways of the north. For more info: www.flyfishyukon.ca and www.instagram.com/jtkphoto
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.
Payara Mania New species and new kids on the block in Colombia… Tarquin Millington-Drake takes you on an exploratory trip to the innermost jungles of Colombia in search of adventure and whatever local toothy critters lurk in its peat-stained waters.
By: TARQUIN MILLINGTON-DRAKE
“This was no ordinary fly-fishing trip; this was special in more ways than one” “Right, we are headed to Barranco Minas, flight time will be about 90 minutes, is that correct?” “I don’t know mate, if you say so, I have no clue,” came our host Mark’s reply. Approximately 90 minutes later… “so, are you being met or what is the plan?” asked the pilot.
from Medellin headed to Germany to do her PhD when she had completed her degree. As of now, her first ever jungle experience, she was our host taking us to a camp she had never been to and may never return to as she was just helping out.
A tuk-tuk pulled up while we were signing in with the heavily-armed local marine infantry - a school exercise book. We simply had to sign our names like a Visitor’s book.
The bags were loaded into one tuktuk, our team into another and I was invited to get on the back of a girl’s motorbike. We headed into the village and soon found ourselves at the top of about 40 steps, which reminded me of Indian ghats, down to the river. There was our ride for the next four hours or 180 kilometres. We had absolutely no idea where we were going, what the name of the town, the river, or the other river was.
Out got 22 year-old Laura who welcomed us with her best English. She was a chemical engineering student
All we knew was it was really cool fishing. Isn’t it amazing how far good, wild fishing will entice fly-fisher folk?
“No idea,” said Mark, “I hope so but no clue.”
This was no ordinary fly-fishing trip; this was special in more ways than one. Two old friends, myself and Mark and a daughter each. Cosi, Mark’s daughter, who had never held a fly rod in her life and my daughter Maddie who had never fished with a single-handed rod. Both daughters in their early 20s and both either side of master’s degrees. If you are questioning the wisdom of this being a great idea for a starter-outer fly-fishing trip, you could be forgiven. One last detail… Cosi and Maddie had never met each other before! Setting off into the Jungle We set off with our twin 200 hp Mercury engines and an iPhone plugged into one speaker blaring Mark’s play list. It reminded me of a scene from a Vietnam war film. You might be wondering if this is “narcos” country too. Well, yes, it is or was. This was once the home of the guerrilla regiment FARC Guerilla 15th and 44th Battalion. The local people were paid to grow coca and the FARC picked it up and took it down river. Now the farmers are paid to grow something else by the Government and the area is patrolled by the military. Any remnants of tracks through the jungle were thanks to the FARC.
Finally, after hours on the muddy main stem, we reached a tributary and turned into a much smaller river. Twenty minutes later and the boat siren went off. After brief moments of concern we realised we had arrived. In the trees we could spot what was clearly a camp of some sort. Waiting to meet us were a plethora of the indigenous Indians (Sikuani) and Felipe, our main host and Paulo - our very creative chef. We climbed the bank and there were six raised platforms, three with tents on, one blank, one with some outdoor furniture and one with a kitchen set up. Tents were allocated and we sat and relaxed and had a drink with Felipe as tables for drinks were built while we chatted. Felipe explained that on the 31st of December, there was no camp, only a clearing. It was now the afternoon of January the 2nd. There was a shed which would be a bathroom but for now, no showers and it was the jungle for the loo!
The Outpost Camp For Felipe this was a dream come true. This tiny, unsophisticated camp carved out of the jungle marked the very beginnings of his dream. This camp will be the Outpost camp to his main lodge up the main river which was also being built. This had been a long journey for him. The son of a revered Argentine trout guide, he had become a guide himself. He guided throughout South America with focus on dorado preferring the wilder, jungle locations. Then he came to Colombia where he took three years to find his own gem in the jungle and this was the very beginning.
freshwater predator stool – tiger fish, golden dorado and possibly payara? They are migratory in a huge river system (we are in a tributary of a tributary which joins another tributary which together drop into the mighty Orinoco) so one is not hammering a resident population. Were they worthy of standing alongside the other species? I hoped to discover the truth for myself. With the three peacock species and the payara came other species like sardinata, bicuda (freshwater barracuda), yamu and pacu. Getting here had been an adventure in itself but now the real adventure was to begin.
Peacock bass have been around a long time on the international fishing circuit. Beautiful, highly visual, free-taking fish which are great fun to catch and reach good sizes up to and over 20lbs. Less well-known is the payara which has only really appeared on social media in 2019. It is known as the Vampire fish for obvious reasons and, having caught peacocks before, it was this species which fascinated me. Could this be the third leg of the
Where are we headed? By the first morning, Mark and I were commenting that it was as if Maddie and Cosi had known each other for a lifetime. They had not drawn breath. Our day began walking along the old FARC track past the impassable rapids to boats waiting above. We had to split into two teams, Mark and Cosi with Felipe and his Sikuani boat driver Nicolino and myself and Maddie with other Felipe (the bird expert) and Diego our boat driver.
“Getting here had been an adventure in itself but now the real adventure was to begin” “Where are we headed?” asked Mark. “No clue,” said Felipe, “let’s go and explore!” We headed upriver as herons lifted, ospreys, eagles and vultures soared and parakeets screeched as we disturbed them. Within about 30 minutes we found ourselves at a giant waterfall. Totally impassable. The rapids below were full of payara but we were too clumsy with the boats and spooked them. The next challenge was finding a lagoon for peacocks the locals said existed. We found the channel to the lagoon and cut our way through. There we all caught our first peacocks including fish of up to 15lbs. We also broke the first rod of the trip before lunch. It was eaten on the beach with the plethora of butterflies that gather on the beaches looking for salt and then we decided to fish our way down river to camp. Maddie caught her first payara and then we found a payara stronghold where again Maddie was first into a fish.
It buried her in branches deep down but there was no need to worry, to our surprise, Diego dived in and reappeared with payara in one hand and branch in the other. It was pretty impressive and from that moment on Diego was crowned Aquaman by Maddie and the team. Lightning-fast Attacks As dusk approached, we moved to the rapids at camp where we really learned about payara. These fish are opportunists. Like fresh Atlantic salmon they are bright silver and lie in fast water or just off it. They like to attack from below and their preferred time of day seemed to be lower light - not darkness - but lower light when they get the best silhouettes. Queenfish do the same in Dubai. They can be found in good numbers anywhere next to very fast water, breaks and riffles. Their attack is like lightning and I would say more visible than a dorado or tiger fish because more of the fish emerges from the water. When they take, hooking them is challenging because of the array of teeth. Many takes are so fast and aggressive there is little one can do be-
fore the fish is gone. What that toothy array must do to its prey I shudder to think. Other times, when the payara has a better grip, the best and only thing to do is hold on and yield no line at all, at least to start with. This requires gloves or, at the very least, taped fingers. Warm water lines really burn on skin and they will carve their way through leather gloves and tape too. Once the fish is secure, you have a strong, wild, sizable fish (6 to 16lbs) on in fast water as Maddie did that first evening. They will take off down the rapids and leave you stranded on your rock. Maddie and Bird Felipe had to give chase for 100 yards before landing her fourth payara of the day. After the first day, a plethora of peacocks had been landed and some famous battles with payara had taken place with the best landed at about 20 lbs to Mark. The biggest news of all was that a loo had appeared and there was talk of a shower! New Day; New Experiences Our plan for the second day was to find the other known lagoon.
This was a longer approach through the jungle which came to an abrupt halt as we faced a tree which has fallen fully across the channel. Aquaman stepped up with his machete and began hacking his way through the fallen hard wood. It quickly became apparent that he meant business and it was not going to be as long a wait as we thought. The tree gave way, one side sank and the other lifted and Aquaman was again thrown into the water. Out he clambered and on we went to a second tree and so on. It was worth it and resulted in Cosi’s biggest peacock of the trip which was nearly 19lbs. Not bad for day two of your fishing career! To celebrate her fish, we got to have a shower!
“The biggest news of all was that a loo had appeared and there was talk of a shower” We went to the waterfall pools again but the fish seemed to just melt away on our arrival – we hooked a few but landed none. We decided to not go back to anywhere we had been so ended up going up a small side river.
It looked superb but nothing doing. As we dropped back to our main river we started to hit fish and then more and more. In fact, we caught a lot including one of 19lbs for Maddie. It was amusing because the ‘old boys’ as we became called could not catch the big ones while the ‘victims’ as the girls became called, could not stop catching big fish. Upon reflection, why would the peacocks be upriver, a change in water clarity so they can attack from dirty to clearer is the ideal place. That third evening Cosi returned unhappy: 15 payara takes in the rapids and not a payara to show for them. With no payara in the bag, day four had to be Cosi’s payara day. No-Return Policy We stuck with our no-return policy for our fourth day upriver. We fished some other small rivers coming into the main channel with some success. One had a white beach with perfect round holes in it like the holes on grouse moors where they take chunks of heather. These are old peacock bass nests. You can tell if a fish
is nesting because it wears the lower part of its tail out because of digging and being in its nest. The beach proved productive and while fishing the draw of faster water beyond began to look tempting for payara. So it proved to be. We took Cosi out and got her first payara but, as she pointed out, I did make the cast because right there, there were tons of trees. She was happy but rightly wanted to do it herself. The focus continued. We tried a huge oxbow lake which was productive for the girls but Mark and Felipe had discovered a gem. Lots of big peacocks feeding on a small beach in a few inches of water. We went back and hooked a fish on all the four rods we had and gave Aquaman the rods to hold as they had fish on. Of course, we ended up breaking the second rod of the trip but all those takes on poppers in clear water, it was worth it. We then found some more likely looking payara water. It was another draw of fast water out of a slow pool. First time down we had some takes and lost one. Second time down; a stunning 19lbs payara.
Have no Fear; Aquaman is Here On our return to the rapids, I took Cosi out and we stood on a rock right at the lip of the rapids. I knew there were fish there, we had caught some and had takes from others the night before. She was within reach of some very good lies. We started to the left and had multiple attacks, but none stayed except of course the one where the line got round the reel and we snapped 60 lbs test like cotton. The same results from the right, multiple takes but nothing stayed on. We had a last try to the left and decided to give up. Cosi made one last cast and gave me the rod to wind up. A fish hammered the fly and I threw the rod back at Cosi who stood there aghast as the fish took off down the rapids with her reel
screaming despite the drag being so tight. I told her to relax and called the boat to take us to the bank. There we ran down a few yards but the line was caught on a rock out in the torrent. We really were in trouble. But have no fear, Aquaman is here! He appeared and before anyone could stop him he dived into the torrent, crossed the first set of rapids and then dived into the worse second set to a mutual look of horror from everybody. He made it and released the line and Cosi was back into the battle. She had to haul the fish back up the torrent and then into a side channel before I could tail it. This was a triumph for the whole team and Aquaman was still alive! It was one of those ‘never forget’ moments and the last event upriver from camp.
“First time down we had some takes and lost one. Second time down; a stunning 19lbs payara”
Down River Our last two days were to be spent down river looking for bigger payara and visiting some new peacock lagoons. Fish number one at the junction (murky water next to clearer water again) between two rivers was 25lbs, fish number two was 23lbs and if Cosi had any last doubts about her truly catching payara on her own, they were washed away as fish after fish were landed. 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25 and 25lbs plus a whole lot more. There is no question that a 30lbs fish is likely and a 40lbs fish possible. It was extraordinary at the start but calmed down as the midday sun took hold. We thought it might be a bonanza the first evening but it proved moody. The typical sink-tip method proved inconsistent at best so we tried floating line with some success and the poppers but we sensed we were too late in each case. At dark, the fishing died, the endless rolling and attacking of baitfish ceased. On the last morning we went to see the site of the new lodge before commencing a real expedition to new lagoons via seemingly endless channels. Aquaman was busy chopping and falling in round almost every corner while we were ducking under low branches and even lying in the bottom of the boats. It was worth the journey, the peacocks were big, strong and taking poppers with gusto and very effective at using the habitat of old trees and branches under the water to thwart our efforts to land them.
The temptation to have one last go at the junction was too great and back we went for our last two hours. The fish were there in crazy numbers again and we had some spectacular fishing. This time we knew to change tactics with the changes in light and were far more successful. We had a spectacular last couple of hours. The Tally We did not count the number of fish we caught for the week, but our guess was 150 + between the four of us. Three species of peacock bass, the biggest was the temensis, then the beautiful butterfly and monoculus. Plenty of payara, and some of the very speedy bicuda, sardinata and yamu. We saw pacu but did not have the opportunity to catch them. It was with great sadness that we left under a stunning sunrise. By any standards, it had been an extraordinary trip. The daughters had been amazing. Their casting had come on in leaps and bounds. Keep in mind they were casting 8 and 9-weight rods with big flies on sink-tips. Not exactly what you wish on anyone starting their fish-
ing career. It had been such a pleasure to witness a true friendship evolve and the lively evening debates will be remembered for a long time. The payara that we experienced deserve a place right alongside, if not above, the golden dorado and tiger fish. They are willing takers, very visual, great jumpers, just as strong and seem plentiful. They are also good-looking fish in their own way. There is truly a new kid on the block to be taken seriously by the international fly fisher. Felipe carved comfort out of the jungle and though we did not have a clue about anything as we set off, our trust in him was well-placed and everything ran smoothly. We were and always will be his Group One of something I believe deserves to become a legendary destination. This was obviously not a Frontiers’ organised trip but it is often how they evolve and it will be soon. What was achieved in a short space of time was impressive. For further details please contact Tarquin Millington-Drake on email@example.com
THE YUKON TERRITORY:
Down a Windy Gravel Road By: JUSTIN KENNEDY Photos by: FLY FISH YUKON, WWW.FLYFISHYUKON.CA (@GABE_RIVEST, @JTKPHOTOGRAPHY, @RAPHTRAVELS)
The Yukon is located in the northwestern corner of Canada, bordering Alaska to the West and the Northwest Territories to the East. It is mostly known for the famous Klondike gold rush, which brought thousands of people to the Territory in the late 1800s’ and turning Dawson City into the largest city north of San Francisco and West of Winnipeg. The rush didn’t last too long, but there is still gold to be found in the Territory as highlighted in the many popular TV shows broadcasted in recent years. The Territory is larger in size than California, and has a population of less than 40,000 people. This alone should give you an idea of just how good the fishing can be. Gabe and Justin from Fly Fish Yukon spend their summers exploring the Territory searching for the many different species. Here’s a glimpse at two recent trips in Fall 2020.
As I am driving on this narrow and windy gravel road, I keep worrying about what the wind situation will be on the big lake for the first of our two Fall fishing trips. We have a large crew for the first trip; my brother is with me as well as Taïga (the golden retriever), and Justin is coming in the next morning with his wife Dani, as well as their 2-year-old son Cole, and their dog Avalanche. I only have a small 16’ boat for this trip, as we need to cross an open lake followed by heading up and down a narrow, shallow river to access the area we are hoping to fish. Our first look at the lake is a blessing; glass! My brother and I load up the boat with all the gear and head down the chain of lakes and rivers to find a camping spot for the weekend. The Fall colors are in full swing, with a mix of yellow, orange and green surrounding us. After getting all excited over a few schools of giant arctic grayling spotted in the river, we find a nice, secluded beach near a creek mouth that looks promising and decide to make it our home for the weekend. Early the next morning, I trace back up the river and lake to pick up the rest of the crew.
Once we make it back to camp, and unload all the gear, we all hunker down and warm up by the fire and get ready for 3 days of exploring and fishing. The Fog Lifts The next morning started off with a low hanging fog, which is an ever-present sight this time of year. As the fog started to lift and the coffee ran out, we decided to test out the creek mouth first, since it was right next to our camp. The creek was less than a foot deep but flowed into a steep drop where the bottom was nowhere to be seen. The fishing was what dreams are made of. Everyone’s first cast was rewarded with beautiful large arctic grayling. They were simply eating everything you would throw at them, even large lake trout streamers, which is what we had hoped for, but the grayling did not let anything past them. After about a dozen grayling, Dani tried casting wide and lining up her Clouser along the current line, and BOOM something takes but is not coming up... lake trout!
After a round of high fives and the relief that our instincts were right, we had a closer look at the laker. They are beautiful at this time of year, as they are getting ready to spawn about a month later. Dani had the magic touch, casted wide, let it sink slow and low and ended up landing the only three lake trout of the trip. Everyone caught their fair share of fish, and Cole even got to feel what a line feels like with a grayling at the other end.
“We all hunker down and warm up by the fire and get ready for 3 days of exploring and fishing” Esox Lucius, Thymallus Arcticus and Salvelinus Namaycush On the next day, Justin my brother Raph and I headed out to another lake further downstream to look for large pike. After a few hours of search, we finally found a nice weed bed and spotted a few fish. We tried a few different flies without much luck before the wind picked up and forced us to retreat back to camp empty handed… I promised Justin and Raph that it would be better on the next trip the following week.
In the Yukon, arctic grayling are probably the most common fish to catch, being in almost every river and lake systems in the Territory. They are also a very sought-after fish, known for their beautiful fan, mesmerizing colours and acrobatic type takes. Lake trout on the other hand, are common to catch deep down in the lakes, but are harder to find on the fly. Early spring along the edges of drops in lakes or fall time at creekand river mouths are usually your best bets. Northern pike are also very common in southern Yukon, cruising the weeds and shallows of most lakes. The crystal-clear waters of the territory offer amazing opportunities to sight-cast for some impressive specimens. These apex predators of the north are one of our favourite fish hands down. When you get a clear, shallow, wind free day, sight casting for these fish is world class. Electric takes, deep runs and strength keeps you on your toes when getting towed around in a canoe!
Another Excursion into the Unknown The following week, we headed out into a different area, where pike and bull trout would be our target species. Our first stop was a small remote lake where I have had great luck with pike in the past. In the fall, they tend to hang around in shallow white sandy bottom bays, which makes it easy to spot them. They are also feeding hard at this time of year, making it ideal for us. The other fun fact about pike in the Fall is that they are usually most active later during the day, when the sun warms things up, so no need to beat the sub-zero temperatures in the morning for these guys. It’s one of my favorite types of fishing, as these fish will basically attack anything you throw at them. I therefore always use big floating flies, and no matter how many bites I get, it still surprises me every time. The crew this time were myself, Justin, my brother and our friend Norm, as well as Taïga, who simply comes on every single trip I do.
We were using 18’ canoes, as there were no boat ramps in the area. The weather was on our side, on the first evening, we were gifted with an incredible show of aurora borealis, which kept us up late in the night. We woke up to a perfect blue sky morning with heavy frost surrounding us and a fog floating over the lake. The weather continued into a perfect calm afternoon to go looking for the monsters I had promised all summer. Raph and Norm went on one side of the lake while Justin and I worked the other side. It didn’t take long before we spotted our first fish, and the size did not disappoint. Justin caught a couple medium-sized ones before we finally spotted the fish we had been waiting for. The first cast, Justin delivered a popper on top of the pike followed by a quick jerky retrieve motion. Immediately, the giant pike launched out of the water and hit his big, green, homemade fly. Since the lake is fairly small, housing only a small population of pike, we decided that we were satisfied with our experience and retrieved back to camp and got ready for the next part of the trip, where the goal was to find the elusive Yukon bull trout.
The Yukon Bull Trout We pack up camp early the next morning and head out on the river for a couple days of canoeing, camping and of course, fishing. The weather is on our side again, and we arrive to one of my favorite camps on the river in mid-afternoon. After setting up camp, everyone throws their waders on and gets ready to fish in freezing water, hoping to catch a Yukon bull. Bull trout are only found in south-east Yukon and can be hard to catch depending on the day. I had had luck at this specific location in the past, but it was never incredible. That said, the campsite location is just too good to pass, so we decide to give it a shot.
“Everyone’s first cast was rewarded with beautiful large arctic grayling”
I put on my favorite streamer (a juvenile salmonid imitation) and cast in the pool. First cast provides me with a beautiful small bull trout. Good start! Second cast, a nice big arctic grayling. Won’t complain! I decide to give Norm and Justin a bit of time to throw a few casts before going in again. Justin finally manages to catch a nice medium size bull, his first one ever. I then decide to make another cast… The Size of a Salmon The bite feels like I just hooked into a salmon. When it surfaces a few seconds after, I quickly understand why. The bull rolls on the surface and is the size of a salmon. After a 10-minute battle with my 7-weight Beulah, I manage to bring the fish in close. This is the biggest bull I have ever caught, measuring 72cm. The afternoon continues with Norm also catching his first ever bull on the fly, another nice medium sized fish. We decide to give the pool a break and start preparing the two medium bull trout we kept for dinner.
“Electric takes, deep runs and strength keeps you on your toes when getting towed around in a canoe” All char species are good eating, but I have to admit, bull trout is one of my all-time favourite. We make a feast, laughing about how easy it was and how we are going to catch a few more the next morning before continuing our journey. The next morning, we put on the same fly and get ready for the action, but to our surprise, we didn’t even get a bite. Nothing! We knew the fish were around, but simply could not get them to take a fly, which goes to show how tricky bull trout fishing can be sometimes. We paddled further down river and had very little luck with our fishing for the rest of the trip. We were, however, rewarded with the sight of a giant bull moose standing in the freezing river as we paddled by.
The two trips were all we had hoped for; great weather, incredible fishing catching all four species we were targeting, all of good sizes and in beautiful fall colours. The Yukon – in Short The Yukon is a hidden paradise for fly fishermen. Compared to the other two Canadian Territories (Northwest Territories and Nunavut), the Yukon is relatively accessible. There are many great fishing locations accessible by road, otherwise a short float plane trip can give you access to some world class fishing. The fly fishing guide reference in the Yukon is Steve Hahn at Headwaters to Ocean Troutfitter.
Steve has years of experience under his belt and runs the only fly fishing specific store in the Yukon, as well as providing guiding services. If you decide you want to explore on your own and need to rent kayaking/canoeing and camping equipment, Up North Adventures is a great place to look. Both stores are located in downtown Whitehorse and will be more than happy to help you. As the seasons start to turn and soft waters come back into play, make sure you reach out to Justin and Gabe at Fly Fish Yukon, and make sure you follow their Instagram at @FlyFishYukon to get a feel of what the Yukon has to offer! www.flyfishyukon.ca www.h2otroutfitter.com www.upnorthadventures.com
Providence Atoll, Seychelles You’re wishing you were somewhere on a river in Africa when you scream these words with jolting rod in hand but the adrenalin coursing through your veins is that of a very different kind – its flight, not fight. Now you find yourself standing almost waist deep in saltwater, separated from your guide and the safety of the boat, and out of nowhere a tiger shark has managed to make its appearance and there is no question why it’s there – it’s because you are there.
By FRANCOIS BOTHA
“Stand still!”, the guide yells. “There is a big GT that normally follows that shark”. Cast AT it!”. You try to make your ‘anti-enthusiasm’ clear to the guide by how you look back at him; “J$%#$s f*&^%ng C*&^%t!” The pounding of your heart confirms the reality of the situation – the larger-than-life shark is now coming straight for you with those deliberate, sweeping strokes of its tail that breaks the water’s surface. There’s no doubt – it’s a tiger. A mere rod length away the shark turns at the very last moment and too late, you see the massive GT trailing it. You are just happy the ordeal is over and you are about to collapse – somehow when the danger is heading away from you, you wish the shark would return. A sublime moment that you will never forget1 A few months later you’re back in your home town and a person on the make of converts approaches you and asks, “Excuse me sir, do you know God?” And you reply, “Yes, but in a different way you do”. “I spoke
to him face-to-face in a place called Providence”. The “Big Five” Welcome to the “Big Five” of fly-fishing for GTs; Alphonse, Farquhar, Cosmoledo, Astove and, in many ways, the epitome of the Seychelles’ outer atolls, Providence. It is the last of the uninhabited islands in this pentagon of extreme flats fly-fishing. However, the only thing you should be scared of in the preceding story of danger and religious conversion is that you might never get the chance to experience it. Undoubtedly the wildest and perhaps the most difficult venues in the world to guide and fish, Providence is the last bastion of the ‘liveaboard’ destinations of the Seychelles that screams “adventure”. I began guiding on this fascinating archipelago of islands in 2007 and since then, I have caught every desirable species and guided every island in the chain with the exception of catching a milkfish and, of course… I had never seen Providence.
“All the fish on Providence look totally different. The most notable enhancement is the colour variation of almost every species of fish that you think you knew everything about” But, this is not only a story of a final quest to complete all that one can in a place where every self-respecting fly-fisherman with a social media account should wish to tread; it’s also a story of friendship and an unbreakable comradery. A Greenhorn The first time I met Patrick Sacco I was a “greenhorn” and I had been given the chance of guiding an expedition to Cosmoledo in 2007 for Frontier Fly Fishing (South Africa). My first day on the flats and I was guiding none other than Pat himself. I was just in the process of calling a sea cucumber a bonefish when Pat stopped the show and asked me bluntly, “Dude, have you ever done this before?” to which I sheepishly admitted “No”. In a selfless gesture that
would influence the rest of my career as a guide, Pat said, “Take my rod and let me show you what to do”. On my first day of guiding saltwater flats, Pat marched me around the mouth of Astove Atoll and guided me into every species of fish that came before us. Once I had caught more than any client on the trip within hours, he asked, “So, do you know what you are doing now?” “Yes”, I replied. “Ok” he said “so give me my rod back and go guide someone!” Many years later Pat and I ended up fishing almost every destination you could dream of: the Galapagos Islands, Bassas da India, Bolivia, the Amazon and many others in between.
The time had come for the ultimate trip that would further our quest of fishing in some of the most radical waters the earth had to offer – Providence. Providence Atoll Our departure for the Seychelles and the ‘smack talk’ on the WhatsApp group had come to a head, but there was an ominous, looming issue. In March of 2020 the coronavirus had reared its ugly head and entire countries were closing down. Thankfully we were fortunate enough to make it to Mahé and onto the charter flight to Farquhar, and from there we would set sail to Providence on an extended eight-day trip at the beginning of the GT season. Defiant until the end, we employed some ‘out-of-the-ordinary’ methods to get to the promised land of the Seychelles with no idea of just how bad the situation would still become. It was our first evening on the Maya Dugong and we were seated around a satellite map of Providence and its vast unexplored wilderness. In walked a giant of the fly-fishing world, Timothy Babich, a guide with legendary exploits that took planning, hosting and
entertaining to the next level. As a fly-fishing guide, one of the first things you learn is the ‘simile of the swan’ – always calm and graceful above the surface but you cannot see how hard it is peddling down below. Possibly the best guide that I have come across, Tim makes the other ‘swans’ look like they are going backwards in anguish, amidst an unforgiving current. Needless to say, the fishing was masterfully planned and executed each day under his watchful eye. But the thing that intrigued me the most over the next few days of convening around that satellite map were his words, “The inner lagoon, yes, none of us have been brave enough to go there”. Thunderous Squalls and Irregular Winds Our first few days on the reef of Providence were marred by thunderous squalls and an irregular north westerly wind which really challenged not only the guides, but also the thinking of the captain of the Maya Dugong as to where to set anchor safely. Although the conditions weren’t ideal, my first impression upon setting foot on Providence’s turtle grass flats were: “Triggers for days.
Oh my god, big triggers for days!” But it turned out to be some of the hardest trigger fishing I had ever committed to. However, isn’t that all the trigger fishing you have ever experienced? It took some sharp adjustment and with only minutes of a pushing tide to spare I ‘pinned’ probably the biggest, and most impressive looking, yellow margin triggerfish of my fly-fishing career. “Look at this f*&^%$g triggerfish!” I exclaimed, moments after Tim netted it. And that’s when it dawned on me. Colour Enhancement All the fish on Providence look totally different. The most notable enhancement is the colour variation of almost every species of fish that you think you knew everything about. The triggers are darker in a way that someone gave them more contrast and bumped up the clarity in Photoshop. Damn, they just look so much better! Even more noteworthy though, are the “Geets”. The first thing Patrick said about the GTs at Providence was, “They have yellow dorsals. Yes, didn’t you know? I’m serious bro, Providence is
the only place where they look like this”. Like a Darwinian profession or an Attenborough narration, it is that exotic and different to what you have ever experienced. You have to see it for yourself if you cherish hunting GTs, with all of their anomalies across the world.
“You will be amazed to see that the GTs at Providence tail over rays like permit” It’s probably rarer than a black one that keeps its colour once you land it. But it doesn’t end there! You will be amazed to see that the GTs at Providence tail over rays like permit. At first you don’t believe it when the guide tells you he has just seen a tailing GT, but I was fortunate enough to get some great drone footage of it. It is quite irregular if you know how it should be. What’s more, the significance of the species on the menu at Providence is that if you have ever had the ambition of targeting a bumphead parrotfish, you will get more shots at these alien beasts at Providence than anywhere in the world.
An Ever-Increasing Spring Tide The whole trip began to spiral upward in a cumulus cloud of greedy, hungry fish on an ever-increasing spring tide. 100cm plus GTs were becoming the norm at the evening prize-giving, but the situation couldn’t have been more unstable. The celebrations of the victorious guides and guests became subdued by endless visits to the captain’s quarters for updates by sat phone; we all knew there was a bigger storm brewing. Talks of early departure and the significance of the various nationalities and their repatriation chances began to overcome even the most ardent Battle-Juiced-Bull-Shark-Fisherman on the aft of the Maya Dugong. We even consulted with the captain about how long we would be able to sustain ourselves if we refused to go back, which we established would be close to three months. The writing was on the wall. It was time to suck the marrow out of life before the inevitable happened. Fish with Indiscriminate Appetites GTS, “bumpees”, permit and even a 150kg shark fell to the indiscriminate
appetite of what could very well be the ‘last time we fished for a long time’. In the dying moments of an evening where we explored some of the lesser fished areas, we were far from the mothership and we all knew it was a ‘gun and run’ exercise when we came across a bay that literally looked like a sub-surface volcano erupting. Schools of GTs were covering unthinkable distances between explosions to annihilate panicked masses of baitfish.
“Schools of GTs were covering unthinkable distances between explosions to annihilate panicked masses of baitfish” There was no telling where they would pop-up next. Even the tuna and rainbow runners, fish normally associated with blue water, had joined in the feast.
The whole situation of running straight at the action and cutting the motors before yelling “Cast” wasn’t working, and fortunately an experienced guide, Brendan Becker, halted the scenario as he scanned the water, while his clients were losing their composure with lines and flies going in every direction. Then he said the magic word “Milkies!”. This is when you realize that a guide’s ability to stop and assess an untenable situation, and then make a clear, concise and surgical decision is what catches you fish. Trust your guide! Milky Madness We suddenly began rummaging for different rods and frantically tied on flies from Ziplock bags scattered across the deck. We made a few initial drifts into concentrated masses of surface-pouting-milkfish, but we were rejected each time. It was a situation of just trying to get it into “The Zone” but that didn’t work. Somehow, I managed to take stock of the failed attempts and I realized that we needed a change if we were to stand a chance of hooking one of these elusive fish. I remembered a
fly that I had removed from another client’s rod a few days earlier when we were switching between species. It was a standard Milky Dream that had become sparse from tons of ‘castrubation’ and the spoiled tint of rust just made it look more natural. That’s when I remembered the words of the inventor of the Milky Dream, Arno Matthee, who said, “The new Milky Dreams are too bright and thick”. I just knew that this weathered-down version was the fly for the occasion. A single cast later and against the odds of a setting sun and diminishing activity, I hooked my first “milky”. It was at that point that Brendan said to me, “Francois, pull this fish as hard as you can or we are sleeping here”. We both knew that wasn’t an option. Less than ten minutes later Brendan netted my fish. It was done. His compliment of having never seen a milky of that size landed in such short a period of time would obviously win me admiration around the drinks’ table that night, but as all stories of one’s own fishing success go around a bottle of Scotch:
Well, nobody really gives a shit. My advice is rather keep your memories to yourself. Outstanding days of GT Fishing Our second last day, which would turn out to be our last, was probably one of the most outstanding days of GT fishing that I had ever experienced. An unexpected sandbar had formed off the point of a normally deep reef and it acted as a dead carcass to unending waves of vulturous GTs. Like a conveyer belt, they came in on the back of the cresting swells and our onslaught was set in a preparatory history of fishing for GTs in our African surf: line management and taking hits from waves without excuses. In the years of fishing with Pat I have to say I have never seen him miss a shot at a fish. Once he even went into a Superman-Horizontal-Body-Slam-Cast to a striped marlin in the Galapagos, and he didn’t miss a strip as he collided with the aft deck. This was no different and Pat and his guide, Wesley de Klerk, simply gelled
in their approach and no GT was left without a sense of defeat. We could do nothing wrong as Wesley strategically mapped out our advance into that story – the one that gets told first when someone asks you about fishing for GTs. It was textbook carnage with us coming out as victors. That night the final call came in from the captain’s quarters, we had to leave. It was heartbreaking as we began disassembling our rods. The fishing had just begun to peak and there was no telling what we would have encountered had we stayed for the full length of the trip. As we felt the heavy anchor chain being reeled in, reverberating through the hull of the mighty Dugong, we stood on the aft deck watching as the sun set on Providence. When would we ever go back? For more info on visiting Providence over the best tides and times, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org @goliathexpeditions
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Low Pressure Trout South of the Equator By: BRIAN MCGEEHAN Photos by: MONTANA ANGLER FLY FISHING
The world is filled with some spectacular fly fishing destinations. Life just isn’t long enough to explore all of them. Although travelling to experience new waters is near the top of my adventure list, there are a small handful of locations that are so special they require multiple return visits. Chilean Patagonia is that special place for me. The magical elixir of emerald green waters, dry fly loving trout, verdant mountains capped with glaciers and a vast variety of waters provides a setting that is truly unique for wild trout anglers. Although Chile is the longest country in South America, the trout fishing zone is located in the southern third of the country with most of the more renowned fisheries between Puerto Mount and Tierra Del Fuego. Most of our travels to Chile have focused on an 800km zone between the small towns of Futaleufu to Cochrane where the majority of Chile’s lodges and guide services are located. Within this region anglers will find more than a lifetime’s worth of wild trout waters to explore. A blend of the American West and New Zealand Chile’s trout fisheries are truly unique and offer a lot of diversity. Some of the mountain fisheries look and fish like backcountry rivers of New Zealand’s South Island: clear waters offer-
ing site casting to larger fish (but lower fish counts). Other fisheries seem reminiscent of the American west including productive spring creeks, outlet rivers that fish like tailwaters and insect rich “valley rivers” with strong hatches and high fish counts. Chilean Patagonia is also home to some amazing lake fishing. Lakes and smaller “lagunas” are in ample supply in the region and can offer some spectacular dry fly fishing over dragon fly hatches or while prospecting mouse patterns or large beetle patterns over woody structure or along cliff walls. The numerous lake systems often interconnect with rivers forming outlet rivers that behave like tailwaters with the large lakes filtering out sediments and helping to moderate clarity and flows.
Anglers visiting Chile can expect some chances at very large trout, but the size of the fish should not be the main draw for visiting the region. Due to the vast variety of fisheries, some waters are home to smaller fish and offer classic dry fly fishing. Other systems including some of the large rivers and many of the lakes can hold some truly big trout. Although the “big fish” aren’t as consistently massive as the jumbo rainbows of Jurassic Lake or the huge sea run browns in Tierra del Fuego; Chile’s big trout are found in more “classic” conditions in freestone rivers, spring creeks and cruising in the shallows of lakes. When we set up trips to Chile we prefer to set our goals on a rich and varied wild trout fishing experience. This will nearly always involve fishing new water every day of the trip and incorporating a lot of variety such as wading spring creeks, floating big rivers and site casting on lakes. Dry flies and streamers rule supreme Perhaps the most appealing aspect of a trip to Chile is how we fish. Chilean trout are very surface-oriented and
love to eat dry flies. The affinity for surface feeding is probably due to a blend of numerous variables including few aerial predators and a relatively low level of fishing pressure.
“Chilean trout are very surface-oriented and love to eat dry flies” Whether you are on one of Patagonia’s large windy lakes, on a small spring creek or floating a mountain river chances are good you can throw dries. Occasionally Chilean trout will become selective during strong hatches to smaller insects, but more often than not casting larger attractor flies are the norm. With its proximity to the Pacific, Chilean Patagonia receives a lot of moisture, especially on waters close to the coast. There are lots of micro climates ranging from temperate rain forests to semi arid pampas near the Argentine border. When Pacific storms roll in, the mountain rivers can rise and water temps drop.
Although water clarity can still remain good thanks to numerous lakes interconnecting rivers, weather systems can put the dry fly fishing off. When these conditions prevail streamer fishing can be truly outstanding. Ripping streamers can also be effective on sunny days as well with flashier patterns. As can be expected on most waters, stripping streamers often produces some big fish. Throwing streamers and dry flies are pretty high on my list when it comes to the enjoyment factor when fly fishing, but I still enjoy a good day of nymph fishing. Interestingly dry flies or streamers seem to out produce nymph rigs on many of the mountain and lake fisheries. I have had some success sight-nymphing on small spring creeks which has been both challenging and highly enjoyable. There are also a few rivers with high fish counts where double nymph rigs can be quite effective where fish stage in drop offs below riffles. Although nymphing isn’t out of the question when fishing Chile’s trout waters, I have found that less than 5% of all of my fishing days have involved traditional nymph rigs. I would guess that my personal breakdown in fishing techniques in Chile ends up around 80% dry fly fishing, 15% streamer fishing and 5% or less of nymphing or swinging flies.
Low pressure trout Another appealing factor that keeps drawing me back to Chilean Patagonia is the relatively light fishing pressure that can be expected. While fly fishing is gaining in popularity amongst native Chileans, it is still a newer pastime for residents. If you do encounter another angler on the water, there is a good chance they have travelled from abroad. The large number of rivers, lack of local population and the long travel distances for visiting anglers all add up to result in lots of water to fish without a lot of competition. Most days we don’t see another angler when on the water. Although more lodges and guide services are springing up throughout Chilean Patagonia - there is still a lot of room to spread out. The lack of fishing pressure is also readily apparent in the behavior of the region’s trout. Refusals are rare and trout can be quite aggressive. On multiple occasions I’ve experienced trout hitting large foam dries such as dragon fly patterns 4 or 5 times before getting hooked up. Since trout haven’t seen a lot of flies, larger patterns are
often very effective. The larger presentations also move fish further and in the clear Chilean waters it can be quite a rush to watch a large brown move a long distance to intercept your offering. The extensive variety of waters and the relative lack of anglers certainly enhances the overall experience of a visit to Chilean Patagonia. As the sport of fly fishing continues to gain popularity on a global level, we will certainly see increased pressure even on Chile’s great trout waters. For now, however, one of the great attributes of a Chilean fly fishing trip is the ability to stand in a productive river with the knowledge that you are often the only angler for miles in any direction. Seasons and Hatches Although good fishing can often be found year round throughout Chilean Patagonia, most anglers visit between October and April. In the spring months of October through early December even the most famous waters will be devoid of anglers. This is a fantastic time to visit and the trout are eager and hungry.
Spring is also a great time to target a few of the rivers with glacial runoff such as the Baker or Blanco that run low and clear (they are high in the warmer summer months when the glaciers melt). The most popular travel window for international anglers is late December through mid March when European and North American fly fishers are escaping the northern hemisphere winter. This is summer in Patagonia and anglers can enjoy early summer hatches from mid december through mid January followed by some great terrestrial fishing in February and March. Most Chilean hatches are named after their northern equivalents with caddis hatches and smaller mayflies most common. December and early January is also prime time for the unique dragon fly hatches that occur on the stillwaters. On warm days dragonflies explode from shallow reed beds in lakes by the thousands as large hungry trout eagerly leap out of the water to intercept them in mid air.
Terrestrial season in the late summer is dominated by grasshoppers in the agricultural valleys and beetles in the mountains. Hopper fishing can be nothing short of amazing on the headwaters of rivers such as the Simpson or Nireguao. On mountain rivers and lakes the legendary Cantaria beetles begin to emerge by late January. These massive beetles are larger than your thumb and inspire some creative fly patterns as imitations. The fall season from late March through April produces some outstanding opportunities for large brown trout. The numerous river systems that interconnect with large lakes provide some first class fall run fishing. While traditional fall streamer tactics can produce, large dry flies will often still be productive even later into the season. Northern Chilean Patagonia Northern Patagonia, near the small towns of Futaleufu and Chaiten, offers spectacular scenery with large rivers set within a backdrop of steep fjords.
Several large and productive lakes such as Lago Yelcho, Lago Verde and Lago Rosselot with big trout are also an attractive option for visiting anglers. Due to the topography in this region most of the fishing is done via boat. Most of the small streams in this region have a steep gradient and are a challenge to wade fish.
“In the clear Chilean waters it can be quite a rush to watch a large brown move a long distance to intercept your offering” On rivers such as the Futaleufu, Yelcho, Palena and Figueroa visiting guests may target the rivers in a blend of catarafts or jet boats. Logistics for float trips is daunting and involves commutes on gravel roads and unimproved launch sites. There are a few lodges in this region but not many independent guide services and DIY fishing can be quite challenging and very limited due to the topography and logistics involved.
For anglers that love float fishing for big trout with a spectacular backdrop, this region should be high on the list. There are a few different avenues through which travelling anglers can access this region. Most guests staying at one of the few lodges in the area will take a commercial flight to Puerto Montt and then charter to Chaiten. It is also possible to fly into Esquel on the Argentine side and cross the border into Argentina, although it is best to have a lodge partner meeting you as taking rental cars across the border can be a challenge. Finally guests can fly into Coyhaique and drive north, but expect and all day drive on gravel roads. Coyhaique Region Coyhaique is one of Chilean Patagonia’s primary entry points for travellers. Coyhaique is located in the broad Simpson river valley and is the gateway. Guests fly into the nearby small town of Balmaceda. Fishing in the Coyhaique region offers anglers some of Chile’s most diverse angling options. Within a 2 hour drive in any direction a variety
of climate zones can be encountered that range from lush temperate rainforest to arid pampas near the Argentine border. Several of the rivers in the region are floatable including the Simpson, Paloma, Manijueles, and Blanco. The broad Simpson valley and Nireguao valley to the north are reminiscent of some of Montana’s broad valleys such as the Bighole and Gallatin Valleys: broad valleys with meandering streams and spring creeks flanked by mountain ranges. As you head into the mountains the landscape quickly changes and rivers such as the Paloma and Magote are reminiscent of fisheries in New Zealand’s South Island. As you head west toward the Pacific, you enter the temperate rainforest with ample rainfall and large rivers such as the remote Blanco, lower Manijueles and Aysen. The Coyhaique region offers several all-inclusive fishing lodge programs as well as a network of independent fishing guides to support the travelling angler. This is also an area that offers some DIY opportunities for the adventurous angler.
Cerro Castillo and the Baker River 2 hours south of Coyhaique is the beautiful Cerro Castillo valley. Although the stream and river fishing in this area is limited due to the heavy influence of glacial runoff, there are numerous smaller but extremely productive lakes and “lagunas”. Most of these lakes are on large private estancias so teaming up with a local lodge or guide that has connections is critical. There are some truly massive fish in some of these productive waters. Another 2 hours of driving to the south brings travellers to the Baker river system. The Baker is the largest river in Chilean Patagonia and drains the massive General Carrera Lake. The river flows strong in mid summer as glacial melt peeks but the huge lake upriver filters out most sediments so it is clear even at higher flows. The hint of glacial flower in the water produces a unique electric blue color. The Baker is a massive river and a boat is must when fishing it although some good wade fishing can be had around gravel bars and riffles (accessed by boat). Rainbow trout are
the dominant fish but there are also some enormous browns that are as long as your leg that you might just encounter if you commit to chucking articulated streamers on a 300 grain sinking line. The Cochrane River is another favorite in the region. It is also an “outlet river” and flows gin clear. The Cochrane is fished on foot and resembles a giant spring creek. Huge fish can be found in the river but it is also highly technical. Even the best of anglers can be humbled by this fishery, but perseverance can pay off and result in some very large fish caught while sight-casting. Chile will always bring me back Chilean Patagonia is a special place with special people. There are many wonderful attributes that anglers will find in this great landscape. The greatness of this region for the travelling angler is found in the sum of its many parts; few places can offer the sublime beauty, lack of crowds and hauntingly beautiful rivers that Chile presents. For more information visit www.montanaangler.com
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The Funny Fish FALSE ALBACORE:
By MICHAEL CARR Images by JAMES MANNING
In much of the rest of fishing world, false albacore, the funny fish, are nothing more than bait. But, for some obsessed anglers, the false albacore visit us for a short time each fall and wreak havoc on the senses, decisions, and general well-being of anyone who’s ever cast a fly in their direction. Albies are addictive, and if you’re not careful, the withdrawals can be severe.
A false albacore is arguably faster than a bonefish, and I would say ten times prettier as well. Muted blues and greens adorn their bodies along with an individual inky pattern that runs down their backs. They’re aggressive and voracious feeders that appear and disappear seemingly at random across the Northeast.
Watching and Waiting The shoreline is freckled with boulders as I stand at the boat’s gunwale with my rod tip pointed towards land watching and waiting. I feel like a sentry standing a post in an old movie where, in the next shot, the enemy is going to come careening over the hillside and unleash hell. T
If you want to find albies, follow the cavalcade of boats constantly running and gunning across the rips as the fish boil and corral bait. But if you really want to find albies, then you have to play their game and understand that there is nothing random about anything they do. They hunt like a wolf pack, and if you’re tough enough and smart enough sometimes they let you run with them.
he coffee is making me jumpy. Or maybe it’s just the adrenaline of having watched them explode and missed my cast only a few minutes earlier. The pink Surf Candy is dripping on the end of my leader shedding tears from a missed hook up, but we haven’t scattered like all the other boats in the flotilla.
We stayed put, hugging an edge on the screen that showed good structure all around us leading to the shoreline. We were certain to have another shot at them. Or maybe I’d be standing there until the fly went dry? Scattered Bait Balls False albacore plow through bait balls like little freight engines. They don’t slice the bait like bluefish. They don’t bucket-mouth unwitting cull like stripers. They use their hydrodynamic bodies to inhale their prey. They vacuum those tiny fish like a Dyson. Often, you’ll see explosions of fish at the surface during an albie feed because their velocity of attack will send baitfish cartwheeling into air. So, getting them to eat a fly can sometimes be so frustrating, but then you remember that they’re called the “fish of a thousand casts” for a reason.
I watch the water and wait, hoping that the other few boats around didn’t just portion up the bait ball and send the fish scattering. In seconds, the water begins to tremble fifty feet out. It could be albies or it could be a sea monster. Whatever it may be is going to see my size 2 Surf Candy on its nose in a moment. One false cast is sometimes all you get with albies. Fish a heavy sinking line or a sink tip or better yet take a few sticks of dynamite and call it a day. A Meleee of Frothy Water The surface erupts. The jackwagons in the other boats that raced off see the fish off our stern. I’ll get two or three shots and then it’ll be over again. I send that Candy into the melee of frothy water, stick the rod under my arm and strip with both hands making that Candy move like Charlie swimming away from the unseen shark in Jaws. “Swim Charlie, swim! Don’t look back!” The line comes tight and all hell breaks loose.
I’ve got fifty feet of fly line around my feet because I was too cool to wear a basket. I can’t remember if I set the drag knob tight enough. But, before I can do anything about any of this, the line is singing through the guides. There’s a V-wake on the water as the line cuts the surface. I hit backing before I can adjust the drag, and all I can think is, “Don’t high-stick this fish, don’t high-stick it.” I keep the rod pointed at the shoreline and slowly begin to gain some line back. It’s a slow, arduous process, but that fish’s speed is no match for a sealed drag and a ten-weight. The Rollercoaster Ride Alongside the boat, I keep the rod low, grab the leader then the fishes pelagic tail. One of many photos shows looks of sheer disbelief on my face. Every albie is exactly the same. How the hell did I catch this fish? Every time I land an albie I feel like I’ve just stepped off a roller coaster. Knees are weak.
I definitely feel nauseous and have to pee. And I say to myself, “I’m never going to be unprepared for that fight again.” And yet every other time, I am. There’s no letdown with albies because most of us feel like we’re not supposed to catch these fish, so anytime we do is an ecstatic bonus. Albies are lightning in a bottle. The Gist of It Chasing false albacore and catching them are two different things. Spin guys and fly guys will argue over retrieves, but for me it’s always been about whatever I can do without looking ridiculous, nervous, and neurotic because that’s what albies do to you. It’s a raging mindset of self-doubt offset by an intense desire to be right. If anyone’s got a recipe for how to break this feeling of six Red Bulls and being lost in an airport, look me up. I’ll be the one trying not to smile too hard for the picture.
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The Brand Buffet Simms: COLDWEATHER HOODY For the Fall season, Simms have launched a range of hooded flannels lined with waffle fleece for extra warmth during the chilliest fishing days. The Coldweather Hoody features: Flannel lined waffle fleece, button down front closure, adjustable hood with flat braid cord, and two fly-box compatible chest pockets with corded loop to dock retractor or nippers. For more information, please refer to the European distributor at: www.flyfisheurope.com/simms/
Waterworks-Lamson: SPEEDSTER S-SERIES (SMOKE) The completely re-designed Speedster reels feature an enhanced spool machining technique, focusing material only where it’s needed - the reason why they are significantly lighter and higher performing than their predecessors. But importantly, the form, the styling of each, clearly flows from the same place; allowing the dimensions of structure and function to inspire beauty. The reels are machined from 6061 aluminum, stainless steel, feature a hard alox finish and a sealed conical drag system for both fresh- and saltwater. More info can be found here: www.flyfisheurope.com/ww-l/
Superflies: DEPTH-CHARGERS FOR SALMON Flies such as Kursk, Snaelda and Francis have become synonymous with salmon fishing in the deep and fast-flowing rivers across Scandinavia and Iceland – especially in high water conditions. Finnish fly supplier, Superflies, have established themselves as a major player
when it comes to commercially tied salmon flies, and they have a vast range of flies that are perfect when dredging for salmon. Among them are Krafla, Maria, and the Rocket Red Copper Tube – but there are plenty more to be found at: www.superflies.com/
SeaRun: FLY FISHING TRAVEL CASE SeaRun is part of the well-established Italian Negrini brand, which has years of experience making sturdy cases for hunters and fishermen. Their new Fly Fishing Travel Case utilizes extreme polymer technology and a patented double wall system consisting of tough inner and outer shells welded together to yield maximum impact strength and resistance to all weather conditions. The result is an ultra-light, ultra-strong, practical fly fishing case able to endure the worst handling and deliver the best performance, and having gotten our hands on one, we are nothing but super-impressed. These cases, which come with a lifetime warranty for repair or replacement are among the best and most thought-through carry solutions for the traveling fly fisherman. For more info, please refer to: www.searuncases.com/
The Brand Buffet Simms: FREESTONE CHEST PACK The Simms Freestone Chest Pack gets where it needs to go with multiple carry modes. You can wear it comfortably on your chest or strap it to a pack. It includes a compression-molded main compartment and a drop-down workstation for smart, compact fishing functionality and being made out of 330D Nylon Ripstop fabric with polyurethane backside coating it’s lightweight yet durable. The capacity is 3L (23 x 15 x 10cm), and more information can be found on the website of the European distributor: www.flyfisheurope.com/simms/ Book Release: THE FEATHER THIEF Are you into true crime? If you are, you should get a hold of a copy of The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson – the true story of fly tying obsessives who refuse to abide by the law. The book entertainingly narrates the theft of 299 rare bird skins from the British Natural History Museum, the following investigation, and the ensuing crackdown on illegal rare bird trafficking – for the sole purpose of tying classic salmon flies. The story is fascinating in and of itself, but for someone who is passionate about fly fishing and fly tying it becomes a stark and vivid reminder that reality is stranger than fiction, and that humankind’s fervent desire to own nature’s beauty is pure absurdity. For more info: www.penguinrandomhouse.com/ Scientific Anglers: AMPLITUDE SMOOTH STILLWATER INDICATOR The new Amplitude Smooth Stillwater Indicator fly line features Scientific Anglers’ AST Plus slickness additive for superior shooting ability and increased durability; a fly line for nymphing up trout. The line comes with a long rear taper for extended line control and longdistance casting and high viz color bands at the tip, for easy tracking and strike detection. The taper is overweighted by 1.5 sizes to assist in turning over heavy rigs. The fly line is available in sizes ranging from WF5 – 8. More info can be found here: https://www.flyfisheurope.com/sa/
Sondergaard: UPGRADED AND REVISED STRIPPING BASKET The upgraded Sondergaard stripping baskets feature a new and more durable wading belt design, cleaner welds, spikes with improved durability and a cool new precision cut logo. Other than that, it’s the same stripping basket - the lightest and most comfortable stripping basket that we’ve ever used. More information is available here: www.flyfisheurope.com/sondergaard/ Øistein Aas: NORDISK FLUEFISKE ETTER LAKS Yup, it’s in Norwegian, but if you’re from Denmark, Sweden, or Norway, you’ll be able to read and enjoy this thorough and ambitious book about salmon fishing, written with authority by an author, Øistein Aas, who is clearly not only a gifted and knowledgeable salmon fisherman but also a great storyteller. We highly recommend this book whether you’re a seasoned salmon fisherman or a novice dreaming about that first Atlantic salmon on a fly rod. Salmon may be notorious for their enigmatic and indecipherable nature, but you’ll stand a better chance at catching one after having read this new standard textbook. For more information, please refer to: https://www.cappelendamm.no/ Book Release: LORDS OF THE FLY BY MONTE BURKE Already after reading the intro, you’ll be cracking up. Lords of the Fly is an expertly written and witty book about chasing world record tarpon with a fly rod – and everything that it entails from shattered rods, snapped leaders, and bent hooks to erratic behavior, questionable morals, and broken dreams. It’s a story of madness and obsession in which “the greatest big tarpon angler alive”, Tom Evans – who’s is now in his 80s - continues his lifelong quest to catch record-breaking tarpon. It’s an endearing, reverent and fascinating story filled with larger-than-life characters, vivid prose and a narrative that has overarching existential undertones. It’s a highly recommended read! www.simonandschuster.com
The Brand Buffet ArcticSilver: THE NEW HUBLESS IC3 REEL The IC3 fly reels from ArcticSilver have been eagerly anticipated since the design concept and a few prototypes were presented years ago. Now, the reels are finally here, in limited numbers, and we’ve had a chance to closely inspect them. The reels are beautiful to behold – and lightweight, and the hubless design really compliments the radical scifi look of ArcticSilver’s innovative Free-Flex rods. The reels are perfect for trout fishing and light salmon fishing, but – since they don’t have an actual brake system, they’re not recommended for tropical saltwater fishing – or heavy salmon fishing for that matter. How they perform in the long run, time will tell – but these reels certainly look and feel like a neo-classic! For more info: www.arcticsilver.no
Loon Outdoors: BLACK-EDITION FLY TOOLS Loon Outdoors have re-launched their entire fly tying tool collection in a classy matte-black finish that looks absolutely killer. We’ve used their tools for years, and they’re highly ergonomic and functional. The new black-edition tools also come as kits, and especially the Complete Fly Tying Tool Kit is worth looking into, if you haven’t used Loon Outdoor’s fly tying tools before. More info can be found here: www.flyfisheurope.com/loon/
Forét: CLASSIC ”DAD” CAPS Danish brand, Forét, inspires the everyday person to slow down, go offline & explore nature. Their caps are made to withstand every challenge by lasting through all your planned activities. They’re said to create and contain your memories while wearing them. The perfect piece for your journey. Slow down – Go offline. For more info: https://www.foretstudio.dk
Lowepro: FLIPSIDE BACKPACK 300 AW III Lowepro’s most popular camera backpack has been redesigned for the outdoors! The Flipside 300 AW III features robust fabrics and front PU coating offer extreme durability and protection from the elements, moisture and abrasion. Backsideaccess offers fast, easy entry to the camera compartment while keeping gear safe and secure - simply take it off, lay it down and unzip the back panel for full access to gear. Fits a DSLR with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens attached, 13’’ laptop, 3-4 extra lenses plus a Compact Tripod. For more info: https://www.lowepro.com
Secure the Trophy
Release the Fish
Advanced Taxidermy’s replicas are based on photographs and measurements of your trophy catch.
No two stories are the same. You remember it vividly. When you tell your friends and family the tale of your fishing adventure you spare no detail. It is a moment in time that is uniquely yours. At Advanced Taxidermy our passion is helping you bring your glorious moment back to life. We want to capture it in great detail. Over 35 years of experience of creating museum quality wildlife art will ensure that your memory will last forever. We’re not just in the business of selling replicas. We are a fully licensed and operating taxidermy studio with artists who are inspired by you and your story. That’s why no two creations are ever the same.
AD Maddox Brushwork, Banter and Brown Trout
We’ve had an eye out for AD Maddox for a long time. Her paintings are so vivid and endowed with a unique realism that’s all her own. Her trout paintings are especially captivating – especially considering the story behind why she initially got into painting them. Regardless, if trout are your thing, you need to check out her gallery on Instagram and read the following interview.
Full Name: AD Maddox Born: Nashville Occupation: Artist/oil painter Home Country: USA Social Media: www.instagram.com/admaddox999/ Website: https://www.admaddox.com
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into painting? I grew up in the country outside Nashville. My parents were into the arts and promoted creating your own fun so from the age of 6 I began painting. It came so natural for me and I continued with art classes up through art school. After college, I realized I wasn’t interested in my line of work, so I decided to take a chance on painting. It was the only thing I truly knew I was gifted in. I’m covering a lot of years here quickly but I’ve been at the easel for over 30 years. Have you developed a specific painting technique along the way? Absolutely! However, my technique has changed quite a bit. It started out very graphic and in acrylic paints. When I shifted to oil this helped me loosen up with my brushwork and play a bit as the paint has plenty of drying time. At this point I’ve got my technique very dialed in but I continue to learn with each piece.
What do you aspire to capture with your paintings? Photo realism is what I aim for. It’s very difficult to accurately nail all the values to make it work. It takes a high level of concentration. What has compelled you to paint fish and fly fishing motives? I was living in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in the early 90s. I knew if I wanted to sell my work then I needed to paint what communicated to my audience there. The trout were a simple suggestion from the gallery owner. My first trout piece sold in 20 minutes so I continued to paint what worked. This sparked me learning how to fly fish and take photographs of these beautiful fish. The balance as an artist is amazing. I spend 9 months out of the year painting and the other 3 fishing and photographing. How did you get started fly fishing and why? Research and Discovery! My father taught me how to fly fish on the Yellowstone River.
I needed to get photographs for my paintings. One of the great aspects of this sport is that you can do it at any age and at any level. Very few women in Europe fly fish. Do you have any advice for women who are curious about getting started fly fishing? I would suggest always going with a guide. They are the professionals and love to show you just what to do. They’ll also make sure
you catch a trout. I still fish with guides 90% of the time. What is it about fly fishing that intrigues you? What intrigues me about fly fishing is the adventure, being out in nature and catching these fish. I’ve lost many but I love bringing them in and seeing all their colors. There’s also the fun of choosing the flies and not to mention getting all my shots. It’s a busy task.
How do you split your time between fly fishing and painting? It’s easy to split it up living in cold Montana. After my opening show at the end of June I’m banned from the easel and I force myself to go play every day taking photographs for paintings. You might see a bit of it on my Instagram stories. I fish for 3 months then paint for 9. It works!
In your opinion, do fly fishing and painting complement each other – and if so how? Technically they are both art forms. In my case they sure do complement each other. Fishing gives me time to breathe and take a break from being inside on the easel. It also inspires my paintings.
Has fly fishing helped you become a better painter – or vice versa? Yes. It’s important for me to study my subject. With each catch I get to observe all the color details of the different trout I pull in. It’s a vicious cycle. The paintings drive me to fish and the fish drive me to paint. What are your aspirations as a fly fisher? My aspirations as a fly fisher is to improve my cast. I think it will continue to get better each year. Do you have any cool projects coming up; fishing- or art wise? Yes, it’s play time and I have tons of pressure on me to get the right shots for new paintings in the fall. I’ll be fishing with Lee Kinsey of Secluded Water. As a team, we’ll be dialing in this process - so wish me luck. I’ll also be unleashing the Ducati 999, the 4 wheelers and my summer heli-rides. High levels of play make me feel like a teenager so the daily mileage is key to my youth. I’ll post my GoPro footage on my Instagram story. Any advice to fellow fly fishers, who aspire to do fish art? Yes. I think the most important thing to do if you want to create fish art is to finish as many pieces as you can.
The mileage will help you build your technique, and the art will inevitably improve. I don’t promote theory but I do promote work and lots of it. Hours in the seat make a seasoned pilot and so follows for the artist. Please follow me on Instagram. I post the progress of my pieces and my adventures on my story. You can also message me there if you have any questions and if you need any help. I love inspiring artists. Admaddox999.
”FLY FISHING SLUNJČICA - BALKAN FLY FISHING TOUR By LUKA ŠIMUNJAK
This film is about one of the shortest but most beautiful rivers in Croatia; The Slunjčica. For more information about fly fishing in the Balkan region, please visit: http://fly-fishing-croatia.com/ Music: D Fine Us - Howling at the Moon
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
An Underworld Glimpse By: ROBERT DOTSON
Ten minutes into our face-off, the massive Giant Trevally snapped my Sage 12 wt. between the panga’s transom and our twin Yamaha motors. Minutes later the ensuing butt sections separated, leaving me cranking on the GT for another 10 minutes with a stubby two-foot section of seriously stiff rod. Not as planned. Not atypical for chasing these lions!
It began with a fortuitous spot, the 120cm GT prowling the flats of the remote Farquhar Island in the Seychelles just as we were preparing to drop overboard to hike the sandy white flats. The fish immediately changed course, angling toward us on a string. I hurriedly launched my Semper streamer on its virgin voyage off onto the giant’s incoming right side. Chocking disgust immediately sat in my throat as the fly landed off course. To her right, as planned, but easily two meters wide of my target. The only saving grace was that the fly almost certainly had to still be in her visual window. She immediately altered course and slammed the fly with an abandon that few fish can deliver on planet earth. Peering from my isolated fiberglass
perch, I participated in one of the most dramatic events in my fly fishing life. All of it unfolding in rich chromatic display under the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. Harnessing an Epic World That experience is one reason why I have hauled ungodly amounts of Nikon glass and steel in backpacks, duffle bags, helicopters, and been subjected to bonus international airport security screenings for over a decade. For the chance to harness a small glimpse into the epic world where our piscatorial pursuits are truly unveiled. Underwater. With the objective of tackling not just an underwater shot of a fish being released, but also the more elusive task of showing the magnificence of their aquatic environment, I purchased my first underwater camera set-up.
A compact underwater pocket camera that promised portability and “perfect shots”. I was immediately disappointed with the output. So began my quest to study the work and equipment of other photographers, both in and out of our sport, like David Herasimtschuk, Brian Gregson, and Adam Barker who each uniquely capture stunning underwater images.
“Peering from my isolated fiberglass perch, I participated in one of the most dramatic events in my fly fishing life” Since those early days I have tested numerous cameras and housings before landing on my current gear set. Excess Weight Upon arriving at one of my favorite New Zealand, South Island destinations, my guide took one look at me our first morning together and laid down his preemptive rule for our trip together. “Mate, I am not carrying any of your extra camera gear! None of it.”
“No worries, nobody carries my gear. If I bring it, I’m ready to haul it.” My chosen triploid of gear allows me to make both weight and convenience trade-offs, depending on space and destination. First, my primary go-to workhorse is my Aquatech underwater surf housing and dome wrapped around my Nikon D810, which allows cropping without detail loss. Second, the compact, large sensor based SonyRX-100 camera series (in its 7th generation) with Recsea dive housing, allowing me to pack-in to remote locations with minimal weight. Lastly, my at-the-ready Aquatech Axis Go with dome for the iPhone 11 Pro (it also shoots in RAW) is on every outdoor excursion where I don’t plan on shooting underwater but delivers when the unexpected underwater opportunity reveals itself. When the Conditions Are Right Underwater photography is tailor-made for bright days in the salt. Light easily penetrates the upper
layers of the ocean where our sport takes place, with unbridled amounts of space to operate. Ocean storms, along with freshwater rivers and lakes of the continents, however, obscure light. As a result, photographers are challenged at virtually every level in these waters. Your camera gear, therefore, must be able to operate with high ISO compensation and tack sharp autofocus with dynamic ability to acquire the target. But it isn’t all about the camera. When fly fishing the salt, I frequently carry a snorkel and mask for my photography, allowing me to comfortably work underwater in the moment and compose images to take some of the guess work out of the process. In freshwater I also don’t hesitate to literally dive into my work. The shot of the West Slope Cutthroat was taken by sticking myself on the river bottom of the Middle Fork of the Salmon river. I stripped off my shirt, loaded my pockets with rocks and donned a pair of swimming goggles so I could get an upward angle on the action.
Patience And All the Rest… Preplanning your work is where the dynamic output you want begins. I always visualize possible scenes first. Thereafter I am free to work out the details of how those envisioned shots could be realized. Powerful images, art, rarely ever just happens. The base of my fly fishing art work results from being the son of a professional wildlife photographer.
“To get a mere handful of good underwater photos I will shoot as fast as my shutter will process” I learned patience, anticipation, experimentation, and composition at his feet. When questioned about how he delivered such amazing images, he would always say, “I only show you my best shot, not the outings and thousands of shots that hit the trash.” I have built my underwater photography around that gospel truth.
To get a mere handful of good underwater photos I will shoot as fast as my shutter will process. Then, easily, 98% of my underwater work hits the digital trash bin. What Will the Future Bring? This mysterious underwater world remains a new frontier for fly fishing photographers. The persistent battle rages on, where anglers battle to extract their quarry above the surface film into our world for a moment, as our finned prey fight to stay underneath, safe in their world. As a fly fishing photographer, the vast majority of what happens from the fish’s perspective in these quests is, and will remain, a visual mystery. How many times in underwater footage have you seen a big trout flare and inhale a streamer? Let alone engulf a bullfrog or dislodge rocks with his snout hunting sculpin? This highlights only a smidgen of the piscatorial world that I am seeking to capture. It may take new technology innovation and even other photography pioneers to click these aquatic shutters. But I have no doubt that the nirvana of underwater fly fishing art remains only temporarily harnessed by our imagination. Stay tuned and stand ready to be amazed at what’s to come!
THE ALL-NEW LITESPEED F-SERIES The LSF is the freshwater version of the new Litespeed. The chassis is based on the conical system found in our other reels with the addition of a click stop drag knob and a unique spring set that creates a linear progression of torque with very fine resolution at the light end of its range. LSF spool and frame architecture is super-arbor in scale for high retrieve, but spare and open to promote line drying and, of course, reduce weight.
US MADE IDAHO BUILT MORE INFO
A SALTWATER FAVORITE THROUGH 20 YEARS
Cry Wolf By PETER LYNGBY
Countless saltwater flies have been deemed the key to success when it comes to catching seatrout in the salt. This time, however, the wolf is actually coming. Martin Votborg is the originator behind The Wolf and has been fishing it and tweaking the design for over 20 years. He says, without a shadow of a doubt, that The Wolf catches seatrout all throughout the year.
Some flies just have that special something. That little extra lifelike quality. Something tells you that they will catch fish, even if they bear no direct resemblance to a specific prey. The Wolf is one of those flies, originated by Martin Votborg over 20 years ago. You don’t need decades of experience to recognise that The Wolf is a good fly and there’s good reason why it’s still Martin’s favourite after all those years. He can explain this better than anyone. Twenty years of evolution Martin Vorborg, who is from the Northern part of Jutland, Denmark, has sold fishing tackle for over 20 years and countless flies have come and gone. The first part of his career he spent with the tackle store Brasholt and nowadays he runs his own company, www.minflue.dk, where he sells flytying materials and flies. Martin is
also active on YouTube and other social media with videos and pictures. The Wolf is a frequent item on his invoices. He first tied the fly in the late 1990’s. - I don’t remember the exact year I first tied the fly, but I came across an old photo of a sea trout, caught on The Wolf. The year on the picture was 1999 and I know I had fished the fly for a few years before catching that fish. - I haven’t made many changes to the fly over the years. It’s - more or less the same fly, but I’ve switched to a better hook, and I’ve made a few adjustments to the dubbing that forms the body. With a smile, Martin adds that he’s changed the colour of the tying thread as well, but that he is doubtful that it’s made much of a difference.
Controversial wing As the name implies, Martin uses wolf hair for the wings. Wolves are currently a hot subject in Denmark, and wolf isn’t readily available in the stores for several reasons. But there are perfectly acceptable substitutes, according to Martin. - 25 years ago, we had a different and less nuanced attitude towards the origins of fly tying materials. I can’t even remember when I got my first piece of skin from a Canadian wolf. But I do like the structure of Canadian wolf hair. The soft mobile fibres really infuse the fly with life. Wolf hairs have several colour nuances, but the ones I use have cream-coloured tips and are darker closer to the skin. I use the underfur mixed with synthetic dubbing for the body. - There are perfectly adequate substitutes for wolf. I’ve used coyote, grey fox and raccoon. If the entire fishing club want to use wolf, look for vintage fur coats, which you can often find for little money. Otherwise, craft fur in the colour “Wolf ” is a great synthetic alternative.
Seatrout and seabass From his home in Storvorde, south of Aalborg, Martin is close to both rivers and coastlines. Most of fishing fishing time is spent chasing seatrout. During the summer months, he fishes the local rivers but the rest of the year he’s in the salt. Here, The Wolf is always Martin’s first choice - but it’s not because he’s stubborn, he says. - I don’t fish seatrout exclusively, nor do I always use The Wolf. I enjoy the odd expedition for salmon, but what I enjoy most is to be able to get out often. Not necessarily for day long trips. Just a few hours to keep up to date sp I can follow the seasonal progression first-hand. In comparison, a week on a salmon river is just like a random point in time. - When I and a few others began using the fly, we caught many fish. It’s just a good fly and it does well all through the year and in most conditions. Over time, it has become my first choice, but I do use other flies too. At one point, a friend of mine stated that he would no longer use the
fly, because it was too easy. I’m not quite there myself yet and there are days when tricky trout will only nip the tail of the fly. On those day I resort to a small gammarus fished as a dropper together with The Wolf. But I will dare to claim that if you don’t succeed with The Wolf, it’s not the fly’s fault. There’s nothing magic about any fly and if The Wolf doesn’t work, change to something else or search out a different location. - I use The Wolf in all conditions and fish it on both floating, intermediate, and slow sinking lines. I adjust the fishing depth depending on conditions and temperature, but I’ve learned that changing the speed of the retrieve is very effective. I rarely, however, resort to the high-speed roly-poly retrieve, says Martin as he does an imaginary roly-poly. Tying tips Tying the fly is straightforward, but Martin has a few important tips to get the fly just the way he prefers it. If you’re not up for it, Martin is a professional fly tier and takes orders.
I have a few customers who just love The Wolf. They have ordered several variants, for instance some with a little pink in them for winter fishing. Personally, I prefer the original and I always tie in a little weight, so the fly dives a little when I stop the retrieve. The most important tip is to keep the fly sparse! - The body can be tied relatively thick, so you can brush out the dubbing, but keep the hackles to just a few turns and the wings quite thin. Otherwise,
you end up with a stiff broom that doesn’t sink and has little mobility in the water. Today I tie them on size 4 and 6 hooks. Size 6 is the standard and the size 4 is for tougher conditions with wind and coloured water where I need a little more silhouette. The orange head provides an extra dash of colour, but everything but the head I tie with a white thread. Usually, the fly will get chewed-up in which case the white thread won’t be visible through the dubbing.
Material List// Hook: Ahrex NS122, size 4-6. Weight: Lead-free wire. Tying thread: White Back hackle: Golden pheasant, red breast feather. Butt: Angel Hair, Dark Ultraviolet. Tail: Wolf. Center hackle: Golden pheasant, red breast feather. Body: Salmo Supreme Dub, rainbow colour and wolf underfur. Wing: Wolf. Front hackle: Golden pheasant, red breast feather. Head: Fire Orange tying thread.
FAIL is not an Floating or Intermediate Skagit Heads
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Salmon, Scotch, and so much more I have had the good fortune to fish for Atlantic salmon in some of the great rivers of Russia and Norway, places that are home to some of the largest fish and healthiest salmon runs in the world today. As I look back at many wonderful adventures overseas, there still remains something extra special about catching salmon in Scotland, inarguably the spiritual home of salmon fishing as we know it. It might be because this is the place I learned to fish, because I have Scottish blood in my veins, or because the taste of single malt whisky and haggis after catching a salmon from the River Spey is just too perfect a moment to be replicated anywhere else. By JONATHON MUIR Photos by JAMES MUIR (WWW.JAMESMUIRPHOTO.COM)
Tay. Spey. Dee. Tweed. The names of Scotland’s ‘Big Four’ rivers whose fishing cultures and traditions have touched every inch of our sport, from tackle and fly design to casting techniques. I maintain the belief that, if you were ever lucky enough to experience a ‘perfect’ salmon fishing session, there’s no finer setting in which to do it than Scotland. It’s not all about this ‘famous four’ though, there are some truly world class rivers in the northern regions of Caithness and Sutherland, and many other beautiful and productive rivers as you travel down through Inverness-shire and the surrounding areas. Adventurous sorts can also head over to the Isles of Lewis and Harris in the Outer Hebrides for a salmon fishing experience like no other - surely the wildest and most remote place you can fish in the British Isles today. Of course, let’s be honest here. The reason many of us now look outside of our home countries for our salmon fishing fix, and travel to the incredible and remote rivers of Russia’s Kola Peninsula for example, is because salmon fishing in Scotland is not quite what it was.
The heyday of the 1970s is often referred to as the ‘Golden Era’ of salmon fishing in Scotland, and numbers of fish running our rivers have never again reached the lofty heights of those glory days. The reasons and hypotheses behind this decline are under constant debate. Some rivers still perform extremely well, some even better than they once did, whilst many others are a mere shadow of their former selves. For the modern Scottish salmon hunter to be successful, the trick is now knowing exactly where to go, and exactly when to go to experience the fishing at its best. When you hit it right, you’ll soon understand what makes fishing here so special.
“Some rivers still perform extremely well, some even better than they once did” Scotland is blessed with a long fishing season. Our first rivers open on January 8th and our last rivers close on the final day of November - that’s a staggering 327 days (excluding Sundays of course).
It remains so that fishing for migratory fish, salmon and sea trout, on a Sunday is illegal in Scotland a strange quirk from the past maybe, but just another ingredient that makes fishing here a little bit mythical. Sundays are for talking about salmon, planning to catch salmon, and dreaming about salmon. So.. when do you go and where do you go? Despite the long season, don’t turn up in January expecting to catch fish! Some rivers are known for their spring runs, and late March through to June can be a fantastic time to visit. Others are out-and-out summer rivers where you’ll want to fish from June through to August. Get the conditions right and September to October can be phenomenally good on some rivers too. Wherever and whenever you choose to go, the most important piece of advice I can offer is to keep your expectations in check - remember this is an unpredictable game. Salmon fishing in Scotland is not a numbers game either. Yes it’s
possible to have a bumper day or legendary week, but go there with modest expectations and you’ll come away from the experience with much more satisfaction. A long season also brings with it a range of exciting fishing techniques and technical challenges. You can be casting 2-inch brass tubes on a 15ft rod and a Skagit line into the Tay in the middle of a snowstorm in March, and then riffle-hitching size 16s on a rocky Highland river with a single-hander in August. Large rivers offer both wade fishing and boat fishing depending on your preference and ability, and you’ll find every style of river from those with perfectly manicured and accessible banks, to those where you’ll need to trek for miles through peat bogs and clamber over boulders. You’ll find dramatic rivers like the Findhorn which flow through narrow gorges that cut through the Caledonian forest, to rivers that meander through open grasslands with views of distant mountains.
There’s truly something for everyone here. Whatever sort of fishing you enjoy doing, and whatever sort of tackle you enjoy using, Scotland will give you that opportunity. Finding salmon fishing in Scotland is a combination of publicly available online booking systems, and secret text messages and emails within closeknit circles. Both systems have their merits and their flaws. With so many rivers and beats to choose from, it’s easy to get lost, book something without doing your research, and end up disappointed. Local knowledge and research here is king, and reaching out to someone who knows the water, the weather, and has experienced the fishing will help to put you in the right spot.
That’s where we come in. Farlows Travel may be more accustomed to arranging exotic voyages to the world’s greatest lodges and camps, but we also love giving out honest advice to people looking to experience the fishing in our home waters too. As most fly fishers will know, there’s so much more to it than just the fishing. Much, much more. With a history filled with romance and struggle, the landscape of Scotland is one that can’t fail to speak to you. Its castles, ruins, and forests are dramatic relics from the past, every inch soaked in folklore, poetry and song. Scotland’s reputation for deep-frying absolutely everything has also overshadowed what I think is one of the best ‘foodie’ locations in Europe. The country is blessed with having some of the world’s most amazing produce, particularly seafood. Lobsters, crabs, langoustine, scallops, oysters, Arbroath ‘Smokies’ (haddock)… the list goes on and on. Whisky - need I even mention its importance? If you’ve never cast a line for salmon in the River Spey while the smells of malted barley waft over the hills from nearby distilleries, you absolutely must. Come to Scotland to try and catch a salmon, but stay for everything else. You can contact Jonathon at: email@example.com, for advice and guidance on salmon fishing in Scotland, where to stay and when to visit.
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FLY TYER SPOTLIGHT
Christian ZieglerKirchermeier Age: 36 Home country: Germany/Bavaria Instagram profile: @chris_k_flytying
Fly tying is a wonderful pastime and in our “Fly Tyer Spotlight” column, we present some of the most talented and innovative fly tyers across Europe and beyond. They are fly tyers worthy of acclaim and attention – and they represent a great source of creative inspiration. CHRISTIAN ZIEGLER-KIRCHERMEIER is an experienced German fly fisherman, who also happens to be a super-talented fly tyer. We stumbled upon Christian’s Instagram a year ago (www.instagram.com/@chris_k_flytying); an account that is bound to blow up. It features crisp shots of beautifully tied and innovative fly patterns from someone who is obviously both prolific and perfectionist. We immediately became fascinated with Christian’s work and the person behind it, and we’ve therefore sat down with Christian to talk about his passion for fly tying, where he finds his inspiration and how he composes new patterns. What is it about fly tying that you like so much? Well, let’s start at the beginning. I began flyfishing at the age of 13, and right from the beginning I was told to tie my own flies. That’s when I realised that there is no better feeling than for me to catch fish on flies I’ve tied myself. What also fascinates me about fly tying is the endless learning process involved. I learn new things every day and with every fly I tie. Flytying never gets boring; the possibilties are
endless and you never stop learning. Flytying is an endless journey. What kind of flies do you most enjoy to tie? One word: Deerhair Deer hair is a super versatile material. You can use it for hackles, wings, bodies and much more. My most favorit use of it is for multi-coloured Goddards or Streamer heads. It never gets boring to pack a bunch of deerhair. You never know the exact outcome until you shave the hair with your razorblades. I just love it!
What are the most important/determining factors when you design a new fly pattern? Designing a “radically” new pattern is hard these days, but I enjoy creating my own variations of existing patterns or combining the best parts of different patterns into something new. It is a lot of fun! In the process, I look critically at the materials involved and replace materials with new ones whenever it makes sense. An important part of this process is the time spent on the water. I always tie different variations of the “new” patterns and fish them for a few days. Some work better than others. I then keep the better ones and try some more variations, like tags, legs, hotspots and so on. When I think the pattern is working really well and is tied in an efficent way, its ready to find its rightful place in my fly box. What’s your favourite fish species to catch and why? My favourite fish is browntrout. 100%! Wild ones. However, they
are not easy to come by in my home rivers. Our fish are stocked and spawning trout are very rare. I tried for a very long time to catch a 60 cm+ brown trout on a fly, but in Germany – good trout rivers are very limited. So, I traveled to Iceland this year with my family and was able to catch one of the monsters out of Lake Villingavatn. It was an unbelievable fish that I will never forget. Do you fish flies that require adapted/alternative fishing techniques? Yes, a lot. In my local rivers European Nymphing is usually neccesary. So I am used to tying a lot of Jig-nymphs and Perdigon patterns - usually in big numbers. I tie my patterns in differnt sizes and weights; most of them in bead-sizes from 3,5 to 5,5 mm. I am not the biggest fan of that technique or the flies, but the fishing can be super effective in a lot of situations. So it’s something I simply can´t ignore.
What’s your all-time favourite fly and why? That’s a very difficult question. I have a favourite fly for every style of fly fishing I do. Dry, nymph, Czech nymph, streamer and so on... However, if I had to choose - my all-time favourite fly is probably a Tiltwing Deerhair Parachute (Because dry fly fishing is my goto technique). I add some long CDC fibers to the deerhair hackle that gives the fly some extra movement. I have a video on my Instagram account on how to tie it. Are there any specific fly tyers that have influenced and inspired you over the years? I follow a really big amount of amazing tyers on Instagram. I try to get my inspiration from them, and not just copy a whole pattern - but keep in mind the great stuff they produce. Then, in my mind, new patterns are concocted inspired by what I’ve seen. Most of the fly tyers I follow are realy helpfull and I love the big inclusive community that is out there. I have to name some of them, I’d say @onceandaway (James Lund), @hugo.harlin, @ luca_baroselli, @rowleybenchwork (Jeff Rowley), and @kurefluer (Henrik Kure). But there are many more.
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