WINTER 2021 // #31
BEASTS OF THE BALTIC SEA By Matt Harris
MALDIVES POOR MAN’S GT By Thomas Søbirk
Chasing Silver along the Shores of Bornholm www.intheloopmag.com
PYRAMID LAKE World’s Largest Cutthroat Trout #31
NEW ZEALAND Targeting Trophy Trout
Europe’s free online fly fishing magazine
Photo by Mac Elliott Media
We barely just made it to Farquhar Atoll in the Seychelles. Due to the onslaught of the covid-19 pandemic, the atoll had been off limits to fly fishermen for almost 1,5 years. We were there for the opening week on a spring tide lunar cycle, and both guests and guides were stoked beyond words. Stoked that the world had finally re-opened, and that we were about to fish some of the most productive flats on the planet. Obviously, we had an absolute blast! Now, less than two months later, the world seems about to shut down again. The recent emergence of the heavily mutated Omicron variant will make this winter considerable tougher to get through than anyone could have ever expected – and it just might prove a serious stick in the wheel for those who were planning to fish abroad next year. Only time will tell… It’s impossible not to feel frustrated and somewhat anxious about the current situation. But, if there’s anything to be derived from it all, it’s that we should never take anything for granted. Each fishing trip we manage to make, whether it’s to a local river or a remote flat, should be cherished and celebrated – more so than ever before. We have no idea about when we’ll be able to travel again. Farquhar Atoll seems extremely far away right now, but the memories, crisp and fresh in our minds, still provide us with a tingling feeling inside. All we have to do is close our eyes. The memories will get us through the winter, and when the time comes, and it’s relevant to travel again, we’ll be ready to make the most of it. Will you? Our winter-issue features contributions by Matt Harris, Rasmus Ovesen, Thomas Søbirk, Mike Kirkpatrick, Mac Elliott, Jeff Forsee, Joseph Evans, John Frazier, Joshua Johnson, Sarah Landstrom, and Martin Ejler Olsen. Enjoy!
Poor Man’s GT On The Fly by Thomas Søbirk Chasing Silver along the Shores of Bornholm by Rasmus Ovesen Fly Fishing for the World’s Largest Cutthroat Trout by Joseph Evans Beasts of the Baltic Sea by Matt Harris Silver Scales and Spotted Tails by Mac Elliott and Riley Elliott Targeting Trophy Trout by Mike Kirkpatrick And much much more...
Contributors RASMUS OVESEN
In the Loop Magazine C/O Cast Away Media Org no: 999 320 147 www.intheloopmag.com
By Thomas Søbirk
VISIT US ON
Oslo-resident, Rasmus Ovesen, was handed his first fly rod at the tender age of eight, and he has been a borderline fluff chucking fanatic ever since. Rasmus has written articles for some of the world’s most renowned fishing magazines, and his travels take him to remote areas across the globe in search for fish that will test and challenge his skills to the maximum. He has seen his fair share of exposed backing in the tropics, but his heart truly belongs to the soulful realm of trout and salmon fishing.
Matt Harris has been shooting fly-fishing images since 1999 and has been commissioned to shoot images and write articles all over the world. He has shot in Argentina, Alaska, Australia, the Bahamas, Brazil, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Cuba, England, Guatemala, Iceland, Ireland, India, Mongolia, New Zealand, Russia, the Seychelles, Scotland, the USA and Zambia. Matt loves any type of fly-fishing with a passion and is happy to fish for everything from trout to sailfish, but his favourite quarries are big Atlantic salmon and Permit. See more of Matt’s images at: http://www.mattharrisflyfishing.com/
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.
Having traveled all over the world targeting both freshwater- and saltwater sportfish, Thomas Søbirk is an extremely knowledegable and experienced fly fisherman. Thomas resides in Denmark, was once the owner of Scandinavia’s coolest fly fishing magazine, and is now the managing director of Getaway Tours. For more info, please refer to: http://getawayflyfishing.com
Joseph is the only angler in his family. When he was about 12 years old, a fly rod met his hand. His hometown river, the Boise River is responsible for his fly fishing addiction today. Currently, he is attending the University of Montana and will graduate with his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism this Spring 2022. While in school, his free time consists of exploring new rivers on his drift boat with friends, practicing photography and videography. Joseph spends his summer at Picabo Angler on the infamous Silver Creek, working the fly shop and guiding. His energetic, outgoing personality shows the passionate angler he is. Joseph puts countless hours on the water. For more info: https://www.instagram.com/idaaflyy/ and www.picaboangler.net
Mac Elliott is a professional photographer and freelance media producer born and raised among the natural splendor of the Texas coast. With a passion for wilderness and conservation, she has devoted her craft to capturing the beauty of Texas fisheries. She is a graduate of media production and owner of Mac Elliott Media, LLC in Houston. www.macelliottmedia.com
Jeff Forsee is a flyfishing guide based in Wanaka, New Zealand. Originally from southern Ohio, he has fully embraced a life down under but still misses largemouth bass and can’t seem to shake that accent. His work and adventures have taken him around the globe from the remote islands of the South Pacific to Mongolia, where he has spent many seasons as a guide for Mongolia River Outfitters. These days, when choosing between capturing the moment and capturing the fish, he often favors the lens over the line. His work has appeared in The Fly Fish Journal, Fly Fisherman, FlyLife, The Mission, and many online publications. If you’d like to see more, visit www.jeff-forsee.com.
An expert wilderness fly fishing guide at Latitude Guiding https://www.latitudeguiding. co.nz/, Mike Kirkpatrick runs the largest non-lodge guiding business in New Zealand together with wife Nans (Southern Latitude Guides). Mike is a passionate movie maker https://vimeo.com/mikefsher, keen photographer https:// www.instagram.com/mikefsher/ and creative writer for blogs and magazines across New Zealand, Australia, and beyond.
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.
PANGA 50 L WATERPROOF DUFFEL Enter your email for a chance to win a YETI Panga 50L Duffel.
ENTER TO WIN!
CLICK HERE *By entering your email you automatically sign up for a FREE subscription of In the Loop Magazine.
IVEAWAY With the Panga™ dry duffel, you’re prepared. The fully-submersible duffel offers zero access points for rogue wetness into your gear. Panga’s ultra-durable design withstands getting dunked and dragged while remaining 100% dry on the inside.
Poor Man’s GT on the fly Welcome to the poor man’s world of GT on the fly. One January morning, somewhere in the northern part of the Maldives, that’s where the following took place…
By: THOMAS SØBIRK Photos by: THOMAS SØBIRK, ANDREAS RASMUSSEN, PETER LYNGBY & JOHAN BJERG/LUCAS MSISKA and FIN FOLLOWERS
Fly fishing for giant trevally is more popular – and more hyped – than ever before. The driving force behind this development has been the incredible fishing around some of the outer atolls of the Seychelles like Farquhar, Astove, and not least Cosmoledo – places that now rank at the very top of most GT fly fisher’s bucket lists. Relatively few of them go there, however. The reason is simple: Price. The weekly rate for fishing the three mentioned islands run from well over $10,000 to more than $15,000 - for six days of fishing. Flights to Mahe, conservation donations and gratuities not included, of course. That’s not for everyone! So, when you have GT on your mind – but your fishing budget doesn’t quite match the price tag mentioned above – you need to look elsewhere: Christmas Island? Sudan? Or how about the Maldives? The tide isn’t moving yet so you aren’t expecting shots at the big game. Instead, you decide on walking the reef with your nine weight in hand – twelve weight tucked away for now – looking for lightning-blue shapes moving in and out of the wash from the surf breaking over the shallow reef. A quick cast followed by a fast retrieve is what it takes. Any bluefin trevally getting sight of your little crab in the turbulent water equals a wholehearted attack, with all guards down, until it finally connects with your fly, the line comes tight, and you’re on for some action.
After two days of catching nothing, the action is welcome. You’ve hooked fish, yes – but caught any? No. Not so far. The big game here doesn’t come easy. So, you amuse yourself with the bluefins. A trigger tails. Its big yellow and orange tail waves you closer with its irresistible “come and get me if you can” attitude. You can’t, of course! Before you are even within casting range, a wave washes over the shallow reef, and the trigger disappears with the water pulling back to sea. Never mind, the bluefins are still around, and soon after you hook another one. The third this morning.
It’s splendid sport on light gear, and you would have enjoyed it even more if that voice in the back of your head would, just for a moment, stop reminding you what you are really here for: Big game. B-I-G game. Caranx Ignobilis. AKA Giant Trevally. GT amongst friends.
“The first ignore your fly, the latter hammer it” Judging from yesterday’s tide, there is still at least another hour until the water starts to drop. Not that you need less water on the reef but you just need the water to move. The moving water will off-balance the baitfish a bit, making them vulnerable. Furthermore, it will make the surf break harder creating better hunting opportunities. All in all, it might just give you another shot at the big game you are really here for. For now, the gentle surf is still creating ideal conditions for green parrotfish and luminescent bluefins to swim the shallow parts of the reef. The first ignore your fly, the latter hammer it, so you decide to walk back and fish the most productive part once more.
There is still time. You are allowed to have some fun. You’re at six hooked bluefins – four landed, two lost – and on the last bit of shallow reef, having a great time. You tell yourself that you could do this all day long. Then it happens, and from that very instant, you couldn’t care less about bluefins, triggers, parrotfish, or whatever the surf washes in: Out of the corner of your eye, you see something moving in the surf – you turn your head, and you find yourself staring at a big GT swimming in the wave of the breaking surf, as clearly on display as new arrivals in a shop window. Approximately 193 seconds later, you find yourself positioned on a piece of rock, ten meters from the breaking surf. Nine weight tucked away, twelve weight in hand, flyline hanging in coils in the stripping basket, sunglasses with annoying saltwater drops on the lenses and soaked up to your chest from making it onto the rock. Not that you care. Getting a shot at big game is what is on your mind. Nothing else.
It’s almost too good to be true but ten, maybe twelve, minutes later a big GT cruises along the reef, in the surf, coming your way, and less than fifteen meters out. The “almost” in the “too good to be true” part is the head-on wind, meaning the only option is a back cast. You’re telling yourself not to screw this up but most likely it is more down to luck rather than your casting arm actually listening to the commands, that the fly lands – if not in the perfect spot, then at least in an, under the circumstances, perfectly acceptable spot. You strip at least once, probably twice and possibly three times but surely no more than that. Then the GT is on the fly, engulfs it with half of its head out of the water, and the black baitfish pattern, tied on a strong 5/0 hook, completely disappears into a bucket-sized mouth.
closed drag” - so something has to give. It’s not the fish, neither the reel. The only thing left in that equation is you. You’re not sure exactly what happens but it happens fast!
To say that “you’re on” would be an understatement. When you set the hook, the GT heads for the surf, and in seconds the line is on the reel. That’s when “big angry GT” meets “heavy saltwater reel with almost
Eight or nine minutes later, you’re finally winning the battle. The flyline is back on the reel, probably more than half of it by now, and you are starting to think about how and where to land your price.
You’re pulled off the rock, fall over, head under water, cap goes afloat, rod at the end of stretched arm pointing directly at big angry GT headed off to sea. It’s a mess, and you wouldn’t want it any other way. Adrenaline ad libitum!
“When you set the hook, the GT heads for the surf, and in seconds the line is on the reel”
And then, there is that inevitable craggy rock snagging the line, the GT is a Free T and your flyline is ten feet shorter than it was a second ago.
“The fight is over, the GT won” The fight is over, the GT won, you lost: The fish, that is. Not the memory. As you make you way to dry land, bleeding lightly from the bruises on your legs, you feel more alive than you have done in a long time. Twenty minutes later, you are back on the rock. This time, you didn’t even notice the deeper water or the drops on the sunglasses on the way out. Now, you’re going to war.
TALKING TO ANDREAS: We sat down with Andreas Rasmussen, who helped us crack the code on fly fishing in the Maldives. Here, Andreas shares some of his thoughts on his big passion: Fly fishing for GTs in the Maldives: I had heard about several unsuccessful attempts at fly fishing for GTs in the Maldives – but one day one of my colleagues in the shop came back with a different story. He had done his research, had hired a local boat driver – and after a few days, while anchored on the reef for lunch, a big GT swam by. This inspired them to look elsewhere and he ended up hooking several fish. That was all the encouragement I needed. I immediately planned a trip with a friend, we followed tide charts, read everything we could find and had tremendous success – way more than we had hoped for, or possibly deserved. We caught 14 GTs, many smaller fish but also several really nice ones. My second trip was also a success. This time, we fished a different atoll, but with the knowledge we had earned on our first trip and lots of research on
Google Maps we were able to point out new potential spots. It wasn’t great fishing right from the start but at the end of the week we ran into some crazy GT action. Five of us landed 23 GTs. The number of fish that came onto the flats and reefs the last couple of days was crazy. I guess we just had perfect tides – well perfect everything, and a good amount of luck thrown in as well. What really fascinates me about GT is their total commitment to killing that fly! On my last trip, captain Mohamed said is so well when we had a fish just hammering the fly: “It’s not hungry, it’s angry!” That’s exactly what they are. We don’t target other species when we’re carrying the heavy guns. But we do catch them when opportunities present themselves. We have landed barracuda, shark, bluefin trevally, snapper and grouper on GT tackle – and had a couple of shots at huge napoleons. When I was approached by Getaway Fly Fishing, it soon became clear to me that we shared the same ideas about an ideal setup for fly fishing the Maldives.
Even if we had been successful using smaller boats to reach the spots, I was already painfully aware that it wouldn’t take much wind to ground us on the island, or at least out of reach of many of the best spots. On the other hand, a mothership would slow down everything and limit the number of spots you can fish in a day, and during a week.
“The good fishing wouldn’t continue forever if the same relatively few spots would get hammered week after week” Getaway’s background and their ideas of setting up for fly fishing, carrying a dinghy on the front deck of the speed boat, matched my own ideas of the ideal approach. What also weighed in heavily was their plan to explore several different areas thereby limiting the fishing pressure in each area. Even if we had enjoyed success on my first trips, I was very aware that these spots were too easy to access for too many anglers. The good fishing wouldn’t continue forever if the same relatively few spots would get hammered week after week.
I believe that the best approach to fly fishing the Maldives is fishing as many different areas as possible and over time accumulate knowledge about each particular spot, but also a growing understanding of how the fishing is affected by winds and tides. That will enable us to achieve better results without harming the fishery. It’s hard to predict the future of a fishery but I’m pretty optimistic about the Maldives. Mainly for two different reasons: There is still a lot of unfished water to explore and it is not too easy to achieve success. Let me explain why I view the latter as an advantage: If it was easy to fly down to the Maldives and land your big GT on the fly, it would soon become the most popular saltwater fishery in the northern hemisphere. It’s relatively easy to get there, and nothing is more mind-blowing than hooking a GT on a fly rod. This would lead to the Maldives being “overloved”, overrun, and overfished. But, “luckily”, it’s not so easy. Even though we have had some great trips, averaging
one or two landed GTs per fly fishermen in a week is a really good result. Maybe you might hook twice as many, and have shots at many more – but to actually land that fish, everything has to go your way. So, during a decent week six anglers might land 10 GTs. That’s not a lot of fishing pressure. It’s what four anglers will land during a good day of popping from a boat. And that’s another great thing about fly fishing: That you need a much lower number of landed GTs to make it a great week, thus putting less pressure on the natural resources. Fighting, waves, wind and sun for eight or nine hours a day, six to eight days in a row, to catch one or two of the fish you are really after – well, that’s not enough for everyone. And that’s the advantage: that those of us more than willing to take on the challenge won’t have to share the water with too many others. That fact, in my opinion, gives me an optimistic view of the future of fly fishing in the Maldives.
To succeed with GT on the fly, you need skills and determination – but more than anything, you need luck on your side. I recently came back from a hosted week. A few days into the trip – we’re fishing a long reef in three pairs of two, and experienced guest, Jacob, is fishing with his friend Fredrik. A really big GT suddenly approaches them, on Jacob’s side. It’s swimming pretty fast so he only gets one shot. He makes the shot, placing the fly at just the right distance from the incoming monster GT, lets the fly sink a little, and then starts stripping fast. The fish spots the fly, accelerates, inhales it, turns around – and disappears. When he pulls in his fly, it’s no longer the 27-28 cm it used to be. It’s more like 5! The GT had eaten all of the fly’s 12-13 flatwing feathers, just missing the hook. Jacob never felt a thing! After such an experience, many might have felt defeated. Instead, Jacob felt encouraged: “This is possible, we’re going to get one!”. The following day, he came across another really big fish – one, that
had some really advanced tricks up its fishy sleeves. Him and Fredrik had just been dropped off with the dinghy and they spread out a bit and started wading towards the reef. The shallowest part of the reef was maybe some 6-7 meters wide, the water was rising, and there a nice current was pushing across the reef. When Jacob was 20 meters from the reef, he notices not only a small patch of sandy bottom, but a big GT sitting there, just waiting for vulnerable baitfish to be washed in with the heavy current.
“This is possible, we’re going to get one” The big fish was holding in around 80 cm of water, sometimes breaking the surface and exposing a good part of its broad back. With trembling knees, Jacob made the cast. He placed the fly five meters in front of the fish, made two strips – and then the show began:
Within seconds, the fish had grabbed the fly, turned with it, accelerated to maximum speed and continued straight towards Jacob! It completely overtook the fly line, shot right past Jacob’s legs, pulling the fly line behind it. It then made a narrow turn around him, splashed water all over him in the process and headed back towards the reef. And with no hook-set being possible, as there was never the slightest contact with the fish, dropped out… When he told us the story, he must have had the biggest smile in all of the Maldives. “If I had caught it, that would have been great. The picture would be on the wall at home, and I would try to catch the next great fish. But this performance – from a fish – I will never, ever forget it”. Jacob did land three GTs during his trip but he lost the two biggest ones. He has already signed up for a rematch. More information about fly fishing in the Maldives: www.maldivesonthefly.com www.getawayflyfishing.com
FLY FISHING THE BALTIC SEA:
Chasing Silver along the Shores of Bornholm By: RASMUS OVESEN Photos by: RASMUS OVESEN, GORDON P. HENRIKSEN, FREDERIK LORENTZEN and FIN FOLLOWERS
Why travel all the way to Bornholm to fly fish for seatrout, when there are numerous other coastal areas all across Northern Europe that are within closer range? Well, Bornholm has a certain je ne sais quoi – and not just when it comes to the fishing, which – by the way – ranks among the best in the world.
WITH ITS SMALL, IDYLLIC SEAPORTS, captivating panorama views, and exquisite food culture, Bornholm is an irrevocably ambient and pleasant place to vacate. Everything is within immediate range: the rocky shorelines and white sandy beaches; Svaneke Brewery and the many local smoke houses; the ancient round churches, fortresses and castle ruins; and the numerous vantage points that are found along Bornholm’s 158-kilometer-long coastline. Bornholm is the perfect place for an active holiday, and its coastal realms offer the perfect playground for the seatrout fisherman – a place where the dream of catching a silvery Baltic Sea trophy is within reach. MY OBSESSION WITH SEATROUT has lured me across the Baltic Sea, to the craggy shorelines of Bornholm, on several occasions. And revisiting Bornholm’s amazing and varied coastal realm always makes me tingle expectantly within. I have that exact feeling inside on this day in March, where I’ve flown from Oslo to Copenhagen, then
driven from Copenhagen to Ystad in Sweden to catch the high-speed ferry from Ystad to Rønne, Bornholm. Not even escalating south-westerly winds, which are forecast to reach gale forces around 24m/s within the next 24 hours, is enough to dampen my spirit. Less than half an hour after my good friend, Gordon, and I have gotten off the ferry, we’re on the shore of a beautiful coastal stretch with our fly rods in firm grips, ready to battle the elements and look for trout. We fish one promising stretch and then another - but without seeing any fish. It doesn’t deter us, however, because Bornholm’s seatrout have a tendency to school up in certain areas, and once we find them, we know that we’re in for a good time. Arriving at the third fishing spot, which goes by the local name, Klympen, we’re still fully motivated and stoked to be fishing. And we now start to work our way down the shoreline, methodically and with great focus.
I SEND ANOTHER EXPECTANT CAST towards the edge of a dark patch that stretches out into the ocean below the gloomy, lead-grey horizon, while desperately probing for traction across the slick, rounded rocks that are so carelessly strewn here – rocks that are greedily licked by unyielding and turbulent waves. The water is turbid, and the hoarse southwestern winds tear at the frothing wave crests flinging shower-like myriads of glistening water drops in to the air and towards the beach.
“Bornholm is capable of delivering fish in regular trophy sizes” It’s not the most comfortable weather for fishing. It’s more like an inferno of water, wind and whirling foam, but it doesn’t really matter. I don’t mind being thrown around in the waves on this chilly spring day, hectically waving my fly rod in the howling winds, as long as I believe in the dream of catching a solid piece
of Bornholm silver. I firmly do, and every cast is laden with the greatest of expectations and the warmth-igniting assurance that Bornholm is capable of delivering fish in regular trophy sizes. I RETRIEVE THE FLY, which is a small but eye-catching pink shrimp pattern, with long, slow strips without ever losing contact with it in the big swells. At the end of the retrieve, I lift the line partially off the water, roll cast, and execute an overhead cast with maximum power and acceleration making the line cut surgically through the wind and stretching the leader over the colliding, foamy waves. Three strips later, a slight tug propagates through the line. I lift the rod resolutely but am not met with any weight. Hmmm! Did the fly just bump one of the big boulders out there? Was it temporarily snagged on drifting sea weeds – or was it a cautious take? I quickly retrieve the fly and check it for seaweeds. Nothing!
I then cast again and immediately start stripping in the fly. This time, there’s no doubt! Another vague tug propagates through the fly line, and as I lift the fly rod, I’m met with the weight of a big fish that starts thrashing around on the surface. The fly, however, quickly loses its hold, the connection is lost, and I’m left there in the waves, lightly-trembling and with a nagging uncertainty. Was it one of the many post-spawners so frequently encountered during early spring? Or was it one of Bornholm’s sought-after chromers - one of those prime creatures with shimmering loose scales, a muscular body build and bright silvery flanks? The fish was way too far out, and everything happened too quickly for me to ascertain for sure. Damn! HALF AN HOUR LATER, after having lost another three fish, all my doubts have slowly evaporated. There are obviously a lot of post-spawners in the area, and I’m therefore mentally inclined to look for a new fishing spot. But then, suddenly, I feel another tug on the
line. This time, it’s more abrupt and resolute, and once I’ve established full contact, and I put a good bend into the fly rod’s limber carbon fibers, a silvery, torpedo-shaped creature thrusts itself meter-high from the water. As it collides with the waves in a splashy belly flop, it immediately rushes off and soon after, the hoarse screams of my fly reel start to intermingle cacophonically with the howling winds. There is both power and punch in my agile adversary, but I slowly but surely gain the upper hand – and a few minutes later I land and unhook the beautiful fish. It is robustly built, steel-gray along the whole length of its back, and with powerful, semi-transparent fins protruding from its trembling silvery flanks, which display big, ink stain-like spots under a glistening veneer. The fish is probably around 1,5 kilos, and while it isn’t exactly the trophy fish that lured me all the way to Bornholm in the first place, it’s well worth the trip.
It poignantly sums up, what the fishing is like over here. It rewards the laborious - those who are willing to take some serious beatings in the waves – and it goes to prove that the redeeming tug from one of the island’s much-coveted chromers might propagate through the fly line at any given time, most likely when you expect it the least. And when it does, all you can do is hold on and hope for the best… THERE ARE MANY GREAT SPOTS to fish on Bornholm – regardless of temperament and previous experience, and it is too comprehensive a task to cover them all here. The most popular and wellknown fishing spots on Bornholm are found in the guide, “Kystfiskeri på Bornholm”, which is published by Destination Bornholm in close cooperation with local coastal fishermen and guides. You can get a hold of your own copy via this link https:// bornholm.info/en/. The guide contains maps, route- and fishing spot descriptions along with general information about conservation periods- and zones, minimum sizes, and
fishing tips. The following contains a handful of fishing spots in addition to those in the guide. 1. Klympen is an exciting coastal spot on Bornholm’s western shorelines – a spot that is demarcated to the south by a long, and for the coastal fly fisherman uninteresting, stretch with sandy bottom. To the north, however, there is an approximately 800-meter-long coastal stretch with varied bottom features, many big cliff fragments, bladderwracks, and scattered sandy patches. This is prime seatrout territory and, oftentimes, you’ll find the fish pushed right up against the shoreline or patrolling where the waves are breaking. The whole stretch, which is delimited to the north by Hasle Harbour, is capable of providing good fishing. You can park on the public parking lot at the end of the road, which carries the same name as the fishing spot. 2. Lufthavnen (The Airport) is the name of a coastal stretch, which is found just behind – or west of, Rønne Airport.
Here, you’ll uncover one of Bornholm’s finest coastal stretches, which is made up of rounded rocks, sand bars and bladderwracks with scattered boulders. To get here, drive via Arnagervej – a road that will take you around the airport and down to the water. Especially during spring, there can be schools of fish around, but you need to fish actively and locate them as they can be practically anywhere along this more than 2-kilometer-long stretch. Alternatively, you can park at Arnager and fish the whole stretch from here and westwards towards the Airport.
“Especially during spring, there can be schools of fish around” 3. Bro Rev is southeast-facing reef just south of Snogebæk. It’s reachable from the parking lot to the west – at the end of Turistvej, or you get there via the beach from Snogebæk Harbour, which is a 1,2-kilometer
walk. Bro Rev is usually at its best in southernly winds, and oftentimes the fish are found along the craggy edges of the reef, where the waves break. Quite a lot of weighty fish have been landed here, and especially when the water has a bit of turbidity, schools of fish will come in to hunt. 4. Salene Bugt is a big bay west of Gudhjem. It’s a breathtaking spot with varied terrain – a spot that can be fished outside of the half-year conservation period at Bobbeåens estuary. To the west you can wade and fish plateaus with rocks, dark silty bottom and bladderwracks and to the east you’ll find a coastal stretch below steep cliffs, where there are good depth curves and lots of scattered boulders. Throughout the whole stretch there are fish to be found, and during spring they can be plentiful. You can park at the end of Bobbevej. 5. Kæmpestranden (The Beach of Giants), which is situated in southern Allinge, is a well-known area for bathing during the summer months and it has good parking options.
The beach with the ensnaring name is capable of delivering big seatrout during the winter months. Here, you’ll find exciting little bays, depth curves and lots of pocket water close to shore as well as cliffs and boulders, which attract many prey items. Oftentimes, seatrout foraging on herring and sprattus will enter this area, and while it can easily be fished from the cliffs, if usually pays off to wade in a little deep and fish the periphery of the bladderwrack patches. This is one of the preferred places for the big seatrout to patrol. LOGISTICS Bornholm is the easternmost part of Denmark – isolated in the Baltic Sea south of Sweden. Getting there, however, is neither difficult nor time-consuming. Once in Denmark, there are direct flights from Ålborg, Midtjyllands Airport, Billund and Copenhagen to Rønne – Bornholm’s airport, where you can rent a car. The flight itself is between 40 and 75 minutes depending on your point of departure, and the prices start at around 70 Euros for a one-way ticket. If you want to bring your own car, you can drive via Sweden to the city of Ystad. Here, a ferry will transport you to Rønne – a boat ride that takes 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Depending on the dates and time of departure, you can book a round-trip to Bornholm with a car and up to five passengers for less than 80 Euros. The convenient cross over is operated by Bornholmslinjen, and there are atmospheric seating options on its speedy catamaran ship, where you can sit together and enjoy a meal and a drink – or, perhaps, tie a few last-minute flies. For flights, check: https://bornholmerflyet.dk For ferry tickets, check: https://www.bornholmslinjen.dk LODGING There are lots of attractive lodging services on Bornholm and during the winter months and early spring, when the fishing is at its best, booking a strategic place to stay is not an issue. Airbnb is a good place to start, but there are also plenty of hotels, vacation houses, hostels, bed and breakfasts, camp sites, and summerhouses. You’ll find a general guide to Bornholm’s many and varied lodging services at www. bornholm.info, while Feriepartner (www. feriepartner.dk/bornholm/) and Novasol (www.novasol.dk) are the right places to acquire specific information about available summer houses.
THE FISHING GEAR It’s possible to hook up with seriously big fish on Bornholm, and most locals therefore tend to favor 9,6’ 7 – 8-weight fly rods with a great deal of backbone. These rods are typically matched up with intermediate shooting heads, which – apart from having great wind-cutting abilities, also quickly find the right fishing depth and ensure that you have good contact with the fly no matter the wave action. Furthermore, the stout equipment assists in achieving good casting distances – something that is key in certain spots with subaqueous reefs and plateaus that extend into deep water. It also aids in casting in into headwinds and big crashing waves– not least when deep-wading. The flies that are typically used aren’t dissimilar to the ones used in other seatrout locations across Northern Europe. The locals on Bornholm, however, seem to favorize smaller patterns, and – not least – minute pinkish patterns, which are strikingly visible – even in turbid water. Patterns that are popular among the locals include Skyggen, Polar Mag-
nus, Kobberbassen, Glimmerrejen, Pattegrisen, Brenda and Cutthroat Kutling. Apart from the fly fishing tackle and the usual clothing – which should be warm and weather resistant – there are two additional pieces of equipment that are recommended: A line tray and a wading staff. The latter is important when wading along Bornholm’s craggy cliff shorelines and where there are big, rounded and slick boulders. Additionally, the wading staff comes in handy when deep-wading in turbid water and big waves. In these conditions the wading staff is potentially the difference between staying dry and on two feet or getting soaked. The line tray is not only advisable for those who fish with shooting heads and mono shooting lines or sinking lines, but also for those who fish regular WF lines. Regardless of whether you’re fishing from the cliffs or wading, there are tidal currents, waves, rocks and bladderwracks to take into account – and they are all capable of ruining an otherwise perfect cast by snagging the slack line.
Line trays that are robust, self-draining and firmly fixed in a waist belt are to be favoured – especially if you’re wading deep along coastal stretches with headwinds and lots of wave action. THE FISHING A national Danish fishing license is required to fish Bornholm. With the inexpensive license in your pocket you can fish all along Bornholm’s coastal line with the exception of the seasonal and year-round protected zones near Bornholm’s small estuaries. Furthermore, you need to be aware that there’s a conservation period in effect during the period of November 16th through January 15th for seatrout in spawning colours. This means that all coloured seatrout must be quickly and carefully released during this specific period. All the current rules and regulations can be found on the website of the Danish Fisheries Agency: https://fiskeristyrelsen.dk/english/recreational-fisheries/ The season stretches from October until the beginning of May, and the peak season is from March until the end of April. The winter months, periodically, provide great fishing – especially if the water temperatures aren’t too low, and the weather is mild.
The locals usually seek out coastal spots with headwinds – spots with turbulent and pushing water that has some turbidity to it. When these conditions are met, seatrout will often forage close to the shoreline and along the drop-offs where the waves crash and break. A lot of massive chromers have been caught under such conditions, but don’t be fooled. There are also good fish to be caught in calm weather or along coastal stretches that are sheltered from the wind. The most important thing is to be on the move and continually relocate until you find fish. They often school together in certain areas; for instance, in small protected bays or along depth curves and reefs. As a result, you shouldn’t dwell too long at any given spot, unless you establish contact or there are fish to be seen. One quick sweep-through is usually enough to get a good indication of whether or not there are foraging fish around. If you’re looking for a local fishing guide with lots of experience and high spirits, Bjarke Borup is highly recommended: http://www.bornholmfiskeguide.dk/da/
The Guide’s Choice The Guide’s Choice exceeds the needs of the most demanding anglers. Incorporating our proprietary eyewear technologies, it’s engineered for those that pursue life on the water. Experience ChromaPop™ | smithoptics.com
The new European store Trouthooks.com is the new European online shop for fly fishing & fly tying enthusiasts. The swedish founder of “Svenskaflugor”, Simon Johansson, has noticed an increased demand of especially their unique fly tying materials. Therefor he translated the swedish site into english, with the new name, Trouthooks. We focus sales mainly in the European Union.
A m t
Trouthooks.com offers unique materials, like Floatant Chenille. It´s the perfect choice when tying extended bodies on a mayfly, caddis and nymph. This material floats perfect and very realistic in the surface film, which seem to attract the fish more rather than using high buoyancy materials, like foam.
What to expect from us ▪ High quality materials ▪ Excellent personal service ▪ Guidance about fly tying ▪ Quick deliveries ▪ Right prices
Floatant Chenille 1.19€
F T v b a I
Firehole Outdoors are now known world wide for their top notch products. The “stupid sharp” hooks are probably the best fly hooks ever created. Firehole sticks come in more than 20 different models, and in many sizes! All hooks are of course barbless. Firehole Outdoors also have other cool products, like round and slotted tungsten beads in a great varity of cool colours.
Have you tied on the best hooks out there?
At the year 2018 we were the first store in Sweden to offer the range of Firehole Outdoors. Today we have the exclusives of their magnificent products in Sweden. Also we don’t sell any other brand of hooks, because we only focus on the best to get for our customers. Below you can read about our personal favorites. See the full range of Firehole at Trouthooks.com
Firehole Sticks 315 This model is one of our favorites. Flies with extended bodies, emergers, nymphs and more! In sizes from 6 to 22.
Firehole Sticks 609 The 609 is probably designed for nymphs and wet flies, but we also tie dries with deer hair on these. Available in sizes 8-20.
Firehole Sticks 718 The universal hook! It works for almost every kind of pattern. Comes in sizes 4-24
Firehole Sticks 811 There’s probably no better hook for streamers out there! Available in sizes 1-10.
Fly Fishing for the World’s Largest Cutthroat Trout Pyramid Lake, Nevada, is one of the best Stillwater fisheries across the globe. It is located a little less than an hour away from Reno, Nevada. The Lake sits right on an Indian Reservation where the Paiute Tribe grants access to non-tribal members to fish. It is a splendid opportunity for anglers from all over to pay a fee and get on the water.
By JOSEPH EVANS Photos by JOSEPH EVANS, ZACHARY HEATH and RASMUS OVESEN
The alkaline freshwater in Pyramid Lake grows the largest strain of Cutthroat trout in today’s existence, the Lahontan Cutthroat trout. There are two strains; The pilot peak strain, which comes from the hatchery, bread amongst their broodstock program, and the native Summit strain. Both grow to extraordinary sizes, although the Pilot Peak strain can reach 20lbs as it feasts on a small baitfish called Tui Chub, Cui-ui suckers and filter feeds aquatic insects. The Cui-ui is a unique prey source because most don’t know that this sucker or baitfish lives up to 40 years old. The geography of Pyramid lake differs from the massive rock structures of Tufa rock; it looks like limestone, an old coral coming from the ancient lake Lahontan. The rocks stand tall, round, and wide. When standing and fishing off of them, it feels as if one is on Mars, some would say. On the other hand, it stretches far as the eye can see with small, gravel beaches.
Up on the ladders Anglers will fish from boats or, most commonly, bank fish. The giant fish don’t stay far off the shoreline as the majority of their food is there. Anglers will fish right off the rocks, bring a ladder or line up one by one right off the shelves or drop-offs along those beaches. The ladder helps the angler set up further offshore and reach deeper water, further off of the shelf, also for sitting down. Standing sun-up to sundown gets tiring!
“The best fishing is right as the sun rises and right as it is going down” For the last two years, I have been making trips to Pyramid Lake to chase this immaculately sized trout. This year, I brought with me my girlfriend Annika and two close friends, Bradley and Emily. What most don’t understand is that fishing this place is an absolute grind. The best fishing is right as the sun rises and right as it is going down.
The fish tend to push Tui chub into the rocky bowls, shorelines, and coves. The low-light also seems to make the cutthroat trout feel more comforted from predators to come shallow near our flies. The weather can be brutal, with extremely strong winds and cold storms that appear out of nowhere. The trick to catching these fish is keeping a line wet. As important as your rig is, it is key just to be fishing 24/7. Since these fish are constantly cruising the shorelines, one may never know when their fly could be in line for an upcoming 20lber. How to fish Pyramid Lake The two different methods to fish Pyramid Lake is simply choosing a beach, preferably on a point or with an aggressive shelf, and wading or bringing a ladder. Off the beach, many anglers will choose to strip a full-sinking line, dredging the bottom with a big fly upfront like a streamer or conehead bugger to kick up the sand and trailing a beetle pattern to float up behind the first one.
The other method is indicator fishing with a floating line. Also, effective off the beaches from foot or ladder, but most commonly fished from rockier structures where midges hatch by the hour, by the thousands, millions. Using chironomids and balanced leeches underneath a bobber can, has and will produce. This is the method we chose to fish this year. We picked a spot that had a deep, narrow cove surrounded by rocks where schools of Cutthroat from the depths would randomly push in to frenzy and feed. The best method when indicator fishing is to use switch rods and Scandi floating lines to roll cast these rigs out further offshore without a backcast. We used a double chironomid rig in a size 12. A tungsten chironomid on the bottom tied with a loop knot and a tag end three to five feet above with a brass bead or weightless chironomid. I enjoy fishing lighter color midges on my tag end to represent an emergence and darker, heavier chironomids down deeper. Snow-
cone midges or any color Zebra midge does just fine while using 3x tippet. These fish have become pickier over the years, although nothing beats a snowcone pattern. It is fun experimenting with new colors from home-tied patterns, though some days there is a favorite or hot pick.
“We picked a spot that had a deep, narrow cove surrounded by rocks” Lastly, A big bobber is key to keep your flies afloat in the waves and consistent up and down tension beneath the bobber in the column. There is no worry that these monster Cutthroat will not rip it under. The season The Pyramid Lake fishery is most prominent in the winter months, November to April. This is when the fish are most shallow and become easiest to target as a shoreline angler.
In the fall, the fish are fattening up for the winter; bigger flies and balanced leeches through January will produce fewer eats, but the largest fish. As the transition from January to April occurs, big fish are still around to spawn, but the numbers increase with it. Don’t be surprised having a 30-fish hay day of fish in the 18-24” range in April. Aside from bearing through the wind and rainstorms, this is one special place, 4 AM wake-up calls and a parched appetite all day to chase a fish of a lifetime. The fish are immaculately large and being beside friends dawn to dusk with a line in the water couldn’t better produce some great stories, laughs and memories. Throughout the summer months, Pyramid Lake anglers build utter excitement whenever it crosses their mind to freeze their butts off and watch bobbers drop.
OUR HERITAGE. YOUR LEGACY. Coming soon
Beasts of the Baltic Sea By: MATT HARRIS
Rügen Island clings to Germany’s Northern shore. During the summer, half of Germany seem to descend on the little island for their holidays, but in the late autumn and early winter months, the place is abandoned, desolate, and bewitchingly wild. Its sandy beaches and myriad coves and inlets are utterly deserted, and as such, they are a fisherman’s wonderland, surrounded as they are by the brackish waters of the Baltic Sea. And fish. Lots and lots of fish!
The Baltic Sea is a strange anomaly. Bottled up by the Danish islands that crowd its mouth into the infamous Skagerrak, it is very much like a giant inland lake. It has little tide and little by way of salt either. The upper layers of this shallow sea have a salinity of just 0.3 to 0.9%. As such, it plays host to not only cod, herring, and flatfish, but also to huge shoals of bream and roach. Fed by these limitless whitefish stocks, a host of bristling perch and zander, and to my mind, the jewel in its crown, some truly spectacular pike that are just waiting for the adventurous angler.
that you will go home empty-handed. Instead, find yourself a guide. THE guide. My friend Bernd Ziesche. Let me tell you a little about Bernd: I rarely run into a flyfisher who possesses the same degree of passion for the sport as I, but Bernd Ziesche is one such man. To give you an idea of just how keen he is, Bernd reckons that he will rack up 350 days of fly-fishing this year. 350 days! Think on that!
In winter, the pike are galvanised into feeding hard prior to spawning. On Rügen’s shallow flats, they are a perfect fly rod quarry, and well worth facing the icy winds and frigid water. But where to start?
Needless to say, Bernd is an absolutely obsessive fly fisherman and, in the true German tradition, he is relentlessly analytical and ultra-technical. His exhaustive studies involving slow-motion cameras have left him with controversial but very persuasive theories on the physics of fly-casting, and he doesn’t just talk the talk: his excellent casting technique is testament to the veracity of his ideas.
There are hundreds of miles of shallow sandy flats all around Rügen and knowing where to find the fish is a daunting proposition. You can “Doit-Yourself ” but I would strongly advise against it – there is every chance
His attention to detail extends to his kit and terminal tackle, and if you are interested in pike fishing with a fly rod, a few days with Bernd are an absolute education. Crucially, Bernd also knows where the pike are.
Years of experience Having fished Rügen for nearly twenty years, Bernd knows this vast fishery backwards. He has befriended many of the locals, and the tips that he receives from his friends on the ground prove invaluable. The pike of Rügen hunt in packs, and if you can locate them, you have every chance of a field day. They move around frequently, and every year – indeed every day – can be different. As a result of his long years on the island, Bernd’s guiding services are hugely successful – this year every last one of his guests caught at least one pike, and he and his guests rattled up well over 1600 pike – a remarkable figure given the short, 2-month season. The tackle for Rügen Bernd will tell you that the trick with this fishing is to travel light. So, what do you need? A steely fast-actioned nine weight rod is perfect. Couple it with a solid reel, preferably featuring quick change spools. I like to carry three spools with different fly lines so that you can change the speed of your retrieve or
fish in different depths of water. A full floater allows you to fish slowly or in the shallowest water, where even the biggest fish can be lying on warmer days.
“The pike of Rügen hunt in packs, and if you can locate them, you have every chance of a field day” An intermediate tip is perhaps the most versatile, and a full intermediate is perfect for deeper water or faster retrieves, when the fish are most active. Short, powerful tapers are perfect for throwing big flies, but try to fish with the maximum of stealth. Couple this set-up with a line tray, a small wallet of flies, a spool of 25lb fluorocarbon, some titanium wire and some long, needle-nose pliers and you have all you need. Sling a good waterproof rucksack over your shoulder, and don’t forget your camera. There are special fish here.
Wrap up warm, don some neoprene mittens and make sure your waders are leakproof and that your jacket will keep you properly dry. Throw some extra layers in your rucksack. You might want to take a nip of something warming in a hipflask too. What to expect? Let me tell you about a typical winter’s day pike fishing on Rügen. We are out early, and it is still dark as we leave the car and shuffle through the dense curtain of high reeds that border the shore. The first blue light of the December dawn creeps into the east as we step into the frigid waters of the Baltic, and wade through the shallows towards the drop-off. After long minutes forcing tired limbs through the knee-deep water, finally, the water deepens. The three of us spread out, and lengthen our lines, sending the big, flashy flies arcing out over the surface. The water has chilled during the clear, frosty night, and, understandably, for the first hour or so, the fishing is slow. We keep moving. As we edge along the dropoff, searching out the deeper water, the sun comes winking through the leafless winter poplars behind us. Suddenly, there it is. A big, aggressive boil, and then that classic wrenching grab. The first fish of the day.
Hard-fighting fish People say that pike don’t fight. They should come to Rügen. The fish thrashes up through the grey waves, and then cartwheels away towards the horizon. The steely nine weight hoops over for a fair while, but slowly, the crisp carbon does its work, and finally the lithe, lean predator lies snarling and sullen and beaten. I hear a whoop of excitement and look round to see my friend Bernd hooked up too.
“Fish after fish come to hand, and finally, I find the fish I am looking for” Our fish aren’t the big metre-long beasts that we are hunting, but both are a handful, charging ferociously across the shallow flats before we can finally bring them to hand. Bernd hollers to his friend Hansi – a wonderful character - a warm old Rügen veteran who’s English is even worse than my German.
No matter – Hansi’s relentless smiles and laughter can’t be impeded by any language barrier, and we get on famously. Hansi wades over and pulls out his little compact camera. We hold up the lissom jack pike and mug up for a picture. Looking for the big one Under Bernd’s expert guidance, we roam a wide channel between two islands and run into pike after pike. The gleaming sunshine disappears behind a vast grey blanket of wintery cloud, and the lower light levels seem to switch the pike on to attacking the myriad shoals of roach, sticklebacks and sculpin with even greater gusto. Fish after fish come to hand, and finally, I find the fish I am looking for… Hunting a big fish, I’ve changed up to a bigger, flashier fly pattern, and it is the right move. First cast, a double figure fish comes greyhounding through the surface after the fly. I abruptly stop the retrieve – as Bernd advises – and the rod suddenly buckles around.
Armed with my new fly and the big dose of confidence that this first cast has given me, I work my way along the drop-off into deeper water, and two more sizeable fish come to hand. There is no doubt that the larger fly is picking out bigger fish. Two additional fish in the teens come one after the other and then, suddenly, something serious. A big, savage headshake and then the water erupts as a real beast - a fish of at least 25 pounds - comes thrashing up through the livid grey Baltic waters. This is the one I reel the line up smartly onto the reel and then let the fish burn itself up against the smooth heavy drag. It makes long dogged runs but slowly the pressure starts to tell. The fish bursts up through the surface again, wild and angry. I ease off the pressure and let the fish use up the last of its precious reserves. Finally, it is done. Bernd wades over and I draw the big fish to him. Bernd expertly slides his finger under the fish’s chin and lifts its vast head gently out of the water. I am elated!
I’ve loved pike ever since I was a kid, and this one is magnificent: A real beast of the Baltic Sea. It is also one of the most malevolent looking creatures I’ve ever seen. It stares balefully back at us, working its jaw and showing off a formidable array of murderous teeth. I’m glad that Bernd is holding it. We measure it at just over 46 inches - a proper pike even by Rügen’s standards - and calculate its weight at around 26 pounds. Bernd removes the fly, and for a moment, I cradle it in the shallow water and study its exquisite mottled frame: olive flanks, flecked with creamy spots and framed by rusty orange and black fins. Then I watch the fish right itself and kick back into the icy waters, slowly fading from view. It is one of the biggest fish of Bernd’s season, but there are bigger pike in Rugen’s fertile waters. A fifty-inch fish is a real possibility. Let’s go find one. Matt Harris will be fishing with Bernd in late 2022. If you want to join them, You can contact Matt at: firstname.lastname@example.org Or Bernd at email@example.com
Silver Scales and Spotted Tails TEXAS AND FLORIDA:
By MAC AND RILEY ELLIOTT, TWIN FLY PRODUCTIONS Images by MAC ELLIOTT MEDIA
There’s nearly 1,000 miles of shimmering saltwater stretching between the Texas Gulf Coast and the Florida Gulf Coast. As the muddy bottom of the Laguna Madre transforms into the white sandy shores of the Keys, redfish and Tarpon make their rounds along this stretch of southern wild water. On the shallow, grassy flats of the Laguna Madre, redfish play a game of hide and seek under the warmth of the Texas sun. Meanwhile in the keys, the juvenile Tarpon hide under the shade of the mangroves. The Laguna Madre As twins, we were both raised gripping a tackle box in a shallow water boat in our home waters of the Texas Gulf Coast. In recent years, weekend fishing trips down to the Laguna Madre have redefined what “home waters” have meant to us in the search of our true Texan identity. These include the Laguna Madre (Mother Lagoon), a rare body of water found between Corpus Christi and Mexico. She’s one of six hypersaline lagoons in the world, meaning that the water is saltier than the ocean. Not only that, it is the largest hypersaline lagoon in the world!
Many of the areas we fish are located on shallow flats that extend for miles and miles. The Laguna Madre is a very shallow bay system, with the average depth being only 3.3 ft. For this reason, a shallow running boat with a tunnel hull is popular in the area. We run a Maverick HPX-T, a technical poling skiff with a tunnel, allowing us to reach our fishing spots without tearing up seagrass and leaving prop scars. Five hour car rides, followed by hour long boat trips down to a little deserted spoil island, have consumed many a weekend away from the responsibilities of the real world. What seems like countless waterproof packs, gasoline, fly rods, and cases of beer are packed and unloaded to the rhythm of a Jimmy Buffet song on the speaker- all for two days of saltwater bliss spent on the tiny skiff or spacious front porch.
Redfish galore Sparkling Copper redfish fins and tails sliding alongside tan seagrass is what motivates us to travel all this way for a few days of fly fishing freedom. When fishing the Laguna Madre, we focus on flats varying from 8 to 16 inches deep. Oftentimes, redfish can be found tailing and sitting in sandy potholes. A redfish’s diet consists of crabs, shrimp, and small bait-fish. As a family, we have had the opportunity to fly fish in many different parts of the world including Mexico, the Florida Keys, and the Bahamas, and redfish are still my favorite species to target on fly. Their willingness to eat a fly and the fight they give once they’ve been hooked rivals any other saltwater flats species. Reds are the perfect gamefish, and their gorgeous bronze bodies and their blue tails are a spectacular sight to behold.
The right gear We use 6 and 8 weight rods when targeting redfish; as well as other species found on the Texas Coast, such as black drum, sheepshead, and speckled sea trout. An 8 weight provides plenty of backbone to deliver flies to fish with the regularly forecasted high winds on the lower Texas Coast.
“Oftentimes, redfish can be found tailing and sitting in sandy potholes” On calmer days, when winds are less than 15 mph, the 6 weight provides a fun and exhilarating fight for redfish and other species found on the flats. Riley’s rod of choice is the Sage Salt, as it is a fast rod and provides plenty of strength to deliver quick shots to cruising fish. Paired with a saltwater line, such as the Scientific Angler Amplitude Infinity Salt, it allows the angler to make quick shots at fish which is the name of the game when it comes to sight casting from a skiff.
I like to pair the line with a 9 ft leader consisting of 30 Lb mono for the butt section, 20 Lb for the mid section, and 15 Lb for the tippet. When saltwater fishing on the TX coast, the reel you choose is very important. Having a quality reel with the proper brakes is important when fighting the larger upper slot and over slot redfish. I use a variety of reels such as Abel, Nautilus, and Tibor. Flies for redfish A variety of flies can be used to fool redfish. All of these flies resemble a crab, shrimp, or small baitfish down here. When fishing shallow calm waters, I like to throw a light fly as it won’t disturb the water when it lands and doesn’t need to sink very quickly. On days when the fish are feeding, redfish willingly chase these flies and bust the surface to eat them. On days when they seem more picky, crab imitations work best. A fly fishing Mecca Humid air pushes in from the Gulf and the dark mud graces the
coastline with a kind of perfume that guides any Texas angler to the sandy and clear waters of the flats. This paradise is a rare beauty, and on mild winter days on the Laguna Madre, you could swear we were fishing in the clear waters of Florida. What was once a dingy old fishing cabin has become a kind of Mecca for the Elliott family. With miles of shallow grass flats spanning as far as the eye can see just beyond the porch, the “Laguna Lodge” as we affectionately call it, is our little piece of heaven on Earth. The pride of this place is built into the rugged pier and hours of painstaking labor to replace it after each major storm. But some storms are hard to recover from. Hurricane after hurricane, we’ve repaired the dock, roof, and fishing lights while seeking a few hours of fun catch and release fly fishing in the flats beyond. But with the recent freeze that devastated the coastal flats and communities of South Texas, the promise of plentiful tailing redfish is harder to come by.
«The Freeze» In February of 2021 our coastline was hit with a major shock. Millions of native fish species were devastated as the water temperature plummeted into the thirties. The Laguna Madre bay systems lost thousands of Spotted Sea Trout and Drum as a result, in fact, an estimated 3.8 million fish across 61 species perished (Texas Parks and Wildlife, 3).
“The opportunity to sight cast to a 100 Lb tarpon in gin clear water is truly an experience every avid fly fisher should experience” The entire ecosystem of the coast was impacted, leaving recreational species at risk and vulnera-ble. In a study performed by Texas Parks and Wildlife, the February 2021 freeze event appears to be larger than any other fish kill event since the 1980s (Texas Parks and Wildlife, 5).
And that’s how we got here- balancing on the front of a Beavertail Skiff with eyes pealed against the bright Florida sunshine to spot the shadows of juvenile Tarpon below. Miles of intercostal waterway and gallons upon gallons of saltwater connect these two vastly different fisheries. Tarpon in the Florida Keys Over the past few years, friend and fly fishing mentor, Captain Danny Clark of Torch Key Charters, has introduced us to the thrill of fighting Tarpon on a fly rod in the lower Florida Keys. Danny runs a BeaverTail skiff which provides a stable platform for casting to Tarpon, as well as a dry smooth ride when crossing the open waters around the Keys. Every year, starting in April, the great Tarpon migration occurs through the Keys. Between the months of April through July, thousands of Tarpon make their way through the Florida Keys, allowing anglers some of the best fishing in the world. The opportunity to sight cast to a 100 Lb tarpon in gin clear water is truly an experience every avid fly fisher should experience.
In addition, the opportunity to see a school of tarpon daisy chain over a bright sand flat is a sight to behold. During the other months of the year, juvenile tarpon can be found throughout the Keys. These fish range from the 5 Lb to 30 Lb range and are extremely fun to catch when the big tarpon are not around. These are resident fish that stay in the keys year round. The right tides Tide is the name of the game when it comes to fishing for Tarpon in the Keys. These beasts are nocturnal feeders, and you do not want to target these fish on a full moon… trust us we have made this mistake! When fishing for migratory tarpon, 11 and 12 weight rods are mainly used. This allows the angler to land the fish as quickly as possible without wearing out the fish too much. I like to use a saltwater line with a heavy shooting head, allowing me to quickly present a fly to a moving fish. When fishing for the smaller juvenile tarpon, a 9 and 10 weight rod is preferred. Flies imitating baitfish are primarily used when targeting these tarpon.
When casting to large migratory tarpon, I have learned that you don’t want to cast to the lead fish, as the lead fish is usually female and more wary of her surroundings. Instead, focus on the following fish, which are usually males who feel more safe and secure. In addition, when presented with the opportunity, the ideal position to cast is when a fish is swimming towards you, as you can drop the fly in front of its face and slowly keep the fly in front of the fish for a longer period of time. Just remember, you can put the perfect cast on a fish, but they won’t always eat. Tarpon are a very tough fish to fool. The juveniles Juvenile tarpon are usually found in and around mangroves on a high tide. These fish like staying under and around the mangroves as it provides them protection. Many times, you have to cast a fly up underneath the mangroves to present the fly to these fish. This leads to snagging many mangrove leafs with your fly! An angler needs to be able to cast tight consistent loops in order to deliver the fly to the fish. A double haul is a must when sightcasting to these fish, or any
saltwater fish for that matter. I like to use a shorter leader when sightcasting to these fish tucked in the mangroves, as it allows the fly to turnover quicker and easier. The thrill of the chase At the end of the day, Texas Reds and Florida Tarpon are two different creatures entirely, but one thing unites them: the thrill of the chase. Obviously, you can’t beat the fight of a 100 Lb migratory tarpon! It’s like having a runaway train at the end of your fly line. When you hook one of these silver bullets, all hell breaks loose. However, when armed with a 6 weight on a calm day on the TX coast, a 27 inch redfish puts up a fun fight. In our opinion it rivals all other flats species in its class. We might be biased as Texas natives, but sightcasting to a redfish in less than a foot of water on the crystal clear flats of the Laguna Madre has its own special kind of magic. But we’ll leave that up to you to decide! References Texas Parks and Wildlife. (2021, March). 2021 Winter Storm Coastal Fisheries Impacts. Texas Parks and Wildlife. https://tpwd.texas.gov.
The Brand Buffet Costa Sunglasses: BLACKFIN PRO SERIES It’s time to go PRO. An enhanced version of one of Costa’s most trusted and well-loved frames, the Blackfin PRO builds off the original look and fit with six new angler-approved additions to keep you on the water longer. Along with a vented and fully-adjustable nose pad for a custom fit, sweat channels and eyewire drains will help keep your vision clear, while side shields, hooding, new stickier Hydrolite® and metal keeper slots keep your frames and your focus locked in. Available in polarized, color-enhancing 580G only for PRO-level clarity and scratch resistance. More at: www.costadelmar.com
Fulling Mill: STAINLESS STEEL NIPPERS We’ve had a chance to test Fulling Mill’s new top-quality nippers on a recent trip to the Seychelles. Whether cutting small diameter fluorocarbon for permit or 100lb test nylon for giant trevally, these black steel finish nippers proved a very solid and dependable aid. The nippers come with a stainless-steel split ring for attachment to a pin-on reel, loop, or pack zipper. For more info, please refer to: www.fullingmill.co.uk
Waterworks-Lamson: COOL NEW LOOK FOR THE REMIX REEL The Remix reel marries the best of pressure cast technologies and CNC machining to deliver a durable frame in a hard bright finish coupled with a cast aluminum spool with u-shaped arbor. Remix shares the same drag technology as all Lamson’s more expensive reels. U.S. manufactured and assembled in Boise, Idaho, the Remix now comes in a new colour variant: Glacier. For more information, please refer to: www.Waterworks-Lamson.com
Patagonia: ALPLIGHT DOWN JACKET Cold weather is no reason to stay indoors. Alpine Downlab is an experiment in exploring the possibilities of nature’s lightest, most packable insulation. The 800-fill-power AlpLight Down Jacket uses NetPlus™, a 100% postconsumer recycled nylon fabric made from recycled fishing nets to help reduce ocean plastic pollution, and was designed for cool-weather missions when you need a featherlight insulating layer that still keeps you warm. More at: www.eu.patagonia.com
Regal: TUBE FLY VISE Regal’s new chuck style tube vise utilizes a head similar to all Regal’s heads for comfortable hand placement and easy tying. The head fits both Revolution and Medallion Series vises and can directly hold pins and hard tubes with an intuitive screwmechanism that holds everything firmly in place. The chuck opens to a diameter of 4mm and includes three pins that can be used in either direction depending on the needs of the fly tyer. We’ve tested the vise and have been very impressed with the craftmanship, durability and ease-of-use. It’s another impressive addition to Regal’s vast array of specialty fly vises – and it’s sure to impress salmon fly tyers and predator fly tyers alike. Stay tuned for more info: www.regalvise.com
The Brand Buffet Fulling Mill: SALTWATER FLY COLLECTION Fulling Mill have spent 18 months on R&D, speaking to various guides around the world to learn what it is that they expect from a world-class range of Saltwater Flies. After diligent research, Gamakatsu and Owner became the obvious hook choices for the range. Triggerfish, especially, are notorious for being tough to hook, and then keep hooked. Fulling Mill therefore have now introduced patterns tied on the Owner Fly Liner hooks, which serious triggerfish anglers swear by. On the remainder of the fly range, which include flies for bonefish, permit, tarpon, giant trevally and more, Fulling Mill worked with leading designers, such as Andy Mill, Olly Thompson & Nick Vlahos to get the range spot on. More info can be found here: www.fullingmill.co.uk/Products-UK/Saltwater-UK
The Flexo Crab
The Flexo Crab is probably one of the best crab patterns ever invented and Fulling Mill offer the biggest selection on the planet. No matter the situation, it just seems to be the code cracker. Fulling Mill re-did their flexo crabs so they have properly weighted tungsten dumbbells. Additionally, many of the new variants of this fly are now dressed on a Gamakatsu SL12. They even did some triggerfish versions that are on the extremely tough Owner Fly Liner hook, which is a hook that true triggerfish anglers live and die by.
Two Tone Brushy
Two Tone Brushy is an already proven GT fly. Fulling Mill have now added a broad color range to suit everyone’s needs. Not only is this for GTs, but also stripers, big red’s and even the occasional tarpon find this hard to resist. Fulling Mill tie this fly on a Gamakatsu SL12s.
The Ostri-ceiver represents the brain-work of die-hard New England saltwater anglers. The fly has a large baitfish profile for those extra-large Stripers when you know they’re only looking for a bigger meal. It also sheds water well, so is easy to cast and is super light. This fly is dressed on a Gamakatsu SL12s.
Nick Vlahos’ Bahama Shrimp is a little gem for tropic fisheries, and it’s incredibly productive. Lightly weighted for fishing shallows and flats, this pattern is sure to be a go-to for tough conditions. Fulling Mill tie this fly on a Gamakatsu SL11.
Olly Thompson’s The Mutant is specifically designed for pressured fish. The pattern works well as both a crab and a shrimp. It’s very successful with both bonefish and permit in crystal clear waters where mistakes are not an option. From Christmas Island to the Seychelles, you shouldn’t travel without it. Fulling Mill tie this fly on a Gamakatsu SL11.
The Brand Buffet
SEIGLER: US-MADE SALTWATER FLY REELS If you have ever experienced a reel failure on a big fish when you are on a trip you have been planning for months or in some cases years then you understand the pain and frustration. Look no further! The SEiGLER collection of fly reels with three size reels have your covered from 6wt to 13wt. “Our reels are tools designed for catching, fighting and landing the toughest saltwater game species in the world.” Wes Seigler, Owner/ designer/ machinist SEiGLER Reels Every SEiGLER reel starts as a solid block of USA made premium grade aluminum. The unique features are numerous. This reel was designed for the traveling angler. It features a removable foot (a spare is included) that dovetails into the body for the strongest possible connection. The asymmetrical spool reduces bearing friction, improves
line mangement and lessens the stress and torque on the shaft when under load. An oversized handle with a deep groove for better grip and an unparalleled drag system capable of making up to 30 pounds of silky smooth drag. All of that drag is controlled by the reels most unique feature the lever. The repeatability of the lever drag system allows an angler to go from stripping to their desired pre-set maximum drag and never have to switch hands to adjust drag pressure when fighting a fish or trying to remember how many clicks was max for your tippet during the heat of battle. All reels have been designed for salt water and are available in classic dark smoke color anodized body or new this season an all silver body with silver, red, or blue accents. SEiGLER Reels are 100% made in the USA. Additional information is available at: www.SEiGLER.fish
Simms: NEW G3 WADERS FOR 2022 Simms’ long-standing, award-winning wader is back with an exciting update to the material package, improved fit, and an enhanced feature set while remaining the most comfortable, reliable, and performance-driven wader ever. The waders feature an updated material lamination package with even more durable, breathable, and comfortable Gore-Tex Pro Shell 3-layer upper and 4-layer lower; Adjustable spacer air-mesh suspender system with a fabric suspender divider; Top access zippered stretch pocket plus zippered, reach-through micro-fleece lined handwarming chest pocket. The upper organization also includes a removable Tippet-Tender Pocket and a stretch-woven flank pocket on the inside. Patented front and back leg seams deliver articulated fit, improved mobility, and increased durability. For more info, keep an eye out on www.simmsfishing.com
4ocean: PURCHASE THIS BRACELET AND PULL TWO POUNDS OF TRASH FROM THE OCEAN The limited edition Hammerhead Shark Bracelets are made in partnership with One Ocean Diving and Research & Conservation. The idea is to raise awareness about the threats facing these apex predators. For every Hammerhead Shark Bracelet sold this month, One Ocean Diving will pull two (2) pounds of trash from the ocean, rivers, and coastlines and donate $2 to their partner of the month. www.4ocean.com
The Brand Buffet Orvis: PRO WADING BOOT In an industry-first collaborative effort with Michelin®, Orvis introduces the PRO Wading Boot. Built on an outsole compound specifically designed for fly fishing, this revolutionary new sole design is an industry-disrupting advance in wet rubber traction. High-density Phylon midsole offers optimal comfort-to-weight ratio with minimal breakdown over time. For more info, please refer to: www.orvis.com Scientific Anglers: REGULATOR SPOOL Switching out fly lines off your favorite fly reel just got a lot less complicated. Whether you’re a traveling angler or just can’t make it into your local fly shop the Regulator Line Winder will be exactly what you’re looking for. The Regulator Spool allows you to create and dispense coils of fly line. Only one Regulator Spool is needed for managing all of your lines. For more info: www.scientificanglers.com/product/regulator-spool/
YETI: PACKING CUBES Whether you’re jumping in a bush plane or road tripping through the Rockies, the YETI Crossroads® Packing Cubes keep what you need ready at a zipper’s notice. Available in three sizes, a Small Cube is essential for keeping cables and socks from disappearing when you need them most. The Medium Cube comes in handy when organising a change of clothes after hitting the river. And the Large Cube is a go-to when hauling a few extra pairs of pants or your favorite rain jacket. Get one or get them all, it’s time to get or-gear-nised. For more info, please refer to: https://eu.yeti.com
Forét: SWEATSHIRTS The nostalgic Perch reminds us of our childhood adventures and the duality of calmness and excitement. Embroidered finishing with 11 colors and 45.000 stitches, completing any outfit while making a statement. The simplicity of Danish design, and the detailed embroidered Perch on the chest makes this shirt work in your everyday life - or when you’re taking a day off exploring the calmness of the water. Slow down – Go offline. For more info: www.foretstudio.dk
YETI: PANGA 75L WATERPROOF DUFFEL The YETI Panga™ 75 is an ultra-durable, fully submersible dry duffel that is perfect for boat fishing trips or when packing for fly fishing trips abroad that involve weather-exposure. This dry bag is built to take a beating and keep your gear dry in the face of whitewater, or when you’re fishing offshore. This is a whole new category of waterproof with HydroLock Zippers, ThickSkin Shell and MetalLock Hardware. Empty weight is 2.8kg and more information can be found on https://eu.yeti.com
Varivas: SUPER TIPPET MASTER SPEC II – FLUORO Japanese fly fishing brand, VARIVAS, has now released their Master Spec Fluorocarbon tippet material. It comes with their Smooth Tech Coating, which improves durability by reducing friction and suppressing water absorption. Available in sizes: -2x ~ 8x Length: and in 25 - 30 meter spools. For more info, please refer to: www.varivas.fishing
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.
Sarah Landström Sarah Landström resides in San Francisco and is a graduate from the School of the Artist Institute of Chigago. Being from Michigan, she’s always been attracted to water and while living in Helena, Montana, in 2013, she discovered fly fishing. Ever since fly fishing has shaped her life including her artistic practices and visions.
Full name: Sarah Landström Born: Aurora, IL, USA Occupation: Artist and Nursing Student Home Country: USA Website: www.Sarahlandstrom.com SoMe: https://www.instagram.com/sarah_landstrom/
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into painting? I didn’t take art seriously until I was in my sophomore year of college in Montana. During my first painting class my professor told me “you need to transfer to an art school” - bold on his part, but it changed the direction of my life. After that, I went to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I only started painting fish because, as you can imagine, Chicago did not provide many opportunities for fly fishing. Have you developed a special painting technique along the way? When you start painting, I think it’s really difficult to not hold yourself up to a “realistic painting” standard. I never struggled to replicate but allowing myself to express how I see and feel color was a long transition. Being comfortable with your own style takes time and a lot of trial and error. It was only in the last couple of years where I really trusted my instincts. The process is different for
every artist, but for me I just needed to stop overthinking. What do you aspire to capture with your paintings? It’s important to me to express my initial feelings when I see a fish, and less about how it actually looks. My sense of color is so intense and exaggerated. When you first see a fish fresh from the water it’s so dazzling. I’ll sometimes laugh when I look back at original pictures and the true colors, but I’m not interested in painting the true colors, I’m interested in capturing my experience. What has compelled you to paint fish and fly fishing motives? Originally it was a filler for not being able to fish while in Chicago. Now it’s like I get to continue the loveliness of being out fly fishing while painting in the studio. I’ll have time to reflect while painting and then be able to look back at it years later bringing me back to those moments.
And what’s been really amazing is when others connect to the paintings as well because it relates to their own memories. How did you get started fly fishing and why? I was living in Helena, MT and hiking along the Missouri River. I ran into my friend Kath-
leen who was learning at the time, and I asked to give it a go. It’s hysterical now to look at the photos of me from this day with just full-on spaghetti line in the water, but I was so excited by the concept of a fish rising. It took years before I was confident as a fly fisherwoman, but there’s always more to learn. That’s one of my favorite things about the sport.
Very few women in Europe fly fish. Do you have any advice for women who are curious about getting started fly fishing? Thankfully most men are very excited about the growing women’s fly fishing community. If you know a friend, relative or just have a fly shop nearby - go ask questions. And don’t be overly proud when you’re starting out. Accept guidance. There is a big learning curve but it is so worth it. I was pretty hard-headed when I started, and never wanted to accept advice from men, but I would have learned so much faster if I had been humble.
Everyone starts somewhere. What is it about fly fishing that intrigues you? I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors, but when I was a kid I was genuinely afraid of fish in lakes while growing up in Michigan. Water is so mysterious. Fly fishing was a great way to understand it more, and understand how to interact with that environment. It doesn’t hurt that it also brings you to amazing places that you might never go to otherwise. And there is always more water and more to learn.
How do you split your time between fly fishing and painting? It more depends on where I am. I don’t really enjoy being in the environment and painting because there is too much to be distracted by. But I’ll normally binge on one or the other and switch back and forth. In San francisco, you have the ocean right there and you can make it out for an hour and get your fix. I’ve always been able to find time for both. In your opinion, do fly fishing and painting complement each other – and if so how? Absolutely. They’re both so expressive. Presentation in fly fishing reminds me of the way I address painting. And you can always be creative about your approach. The environment is just different - you’re either addressing a canvas or a body of water. Has fly fishing helped you become a better painter – or vice versa? I think because they complement each other, it encourages me to grow in both painting and fly fishing. It’s almost like when I’m in the studio, I’m building up excitement for the next time I can get out and fish. And on the other end, when I’m fishing I’m equally excited to get back and slow down and reflect through painting. They encourage each other, and the more I do both, the better I get. What are your aspirations as a fly fisher? Long-term, I really want to make sure to teach as much as possible. One of my favorite things to do in the fly fishing community has been to run programming for women and kiddos.
It’s incredible to share that space with others and see the excitement. There are always opportunities to volunteer or start a new program. And as most of us know, the more people know about sustainable fishing practices, the more people push for conservation. Do you have any cool projects coming up; fishing- or art wise? Fly fishing wise, aside from local fishing, I am planning a trip to Mongolia! I was meant to go last year, but now (fingers crossed) I’ll be going early fall. And art wise, I’ve been working on a series of fish while they are still under the water, so it’s heavily reflective and challenging. Any advice to fellow fly fishers, who aspire to do fish art? My best advice is to talk to people who are doing things you aspire to do. When I got going and was trying to understand how to approach the fly fishing industry, I spoke with Derek DeYoung. He was also from West Michigan and was so generous with his guidance. Talking with other artists when you’re either coming out of school or just looking to connect is invaluable. And most artists are kind if you approach respectfully.
HOT SPOT FISHING WITH HANK! By HANK PATTERSON
Hank Patterson is a fly fishing expert, outdoor guide and cub scout dropout. In this episode he tackles ”hot spotting” and advises you on how to keep fishing spots secret. If you enjoy Red Fish errrr crazy trout hybrids of any kind, you might enjoy this.
Check out our NEW range of
Saltwater Flies Available to order online or in store from your local Fulling Mill dealer. Exclusively tied on only the best Gammakatsu & Owner hooks; we haven’t compromised. Why would you?
International shipping available at
Order Your Free Catalogue Online Today!
Your Ultimate Fishing Experience Begins at the Vise
Regal Vise, Where Tradition Meets Innovation Hand crafted in Massachusetts, USA Regal Vise, 100 Prentiss Street, Orange, MA, 01364, (978) 544-6571
Location // Henry’s Fork, Island Park, Idaho
e l z z u p e h t g n i k Unloc
What to Wear under Waders By: JOHN FRAZIER Photos by: B GROSSENBACHER, J FINCH AND D BACHA
From the hottest days on the Henry’s Fork to the coldest days swinging for steelhead, base layers are essential items to stay comfortable in your waders. That part is obvious. However, choosing the right layer for your particular fishing situation might be less obvious.
Best Materials to Wear Under Waders Something to keep in mind when layering up before putting on your waders- despite the season- you are likely to sweat to some degree. Whether it’s a long hike in through the snow or baking in the sun on a hot summer day, you get hot in waders. Wearing clothing underneath
waders that breathes and wicks moisture away from the skin is key. Look for base layers that contain polyester, which is a tried and true moisture-wicking material. Other materials to consider are: • Nylon • Wool • Bamboo
Neoprene waders If you by chance have a pair of neoprene waders, what you wear under your waders will be a bit of a different story. Neoprene waders are less breathable because they’re meant to keep you warm in the wintertime. You’ll want to wear moisture-wicking materials that make polypropylene and fleece excellent options for under-wader wear.
Pro tip – Avoid cotton! No matter your waders’ material, all waders have one thing in common: avoid wearing cotton underneath at all costs! Cotton is extremely hydrophilic (i.e. water-loving), meaning that if it gets wet, you’re pretty much out of luck. No one wants to be soggy and damp while fishing, especially in colder temps, so nix the cotton on your next fishing trip.
Best Options Depending on Wader Style Stockingfoot waders are ideal if you’re planning on doing most of your fishing during the warmer months. They’re more lightweight and less bulky than bootfoot waders; however, you’ll need to purchase a separate pair of wading boots before you set out on the water. It is always a good idea to wear socks that go above your ankle to prevent rubbing against the neoprene in the booties of your waders. As for what shoes to wear with these waders, there are a wide variety of wading boots for both men and women out there. If you plan on wading into rocky waters, you’ll want to make sure that your wading boots or shoes have solid traction. If that’s the case, look for boots that have a Vibram or felt sole. Otherwise, rubber sole wading boots will work just fine. Bootfoot waders Unlike stockingfoot waders, bootfoot waders come with the advantage of built-in boots, which means there’s one less piece of gear for you to worry about. While bulkier than stockingfoot waders, the burliness of bootfoot waders makes them perfect for colder days. Bootfoot waders are also ideal for those who plan to do some fishing from the beach, since there’s no way for sand to get through. Whether you choose to go with stockingfoot or bootfoot waders, you’ll want to invest in a quality pair of wading socks.
Again, avoid wearing cotton and instead opt for a pair of wool or neoprene socks. Something to keep in mind when layering up before putting on your waders- despite the seasonyou are likely to sweat to some degree. Whether it’s a long hike in through the snow or baking in the sun on a hot summer day, you get hot in waders.
feet in cold weather is only going to make you get colder faster.
Best Socks to Wear With Waders Let’s start at the bottom - the socks. It is always a good idea to wear socks that go above your ankle to prevent rubbing against the neoprene in the booties of your waders. Longer socks also give you the option to tuck your leg layers in to prevent bunching and cold spots where the skin is directly against the waders. You have to be careful about layering socks when the weather gets cold- constricting blood flow to your
What to Wear Under Waders in the Summer Depending on where you live, summer temps can range from pleasantly warm to blazing hot. When shopping for summer fly fishing apparel, you’ll want to make sure that your clothing features both moisture-wicking and sun protection materials. When summer hits, it’s smart to invest in an assortment of warm weather fly fishing apparel to wear under waders, including:
Wader Base Layers by Season Of course, what you wear under your waders will vary slightly depending on the seasons. Here’s a brief guide on what to wear under waders in cold and warm weather.
• Lightweight pants/shorts – A good pair of lightweight pants (or shorts, for hotter days) will help you stay cool and dry. Better yet, buy a pair of zip-off pants and you can have both! • Jacket – A quality wading jacket — specifically, a rain jacket — is a smart purchase for those days where the forecast looks a little iffy. • Fishing shirts – Look for a lightweight fishing shirt with moisture-wicking and SPF features to wear under your waders. • Hat – Whether it’s a sun hat or a trucker hat, having an assortment of hats in your closet will provide you with lasting sun protection. To keep the bugs at bay, opt for a special mosquito net hat.
• Sungaiter – Look for a breathable sungaiter with built-in SPF to fight off sunburn and pesky bugs. Shoes and sandals – Warmer temps welcome almost bare feet. A good pair of wading sandals or shoes can be worn both in the water and from the shore or boat. For the remainder of the year, you are going to want to focus more around the base layers and thermals we have on offer. Even on hotter days when the water is on the colder side, you will always be more comfortable with some level of insulation. The Simms Men’s Lightweight and Midweight Core Bottoms as well as the Men’s Fleece Midlayer Bottoms are perfect examples for the intermittent weather and water conditions.
The fleece midlayers are on the warmer end of the spectrum, so those are best served in the early spring and fall temps. Summer Leg Layers During the warmer summer months, you can usually get away with a pair of light pants under the waders rather than a core bottom. Since wool is a little more insulating, focus on quick-dry pants. For the lady anglers out there, the leggings are the perfect options for this time of year. This way you will still have a barrier between your legs and the waders to draw a bit of moisture away from the skin, but won’t insulate heat towards your legs.
What to Wear Under Waders in Winter When it comes to winter fly fishing, there are three things you’ll want to keep in mind: layers, layers, layers. It’s better to be over prepared and shed layers you don’t need than to be left out in the cold. There’s an abundance of base layers for you to choose from, but some basic pieces to include in your cold weather fishing outfit include: • Wading Jacket – Look for a hooded insulated jacket to keep you warm and dry. • Fleece sweater – A half-zip sweater is the perfect midlayer for cold weather and can be worn on its own on milder winter days.
• Long johns/leggings – A quality pair of long underwear or leggings is a must for winter fly fishing. They can be worn under pants for added warmth, or worn alone under your waders on early spring days. • Insulated pants – Perfect for those exceptionally cold days, a solid pair of insulated pants will provide you with unparalleled warmth all day long. • Sungaiter – A sungaiter not only protects your face from the wind, sun, and cold, but it also adds extra warmth around your neck. • Hat – Invest in a quality beanie to keep you as warm as possible. • Gloves or mittens – Cold hands
or fingers are a surefire way to cut your fishing trip short. Invest in a quality pair of gloves or mittens to keep the cold at bay. • Boots and socks – Make sure your wading boots fit snugly to keep your feet dry, and wear a pair of high-quality merino wool wading socks underneath for maximum warmth. Winter Leg Layers If you are anticipating spending the day in freezing air temps and frigid water, finding bottoms that have multiple layers is going to help with trapping heat close to the body. This is the point where you should start looking towards our double-fleece pants.
Consider combining layers if you are going to be spending long days wading rather than hiking. For anyone that has spent a day swinging for winter steelhead knows that the heat slowly gets sucked away from your legs the longer you spend standing in 35 degrees water. Combining a few layers together will give you optimal warmth without adding too much bulk under the waders. Being Prepared While Fly Fishing It often takes a bit of time coming up for the perfect layering formula for each fishing scenario, so mix it up until you find what you are most comfortable in. Nothing is worse than trying to take your waders off to adjust your leg layers during the middle of a freezing cold day, so do your best to plan accordingly. No matter the season or weather, it’s essential that you dress properly for fly fishing. Not only will it make for a more enjoyable experience overall, but keeping the elements at bay is crucial for your health and safety out in the wild.
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
SEATROUT ON STREAMERS
Cutthroat Kutling By RASMUS OVESEN
There are plenty of prey items along the coastal shores and – not least – plenty of flies that imitate them effectively. At certain times of the year, gobius are among the most prevalent prey items – and, at the same time, one of the seatrout’s most favoured. Here’s a simple but proven neo-classic pattern that imitates the gobius excellently. The ice-cold gasp of winter has shrouded the many tree-clad hills, fields, and meadows along my local fjord in an innocent-white glow. It’s barely light out, but I’ve already entered the cold, brackish water. Each breath I take condenses in front of my eyes like thick tobacco smoke and blends effortlessly with the morning mist. My otherwise lively fingers are already starting to suffer under the near freezing temperatures, but it hardly registers with me. Deeply concentrated, I am covering the edges along a neatly delimited, lush-green – almost blanket-like patch of weeds. A multitude of small prey items such as Gammarus, Idoteidae, sticklebacks, and not least countless sand-colored gobius are whirling around and darting out of my way, frantically seeking refuge inside the
protective sponge-like wall of thread weeds. “There’s got to be fish around here”, I think to myself mechanically and proceed to place another careful cast across the dead-calm surface film. With discrete stubbornness, the sun has slowly burned a hole in the morning mist, and I now find myself bathed in a pale, intrusive light. Then, suddenly, the line comes tight, the fly rod bends elegantly, and electrifying pulses emanate through the line. Shortly after, the first seatrout of the day thrashes around at the bottom of my knotless landing net; a lightly coloured 50-centimetre fish in great condition. The thin leader extends limply out of the corner of fish’ jaws, with the Cutthroat Kutling buried somewhere deep inside its mouth.
As I force the jaws open and retrieve the fly with my forceps, I can’t help but notice that its throat is full of small sand-coloured gobius. The hungry fish must have inhaled them just before eating my fly. I gently release the fish, draw a sigh of relief and continue fishing with a sense of renewed optimism and enthusiasm. Three hectic hours later, I have covered the full length of the weed patch. In total, I’ve landed six well-nourished seatrout including a beautiful, chrome and hard fighting 75-centimetre stunner. Despite having fished with two flies all the time, and having experimented a bit with different patterns, I’ve caught all my fish on the now extremely ruffled and chewed up Cutthroat Kutling. With me on my way to the car, in my right hand, I have a chrome seatrout of about 45 centimetres that I’ve decided to keep for a delicious meal.
Like the other fish this morning, it fell headlong for the fly and struck with incredible and resolute determination. When I arrive home, clean the fish and study the contents of its distended stomach, I’m not the least surprised to find a wealth of small gobius. Most of them are quite undigested, and a few of them look like they must have been swallowed right before the treacherous Cutthroat Kutling came into sight. They probably were! The Cutthroat Kutling I came up with the idea for the Cutthroat Gobius some 15 years ago after having bought a few Coc de Leon capes. At the time, I was very fond of palmered flies with relatively voluminous and pulsating profiles, and the first fly that I tied with the new Coc de Leon feathers, unsurprisingly, was a palmer fly. The idea was to make a gobius imitation (kutling is Danish for gobius); one that I could use in my local fjords. However, I wanted it to have a fairly slender profile, so it didn’t look quite as “brush cleaner”-like as many palmer flies do. The materials I cracked out
were all meant to capture and underpin the colour nuances of the gobius and provide the fly with the right volume, transparency, and life.
The materials included fox, grizzly hackles, tan synthetic dubbing, and the speckled Coc de Leon feathers. Furthermore, I provided the fly with a fiery red head made out of sparkly Firestar Dubbing, which was supposed to work as a focus point and – once brushed out, was intended to fixate and collapse the front hackle a little to give the fly a more streamlined appearance. By brushing the fly heavy-handedly with a piece of Velcro – so that all the hackle fibres were softened up and the synthetic dubbing became even more sparkly – the fly would become livelier.
Some of the flies I mount with an action disc (Petitjean Magic Head), which makes them flutter and swim when using long and even strips. And by soaking the fly with saliva, pressing all the hackle and dubbing fibres aerodynamically down along the length of the fly and leaving it to dry, the fly would assume a more realistic profile. I typically fish the fly in an open loop knot, and I retrieve it with relatively abrupt strips that provide the fly with a lightly jigging action.
I believe the fly has proven particularly effective because it combines a series of important features: It pulsates and hovers really well in the water; it has a bit of glow to it and some transparency; it has an incorporated strike-triggering focus point; and it has much the same profile and colour nuance as the gobius – a prey item that is at the top of the seatrout’s menu card during big chunks of the season.
THE GOBIUS The Gobius (Gobidaee) is a geographically widespread and abundant species of predominantly bottom-dwelling fish that are found in both salt- and brackish water across the globe. In Northern Europe, the most common gobius species around are: Sand goby (Pomatoschistus minutus), painted goby (Pomatoschistus pictus), two spotted goby (Gobiusculus flavescens), common goby (Pomatoschistus microps), and the invasive round goby (Neogobius melanostomus). With the exception of the round goby, which can grow to 25 centimetres, most gobius are typically between 5 – 10 centimetres in length, and their colour nuances range from light sand and tan to dark brown – typically with spots and camouflage patterns along the flanks. They first appear in the fjords during late winter and early spring and they are a steady source of food for the seatrout throughout spring, summer and fall.
Material List// Hook: Ahrex NS110 #2-6 Tying thread: Veevus G02, White Tail: Fox and Krystal Flash (Bonefish Tan) Rib: Copper Thread Body: Fox underfur and Tan Ice Dubbing Palmer Hackle: Grizzly Saddle Front hackle: Coc de Leon Saddle Head: Red Firestar Dubbing
FAIL is not an ABSOLUTE TROUT SUPREME FLUOROCARBON TIPPET “Catching big fish in low clear water requires preparation, persistence and the right product. In spring hatches, I might be running 6x to a size 18 dry with size 26 dropper. I need to know I can rely on that tippet to hold when I set the hook. Stealth and strength, that’s why I fish the SA Absolute Trout series.” - Landon Mayer, SA Ambassador
LURE n option 100% Fluorocarbon
• Sizes: Sizes: 7X – 0X
HIGHER KNOT STRENGTH
• Length: 30m spools in all sizes • 100% fluorocarbon for ultimate
stealthy presentations • Supple for drag-free drifts
Targeting Trophy Trout Before we get into the “how” and “why”, let’s take a look at the “what”. For the record, the magical 10lb mark is the accepted benchmark for a ‘trophy’ here in New Zealand, but this does not take into account that in some waters, the best fish in the whole system may be only 6lb but is a trophy for that particular river - being the best that can be caught. This may indeed represent an even greater and more skillful accomplishment than a ten pounder from a river with plenty of them - therefore a trophy capture in its own right and a great achievement. Having said this, for the sake of this article, we’ll focus on ten pound as being the line in the sand.
By MIKE KIRKPATRICK
The number one factor in consistent success on trophy trout in New Zealand is simply in the active seeking of them - putting the necessary time in. This targeting goes from the initial idea of chasing a trophy, through to what waterways they inhabit and how to stalk them with the right tackle, flies and approach. For the record, this need not be anglers that ‘only’ chase large fish, but those who have the skills, knowledge and application to chase them at least sometimes. First things first The first matter to take care of is where to find them. Historical information is only so helpful in your big fish quest, as although some rivers or lakes with past trophy potential can be amazing at times, at other times, they are simply devoid of big fish. This is caused by a number of elements such as holding water remaining intact after large flood events, fluctuations in fresh fish running into the system, stability of spawning habitat, and probably of most importance, the presence (or not) of a large, introduced food supply (such as mice).
What you need to look at is recent information on big trout being present in a particular system by speaking to the right people, or first-hand information gathered by simply doing the miles and plenty of searching. The right gear Once you’ve found a spot with some large trout present, you need to ensure you have gear that is up to what will likely be a big test. Find the best tippet you can in 3 - 5X, be it fluorocarbon or monofilament, and ensure you have full confidence in your knots that will allow you to put on the maximum pressure you will need at times if you hook up on one.
“I’ve found that most trophy fish have been taken on fairly small and sparsely tied nymphs” Use at least a five weight rod (preferably a six) that will allow you some real grunt in taking it to these monsters. A quality reel with a smooth drag and plenty of backing is a must (50-75 metres) and be prepared to follow, and fast.
Top quality hooks are crucial, and the best way to ensure this is to tie them yourself - or at the very least, go with a reputable brand of flies if buying. You do not want a broken or bent hook to show for you efforts. Just trust me when I say; one of the most hollow and gut wrenching feelings, is losing a trophy to gear failure... The approach So now we have identified our spot and are ready to hunt out the big boys. The first consideration is stealth. Move slowly and use cover to hide yourself from what will very likely be much smarter than average fish. These alpha fish will not tolerate anything out of the ordinary like sudden movement, noise, or pressure waves from clumsy wading. I tend to work on the principal of trying to be as stealthy as I can possibly be, and then double that effort. Look at all structure and try to think like a fish in order to work out where to look and concentrate your focus there, allowing your
eyes to scan from pocket to pocket systematically until you find one. Never ignore the heavy, fast or deep water as they will often be in this type of water, being cautious by nature and in need of the extra oxygen found there. Of equal importance though, is remembering that these are still just trout living in the same environment as their smaller counterparts, feeding on the same available food source, so the approach is the same, just with emphasis on doing everything as well as you can. Use as long a leader as you can cast and handle well and make your first cast count. I normally dispense with indicators, relying instead on watching the fish for signs of a take. You also get a much cleaner drift and disturb the surface less for a stealthier approach. The flies Fly selection should be chosen by logic based on your knowledge of the available food source and what the fish are likely eating.
Of all the really big back country fish I’ve either landed myself or witnessed being caught, I’ve found that most have been taken on fairly small and sparsely tied nymphs, normally fished in tandem with a larger one if the depth dictates it.
To buck the normal trend, this past season has been one out of the box with at least six trophy fish for myself and clients on small dry flies, so although fairly rare, don’t discount them eating off the top either!
With this in mind, make sure you add enough weight to get the small nymph down to where it needs to be. The old split shot still works well, and tungsten putty even better, to keep adding weight until you’re right on their noses.
“Mouse patterns at night are always an option”
These are not normally risk-taking fish so they will seldom take overdressed or flashy flies unless water clarity is well down. Nor will they move far, so watch carefully for the subtle signs of a take such as a small swing or lift, the white flash of the mouth, or even the red flash of the gills flaring as the fly is sucked in. Don’t ignore the larger flies completely though if the naturals are about, especially before Christmas, with Stoneflies, Creepers and Worms at times getting results.
Keep an open mind. Cicadas will draw some to the top, but these big fish very quickly shy of the large terrestrials as summer progresses, so this is normally a small window. Mouse patterns at night are always an option and can produce great results but can be a little hit and miss. Nighttime fishing is not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you do want to chase trophies at night, find a suitable floating mouse pattern and scout an area well beforehand so you will know the likely lies to target, and have room for a back cast in the dark.
A defining moment I remember vividly a defining moment many years ago where I found myself, quite unexpectedly, crouched in behind a brute of a fish in a small tight stream. I was fishing with a mate mid-season, and we had dined out somewhat on a host of beautifully conditioned fish up to about the 7lb mark on a day where it seemed we could do no wrong.
“I’m of the opinion that success is measured by enjoyment” The fish were feeding with such cavalier abandon that we could throw almost anything at them and still expect a take. We were as relaxed and happy as you could be on a river until we saw him. On the leading edge of a small tangle of branches a meter or so from the bush lined edge he sat, swaying in that kind of languid way only a fish of serious size can manage. It was huge. Suddenly, our relaxed and happy mood was
now tense and confronted. It’s more than a tad ironic how finding your dream scenario can render you sweating, shaking and unable to even tie a knot. Hardly relaxing stuff, but this is why we fly fish, and the enjoyment is still there, it’s just hidden away under a few layers of anxiety! My trembling hands necessitated several knot attempts before I was happy with that all-important connection. A few deep breaths and the cast was in the air, landing softly a meter ahead of the fish. Everything seemed to slow down (and I was soon to wish the same of my strike) as the adrenaline coursing through my body caused me to lift too early as the fish moved towards the fly, pulling the small nymph away before the huge jaws had closed. My heart sank. I slumped backwards and my friend groaned in disbelief. I’d stuffed it up. I never do that, so why now?! This was many years ago but I can still hear my mate saying those glorious words: “he’s back mate!” My next cast was a good one and this time the set was met with solid resistance.
The next ten minutes were a blur of frenzied action with this great brown using every trick in the book to beat me until I finally slid his impressive head over the rim of the waiting net and let out a triumphant scream. It was the most wonderful fish I’d ever landed, and the glow inside me was one of the most rewarding and contented feelings of my life. “This is why we’re here!” I thundered out amidst all the smiles and back slapping. The ‘defining’ part of this experience for me, were several firsts... I always figured you never get a second shot at these really big fish. Never say never! Another was that I didn’t really appreciate just how special a truly big fish capture could be. Now I knew. I’ve personally never been a trophy hunter per se, but do gravitate towards waters with bigger than average fish, so they are often there and every year I tangle with some of them. The point for me is that although I see these magnificent fish as the icing on the cake, I’m a lover of the layers beneath too, so accept these trophies as the wonderful bonus they are - to add to the fish that make up the vast majority of the total
experience. No quotation sums up my feeling more than this: “Unless one can enjoy himself fishing with the fly, even when his efforts are unrewarded, he loses much real pleasure. More than half the intense enjoyment of fly-fishing is derived from the beautiful surroundings, the satisfaction felt from being in the open air, the new lease of life secured thereby, and the many, many pleasant recollections of all one has seen, heard and done.” by Charles F. Orvis, 1886. The right reasons We all have our reasons for going fishing and I think we all harbor hopes, in varying degrees, of landing a trophy fish. The burning question remains how much energy do we expend in chasing them? Are we willing to risk missing out on the total experience by becoming too focused on the size of capture? After all, the accepted trophy size for trout is set, as a convenience at 10lbs, as quite simply, it’s ‘double figures’ on a scale. Does this random figure of weight qualify the value of a capture, by saying for example, that a beautiful 9.75lb trout is a lesser capture than a battle-scarred 10lber?
Of course not, on the contrary, I’d take beauty over size any day, except maybe if it was my very first… This trophy ‘goal’ is symptomatic of modern society’s competitive standards, where labels are placed and the measure of success listed in pounds and inches. I’m of the opinion that success is measured by enjoyment. I’m not saying for a second that I don’t like big trout - I love them. I’m just aware there is a risk in becoming too reliant on them being the only measure of the day’s success, particularly if they start to disappear. Also, these large fish are not only special captures, but the top breeders with superior genetics, so please consider releasing them to help both the fishery and your fellow angler – In the words of Lee Wulff, “The fin-
est gift you can give to any fisherman is to put a good fish back, and who knows if the fish that you caught isn’t someone else’s gift to you?” The last ‘mouse year’ in New Zealand, gave me the chance to make back to back feature movies focusing on targeting these huge mouse eating brown trout during the day on generally tiny nymphs. The fact that I personally recorded my largest brown trout 17+lbs just before dark on a floating mouse pattern, still blows my mind to this day! The first movie focuses on 6 days in the heart of the mouse season, with the second (filmed the following season) on seeing if we could find any trophy fish after the mice were gone. These movies are available to buy or rent on Vimeo:
Fresh, Fast &
The new benchmark in high-perform
Scott Fly Rod Company
2355 Air Park Way, Montrose
mance, handcrafted fly rods from Scott.
e, Colorado 81401
PROFILE OF A FLY FISHERMAN
Jeff Forsee Born:May 18th 1984 Occupation: Fly Fishing Guide Home country/home waters: Born and raised in Ohio, USA. Living in Wanaka, New Zealand. Social media platforms: https://www.facebook.com/jeff.forsee https://www.instagram.com/jeff.forsee/
Photos by PETER FONG, MARK PORTMAN, NICK REYGAERT, HILARY SMITH and JASON WHITING
Jeff Forsee is an Ohio-born fly fishing guide, photographer, writer and globetrotter who now calls New Zealand home. We’ve had the chance to team up with Jeff for a talk about his time in Mongolia, about guide life in general, and what it is that makes a life as a guide so appealing (to some). When and how did you get started fly fishing? Initially when I was quite young. We grew up camping and fishing during the weekends, holidays and Tuesdays. Tuesdays were known as “Fishing Tuesday” during my upbringing. Most of these outings were on a family friend’s property in rural southern Ohio. The property, affectionately known as “The Farm” had two absolutely classic bass ponds on it. Respectively dubbed “The Big Lake” and “The Little Lake.” We did a lot of fishing as a family when I was growing up but every time, I trace it back to the beginning, I end up at the farm. Todd Hunt was my dad’s best buddy and the man that owned the property. He was also the first person I ever saw cast a fly rod. I have vivid memories of him out on the big lake at sunrise in a flat bottom john boat casting little cork poppers to largemouth bass and pan fish. It
wasn’t long after that my dad bought a fly rod for my brothers and I to use. At what point in time did you decide to become a guide – and why? I decided I wanted to become a guide in my mid-twenties. It was during a period of working as a commercial fisherman in Alaska and honing my skills as a fly angler. Having that kind of exposure to big and wild places as well as an introduction to world class fisheries and guides really inspired me. It was during that time that I recognized the appeal of the lifestyle and the potential of the job. I used to watch guides get into float planes and fly off to spend the day with clients on rivers unknown as I was scrubbing the back deck of the commercial boat that I was working on. Fly fishing was really dominating my life at the time too so a change of career seemed like a no-brainer to me.
What is it about guiding in general that attracts you? It’s the whole package but I think ultimately it comes down to lifestyle and fulfillment. Guiding has allowed me to spend untold amounts of time on the water observing my surroundings and practicing my craft. All while breathing fresh mountain air with the sun on my back. It’s hard work at times but having the ability to take plentiful, quality time for myself and my family and friends is invaluable to me. Some of my most memorable experiences, enduring friendships and unforgettable adventures have come through guiding. I find it deeply satisfying to share the experiences that we seek with people who are as grateful for them as I am. It’s a privilege to do what I love for a career and I am very thankful for that. What convinced you to travel to Mongolia to guide there? It didn’t take much convincing but if I had to put it down to something I’d probably say, adventure. And taimen of course. I sought a position with
Mongolia River Outfitters & Fish Mongolia specifically because of their approach to the fishery and the role they have played in taimen and river conservation in Mongolia. Drifting hundreds of kilometers through the world’s only taimen sanctuaries is definitely my cup of tea! What is it about Mongolia and the fishing there that fascinates you? They are both uniquely fascinating. Mongolia is a country steeped in history and rich in culture and natural beauty. Nomadic lifestyles are still the mainstay in most of the country so it’s a common occurrence to see nomads on horseback riding along the river banks or cutting hay for the winter ahead. The Mongolians are some of the friendliest people that I’ve come across in my travels. It’s been a real pleasure to work alongside such a hardworking and talented group of people. I’m seven years into what is sure to be a lifelong obsession with the taimen. They are a remarkable fish that happen to live in a pretty remarkable place.
They are big, they are beautiful and in my opinion; connecting to one of them is one of the greatest challenges and experiences one can have in the sport of fly fishing. They are the largest salmonid on the planet and are extremely long lived with some fish living fifty years or more. They have a presence about them that demands respect. I love the techniques that we use, the big rods and big flies. The predatory instinct in these fish is as exciting as anything I’ve experienced in fishing. It can be a pretty casting-intensive fishery which I really enjoy: It’s streamer fishing at is best. Some days, fishing on the top is just as effective as fishing sub surface and the top water takes will absolutely blow your mind. Taimen fishing isn’t a numbers game so you truly appreciate each and every fish that you encounter. It’s also a fishery that keeps me on my toes. Some days the fish seem to throw themselves at you and others you’re left scratching your head. Just when I think I have it all figured out, I’ll go out and get skunked. I like that about it and as much as I want to know all of the secrets I actually hope that I never do.
The funny thing about fishing in Mongolia is that if taimen didn’t live there, people would travel all the way there just for the trout fishing. The dry fly fishing in Mongolia during the peak of the summer is about as good as I’ve seen anywhere in the world. The lenok, Amur trout and grayling are scrappy, beautiful and for most anglers pretty exotic fish. Amur pike exist in one of the rivers that we fish too. So you have two apex predators in the same system. I remember watching an angler catch a large taimen right where a big slough entered the main river. He released it and then caught a pretty respectable pike at the bottom of the same slough. I can only imagine that those two fish have had some sort of Alien vs. Predator encounter with one another at some point.
Can you tell us a little about what makes the river you’re guiding on so special? I guide on two rivers in Mongolia and ever since the first time I floated down them, I’ve said that I would travel all the way back there to do it again even if they didn’t have a single fish in them. Lucky for us, that’s not the case. They scenery is remarkable and consequently parts of the rivers have taken on names like “The Cathedral Pool” and “The Temple.” The rivers really lend themselves to fly fishing too so they’re a real pleasure to fish. Every mile of river that we operate on is located within a special protected area known as a “Taimen Sanctuary.” These areas are designated by the Mongolian national government. Which is pretty neat because it essentially makes them “certifiably” special. Decades of work has gone into protecting these rivers and the fish in them by way of establishing a permitting system, anti-poaching units, progressive fishing regulations and development and extraction regu-
lations. Taimen are a red-listed species and simply don’t live in a lot of places in good numbers anymore but that’s not the case in Mongolia. Continued conservation efforts and a proud and hardworking local community ensure that these healthy and intact ecosystems remain as some of the finest taimen habitat on the planet. So far, what’s been the most memorable experience while guiding in Mongolia? That’s a tough question to answer, I’ve been lucky enough to make a lot of great memories up there over the years. But I do have a bit of a soft spot for when fortune rewards the dedicated. One particular scenario was a twoweek long trip where a spate of tough fishing rolled into a pretty significant multi day blowout from heavy rains. Each day we’d wake up to a muddy river and go out there and give it our best. After a couple of days of pulling big flies through a few inches of visibility and getting nothing in return your hope starts to dwindle.
But the water cleared marginally on the last day of the trip and even though we didn’t touch a fish before lunch we still fished hard through the afternoon. My buddy Ross was fishing, and he made some sort of gesture that maybe something fishy had just happened. I asked him and he was unsure. This was no time to let an opportunity slide past us even if it was unlikely so I rowed my boat back up to where it happened. Ross put another shot in there and almost instantly came tight. We ended up landing that fish after a pretty nerve-racking battle and measured it at 55in. I’ve never been so emotionally charged by a fish in my life. It was the combination of tough conditions, hard work, lots of appreciation and a truly remarkable fish. That wasn’t just a memorable guiding moment but probably one of my most memorable moments on the water to date.
In what ways is fly fishing in Mongolia different from fly fishing in your home country? New Zealand and Mongolia are vastly different fisheries but there are parallels between the two which probably attest to what I appreciate in a fishery. Big, challenging fish, few people, adventure and world class scenery. Trout fishing in New Zealand definitely has its nuances but it is more or less a fairly traditional trout fishery. And although taimen are just big trout, fishing for them is pretty much the antithesis of traditional trout fishing. 8, 9 and 10wt rods, big flies and explosive surface takes are the day to day. It’s not at all necessary to catch taimen but I often find myself throwing as big of a fly as myself and my equipment can handle. Sometimes, flies as big as a fish that you might catch back home. I get a real kick out of seeing fish chase down a fly as long as my forearm.
If you had to give a fellow fly fisherman three good reasons to travel to Mongolia to fly fish – what would they be? Adventure. No trip to Mongolia is the same and it’s definitely not a float down your local. There is typically lots of travel involved, four wheel drives, mud, camels, rafts, military check points, nomads, horses, vodka, the list goes on. You feel like you’re the first person in the world that’s ever been there. Culture. The Mongolians have been living a very traditional lifestyle in a pretty far flung corner of the world for a long time now and it shows in everyday life. From sleeping in a ger to watching a wrestling match and eating khorkhog (Mongolian BBQ.) Day to day life is vibrant in the land of the eternal blue sky. Fishing. To put it simply, taimen fishing is the ultimate. The trout fishing is as good as it gets. And there is the possibility of catching a fish the size of a Labrador with each and every cast that you make.
At Outlaw we’ve spent years perfecting our craft, exercising our passion, and stretching our lim can deliver the very best rods on the market! From our hand turned reel seats to our better ma ate everything on our rods for a reason. Everything we do at Outlaw is centered around achiev equipment! Located in Sparks, Nevada we’re at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range a of the best fishing on earth. We test our products on a regular basis so we can bring you the best prod Quality fly rods at an affordable price II Medium-fast action II Fast-Action II AAAA cork handle II Anti-glare midnight matte finish II Cordura rod tube II Lifetime Warranty
mits to ensure we ade blanks we creving more with our and home to some duct on the market! www.outlawrodco.com
A Mountain Lake Saga I pushed my way through the forest underbrush having crossed through the old burn. At last, I could see its turquoise waters. The small lake was exactly as I remember it. Deceptively deep, clear water snug against the steep mountain wall. The rising Westslope cutthroat trout broke the morning stillness across the surface. I had to close my eyes for a moment and let the excitement and euphoria wash over me as I had finally made it up to this spot. The last time I was here was Labor Day weekend, 1999, exactly twenty-one years ago today. I’ve been searching for this lake ever since.
By: JOSHUA R. JOHNSON
In the Fall of my senior year of high school (during the Y2K scare) my friend, Joe, invited me on an overnight camping trip. He said we were going to a nameless lake his family referred to as “Mountain Lake.” If I remember right, his dad had only taken him up there once before. So at 4:30 am that Saturday morning we hopped into his dad’s half beige and half rust 1970’s Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser and sputtered our way over the pass. By sunrise, we made it to a locked U.S. Forest Service gate which was as close to the lake as we could get by vehicle. We got out, donned our backpacks, and had our rods ready. Joe’s dad told us, “See that rock on top of the ridge that looks like an ice cream cone? There’s no trail so we’re going to walk straight up the mountain toward that rock and we’ll run right into the lake.” He led the way into the forest, .357 magnum revolver at his side in case we ran into a grizzly. After three or four hours of bush-whacking, we made it to the lake. We set up camp and walked
around the shore making our way to some overlooking rocks. The water was impossibly clear. From our perspective above the water, we could see the fish rise in the deep. They first appeared as small dots, then would grow into nice-sized trout, and then into monsters once they surfaced. Early afternoon morphed into early evening and we started fishing. I may have brought a fly rod with me, but I didn’t use it. We cast heavy Panther Martin spinners as far as we could. Mine was yellow with red spots. The fish couldn’t help themselves. Every cast it seemed these giants would smash our lures. Joe’s dad caught the biggest fish that evening. He used a clear weighted bobber with a three or four-foot leader attached to present an all-black fly to these fish. The fishing went on like that into the night. It was time to get the campfire lit, so we stopped. We caught a few trout the next morning, but by a couple of hours after sunrise, they stopped biting altogether. Fishing these lakes is a lot like life in that way; sometimes you have to be in the right place at the right time. We were both.
Twenty years later and I still get tingly thinking about it. This trip stuck with me. The years following I’d find myself trying to get back. Not too long after that trip, I lost touch with Joe and couldn’t remember where this place was. I knew the general area but I didn’t store exactly where we were or how we got there in my mind. In 2009, I attempted to find the lake again. I brought my uncle and his daughter with me. I referenced Google Maps and a forest service map and found a lake I was positive was it. It had the right attributes; an outlet on the northeast corner, trees on the east shore, and rocks on the west. From what I could tell by the satellite image I had found it. I was sure of it. We drove down that long dirt road which kept winding further than I remembered it did ten years before. We got to a good place to park the truck and made our way up the mountain. A fire recently burned the whole area within the last couple of years. We climbed and climbed and climbed. My uncle pestered me, “Are you sure we’re going the right
way.” I told him, “of course we are,” though in my mind I’m doubting every step of our ascent. We got to a ridge that I was sure the lake was down the other side of. Nope. There was no lake there. “It must be the next ridge over,” I said. Rather than going all the way to the next ridge to what was certain disappointment, we collectively chose to turn around. We camped for the night not too far from the truck. The next morning I was pretty bummed we didn’t find the lake, but my mood soon changed. We fished a creek that flowed through the canyon that took us up there. The fishing was lights out as the stream held some beautiful Westslopes. I crept out of the bush and gave a good upstream roll cast from my knees. The fluffy caddis drifted high through the heavy ripples. My intuition and stealth served me well as the fly disappeared. At the end of my line was a beautiful sixteen-inch cut. This fish made the unsuccessful search for the lake all the worth it, at least in that moment.
That failed attempt made me more determined to find it again. I would continue to study the maps and daydream, my mind wandering upstream. As I would try to plan a time to get up there again I’d reminisce that first experience; the dancing trout, impossibly clear water. The opportunity never came around until the Monday before Labor Day, 2020. I was taking a break from work and opened up Google Maps. I was looking at an area where a friend and I had fished a similarly stunning lake weeks before. This happens to be in the general area as my fabled “Mountain Lake”. Then I spotted it. I had dismissed it before, but I gave the satellite image a closer look. I could clearly see the unique rock formation that came down into the water. I was searching the wrong mountain this whole time! My weekend plans had now changed. That Saturday I got in the truck and headed toward the pass right before dawn. With my dog as my copilot, I was hoping not to hit a deer on the way out there. I hate driving during this time of day. Sure enough, coming down the other side three deer were standing in the road.
Luckily I was driving slowly down the steep and winding descent and they chose not to walk in front of the truck. Then further down the highway, I came over a hill to find a giant six-by-six bull elk crossing the road. I missed him by about a foot. That would have been just my luck; a totaled truck and another failed attempt to make it to the lake. I made it to the end of a dirt road, or at least to the U.S. Forest Service gate, and got out. The landscape looked completely different than it did twenty years ago. What was a dense forest is now grassy mountain-sides. Gray skeletons are all that remain of the old forest after the burn. The dog led the way up following meandering game trails, seemingly knowing where he was going. As we moved up the mountain I cautiously examined every grizzly-sized boulder ahead of us, checking for movement. You can’t be too complacent in bear country. We stopped for a drink in the springs and would find the oc-
casional huckleberry which the bears left untouched. The more elevation we gained the less the fire had touched the forest. I was relieved the old burn never made it to the lake. After a quick rest on the tree-lined east shore, I assembled my fly rod and looked through my fly box while the dog took off to explore. The fish were jumping and knowing these alpine cuts, it didn’t matter which fly I presented. I spotted a few large orange-brown caddises flying about, so I chose a size twelve October caddis to begin. My excitement boiled over. I finally made it up here and I was finally fishing this blue heaven. It seemed like an eternity for me to tie the fly to the leader with shaky fingers. My first cast was a disaster, casting into myself, twisting up my leader, making a mess. Calming myself down with a few deep breaths as I untangled the nest, my next cast was error-free. The fly soared out over the still, glacial blue water, softly landing on the surface.
Within a few heartbeats, I had my first fish on and quickly netted. A vibrant Westslope cut. Its dark back, silver sides, bright red belly, small black spots denser at the tail, the distinctive red slash under the jaw made it a perfect specimen. My next two casts mirrored the first good cast with two more beautiful cuts netted. They would continue to bite the rest of the morning. Most were in the fourteen-to-sixteen-inch range with one slightly larger. I switched from the October caddis to a purple and tan foam hopper to avoid reapplying floatant. The fish were happy to go full-send at the new, jazzy meal. At noon I took a break and sat down with the dog. Moments later I heard voices coming from the north end of the lake not too far from where I was. The hikers appeared to be thrilled and relieved to reach their destination, dropping their packs, and sitting down. My dog ran over to them to say hello. They, a family three generations deep, were shocked to see me.
They said they have been coming up here on an annual Labor Day family adventure for several years and never saw a soul. The son-inlaw had even proposed to one of the daughters five years prior at this very spot. I told them about my relationship with this lake and we all agreed this is a special place for those lucky enough to stumble upon it. I left the family to themselves and took the rod, backpack, and dog into the forest away from the lake to reflect on my journey. I had planned on staying overnight, but I decided to turn it into a day trip instead, but not before a few more casts. As had happened during my first trip twenty-one years earlier the fish had abruptly stopped biting. That was my cue to head back down to the truck. I don’t know when the next time I’ll come up here will be, another decade or more maybe. I’ve closed the chapter on this lake for now and it’s time to find a new gem, in which there is a lifetime’s worth on my list.
WE’RE ON I @intheloopmagazine
N S TAG R A M
Pre vio us issu es
Get Involved Get Involved Join
our oceans, lakes, and Join the fight to protect rivers, the pristine aquatic our oceans, lakes, and ecosystems across the globe rivers, the pristine aquatic and thei precious fish stocks. ecosystems across the globe and thei precious fish stocks. It’s an acutely important battle - and one that we It’s an acutely important simply cannot afford to lose! battle - and one that we simply cannot afford to lose!
plastic change plastic change NASF North Atlantic Salmon Fund NASF
North Atlantic Salmon Fund
We’ll keep yo u i# ntheloop