BECAUSE THIS IS MY HAPPY PLACE
INTRODUCING THE NEW BOUNDARY WADER COLLECTION
Spring is a wonderful time of year. You’ve somehow managed to get through a gruelling long- and miserably cold and dark winter, the days are slowly but surely getting longer and warmer, and the fishing season is just on the horizon (if it hasn’t already begun). It’s a vulnerable period, though. You’ve been in a semi-comatose state of near hibernation for months and then, all of a sudden, everything that you’ve waited for – everything that has kept you alive (and sound) through a nightmarish and seemingly eternal winter, is readily available. In abundance. All at once.
Beware! The risk of going from a state of under-stimulated dysphoria to that of stress-inducing mania is imminent during spring. You, invariably, find yourself naïve and overly ambitious when it comes to the amount of fishing you think you’ll be able to cram into your busy calendars. Reality, oftentimes, is a different animal. You realize that you can’t be at two places at once, you’re stricken with an acute fear of missing out - and you struggle to not get disappointed and lost.
We have plans to fish a few carefully hand-picked spots across Europe this Spring. Having a plan, myopically sticking to it, and disregarding what else is out there, is our strategy for the busy months ahead. We’ll take it one day at a time and try to fully immerse ourselves in our fly fishing endeavours once we make our escape. Now that issue 36 is online, and that particular monkey is off our backs, we can even do it with a, somewhat, clear conscience.
Issue 36 features wonderful contributions from Pat Ford, Matt Harris, Ken Morrish, Garrison Doctor, Barry Ord Clarke, Rok Rozman, Emilie Björkman, Stefan Larsson, and more. We know it’s a busy time of year, but we hope you’ll take the time to give it a good read. Afterall, you can’t be fishing ALL the time.
The River of Ghosts by Matt Harris
Payara on the Fly by Pat Ford
ChileTrout Lodge on the Lago Frio by Garrison Doctor
Slovenia, The New Zealand of Europe by Ken Morrishby Rok Rozman By MATT HARRIS
Garrison Doctor is a jack of all trades; a photographer, writer, artist, signature fly tyer, and traveling angler, who has fished some of the world’s most excit ing fly fishing destination. He is the co-founder of RepYourWa ter, and both his artwork and his preferred destinations will reveal that he is heavily into trout of all sizes, colours, and variations. For more information, please refer to: or www.repyourwater.com
Swedish fly fisherman, Stefan Larsson, likes to fish small flies – like really small flies, for fin icky trout and grayling. He is an extremely experienced fly fish erman, who knows everything there is to know about ento mology, hatch cycles, and the biology of his local salmonids. Stefan works as a profession al fly fishing guide and is a well-known writer in Scandinavia. For more info: https://alvdalenfiske.se/kontakt/
Pat Ford is a retired Miami lawyer, award-winning fishing photographer and angler who has held two dozen world re cords during decades of fish ing. Pat Ford is considered a legend in the outdoor industry. With articles and photos ap pearing regularly in Fly Fish ing in Salt Waters, Fly Tyer, Fly Rod & Reel, Sportfishing, Mar lin, Florida Sportsman, Destination Fish, Florida Sportfishing, and most every other magazine that covers fishing in either fresh or salt water. For more info: https://www.patfordphotos.com
BARRY ORD CLARKE
Born in England 1961, Barry is an internationally acclaimed and much published photographer and writer, including several photographs in the National portrait gallery collection in London. He is a regular contributor to numerous fishing magazines world wide. He has also written, co-written and contributed to more than 30 books about fly fishing and fly tying. He has won medals in some of the worlds most prestigious fly tying competitions, and for the past fifteen years he has worked as a consultant for the Mustad Hook Company. http://thefeatherbender.com/
A former rower, who repre sented Slovenia at the 2008 Summer Olympics, Rok Roz man has had a special connec tion with the Second Element his whole life. Along the way, Rok go into fly fishing – and more recently, he has been heavily involved in the fight to protect and preserve the last wild rivers of Europe. For more information about Rok’s current project involvement, please visit: www.balkanriverdefence.org
Fourth generation fly fisher who has guided throughout Alaska, Oregon, and Califor nia. He has taught hundreds of students the fundamen tals of the sport, managed fly shops, consulted with lead ing fly rod manufacturers and designed an extensive line of popular fly patterns produced by Umpqua Feather Merchants. Ken is Chief Operating Officer of the travel agency Flywatertravel, which is based in Ashland, Oregon/USA.
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.
The River of Ghosts
thePreserving Future of Fly fishing
The scotch was hammering in my temples as I forced myself out of bed and blundered into the shower. Less than four hours ago, opening yet another bottle of 18-year-old Glen-what-ever-it-was had seemed like an excellent idea. Now, in the cold light of day, I could see that reckless impulse for the lamentable decision that it was.By: MATT HARRIS
This morning, I had a ticket for Zone 8 and any Reisa River fanatic will tell you that means you have the opportunity to fish one of the river’s special gems. Svartfoss. All season, a colossal Atlantic salmon had shown itself in the pool. It had gained almost celebrity status, and I felt as if I was the only one who hadn’t seen it.
breakfast, and even waiting for the coffee to brew risked some brighteyed Finn getting in front of me. I decided to forego the much-needed caffeine. I grabbed my rods from the rack and glanced ruefully at my friend Roar’s huge Hummer SUV parked outside the lodge. In my condition, I knew I’d have to walk the 15 minutes up to Svartfoss.
Now, well into August, most anglers had headed home. For once, I had a realistic chance of being first through the pool. But I’d handicapped myself massively by drinking till quarter past four in the morning, and I could barely stand up, let alone wade the powerful currents of the Reisa. Somehow, I forced myself into my waders. There was no time for
The late summer sunshine was cruelly bright as I stumbled up the road, cursing my stupidity all the while. I was still two hundred yards from the path that leads through the trees to the pool when I heard a car’s engine approach from behind me. I muttered more curses as a big Volvo estate with a bundle of Spey rods perched on its racks passed me, but mercifully, it kept on going.
Perhaps it was the car that broke my dream. Suddenly, a whisky-fuddled nightmare from the night before came back to me with vivid clarity. I remembered sitting in the little gapahuk shelter at another favourite pool, Mikanakken.
“There are surely few creatures more valiant or more courageous in all of nature”
I was chatting to a young local guide, my friend Christer Vangen. Christer was somehow a little older. We were talking about the salmon of the Reisa. But we weren’t celebrating them. We were remembering them. They were gone. All gone. The mighty fish of 30, 40, and even 50 pounds that mark out the Reisa as a river of a fisherman’s dreams had all been destroyed: the smolts had been devoured by the vast legions of sea lice that have proliferated around the wretched open cage salmon farms up and down the coast, and the returning adults had been butchered by the nets and the catch and kill anglers. It was over.
Christer got up and eased himself into the pool. He flexed his long Spey rod and sent a beautiful cast arcing across the crystalline waters of the Reisa. But he was wasting his time.
He was fishing in a river of ghosts
My throat was dry as I trudged wearily off of the road, but the densely wooded birch forest was cool and offered some respite from the harsh, dazzling sunlight and the troubling dream that dogged my thoughts.
The forest floor was carpeted with the late summer patina of ferns, mushrooms and blueberries, and the fragrant scent was intoxicating. My mood lifted as I glimpsed the river through the trees, and as I stumbled out of the forest and down to the water, my heart leapt as I saw that Svartfoss pool was vacant.
I dipped my little wooden cup into Reisa’s sparkling stream and took a long draft. The water was clear and cold and delicious.
There were more than ghosts swimming in the crystal waters of the Reisa on that golden morning in August 2017.
I hooked a fish on perhaps my third cast that was the biggest Atlantic salmon that I have ever seen, including the huge salmon that I saw on the Alta two years before.
“Fishing lodges are often understandably reticent to flag up the decline”
Two experienced Finnish anglers arrived after I had been playing the fish for the best part of an hour and when they saw the fish jump at close quarters, they both let out the classic Scandinavian expression of excitement: “Oy-yoi-yoi-yoi-yoi!” and told me that they believed the fish might weigh 25 kilos. That’s 55 pounds in old money. When the hook hold gave way half an hour later, I sank to my knees in despair.
We must have cut a comical sight as two men I had never met before crouched over my catatonic frame and tentatively patted me on the shoulder by way of commiseration. Like me, they knew that statistically, my chances of ever hooking another fish of that size in my lifetime are around the same as being struck by lightning or winning the lottery for a second time.
monster salmon for which the Reisa is rightly celebrated were still swimming in the river’s sparkling waters.
The world’s finest game fish
Ted Williams, the celebrated baseball player and sport fisherman, once declared that Atlantic salmon are the world’s finest game fish. This despite the fact that Ted was fortunate enough to have tangled with a panoply of wonderful species, including huge marlin and yes, behemoth tarpon and trophy bonefish. Ted famously and unambiguously stated: “I guess if I had to spend the rest of my life fishing for just one fish it would have to be the Atlantic salmon.”
They had seen me lose the salmon of my life. However, as I finally picked myself up and thanked my new friends for their kindness and concern, I consoled myself with the knowledge that at least a few of the
Well personally, I don’t want to have to choose. I love every last fish that I pursue, from the humble chub of my local River Cam to the mighty sailfish of the Pacific Ocean. However, I am willing to concede that despite the comparatively modest size of even a trophy Atlantic salmon when compared with leviathans like tarpon, arapaima or giant trevally, there is something special – even heroic –about salmo salar.
I have been lucky enough to fish in nearly 40 countries, and I’ve tangled with most of the world’s most celebrated fly-fishing quarries, yet, swinging a fly for the “silver tourists” that come back from the North Atlantic to the rivers of their birth still holds a very special place in my heart. The moment when a big Atlantic salmon arrests my fly way out in the icy waters of a big northern river is still a uniquely exhilarating experience.
What is so singular about Atlantic salmon?
To me, salmo salar are the pure physical embodiment of everything wild and free. To briefly put your hands on one of these precious fish, and to sense the extraordinary odyssey that each of these special creatures has been on is one of the most special, life-affirming moments that you can experience with a fishing rod in your hand.
three years in their natal stream before swimming downstream to the river’s estuaries, where they adapt to saltwater and go through the silvering process of smoltification that camouflages them and prepares them for their epic marine voyage. As smolts, they swim out into the wild, hazardous environment of the ocean. If they somehow survive the vast number of seals, dolphins, cormorants, and other predators that queue up to feed upon them, the smolts travel across the vast wilderness of the Atlantic before finally arriving at their feeding grounds around Greenland, typically thousands of miles from their birthplace. Here, they feed voraciously on capelin, shrimp, sprats, sandeels, and large zooplankton organisms such as krill.
Few other species endure the remarkable journey that Atlantic salmon go through. Born in the tiny burns and tributaries of the salmon rivers that empty into either side of the North Atlantic, the infant parr spend two or
Eventually, after anything between one and four years, using navigational abilities that we still do not really understand, the salmon cross the vast oceans once more and return to the river of their birth, where they battle their way up through rapids and waterfalls before they reach the stream of their birthplace, where they dig redds and spawn.
Unlike Pacific salmon, ‘Atlantics’ often survive the spawning process, and after spending the winter in the river, the survivors try to return to the sea. Unable to eat whilst in freshwater, these spawned out fish, known as kelts, are weak and are often devoured by seals or dolphins, but occasionally, they manage to return once again to their feeding grounds and even occasionally come back once again to the rivers of their birth as ‘repeat spawners’.
There are surely few creatures more valiant or more courageous in all of nature. In recent times, however, these remarkable fish have been assailed by a huge number of diverse factors that have combined to see the Atlantic salmon’s numbers decline dramatically. Between 1983 and 2016 alone, reliable scientific evidence tells us that salar’s numbers have been halved.
Numbers in sharp fall
Fishing lodges are often understandably reticent to flag up the decline – their revenue depends upon attracting anglers to their fishery, so it is not in their interests to declare that their resource is dwindling fast. Many do their best
to hide the sharp fall in numbers, and some even declare catch numbers that are factually inaccurate. However, most anglers will attest that Atlantic salmon are clearly experiencing a frightening downturn in their numbers. My friend, Professor Ken Whelan, is a distinguished scientist and an eminent authority on the multitude of issues threatening the future of the Atlantic salmon. Ken held the post of president of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation between 2004 and 2008 and is currently Research Director at the Atlantic Salmon Trust.
Ken lists numerous issues that all take their toll: Salmon farming and the resultant unnatural proliferation of sea lice that have had a savage impact on the wild smolt population; endemic netting at sea and in river mouths and estuaries; intense farming methods, which have degraded water quality through pollution and abstraction; and, lest we forget, catch and kill fishing by sport fishermen. Ken also observes that there is a myriad of other factors in play – notably the effects of global warming both at sea and also in freshwater.
Food staples at sea have been hugely affected by the changes in sea temperatures and ocean currents, while increases in our river’s water temperatures are resulting in depleted oxygen levels which have created poorer conditions for Atlantic salmon once in freshwater. Ken is the first to admit that we are still trying to fully understand many of the factors involved, but most of the issues that are decimating our Atlantic salmon stocks are incontrovertibly manmade problems, and many could be prevented or at least diminished if we choose to tackle them.
We can do more!
To me, it seems baffling that we as anglers do not do more to fight for the protection of the fish that we love. After all, there are plenty of us, and anyone who can afford to fly fish has – by definition – a reasonable amount of cash in his or her pocket. Participation in sport fishing, in general, is flourishing. The United Nations recently estimated that the global number of recreational anglers stands at anywhere between 220 million and 700 million, with this higher estimate
almost twice the number of estimated commercial fishers. Regardless of the actual numbers, participation in angling is recognized to be increasing on a global scale, particularly in developing nations as we see an expansion of their middle-class demographic. In many nations, visiting recreational anglers bring much-needed income into the local economies, and unlike commercial fisheries, catchand-release sport fisheries are absolutely sustainable.
An estimate in 2012 by the World Bank reckons that anglers spend approximately US$190 billion annually related to recreational fishing, contributing about USD$70 billion per year to the global gross domestic product.
These are most likely to be low estimates, as they do not account for the large additional revenue streams attributable to fishing tackle expenditure. These are large sums, and if we allow our fisheries to flourish, they can offer sustainable long-term income to communities all around the world.
When you consider our number and the incontrovertible economic and environmental good sense that sportfishing makes, we should be a powerful international lobby. However, so far at least, we have been unable to wield any meaningful power and have instead watched with impotent rage as our treasured Atlantic salmon and countless other recreational fish stocks are being systematically wiped out.
What can we do?
Using the opportunities that the world wide web allows us to connect with each other, anglers now have the chance to unite and fight as one for our collective interests. We need to lobby our governments en masse. We need to fight hard to protect riparian and marine habitats as well as trying to do all we can to protect our species from unsustainable exploitation in our lakes and rivers and on the high seas.
“Tradition is often employed as a lazy excuse for adhering to unsustainable modes of behaviour”
Where our governments are allowing pollution and habitat vandalism, we must call them out and shame them into action.My personal fervent belief is that the first thing we have to do is to embrace 100% catch and release at all fisheries where taking fish is unsustainable. Right now, this means nearly all of them. The critical element in the debate is sustainability. While many grew up fishing “for the pot”, and feel that taking a fish home is an integral part of the fishing experience, we have to accept that to do so is simply no longer sustainable.
There are many more anglers - and far fewer fish - than ever before, and if every angler takes just one fish home, most rivers simply can no longer sustain the resultant impact on their stocks. Even more crucially, we simply cannot dictate to others – commercial and subsistence netsmen, aquaculturists, farmers et al – when we are impacting on the fish stocks ourselves.
Many older anglers talk of tradition, citing the fact that they have taken fish for generations, but we simply have to accept that this is no longer sustainable. Many invoke the argument that catch-and-release fishing is cruel, but this defence for catchand-kill is a tired and divisive one.
We ALL fish for the enjoyment of it, and if we didn’t, those that wanted to eat their catch would just pop down to the local fishmongers. Catching a fish to kill it is no more kind to the fish than releasing it. More importantly, as acknowledged by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, catch-and-release fishing allows us to maintain sustainable recreational fisheries. However, if we do not ACT now, our fisheries – and the benefits that they can bring will be lost for all time.
Be in no doubt: Atlantic salmon fishing is fast arriving at its Rubicon. As it becomes less productive, fewer youngsters will be attracted into the sport, and a vicious circle of declining participants is unavoidable.
The benefits that angling can bring for our mental health and well-being are well documented, and this facet of our sport is one that we would do well to promote. However, newcomers need to catch something – or at least see others do so and thus believe that there is a chance of a fish. If they don’t, they will drift away very fast. Without young blood, our num-
bers will dwindle fast, and without a healthy number of anglers, our power as a significant lobby that is capable of defending our fisheries will diminish very quickly indeed, with tragic consequences for our fisheries.
Back to the Reisa
I have recently been embroiled in heated arguments with a number of anglers illegally killing Atlantic salmon on the Reisa. This argument represents a microcosm of what is happening to our sport fisheries across the world.
Reisadalen is a stunningly beautiful valley, and as noted earlier, its river produces huge Atlantic salmon every year: even in what was considered a very poor season, 21 fish over 30lbs including 6 over 40lbs and 1 over 50lbs were reported in 2021, and many more will have been caught and not declared. Only a tiny handful of rivers in Norway and Eastern Canada can boast Atlantic salmon of this size. Believe me, if this river was properly looked after and allowed to flourish, it would be a salmon angler’s paradise.
However, the river’s estuary still suffers from a high degree of netting and this is having a dramatic impact on this special river. Of the seven handsome fish I caught on my last visit, four had severe net marks – and I’ve heard reliable reports of just one netsman alone catching six hundred kilos of these precious fish in 24 hours. Yet how can we complain, if we as anglers are routinely taking fish ourselves? Despite explicit rules forbidding the killing of any salmon weighing more than five kilos, many anglers on Reisa openly kill magnificent trophy fish, often weighing 30 pounds and more, thus removing them from the gene pool before they can spawn.
According to a number of local anglers
I spoke to, many are not even eaten but are left to rot in bulging chest freezers and are routinely thrown away come the following spring. What a tragedy!
excuse for adhering to outmoded and unsustainable modes of behaviour that are no longer defensible, and we HAVE to discard this flippant justification for the killing of Atlantic salmon and other endangered species… before they are all gone.
The future is here
I often fish the Reisa with my friend Scott Mackenzie and his son Ross. Many know Scottie as a world champion caster, and the first time I saw him cast a line clean across the wide waters of Canada’s Miramichi, I was genuinely astonished. However, those close to him will also know that Scottie is not just a remarkable caster - he is also an extremely talented salmon fisherman.
Many anglers I’ve crossed swords with on this issue employ the argument that it is “traditional” to kill the fish. I should respect their “traditions”, they tell me. Well, tradition be damned. Tradition is often employed as a lazy
Scott has caught three special Atlantic salmon from the Reisa - fish of 31, 33 and 38 pounds. However, in recent years, Ross has been catching big fish too. I came in one night after catching a nice fish myself to see Rossie grinning from ear to ear. He’d just released a beauty of 25 pounds, and it was disarming to see the pride etched upon his face.
Over the last few years, I’ve watched Ross grow from a boy into a bright, confident young man, who seems to have inherited his father’s warm, likeable nature, not to mention a twinkle of that same mischievous humour. Like my friend Christer Vangen, Ross is the future. He deserves the chance – as do his grandchildren – to catch one of the big salmon of the Reisa. We have to give him and other young anglers that chance if we are not to be remembered for all time as the selfish generation that allowed the Atlantic salmon and other wonderful species to go the way of the dodo.
If we do not act now, we will leave our grandchildren with nothing more than a river of ghosts, where only the spirits of the Reisa’s mighty Atlantic salmon swim through this beautiful valley. Atlantic salmon are a bellwether for the myriad other species that we chase, and we need to recognise that all will eventually disappear if we allow our environment to continually decline as we are currently doing.
closed to sport fishing due to dangerously low numbers of fish returning to spawn in its waters over the last few years. Without catch-and-release anglers guarding its banks, who knows what nefarious activities might befall the remaining stocks?
I don’t want to die a heartbroken old man, telling my grandchildren about the mighty salmon that once came barrelling up this beguiling river.
It is time for us to come together and fight for all the species and the wild places that we love so that our children and our grandchildren can enjoy the same magical experiences that fly fishing has given us.
In 2023, I will not fish the Reisa for its peerless Atlantic salmon. The river is
Under the umbrella of global angling organisations like the IGFA and using the new and burgeoning opportunities for worldwide communication that the internet provides us, we can – we MUST – start to all work together to help fight each other’s battles, lobbying and petitioning on each other’s behalf in order to change things for the better for all fishermen and women.
This means that members of the Atlantic Salmon Trust and the Atlantic Salmon Federation can help fight the battles of the IGFA’s Billfish Initiatives, the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, the Wild Steelhead Coalition, Trout Unlimited and so on – and vice versa – with a real sum gain for all anglers and, more importantly, for our fish stocks and their environments.
Let’s do it! Let’s unite to protect ALL of our precious fisheries. Let’s do all we can to save the Atlantic salmon and ALL the wonderful species that we love to target… before it’s too late.
You can buy Matt’s book, The Fish of a Lifetime, at the following link:
Get the net.
Swiftcurrent™ Wading Jacket
Built with Bureo’s NetPlus® material, a 100% recycled nylon made from reclaimed fishing nets, the Swiftcurrent Wading Jacket is engineered to cast freely, eliminate line snag and keep water where it belongs—in the river.
Payara on the Fly
If you are a fly rod addict and have a bucket list, I’m pretty sure a Payara is on it. Payara is a species of dogtooth tetra; a rather bland description as opposed to “Vampire Fish”, which is what they are usually called.By: PAT FORD
Photos by: PAT FORD and LUCAS DE ZAN
There are four distinct species of payara and they have been caught up to 39 lbs and almost 4 feet in length. They are a sleek, powerful, aggressive creature which is expected if you have a mouth that looks like it was designed for an alien horror movie. They are found in the Amazon Basin from Venezuela on the north to the Rio Tapajos River to the south. They are difficult to find and even more difficult to catch, and recently the payara spots in Venezuela have been ‘’off limits” to travelers for multiple reasons, which pretty much leaves Brazil.
Rumours in the jungle
Several years ago Rodrigo Salles and Marcelo Perez told me about a river they were exploring, which - reportedly - held large concentrations of big payara. Rodrigo and Marcelo are the founders of Untamed Angling, which operates a number of exotic fishing lodges in South America. Their search for these remote sites always began with rumors of excellent fishing in rivers that run through remote Indian territories and are literally inaccessible to tourists.
Their first challenge is always to get an invitation to enter the area and do some exploratory fishing, just to see if the rumors are true. If the fishing was as good as expected, the negotiations began in earnest with the indigenous tribe controlling the area to set up a very unique fishing operation.
Discussions with the Kayapo tribe led to the formation of Kendjam Lodge, which proved to be an enormous success.
The deal was that Untamed Angling would build an environmentally compatible lodge, hire native workers and fishing guides, bring in a limited number of guests each week during a limited season, each of whom would pay a fee of around $600 to the tribe… and they wouldn’t kill any fish.
Rodrigo jokingly says that the natives thought that he was pretty much crazy when this proposal was first made, but over the years it has worked out well for everyone involved. The success at Kendjam Lodge led to new rumors and ideas.
The Xingu River is also on the Kayapo reservation (which actually is about the size of Rhode Island) and supposedly had a large concentration of payara. A few exploratory trips led to the construction of a lodge and a new fishing operation that began in the Fall of 2019 with only four anglers allowed per week. Chris Lalli and I were one of the first to visit this amazing place and we were not disappointed. We flew from the US into Manaus, then took a private plane to a landing strip in the middle of the Amazon jungle and hopped into an unusually long aluminum boat to run upriver to the lodge.
The actual lodge was pretty basic, probably because it had only been operational for a few weeks before we arrived.
There was a wood frame, but we were actually housed in elaborate and surprisingly comfortable tents. There were fans but no air conditioning, but temperatures dropped as soon as the sun went down so there were no problems sleeping.
Actually, there was one problem… a village rooster that crowed every morning about a half hour before we had to get up. By the time we left there was a bounty on him. Meals were served in a separate building and the whole operation was situated right in the middle of a small Kayapo village. There was no doubt that we were in the middle of the jungle.
The fishing begins
The river was interesting. There were sections of fast water where payara are known to hang out, but there were also deep pools (like 60’ deep) where current was minimal. Our fly fishing guides for the week were Everton Pires and Marcos Hlace. One of them would be with us each day, along with a native boat operator. Marcos and Everton spoke perfect English and knew the waters well. They explained that most of our fishing would be in the deeper pools and a heavy sinking line (400-600 grain) was a necessity. We were using 10-weight rods, so the heavy lines balanced perfectly. Tippet strength was pretty much angler’s choice, but
we stuck with 20lb to keep things legal. Twelve inches of 40lb braided wire was a no-brainer considering a payara’s dental display.
Payara are most active in the mornings and after 3 pm in the afternoon. We’d leave the dock early, fish payara till they stopped biting (usually around 10am) then fish the creeks and tributaries for peacock bass, wolffish, catfish, piranha, and matrincia until it was time for lunch. We’d take a few hours off then return to the water around 3pm and fish till dark. As you would expect, payara are major predators… they pretty much eat whatever they want and size doesn’t matter. One of their main food sources are piranha. With their amazing teeth, they can catch and kill most everything… which brings us to fly selection.
“A few exploratory trips led to the construction of a lodge”
The right flies for the job
Rodrigo was very clear that we should bring big, double hook baitfish pattern flies, 9-12 inches long. Lead eyes also helped, and the hooks had to be ultra-sharp. Most any color would work, but we soon found that black mixed with red, orange or purple got the most strikes. Chris is a musky fisherman and a master fly tyer, so his collection of giant flies was very impressive. Casting these monstrosities was also a chore. The goal was to cast the heavy sinking line as far as you could and let it get the fly down as deep as possible… on every cast.
Setting the hook in a payara was far from easy and most escaped on the first jump. We were dredging so we’d cast up current, let the line sink and swing, then retrieve as fast as we could.
The strikes were vicious! Imagine that huge set of teeth chomping down on a 10 inch pile of fish hair. The teeth immediately tangle in the fish hair and if one of the hooks gets caught around one of those huge teeth, you can strip strike all you want and the point of the hook is not going to move.
Payara are excellent jumpers and if that hook hadn’t found some flesh by the time they get airborne, it was a very short fight. I found that sticking the rod under my arm and using the two handed retrieve we use for tarpon during worm hatches greatly increased my hookups. You literally couldn’t set the hook too hard. I’d actually keep the rod under my harm and literally hand line the fish till I was sure it was hooked well enough for me to fight it from the reel. If you tried to set the hook with the rod, you weren’t going to catch anything.
They thrash, tug, and jump with speed and power and if they get any slack… they’re gone… leaving a tangled mess of a fly.
When the payara bite slowed to a halt with the rising heat, we’d venture out of the pools and into creeks, casting to shorelines and riffles for whatever happened to be available. We used 8-weight rods and floating lines for this fishing and went back to civilized 3” flies, which were basic baitfish imitations. We caught a fair number of peacock bass, along with an occasional wolffish, pacu, and bicuda but the most exciting were the matrincia, which put up an excellent fight on the light rods.
Payara don’t make any really long runs because there really isn’t much in their waters that they are afraid of. Running away was never their plan.
At times this shoreline fishing was tough, and we found ourselves back at the lodge before noon, ready for a nice lunch and a nap. One day towards the end of our trip, we opted to take some heavy bait rods out and try to catch some of the local catfish, which can weigh over 100 lbs. This turned out to be a surprising amount of fun.
“40lb braided wire was a no-brainer considering a payara’s dental display”
Chris caught a big brown critter (a pirabia, I think) that probably weighed 70 lbs. I caught a small redtail and another species ( a Jau?) that had whiskers 3’ long.
One of the fun things about fishing in the Amazon Basin is that you never know what you’re going to come up with on the end of your line. On my next trip I’m going to bring some tackle to seriously target the catfish.
During our down time each day, I found myself wandering around the grounds and the adjacent Kayapo village. I soon made friends with some of the local children who eventually became comfortable enough to allow me to take their photo.
The Kayapo are a proud race and very much locked into their own culture. The decorate their bodies with a plant-based ink that is very interesting. I’m not sure what exactly the purpose is but I was told that it is a bit of an insect repellent as well as a major part of their culture. It stays on about a week and the varying
patterns are most impressive.
Untamed Angling is deeply committed to protecting the way of life of even this small band of Kayapo Indians and our interaction with them was fascinating. They were more than happy to paint their design on out faces and arms always with the promise that it would fade before we had to return to civilization.
Doing the sums
Chris and I released close to 40 payara during our stay and lost dozens more. We’d expected bugs to be a problem, but they really weren’t even noticeable while we were fishing and the netting around the tents kept them at bay during the nights. We did wear long sleeved shirts, buffs, and jogging tights under our shorts, which we found more comfortable than long pants, while fishing.
There is one rule to fishing the Amazon Jungle… do not leave one square inch of skin exposed or something that bites will find it. Always use insect repellant even if you think you don’t need it.
I had a friend at a different lodge that decided to fish the river bank before breakfast one morning wearing shorts. Bad idea! When he got back to the lodge, his legs from ankles to thighs looked like he had chicken pox… He must have had over a thousand bites form something that can only be described as a ‘no-seeum’ on steroids. Remember this if nothing else… No exposed skin in the Amazon!
The food was surprisingly good even though our special requests for ‘rooster’ were repeatedly ignored.
One day Chris caught a second species of payara, which was thinner and more streamlined than the others. We caught several corvina between 10 and 14lbs while dredging for payara. We found a few big peacocks, but most were under 5lbs. The wolffish lived in the creeks in sluggish flow, lurking under ledges and trees, while the matrincha were in fast water.
There is an amazing number of different species of fish in the Xingu. It’s probably the most prolific multi-species fishery in the Amazon, which is saying a lot. It’s always exciting to look down at your catch and ask “What is that thing?” and no place does it better than Xingu Lodge! If you’re looking for a true adventure, this is definitely the place to go!
For more info: https://www. untamedangling.com
UPDATE! A new full-board lodge is in the works at Xingu and it will have the same accommodation and service as all other Untamed Angling lodges. The new lodge will cater to 8 anglers per week and the prime season is September to December.
“The strikes were vicious!”
THE NEW BOUNDARY WADER COLLECTION
There’s truth in wanting to do something yourself if you want it done right. So we did. Our new Boundary wader collection with GORE-TEX Pro Wader laminate sets a new standard. No heavy sell. No BS. We make gear all anglers can trust, 100% of the time, no exceptions.
ChileTrout Lodge on the Lago FrioBy GARRISON DOCTOR
We flew south along the Pacific coast of Chile from the city of Puerto Montt. The verdant land below transitioned rapidly from a broken patchwork of small farms to a solid green carpet of forest. The shape of the land itself became almost unrecognizable as a coastline, with long fjords connecting to islands, connecting to rivers, connecting to lakes, connecting to more rivers. A literal playground of habitat for salmonids.
I have fished for trout all over the western US, Iceland, Argentina, New Zealand and Chile, but I know there are still so many trout regions to explore. Out of all the areas I have fished for trout, none compares to the Aysén region of Chile in terms of the variation of opportunities in a relatively compact area.
The drive from the airport in Balmaceda to ChileTrout Lodge on the banks of Lago Frio, revealed valleys of lupine flowers in violets, purples, and the occasional whites as snow-studded peaks looked on from almost every direction. Returning to ChileTrout Lodge felt like returning home for my wife and fishing partner Corinne and me.
Spotting trout from the dining room
Our good friends Pancho and Karina run this small family lodge and seeing them and getting to fish with Pancho is always a highlight of our year. The faint smell of lenga wood smoke mixed with green growing things filled the cool spring air.
In the living/dining room of the lodge, the full lake view with mountains behind opened up through the wall of glass windows. In the small lagoon in front of the lodge Chilean Flamingos provided a pop of pink to the landscape. The warmth from the wood stove filled the room as sizzling sounds from the kitchen made my mouth water.
the lake below as you are sipping a glass of wine, and while fun to watch, if you are like me, this can be hard to take! From this central base, it is possible to fish for the day on sizable rivers, huge lakes, small creeks, small lakes, rivers between lakes, small spring creeks, and whatever trout habitat may lie in between.
These varied waterways will take you everywhere from lush temperate rainforest with curious chucaos calling from the water’s edge, to dry, wind-blown, open grasslands with black chested buzzard eagles soaring overhead.
On a dirt track through the forest
The only drawback of the view from the dining room, is that it is possible, if not probable, to spot rising rainbow trout cruising the weed edge of
A couple hours from the lodge, further into the wilds of Patagonia is the ChileTrout spike camp. On the fourth day of our visit, we crawled in the truck down a little dirt track through the forest. Magellanic tapaculos sang their two-note squeaky call from the undergrowth, we came into a little clearing on the bank of a pristine lake.
“The brown trout in the lake in front of camp love mouse flies”
A small trailer with comfortable bunk beds and a small kitchen/dining area provided cover when needed, but the party was always at the fogón, a hangout area with walls of driftwood around a big fire. Positioned around a huge flat rock to block the Patagonian wind, an old stove hood directed smoke up against the southern stars as the sound of waves on the rocky beach below and the smell of steaks from the grill filled the air.
Mouse flies and airborn trout
For some glorious reason, the brown trout in the lake in front of camp love mouse flies, like really love them. A small mouse fly seems to outperform any other fly on this lake most days, with many of the smaller 14-18” fish going fully airborn out of the water to attack the fly! Any location where you have the opportunity to net over 20 brown trout on mouse fly in a single day is pretty special in my book.
We fished up the lakeshore, laughing at some of the mouse eats and exclaiming as some of the bigger fish sucked the fly off of the surface. We came to the inlet river and some of its tributaries, one of which was a spring creek small enough to jump across. We changed over to a single beetle pattern and went to work trying to place the fly in the small targets the little creek provided.
There is something about the simplicity of a tiny creek and a single dry fly that will get any fly angler back to the roots of the sport. However, tight targets are not easy to hit in a gusty Patagonian wind and gin clear water does not make for forgiving trout. Still, we were rewarded with a couple fish from the creek and many more from the lake as we switched back to the mouse fly and worked our way back to camp and a cold beer.
“There is something about the simplicity of a tiny creek”
Targeting trophy trout
Some of the other lakes in this general area provide exceptional opportunities for large fish. Of course, when fishing these lakes, the number of fish per day goes down, but personally, I am happy to roll the dice on quality over quantity any day.
I fished slowly down the shoreline of one such lake, stripping a couple small streamers back through the bubble lines, and felt a tap, tap and my line went tight. I set the hook and yelled with excitement. This excitement took a turn towards anxiety as I watched a massive buck brown trout leap clear of the water. It was one of those fish that makes you catch your breath when it jumps, and you see clearly what is on the other end of your line.
After a few more jumps and a couple of strong runs, the buck was getting close to the shore, I muttered to myself “stay glued” and seconds later the fly pulled free. It was one of those crushing moments, when you know you did everything right and it just didn’t work out. There was nothing
for it but to get back to the grind. A few hours later I was able to claim a bit of redemption as a gorgeously fat hen glided into the net. She was a fish to remember, with incredible proportions and girth for a brown trout. But I will be back for that buck…
On a grass island
Another lake in this area is a personal favorite of mine. It is the perfect balance between numbers of fish and size of fish. The structure of the lake is what makes it truly unique, there are islands, creek channels, rocky banks, weedbeds and some strange holes... I walked slowly on a grass island in the lake, feeling the ground beneath my feet moving like a giant, rigid waterbed.
It is a strange feeling to walk through high grass on dry ground and know that you are not on solid ground at all!
Interspersed around and on this island are some deep sinkholes. Some of them are only three feet across, but they go down very deep and somehow connect underneath back out to the open water of the lake.
As we approached one such hole, Pancho cautioned me to slow down and tread softly. I stayed back so I could not see down into the hole, but he snuck up so he could barely see down into the depths.
The troll in the hole
I carefully dropped a small, heavy, jigged streamer into the hole and it did not take long before Pancho yelled “SET”! I was suddenly playing tugof-war with a big, old, brown trout. I knew if I let the fish get down too deep and turn out into the lake, I would never see it again, so I applied all of the pressure I thought my tippet and hook could handle. Luckily everything held and we were able to net the fish.
“I carefully dropped a small, heavy, jigged streamer into the hole”
It was another fish to remember, not necessarily for its stature, but because of the place! Over a lunch beer and some steaks, we dubbed it “the troll in the hole”.
Back at Lago Frío and ChileTrout Lodge, we brought in the new year with a fantastic traditional lamb asado, drank too much and soaked in the rich textures of the milky way and southern stars from the wood-fired hot tub. The caddis hatch off of the lake was incredible, with caddis flooding into
any open window of the lodge. If you listened closely, you might have heard one of the strong Lago Frio rainbows picking caddis off of the weed line.
For more information on ChileTrout lodge visit: www.chiletrout.com
For more from Garrison Doctor check out his Instagram: @garrisondoctor or @repyourwater
To see RepYourWater gear, visit: www.repyourwater.com
Working for wild fish and free-flowing waters while crafting no-compromise, durable gear has been our business for 50 years.
That tenacious commitment to our planet and the anglers who fish it will guide us for the next 50 years.© 2023 Patagonia, Inc. Kate Crump defies a harsh wind, the bracing cold and the long odds on Aalaska’s Bristol Bay. Jeremy Koreski
The New Zealand of Europe
I will never forget the first time I saw images of the rivers and streams of Slovenia. It was 20 years ago in an issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine, and I was dumbfounded by the clarity and beauty of their waterways. I filed my intent to see and photograph the region one day, long before learning that these same rivers offer world-class trout fishing and that Slovenia is considered by many to be the New Zealand of Europe.By: KEN MORRISH, FLYWATER TRAVEL
Fast forward to 2019 when my wife and I landed in the capital city of Ljubljana to meet our friends John and Betsy Murray for a week-long custom couples tour of the country. John’s and my objectives were one in the same. Take our wives on a great trip with fine meals and boutique accommodations where they could partake in a wide range of thoughtfully guided tours and at the same time, he and I would sneak out for three days of guided fishing. If we pulled it off, we would all enjoy great touring and dining together and, despite sneaking off to fish hard, we would have some real brownie points in the bank by the end of it all.
Amidst a green backdrop of wild rhubarb
Our last day of fishing was spent on a technical wild trout system that had large wary fish. There were wild rainbows, browns, marbles, and even rare marble/brown hybrids. John’s day had been made early on. He and our guide Sasa had dil¬igently sightfished to a large rainbow and after 30 minutes John closed the deal and landed a gorgeous 22-inch fish amidst a green backdrop of wild rhubarb.
My day had been a bit more of a struggle. I had put two large fish down trying to coax them with a nymph. Then, in the last hour a nice rainbow rose to my dry but for whatever reason, only nicked it. I rested it for half an hour as a sparse hatch of mayflies continued. After 20 minutes it rose again and after it rose three times, I crept back out with a fresh CDC dun and connected. The fish fought like it had never been hooked before, zigzagging wildly across the surface of the pool and jumping recklessly between boulders. As it lay submerged and recovering in the pale cobbled shallows I was overcome with gratitude, not only for this moment and this gorgeous fish, but for the fact that when John and I got back to our hotel, our wives would be smiling and we would have a carry-forward credit in our personal fishing accounts.
“The fish fought like it had never been hooked before, zigzagging wildly across the surface”
One Cool Country
Formerly part of Yugoslavia, Slovenia is a remarkably beautiful, prosperous, and appealing country. Its 2 million residents are friendly, highly educated, speak nearly impeccable English, and pride themselves on never drinking wine alone. It is considered one of the seven safest countries in the world and is one of the greenest and most progressive countries in the EU.
Sixty-six percent of the country remains heavily forested and 12 percent of the landmass is covered in well-manicured vineyards, most of which are organic. Slovenia’s southwestern region is lovely wine country and shares much in common with neighboring Italy. The entire northern region shares a border and many cultural traits with Austria and when you move south towards Croatia, the Balkan influence becomes readily apparent.
make a point of spending time in and around the Julian Alps and Triglav National Park. Sports, skiing, and mountain culture run strong throughout the country and Slovenia typically ranks in the top ten in terms of Olympic medals per capita. Additionally, Slovenia is considered the EU and Scandinavia’s second wealthiest country in terms of freshwater resources. They have rivers— lots of them—and in those rivers they have trout, and in many cases lots of them! Fly fishing for indigenous marble trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, and grayling are all woven into the fabric of this unique country and its culture.
Driving to the river one morning I asked our guides Sasa and Bostjan how many days it would take to fish all of their pre¬ferred waters.
Slovenia is also the southern terminus of the Alps. These limestone peaks, some of which exceed 9,000 feet, are dramatic and many visitors
They both paused. “About 60 days,” Sasa said, and Bostjan quietly nodded in agreement. I could hardly sit still, as that was not all their water; that was just the places they liked best!
As much as I try to be present and in-the-moment, it seemed half of my time in Slovenia was spent figuring out how I could spend more time there…like a lot more time.
For my trout fishing tastes, it seemed that every other river or stream I crossed was as beautiful as any I could imagine. The clear tur¬quoise waters and the pale limestone bottoms made it seem like I might spot fish from the moving car at 100 yards. I had been given a taste of something sweet and new and I wanted more.
The bottom line is that Slovenia has a tremendous variety of water, most of which is located in the central and western portion of the country. There are fertile lowland streams and cooler semi-alpine streams that can be relied on come the warm¬est months of their season.
“I had been given a taste of something sweet and new and I wanted more”
Some of their waters are federally managed and others are managed by private clubs that still allow public access. These clubs are not easy to join, and new members need to be men¬tored for several years by existing members as well as pass a very rigorous test that covers fishing techniques, fish handling, biol¬ogy, conservation, and high-level aquatic entomology.
These clubs have a fair degree of autonomy in how they manage their waters and both the federal managers and club managers will plant some of their waters in addition to manag¬ing their wild trout resources. Access laws are very liberal and all rivers have 6 to 12-meters of open riparian access and anglers can also cross private property to reach their elected sections of rivers.
Licensing, however, is relatively expensive averaging 30 to 80 Euros per per¬son per day for residents and non-residents alike - and somewhat complicated. (Fly Water Travel guests need not worry, as our guide teams take care of these details).
Each section of river can also have its own specific reg¬ulations. In some sections, anglers can buy a more expensive license and harvest one or two fish and other sections might be managed as full wild-fish sanctuaries with year-round no-kill regulations. It is also worth noting that fishing two flies is rarely if ever legal in Slovenia and some systems don’t allow additional weight or indicators.
The elusive marble trout
In addition to beautiful freestone sight fishing for multiple species of trout, Slovenia offers another truly unique opportunity; a chance to catch the rare indigenous marble trout (salmo mar¬moratus).
Marble trout are close relatives of the brown trout and are found in only a handful of Adriatic basin drainages. While marble trout can be found in a small region of Italy, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, Slovenia is their greatest stronghold. In the 1960’s marble trout were almost lost altogether due to overfishing, hybridization, and competition from non-native species.
Luckily, several genetically pure strains were found in some nearly-inaccessible tributaries of the Soca River valley in Slovenia.
With the help of the Tolmin Anglers Society (one of the private angling clubs) they were propagated in hatcheries and re-introduced to their native range and are once again thriving.
Marble trout are like big vermiculated brown trout that often prefer lazy lies and have great growth potential. The largest ever caught on rod and reel was from Slovenia and weighed just under 50 pounds! With that said, most specimens are in the 12 to 28inch range and prized by fly anglers lucky enough to land them.
Fly Water Travel is partnered with Slovenia’s premier custom tour provider and we are proud to be their exclusive agent for any and all trips involving fly fishing. Our partners are dialed in beyond compare and are welcomed with smiles and open arms wherever they take our guests. Together we custom build virtually
every trip depending on the size of the group, preferred dates, and most importantly, the groups’ specific interests and abilities.
If we want to build a trip that has guests fishing every day or a trip where there is no fishing whatsoever, we can do it. Our sweet spot has been six to nine day trips for couples that integrate two to four days of fishing amongst a variety of other thought¬fully guided activities. On fishing days, dedicated fly fishing guides will be brought in for the anglers and the primary driver/ guide will make sure that the other travelers have en¬riching activities planned suited to their desires. To date, this program has worked so well that many anglers have actually been thanked by their travel companions for going fishing!
“Marble trout are like big vermiculated brown trout that often prefer lazy lies”
What is most remarkable is the depth and breadth of the activities available for our travelers. If our guests are interested in easy walking, food, wine, and architecture, we build their trip accordingly. If guests are into lite hiking, waterfalls, alpine vistas, and photography, no problem. And if guests want to dig deep into adventure and multi-sport activities, we offer a vast menu of options including alpine hiking, cycling, whitewater boating, via ferrata climbing, canyoneering, and even sailing. In the winter months we can even set up trips with resort or off-piste skiing coupled with fishing for large huchen.
Private parties of two are typically picked up at the airport by their driver/primary guide in a Tesla and larger groups by a new Mercedes van. Vehicles are equipped with their own wi-fi hotspot for convenience. Often guests’ first night will be spent in Ljubljana. If guests arrive early enough, an afternoon walking, culture, and food tour of this charming capital city will be con¬ducted by a special guide followed by a great dinner out with your primary guide. Your primary guide will be with you throughout the course of your trip and a range of specialty guides will be inte¬grated as dictated by your itinerary and interests. We give our guides ultimate freedom in deciding where our guests fish so they can factor in current conditions, skill, and mobility.
Best yet, you will not need to bring flies, waders, or tackle on your trip unless you wish to, as they provide all needed gear as part of our package price.
Travel: While most of our guests fly into the capital city of Ljubljana (LJU), guests may also choose to travel through Trieste (TRS) or Venice (VCE), Italy, Vienna (VIE), Austria, or Zagreb (ZAG), Croatia.
Season: Year-round with prime fishing windows in May to June and September to October.
Capacity: Eight anglers with unlimited travel companions.
Essential Tackle: A moderate action 9 ft. 5-weight rod with a floating line.
Top Flies: Small heavy bead-head nymphs and assorted emergers.
Rates: Trips average $850 to $1,000 per person per day and tend to cost less as group sizes increase.
Booking Information: For additional information or to make a reservation please call 800-552-2729 or send an email to:
Trout fishing in Dalarna
The great grayling fishing in Älvdalen draws fly fishers from all over Sweden, but many remain unaware that the area also offers excellent trout fishing. Älvdalen is Swedish and literally means, ”The valley of rivers”.By STEFAN LARSSON Images by STEFAN LARSSON and AHREX HOOKS
When it comes to my home water, Österdaläven, it’s mostly known for its large population of grayling, which, as we all know, is a great fish to chase with the fly rod. Also, they are quite willing to rise to a well-presented dry fly, which most fly fishers appreciate. The excellent grayling fishing has pushed the trout a bit in the background. The trout population has been under pressure by a big dam and timber rafting. However, they have survived, and the population has grown strong and offers high-quality fishing.
Österdalälven is a wide, shallow river, mainly with gravel and rocks on the bottom. This makes it very easy to wade, but even so, you must of course respect the water and wade carefully. Casting shadows that spook the trout is another reason to wade with caution. If you want to succeed in catching a trout in Österdalälven, time is the keyword. It takes a good measure of patience, planning and caution. It’s so tempting to walk right out as soon as you spot a rise, but if you do, most often it’s over before it even began.
Instead, it’s a waiting game - observe one more rise and then another one. Stalk softly as you approach the fish - sneak up on it. Maybe wading isn’t even necessary. If you avoid spooking the trout, it might move so you can reach it from the bank.
ways have their heads against the current, and if you approach from downstream and wade carefully, you can get quite close to a feeding trout. The fewer casts you need, the less risk of spooking the fish with a bad cast.
Gear for small flies
Careless wading drastically reduces your chances of good fishing. Too often I see fly fishers wade out in the middle of the river to a spot that looks good, seen from the bank. I can guarantee that every single trout within 100 meters is spooked and gone before the fly fisher even sees it. I live by and guide on the river, so I have more hours on the river than most, but I’m also convinced that most make more casts than I do. I cast only when I know what I’m casting to.
As on most waters, upstream casting is the golden rule. Trout al-
The river has a rich insect fauna, yet it’s dominated by the smaller species. Apart from the Yellow May Dun hatch (size 12-14) I rarely fish anything larger than a size 16. There’s also a caddis that is best imitated in size 12-14 hooks, and that can be the right fly on certain days. However, the smaller mayflies dominate the insect fauna in the river. Small flies mean thin and long leaders, especially when targeting these spooky trout. 11-12’ leaders with 0,12 and 0,14mm tippet.
Plenty of insects
The river is rich with both mayflies and caddis and that means that season and time of day play an important role in when we should choose to fish.
“Sometimes just casting the wrong fly is enough to spook a trout”
During the early summer, the table is set well and trout are far from selective eating almost anything that comes by. In June, almost all species hatch at the same time and that sometimes complicates the choice of fly, but then again, no one ever said it would be easy.
Even though day fishing in June can be good, my recommendation is to concentrate your efforts on mornings and evenings. In the morning, the trout are sometimes surprisingly close to shore in shallow water, carefully sipping on the early hatches or spinners from the night before. On these occasions, the trout can be notoriously difficult, so it’s imperative to stay calm and take a close look at what they are feeding on. Sometimes just casting the wrong fly is enough to spook a trout. Their behaviour can be much the same during the evening, but the caddis hatch that often occurs here makes them a little easier to catch. Caddis present a proper mouthful for a trout, and sometimes they forget how spooky they really are.
Streamers in the night
July is the hottest month of the year and fly fishers should simply sleep in and relax during the day. More than ever it’s evident that trout simply do what they can to avoid the sunlight in the clear water. But what about streamers - can you catch the bigger trout in the river on a streamer? Of course, but it takes an effort to find the large “meat eaters”. The right time to tie on a streamer is usually when the sun sets behind the forest. Yet sometimes you have to fish all the way into the middle of the night before trout start feeding. They are less spooky in the dark and when feeding they can cover quite large areas. And sometimes they will enter quite shallow water. Make sure your boots are tied well, because you can expect to stumble every now and then in the dark.
Rotälven - a paradise
Just to the north of Älvdalen, the smaller Rotälven branches off with its swift currents. This forest river has its spring several smiles further up the mountains and then tumbles down through cliffs and gorg-
es before entering the valley. Cliffs, rocks, and gravel provide a fitting summary of a long stretch of this little river. There are plenty of trout, but they are smaller than those in Österdalälven. This is not the river to visit for trophy trout, but for the exquisite, beautiful wilderness, where you become aware of how small a part of the bigger machinery you really are. The beautiful surroundings often take my attention off the fishing.
Trout that hook themselves
Rotälven flows fast through the valley. The river is shallow and runs over patches of gravel and often there’s only room for one fly fisher. If two venture up, the best practice is to take turns on the fish. Taking turns is a great way of fishing. You can learn from watching others. And sharing the experience with your best friend makes for a perfect day.
The fishing requires many, short casts in the fast current and several eager anglers have missed the first 15 strikes in these waters.
The fishing demands your full attention and losing your attention for just a second will result in missed fish. The trout in these fast mountain waters are used to reacting in a flash. They must in order to stand even the slightest chance of catching their prey. This often results in the angler striking way too fast trying to hook the fish.
The best tactic is to take it easy. As the trout turns on the surface after grabbing the fly, it’s almost upside down already and turns immediately toward the bottom again. This means that, as the fish returns to its lie, 3 out of 4 will hook themselves so long as the fly fisher keeps contact with the fly. Usually, it’s enough to slowly raise the rod tip to tighten the line. If we pull back as fast as the trout turns, the result will be a missed fish.
free drift in the small, fast currents. I recommend a 9’ leader instead. A handful or two of CDC ’n’ Elk, some small Baetis-imitations in sizes 1824 and a small handful of Yellow May Duns is fine for the season.
A lot to discover
There are other waters in the area around Älvdalen too. If you drive out the gravel road to the west of the small village and carry on for a while, you reach Vanån and Tennån. These small rivers are different to the ones on the north side of the valley. Small and slow, these rivers work their way through ancient, deep forests and bog areas and glides with swift water quickly change to slow water with small pools.
As in Österdalälven the small flies should be fished on thin tippets, but you rarely need a particularly long leader. A long leader can “hang” in the swirls and be counterproductive in terms of presenting a drag-
Vanån and Tennån are even smaller than Rotälven and hold a good population of trout. Although generally smaller, every now and then a real trophy trout is caught. Because the rivers are slow, and because of the landscape they pass through, there are parts with sandy bottom and here, the big mayfly, the Danica, thrive.
The Danica is completely absent in the other rivers and streams. Apart from the Danica, which hatches for a couple of weeks in the middle of June, the insect fauna is the same as on the other rivers and streams. The caddis tend to be bigger and darker in colour, though.
Trout fishing in these areas is difficult and demanding on the fly fisher. I’m not referring to Iron Man stamina or extreme distance casting skills. No, common sense and a good deal of patience is what’s required. Jumping about and casting here and there leads to nothing. Observe the trout and learn from their behaviour. Have a chat with them and learn about their life in the river.
If you can sit down and have a chat with a trout for an hour or two, without taking a cast, you can make your approach and figure out how to catch it. Difficult? No, not always. Now and then the fishing is just as simple and straight forward as you sometimes hope for. So why not consider visiting us already this summer? I can promise that we’ll take good care of you.
Älvdalens Fiskecenter, fly shop and guide service. Situated in the small town of Älvdalen, on the river
Österdalälven in central Sweden.
Fly fishing for trout and grayling.
Main season, May – September.
The Brand Buffet
Field-tested: WATERWORKS-LAMSON CENTERFIRE
On our recent trips to Farquhar and Cosmoledo, we had the chance to test the new CenterFire reels from Waterworks-Lamson. They come in 8, 10, and 12-weights in both non- and full frame versions. The full frame versions will be absolutely killer for Atlantic salmon, seatrout, and steelhead - but we tested the reels against some of the most powerful fish in the Indian Ocean; giant trevally, bumphead parrotfish, triggerfish, and milkfish. All we can say is, WOW! These reels are easy on the eyes, well-designed, and – most importantly – the drag system really impresses. It is silky smooth, and you can really crank down on fish that need to be stopped – before reaching a coral bommie or a reef edge? Two weeks of testing these reels in the harshest imaginable conditions went by without any issues, and we’re looking forward to taking these bullet proof reels with us on future saltwater expeditions.
For more info: www.waterworks-lamson.com or visit the website of the European dealer here: www.flyfisheurope.com/ww-l/
Gore-Tex Waders: GRUNDÉNS BOUNDARY WADER COLLECTION
The all new Grundéns Boundary Wader Collection is designed and engineered with GORE-TEX Pro Wader Laminate to give you unparalleled freedom of movement both in and out the water. Grundéns rethought how a wader should be built, removing seams in the usual high wear areas, taking inspiration from how a climbing harness is built to create a highly comfortable suspender system and included a dual density, anatomically shaped neoprene stocking foot constructed with two innovative titanium coating layers that reflect body heat back to your feet for cold water comfort and warmth. For more info, please refer to: www.grundens.com
Field-tested: BAJÍO PALOMETA SUNGLASSES
We’ve recently returned from Cosmoledo Atoll and, while there, had the chance to test the new Palometa sunglasses from Bajío. Many of the guides, apparently, were already diehard Bajío fans, so we were eager to see what all the rave was about. The Palometa sunglasses were incredibly comfortable to wear, blocked out false light, and provided crisp polarization that made it easier than ever to spot fish on the shimmering flats. Overall, we were super-impressed with the build, ergonomics, clarity, and comfort of these sunglasses –and the Rose Mirror Glass that we’d opted for was perfect for the semicloudy days and varying light conditions we experienced. For more info, please refer to the European dealer: www.flyfisheurope.com/bajio/
Fly Tying: FLYSKINZ SHRIMP BITS
Easily add all the shrimp appendages you need for your shrimp patterns with the Shrimp Bits from FlySkinz. They’re super easy and fun to use, and you can colour them any way you like to imitate the shrimp – and not least crawfish – that are prevalent in your local river or lake. Each pack contains 6 pieces of Bitz, and more information can be found by visiting: www.flyskinz.com
Bajío: PARAISO SUNGLASSES
A thoroughly modern look with an old school accent, these hip shades combine styling cues from a classic pair of specs with crystal-clear, optimized optics and sun protection from the interior sunshield. Polarized, color-enhancing, high definition lenses with Bajío’s proprietary LAPIS™ technology reduce glare, enhance color, and diminish fatiguing blue light, leading to less eye strain and the ability to see more fish, more easily. For more info: www.bajiosunglasses.com
The Brand Buffet
Book release: TROUT AND SALMON OF THE GENUS SALMO
If you’re a trout and salmon nut like we are, Johannes Schöffmann’s book, Trout and Salmon of the Genus Salmo, will be right up your alley. It’s not a fly fishing book, but a fascinating point of entry into the world of trout, char, and salmon. It is a well-organized encyclopedic work that encompasses the evolutionary history of the world’s salmonids, their geographical distribution, and phenotypical traits. It’s a fascinating read – and you’ll be surprised at all the things you didn’t know about trout and salmon. You can find the book here: https://fisheries.org/bookstore/
SA Headway : SHOOTING BELLIES AND TIPS FOR ATLANTIC SALMON
Fly Tying: REGAL IN CUSTOM COLOURS
Regal vises have been our go-to vises for a long time. And we’re excited to see that Regal have now launched a custom colour program – with matching Tool Bars. We’ve gotten our hands on a Royal Blue Signature Series Vise with aluminum jaws for nitty-gritty featherwork but there other cool colours to choose from, for instance; rustic pine, orange ember, hot rod red, and ultra-violet. European distributor, Flyfish Europe, stocks the full range, and it can be found via the following link: www.flyfisheurope.com/regal/
So, during Autumn 2022 we got the chance to participate in the final testing phase of the Headway shooting head and tip range from Scientific Anglers and Flyfish Europe. Now, the lines are finally here – ready for the upcoming salmon season. The range features four bellies in three different densities (float, intermediate, and sink3) along with four tips in five different densities (float, intermediate, sink3, sink5, and sink7). For dredging pools or speed-fishing the depths, these also a corresponding range of sink8 T-tips. The whole range of bellies and tips is so seamlessly made, and the tapers so expertly designed that it takes practical double-handed fly casting to new heights. We were incredibly impressed when we tested them and can’t wait to fish the line-system this summer. For more info: www.flyfisheurope.com/sa/
Fly Tying: LONE BISON HERITAGE FLY TYING STATION
The HERITAGE features a very user friendly, modular design. It consists of a tool island on the right front detachable from the base in order for the tyer to place their most used tools in a more convenient place. The lower tool bar has been configured to specifically hold glue bottles, hardeners, UV Gel bottles, etc. It also may be removed for the convenience of the tyer. Removal of these two key pieces allows for the tying space to ”open up” while placing the modular pieces to the side where they may be more convenient for individual tyers ultimate comfort. When needed, both pieces firmly re-attach to the base with specifically placed magnets that hold the toolbars firmly in place. Most importantly, a vise clamping device has been securely mounted under the vise bar. For more information, please refer to: https://lonebisonflytables.com
Superflies: THE EXTREMES
Atlantic Salmon are picky creatures, and sometimes you need to try the extremes in order to catch one, ie. either dredging the bottom or skating flies. Finnish fly manufacturer, Superflies, have just what you need. Their new Kursk flies are expertly tied and sink like a bullet, and we’ve seen first-hand how deadly they can be during the summer months. The Surfilautas, on the other hand, are made for surface fishing, and they skate beautifully making a highly visible V-shaped wake that will get lethargic late-summer fish on their fins. (Also, they’re known to catch BIG seatrout). For Superflies’ full range, please visit: https://www.superflies.com
The Brand Buffet
Simms Fishing: G4 POWERLOCK BOOTS
According to Simms, the new G4 Pro Powerlock is the most advanced wading boot on the water. The G4 PRO Powerlock Boot offers supreme durability and superior grip thanks to state-of-the-art materials working in lockstep with the new Powerlock cleat system for on-the-fly traction customization. The boots feature: Waterproof synthetic Lorenzi scratch leather upper combined with waterproof synthetic mesh for longterm durability, partial neoprene lining for comfort and easy don/doff, laser-cut fabric eye stays allow fine-tune adjustments across the top of the foot and provide reliable durability, and a molded TPU heel counter for comfort and in-stream ankle support. For more info, please visit the European dealer, Flyfish Europe: www.flyfisheurope.com/simms/
Simms Fishing: RIVERKIT WADER TOTE
The compact, gear wrangling Riverkit Wader Tote keeps waders, boots and raingear — wet or dry — in check and always at the ready. It features heavy-duty 600D Polyester fabric with backside PU coating that is water resistant and durable, breathable mesh panels that allow for ventilation when wet gear is stowed inside, a padded lid that doubles as a folddown changing mat, a large accessory pocket that includes internal key clip, and dual grab handles that allow for in-hand or over-the-shoulder carry. For more info, please refer to the European dealer, Flyfish Europe: www.flyfisheurope.com/simms/
Flymen Fishing Co: SHRIMP TAIL GOTCHA
FLY TYING KIT
This modern fly uses the innovative Fish-Skull® Shrimp & Cray Tail - a stainless steel weight molded in the shape of crustacean tails - instead of with bead chain eyes. Quick and easy for beginners to tie, the Shrimp Tail Gotcha is a simple and effective fly to catch bonefish and other saltwater species. The Fly Tying Kit contains everything you need to tie 8 Shrimp Tail Gotcha flies, including step-by-step tying instructions, to make it easy for you to get your hands on the various needed fly tying materials all in one place. For more info: www.flymenfishingcompany.com
RepYourWater : SUN SHIRTS AND HOODIES
Heading into the warmer months, RepYourWater will be adding to their Sun Shirts and Hoodies lineup. With two functional and comfortable fabrics to choose from, no angler can go wrong. The 100% recycled polyester gives second life to plastic bottles, making these sun shirts and sun hoodies a perfect fishing shirt. They are incredibly light for the hottest days on a high mountain stream or out on the flats, they are rated UPF 50+, and the ultralight fabric dries quickly in the majority of conditions. For more info, please visit: www.repyourwater.com
VR Design: TRUTTA PERFETTA FLY REEL
Fly fishing is a beautiful sport, and the aesthetics involved are an important part of its attraction. As a result, we’re also drawn to beautiful tackle, tailormade details, and the use of eye-catching, high-quality materials. When we first saw VR Design’s new Trutta Perfetta model, we went and got one – just for the sheer looks of this beautifully hand-crafted gem. The reel is well constructed with the best aerospace grade bar stock aluminum, an asymmetrical pawl system, a textured palming rim, and a timelessly simplistic design. The reel is absolutely gorgeous. It comes in an elegant protective leather case with a drawstring closure and it is available in two different sizes that are perfect for European trout and grayling fishing. The reels are made in Germany by Ukrainian craftsman, Vlad Rachenko – and the full reel range can be found here: www.vr-reels.com
FLY TYING The
As the name suggests and the fly does with great effect, this is an attractor pattern, that over the years has been wrongly attributed to Randall Kaufmann. The true originator of this internationally praised pattern is Jim Slattery, owner of Campfire Lodge Resort in West Yellowstone, Montana and Jim’s Fly Co, on the shore of the beautiful Madison river.By BARRY ORD CLARKE
The Stimulator is aptly named and embedded with meaning – a fly that ‘causes and encourages a given response’.
Originally designed to imitate a giant stonefly, but will fish just as well as a hopper or large caddis fly. This well dressed pattern is for fishing rough fast flowing water, where it can be seen easily at distance and it floats like a cork. Stimulators are versatile, and although look difficult to tie, again, it’s all about proportions! By varying the size and colour, you can imitate most adult stoneflies. The stimulator can also be tied with rubber legs, like a Madam X, to give that extra attractor factor.
When fished, the stimulator will bring even the most lethargic fish up to the top, when most other patterns will fail! Use the same presentation as a caddis fly, stripping it across the surface, especially in windswept broken surface.
Hook: Mustad curved nymph # 6 -12
Tail: Elk hair
Body: Golden yellow Antron floss
Body Hackle: Golden Badger or Furnace
Wing: Elk hair and crystal
hair fibers Dubbing
Thorax: Golden Stone dubbing
Secure your curved nymph/ terrestrial hook in the vice.
Run the tying thread along the hook shank until it hangs level with the barb of the hook.
Cut and clean a small small bunch of elk hair in for the tail, this doesn’t flare as much as winter deer hair. Tie in directly above the hook barb.
Tie the elk hair down along the hook shank as shown. This will give you a good foundation and volume for your floss body.
Tie in the hackle at the base of the tail. The best is to use a good saddle hackle so you have the volume required.
About one third of the way along the hook shank tie in a length of golden yellow Antron floss.
Run the floss back towards the tail base and forward again building up a tapered body as you go. Tie off the floss.
Wind the hackle, palmered style, about seven or eight even turns. When you reach the thorax, tie off and remove the excess hackle.
Before you tie in the elk hair wing, tie in two or three strands of golden yellow crystal hair.
Step 10 Step 11 Step 12
Cut another bunch of elk hair, this time a little larger for the wing. Before you stack it be sure to remove ALL the under fur and shorter hairs. You may have to stack it a few times to achieve this.
If you stack the elk hair for the wing in a small diameter stacker the hair will ‘fall’ into its natural curve.
Now tie in the elk hair, first with a couple of loose turns of tying thread and then tighter as you wind forward towards the hook eye. Trim off the excess deer hair and cover the butt ends with tying thread.
Prepare and tie in a grizzle cock hackle at the base of the wing. This hackle should be long enough for six or seven turns.
Step 14 Step 15
Dub the thorax with golden stone dubbing in a cone shape as shown. Make sure that you make a few turns of dubbing around the base of the wing, this will lower it and give the correct profile.
Wind on your grizzle hackle in nice even turns. Tie off and whip finish.
Your completed stimulator!
The Veteran Newcomer in Gore-Tex Waders
Grundéns have been a central player in the commercial fishing industry for nearly a century, making fishing garments and apparel for the most demanding conditions out there. The Swedish company is now poised to launch it’s brand new range of GoreTex waders made specifically for fly fishermen.By THE EDITORIAL STAFF
Many fly fishermen aren’t yet familiar with Grundéns. Can you tell us a little bit about, who Grundéns are?
Grundens began nearly 100 years ago on the west coast of Sweden, in the small fishing village of Grundsund when Carl A. Grundén began producing waterproof oil skins to protect North Sea fisherman from the hostile weather that often accompanied their jobs.
A lot has changed since Carl started making waterproof oil skins but our commitment to equiping and supporting fisherman has remained consistent since 1926, and the trust we’ve built over all those years is the impetus to continue seeking ways to improve our product offering and how we act as a company. We remain steadfast in our dedication to solving the needs of all anglers around the world which is why our launch into the fly space has been such an important focus for the brand. Our brand statement is “We Are Fishing” so the launch of our new Boundary GORE-TEX wader and Boundary wading boot enables us to live up to the idea that we are able to equip all anglers regardless of the type of fishing they do.
What is the philosophy behind the brand?
We believe that fishing feeds all of us, both physically and emotionally. At its core, fishing is about respect for nature, a sense of freedom, tackling the un-
known, and experiencing the life lessons that prepare us for the future.
Fishing is not only an opportunity to connect with each other; it’s an opportunity to connect with something bigger than ourselves. We also believe that continuing to use our strength as a business to help protect and maintain sustainable fisheries around the world is critical to the long term success of the entire industry.
You’ll see our commitment to the environemt demonstrated through programs such as our partnership Net Your Problem who recycle fishing nets into usable materials like Econyl which we use in our Net Sourced product line, switching to 100% compostable packagaing and supporting non-profit partners such as Cast Hope and Captains for Clean water.
How did the idea about transitioning into fly fishing apparel come about?
Grundens has been focusing on expanding our brand into Sportfishing over the past 7-8 years. Our Outerwear and Footwear categories have seen significant product launches for fresh- and saltwater focused styles over the past few years. Our retailer base has seen really strong success with our brand in both these markets, and the requests from retailers for a wader from Grundens became more and more frequent over the past 2 years.
We have had waders and wading specific outerwear on our long range innovation radar for a number of years, but the increased dealer and consumer requests became a driving force for us to initiate this project and align R&D / Product Development resources to make the Wading project a reality.
Grundéns is a Swedish company with production facilities in Europe. What are your strengths compared to other producers of fly fishing apparel? We have been manufacturing Grudens rainwear in our Portugal factory for 50 years. In fact we just celebrated the Portugal facilities 50thanniversary back in December 2022. Most of our PVC Commercial Fishing products are produced in this facility. Owning our own factory gives us a competitive advantage in the ability to control all aspects of the manufacturing process, which allow us to ensure the highest qualities and be nimble to meet customer demand.
Along with production efficiency we also have patternmaking and garment engineering expertise in Portugal that supports our global R&D effort. The manufacturing expertise that we have grown internally at Grundens over the past half century also allows us to be a more efficient and censure our 3rd party vendors follow these same high bench marks. That expertise results in a higher quality and more refined product line for our end users.
Can you lift the vail slightly on how you conceive and develop new fly fishing products?
The Grundens Outerwear & Wader category team at Grundens are all dedicated anglers. By being engaged in a wide range of fishing, including fly fishing, it makes our jobs easier when we need to dive in deep with a retail partner or brand ambassador to glean insights into the market’s needs for new wading collection. We start every new project with the “Who and Why”; specifically diving into the question: “Who are we building this product or collection for, and why do they need this from Grundens?”. Really focusing in answering these questions up stream in the R&D process ensures meaningful inputs and decisions earlier in the process.
moved to designing via prototype early in the development phase. With our Head quarters based on the shores of the Puget Sound it enables us to test equipment year round and in all conditions. The team was able to test very early prototypes which helped inform design concepts and significant functional improvements for the wading angler.
We’re keen to learn more about your launch of Gore-Tex waders. What can you tell us about your collaboration with Gore-Tex and your new waders range?
The Grundens and Gore-Tex® partnership started back in 2019 with the launch of our Gore-Tex® Outerwear collection. The team at WL Gore was excited to bring Grundens on as a partner and licensee. We rely heavily on the Fitness for Use testing that Gore-Tex® uses to evaluate every waterproof/breathable laminate option that is available in the collection of raw materials we work with. Working with Gore-Tex® allows us to proceed with confidence that any garment we design and develop in partnership with Gore-Tex® will perform in the worst fishing conditions that an angler could possibly face on the water.
We embrace a “fail fast to succeed sooner” mindset on the wader project, and
The decision to partner with GoreTex® for this wader launch was super easy.
We wanted to build on the success of our existing Gore-Tex® outerwear line, and extend the Grundens brand into the Specialty Fly retail channel that already values the performance benefits and durability track record of Gore-Tex® garments.
At the end of the day, the angler will be the one to make the decision on their next wader purchase. Partnering with GoreTex® as an ingredient brand is one of the many ways that we build confidence at the consumer level in Grundens products.
What other Grundéns products should fly fishermen keep an eye out for in the future?
We have a robust product roadmap to support Grundens’ push into the Specialty Fly market, and a desire to approach every single one of those product development projects with the R&D rigor of the wader project. In the immediate future, you’ll see a bag & pack project that launches this Spring that brings angler centric features into the waterproof bag market. Beyond that, there is the obvious move for us to introduce wading specific outerwear.
A number of our existing GoreTex® Outerwear styles have wading features pre-built into them, like self-draining pockets. But, there is still room for us to offer innovation in outerwear that spends a good majority of the day submerged in a river.
As far as specifics go… we’ll continue to listen to our retailers, ambassadors, and consumers for direct input into the “Who and Why” for future product extensions that make sense in the market and offer angling innovation for consumers, retailers and Grundens.
How can our readers stay in the loop with regards to new product launches and brand efforts?
The easiest way for readers to stay in the loop is to sign up for our weekly e-newsletters by visiting www.Grundens.com (you’ll also qualify for 20% off your first purchase when you sign up!) and by following us on Instagram. We know In the Loop readers are dedicated anglers and we’d love to share your stories, so please tag us in your social media posts so we can share your story with the rest of our community.
EDITOR’S THE VIDEO CHOSEN
GT HUNT | EXCLUSIVE FLY FISHING FOR GIANT TREVALLY IN REMOTE COSMOLEDO ATOLLBy BLACK FLY EYES
It’s almost become a tradition that once in a year we are traveling to Seychelles, and it’s outer atolls with the Alphonse Fishing Company. This time we had a blast fishing the wild COSMOLEDO atoll known as GT capital of the world. Already, the first day of fishing blew our minds “geets” were everywhere and lots of em. Brutal fly eats, broken fly lines, screaming reels and solid bent rods was the real power test for our tackle. We had pretty similar “full action” fishing for other species throughout the week while hunting GT’s. Our COSMO trip was just on fire!
As anglers, we see the
INSTINCTIVE PERFORMANCE DEFINITIVE STYLE
Matt Harris is an award-winning professional photographer and journalist who has travelled to over 40 countries chasing some of the biggest and wildest fish in the world with a fly rod.
Matt has regularly contributed to “In the Loop” since its inception. Now, some of Matt’s most extraordinary adventures are showcased in “The Fish of a Lifetime”, a beautiful new large-format 656-page book, featuring stories from all around the world and illustrated with hundreds of Matt’s high-resolution images exquisitely printed in full colour.
“In the Loop” sat down to discuss what went into producing the book…By THE EDITORIAL STAFF Pictures by MATT HARRIS
In the Loop (ITL): Matt, first things first - how did you originally become a fisherman?
Matt Harris (MH): Well, as I outline in the book’s first chapter, my love affair with fishing started when I was a snot-nosed kid of barely seven years old, drowning worms with my mate Ian in a tiny river full of old bicycle frames and shopping trollies in the west London suburbs. We had no mentor to tutor us and our tackle was excruciatingly crude, but somehow I caught a small perch on my third trip and I instantly fell in love with the sport, an obsession that has stayed with me to this day.
ITL: So how did you discover fly fishing?
MH: Haha! Well, I actually came late to fly fishing. I was well into my twenties, and I literally stumbled across it. I was walking around a reservoir one afternoon grabbing some much-needed fresh air to break up a long car journey from Cornwall in the southwest of England back to my home in London.
I spotted trout rising far out in the glassy water, and a fly fisherman was casting to them, but struggling to achieve the required distance. The fish stayed tantalisingly out of range, but finally, a trout rose closer in, and the angler placed a dry fly just ahead of him. I watched entranced as the fish rose and the fisherman triumphantly set the hook. Compared to the coarse fishing I had grown up with, the act of casting a fly line to target rising fish - along with the lack of cumbersome kit and the mobility it allowed - all looked ridiculously cool and impossibly seductive.
I rushed home, bought a “Beginners” outfit and almost ran to my local Reservoir, Barn Elms in west London, where I subsequently thrashed around like an idiot and caught precisely nothing.
Luckily, an amiable “brother of the angle” named Rod Tye took pity on me and patiently taught me how to cast.
With Rod’s help, I was soon playing my first trout caught on the fly.
Rod, a talented fisherman and a brilliant fly-tyer tragically died from cancer a few years ago, but I will always be hugely grateful to him. I’ll always remember him as a very generous kindred spirit who took time out to help me and start me out on a lifelong passion.
ITL: So how did you come to mix your passion for fishing with your professional work as a photographer?
MH: Well, at around the same time as I was discovering fly fishing I was forging a career photographing babies and young children, working on advertising campaigns and packaging projects for numerous blue-chip clients across the world. I built a great team around me, and I started to accumulate a number of awards for my images and get relentlessly busy. I loved my work - getting a smile out of a baby is a lot like permit fishing!!! However, every photographer knows the maxim “never work with children or animals”, and every day presented a pressure-cooker environment of mayhem and stress.
Fly fishing provided the perfect antidote to all the chaos and bedlam, and I found myself more and more drawn to exploring the world with my fly rod to recharge after long, crazy days in the studio.
ITL: What was your first international destination fishing trip?
MH: Well, while in hospital recovering from a knee operation, my wife Cath bought me a bunch of fly-fishing magazines and brochures. As I waded through them, I was struck by the notion that I could do better.
As soon as I was back in my office. I phoned Christopher Robinson, the then CEO at UK outfitters Roxtons, and asked him if we might work together. Christopher was less than enthusiastic - he apparently got calls like this all the time from ‘chancers’ hoping to get some free fishing. I interrupted him and simply asked if I could send him some images to look at. He called back two days after that, and a fortnight later, I was on the banks of the Rio Grande in Tierra del Fuego.
Christopher loved the images that I came home with, and the articles I placed in various magazines, showcasing the Rio Grande’s magical sea trout fishing. Commissions from Roxtons and many others followed thick and fast. Simon Gawesworth reached out regularly from RIO, and my images were used to advertise numerous famous brands including Hardy, Maui Jim, Simms, Orvis, Patagonia, Airflo and many others. I also started to shoot images regularly for lodges and outfitters and started to write and illustrate articles for magazines all around the world.
ITL: The book is a huge project. How did you find the time to put it together?
MH: Well, the short answer is COVID. When we started to experience the lockdowns during the early stage of the pandemic, I realised that my regular work, whether it be photographing kids or flyfishing, was simply not going to be possible. Many friends had been urging me to put together a book featuring the stories and images compiled during my
travels, and finally experiencing the rare luxury of having some time on my hands, I thought that there would never be a better time to do it.
ITL: The book is beautifully designed. Who designed it?
MH: Haha! I did!
I spoke to a very talented friend who is an internationally renowned designer, and he said that he would be happy to design the book. He put together a number of designs that were all beautiful, but they weren’t quite how I wanted the book to be. I had a very singular vision for how I wanted the book to look and I came to realise that I wouldn’t be completely happy unless I did the job myself. I had a rough idea what to do - I had completed a Graphic Design degree in the late 80’s, so I got to work. I spent the first COVID lockdown learning how to use the industry standard graphic design software - Adobe Indesign - and with technical guidance from the excellent Mark Cowling at Tweed Media, I came up with a design that I was really happy with.
Mark helped to make it absolutely print-ready, and I am thrilled with the result.
ITL: The book is full of adventures from all around the world. Any scary incidents or especially memorable moments?
MH: Haha! Yes. As I outline in the book, I’ve experienced a few white-knuckle rides into some of the world’s remotest spots, bouncing around in countless helicopters, tiny single-prop aircraft, and comically unstable dugout log canoes. I’ve been rescued by the coastguard at 3 am from a little centre console boat bobbing wildly in a violent tropical storm in the Florida Keys; I’ve hidden underwater from a savage swarm of enraged hornets in the Brazilian jungle till I thought my lungs would burst; and I’ve been swept into a terrifying rapid on the brutal, ice-cold Yokanga before somehow swimming ashore, where my dear friend and guide Vova Moisayev scolded me for still having my rod in my hand before saving me from hypothermia by somehow
building a fire on the snowy banks of the river.
It’s not all been scary stuff - I’ve also watched the aurora borealis paint its magic across the Northern skies, forced down Mongolian vodka made from mare’s milk, and laughed till the tears rolled down my face after my friend Steve Edge and I tricked a mate into battling with a large plastic bucket for nearly 40 long minutes in the belief that he had hooked a huge but uncharacteristically dour marlin off Madeira.
ITL: What’s the most enjoyable element of your trips?
Well, of course, catching big fish in beautiful remote settings is right up there, but undoubtedly the most special element of my adventures is the countless wonderful people I’ve encountered on my travels.
I have had the privilege to meet kindred spirits from all over the world, and have made many life-long friends that share my unquenchable passion for our sport.
I’ve fished with Yanomami and Chimané tribesmen in the South American rainforests, the Koriaks of Kamchatka and the Inuits and Sami of the Northern tundra. Fly fishing has brought me together with a host of sparkling characters, and I am grateful to every one of these friends for all the good times that I have spent in their company and the special moments that they have allowed me to share with them. I am particularly grateful to all the guides and ghillies I’ve fished with.
I have shared so many laughs and so many moments of elation and heartbreak with them, and I am indebted to the vast majority of them for their warmth, their humour and their friendship as well as their patient hard graft and guidance, and their occasional moments of genius in extending what is achievable with a fly rod.
ITL: What are your favourite species?
MH: ( Laughs ) Don’t make me choose! I love every species and I love being engrossed in trying to trick the humble chub of my local river Cam
in Cambridge at 4.30 am on a midsummer morning as much as I do pitting my wits against the giant tarpon of the Nicaraguan jungle. However, if pressed, like many of my fishing friends, I do have to admit a special affection for Atlantic salmon.
ITL: What is so special about Atlantic salmon?
MH: Well, to invoke an old cliché, if you know, you know. To briefly put your hands on one of these precious fish, and to sense the extraordinary odyssey that each of these special creatures has been on is one of the most special, life-affirming moments that you can experience with a fishing rod in your hand.
ITL: You are an ambassador for the Atlantic Salmon Trust. What do you think we can do to save our Atlantic salmon?
MH: Haha…well the book is full of crash-bang-wallop accounts of tussles with big fish, but the last chapter is entitled “The River of Ghosts”, and it deals with exactly this subject.
There’s so much we can and must do to stop the destruction of our remaining salmon stocks and their fragile habitat. The Atlantic Salmon Trust do great work providing factual scientific data that helps us to argue our case and fight with facts not opinions to prevent further destruction of the Atlantic salmon and its habitat. This issue is live and one we all have to engage with RIGHT NOW.
If we do not act now, we will leave our grandchildren with nothing more than rivers full of ghosts, where only the spirits of the mighty Atlantic salmon that currently swim up our rivers remain.
I don’t want to die a heartbroken old man, telling my grandchildren about the mighty salmon that once came barrelling up our wild Northern rivers.
and Tarpon Trust, Trout Unlimited and many others, and using the new and burgeoning opportunities for worldwide communication that the internet provides us, we can – we MUST - start to all work together to help fight to change things for the better for all fishermen and women, for the environment, and for the population in general.
We need to do this now. We need to unite to protect ALL of our precious fisheries. We need to do all we can to save the Atlantic salmon and ALL the precious habitat and ALL the wonderful species that we love to target…before it’s too late.
ITL: Couldn’t agree more. So what’s next?
MH: Well, that’s easy! Volume Two of course…
Under the umbrella of global angling organisations like the International Game Fishing Association, The Atlantic Salmon Trust, the Bonefish
There’s only so many species and destinations that you can cram into 656 pages - I’ve caught plenty of species that we just couldn’t fit into Volume One - Mahseer, Striped Bass, Barramundi, Carp, Halibut, Queenfish,
Large and Smallmouth Bass - and yes, more than a few that I haven’t yet caught - Striped Marlin, Bluefin Tuna, Muskie, Brook Trout, Nile Perch, Black Bass, Blue Bastards (!!), Coalfish, Aspe, Yellowcheek Carp, Sea-run Taimen, Yellowfish…
Watch this space!!! Hopefully, I’ll be bringing some new stories to “In the Loop” sometime soon!
ITL: Matt, That’s great!! Look forward to it & thanks so much for sharing!
MH: It’s a pleasure - keep up the great work and thanks so much for the support as always!!
Matt’s book “The Fish of a Lifetime” is now on sale and is shipping worldwide.
You can learn more & buy the book at:
You can see more of Matt’s work at: https://www.mattharrisflyfishing.com/
is not an
Amplitude Titan Big Water Taper
“When it’s time to lock up and hold on, I run SA’s Amplitude Big Water Taper. With 100-lb. monoﬁlament core, nothing gives me a better chance with the reef and an angry Giant Trevally.”- Josh Hutchins, SA Ambassador
Featuring aST plus for superior slickness and
2½ TIMES MORE DURABILITY THAN CLOSEST COMPETITOR
• Specially designed for tropical environments
• Features the revolutionary AST Plus slickness additive for superior shooting ability and increased durability
• High-contrast sighter to identify the back of the line when ﬁghting ﬁsh on long runs
• One size heavy to load quickly and deliver the biggest ﬂies to the furthest targets
• Built on a 100-lb. corescientiﬁcanglers.com
FLY TYING The Ostrich
Flatwings are popular flies for seatrout and other predatory fish. They’re big, lively, and capable of attracting the attention of the biggest fish out there. Danish fly tyer, Morten Hansen, has developed his own take on a flatwing - with a mixture of synthetics and natural materials. And he’s got the mix just right...By MORTEN (COASTFLY) HANSEN
The Ostrich is a pattern developed for seatrout - but I imagine it will do equally well for seabass, mackerel, bonito and other inshore species that have developed an acute taste for baitfish. The fly imitates anything from a sandeel to a sprattus or small herring, and it has all the “flesh” needed to lure even the biggest of predatory fish. The weight of the UV-glue-enforced head makes the fly swim with a jiggy action that really makes the body materials pulsate and shimmer.
Seatrout are opportunistic predators preoccupied with building body mass, and while seatrout eat lots of small prey such as gammarus, mysis, shrimp and other crustaceans, big seatrout tend to focus more and more on baitfish - especially those found along drop offs and in tidal currents. A big baitfish imitation is more likely to make one of these fish react than a small prey item that offers very little in terms of nutrients.
Ultimately, it’s the natural algorithm coded into the seatrout’s genes that makes it favour certain prey items. Prey that represent rewards that are bigger than both the risks and efforts involved, will be favoured.
It all boils down to whether or not the potential amount of energy gained from hunting and eating a certain prey will exceed the amount of energy used during the hunt. At the same time, it provides and explanation to why big flies are way better big-fish attractors than smaller flies. Yes, a small fly will catch a big seatrout if put right in front of it, but a big fish isn’t likely to chase a small fly over a long distance or zoom in on it from a distance. (Furthermore, a small fly is trickier to see from a distance).
The Ostrich is a fly for those who dream of catching a big seatrout but - rest assured - even smaller seatrout will hit it with reckless abandon. Especially during Spring and the warmer summer months. Seatrout are capable of eating surprisingly big prey, and it isn’t unlikely to catch small and medium-sized seatrout with sandeel and herring sticking half-way out of their mouths.
Try the Ostrich on an intermediate line, and don’t be afraid to speed up the retrieve. The fly can be seen from afar, and because it has just the right silhouette, size, and appearance it is bound to attract some attention.
Hook: Ahrex SA280 #4
Thread: Veevus 30D White
Tail: White ostrich herl
Body: STF dubbing White
Sides: Mirage Flash, opal
Back: Olive ostrich herl
Head: UV resin clear and
Eyes: Pro Flexi Eyes 6mm
Start by placing the hook in your vise. In this case a SA280 #4 from Ahrex Hooks.
Make a base layer of tying thread
ain small bundle of White Bucktail on the top of the hook – just before the hook bend.
Tie in a few strands (3-5) of white ostrich herls on the top half of the hook.
Tie in a bundle of aligned white STF Dubbing. Tie in the middle part of the bundle so you have an equal amount of dubbing pointing for- and backwards.
Flip the forward pointing fibers back over on themselves and tie down. This will help distribute the dubbing all the way around the hook. Like a collar of dubbing.
Tie in a few (3-5) white ostrich herls on the top half of the hook, a bit longer than the previous ones.
Tie in a bundle of white stf dubbing the same way as before. Only this time use a little more dubbing. This will help you build op the correct taper.
Tie in two strands of mirage opal flash on each side of the hook. Cut them so they are in different lengths and a bit longer than the ostrich herls.
Tie in a few strands (4-6) of ostrich herls in olive. Again, you want them a tiny bit longer than the previous ones.
Clean up the front of the hook with some wraps of tying thread and make a whip finish.
Apply a very thin coat of UV resin and let it soak into the materials a bit. This way you can determine the shape of the fly before curing it with you UV lamp. Cure when you are happy with the shape.
Apply a drop of UV resin on each side of the fly and place an eye directly on the drop. Then cure the resin with your lamp. This will allow you to get the eyes under control before covering the head.
Apply a drop of fluorescent orange UV resin on the belly of the fly as shown.
Distribute it with your dubbing needle.
Cure the Fluorescent orange resin on the belly.
Coat the head of the fly with a thin layer of clear UV resin.
The best way to get a round and perfect UV resin head on any fly is to keep it moving in the vise. Keep spinning your vise after you’ve covered the head.
Cure the resin while spinning the fly in your vise.
The fly is done. Step 20
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From Olympian Athlete to Conservationist
Former Olympian athlete and professional kayaker, Rok Rozman, now spends considerable time trying to save Europe’s last wild rivers. As a kayaker, and as a biologist and fly fisherman, he has seen numerous rivers across Europe and experienced – first hand – the threats imposed on them. Having grown up in Slovenia, Rok has seen the damage caused to pristine rivers and river habitats by hydropower dams, and with the escalating project-planning and pressure from the hydropower lobby all across the Balkan region (and beyond), Rok has decided that enough is enough.
You’ve been exploring lots of rivers with your kayak. What’s the main allure of combining fly fishing and kayaking?
I would say that the main draw to combining these two great ways to spend time next to the rivers is that it just brings everything to the next level. Kayaking a river first and then fishing it later makes things easier. From a kayak you see all the little pockets and eddies where the fish are hiding and especially feeding. You can find big fish and also learn to understand where exactly to find them.
You also get to see the insect life while paddling, so in that sense you can gain important information about the aquatic life and the environment, territory, and feeding habits of the fish. And when you combine kayaking and fishing into a single day it becomes even more obvious that these are two things worth combining; you can reach many more places with a kayak than you can on foot. It is also super invigorating as you are literally getting adrenaline, ecology, and chess dosage with every minute spent out there. At the end of the day, more incoming information and better spots mean more success in getting our scaly friends in the net.
What are the main advantages of using a kayak when exploring rivers?
A kayak brings you places you could
never be if you’re relying on traditional means of transportation or simply hiking. I feel fortunate to have been able to spend some time in the deepest and most remote canyons of the world. The only way into those magical places is with a kayak - literally, as sometimes these gorges are not even reachable with a helicopter. Of course, we shouldn’t forget about the fun factor. Kayaking is pure fun and thrill, the steeper and harder the whitewater becomes the bigger the adventure.
What does it take to get started kayaking on rivers?
Time, stubbornness, and some skill. There are many different types of rivers you can kayak, fish and kayak-fish on. If you decide to be a kayak angler on a flat and slow river (class I-II rapids) you just need a nice boat (sit-on-top boats work nicely on those) and some pre-gained experience on swift water. Fishing on class II rapids rivers and above demands real whitewater boats with spray decks and full kayaking gear, as well as lots of experience on whitewater, but – nowadays - this can be gained at numerous good kayak schools.
For kayak fishing on rivers with class IV –V rapids you have to be a very experienced kayaker as the risks are much bigger; fast, wild water can be extremely dangerous if you underestimate the force and constant changes to current it involves.
Another important thing is to never do those kinds of trips on your own – kayaking on a higher level is like mountaineering or alpinism – you completely depend on your partner when the going gets tough. So that’s the kayaking part. For the fishing part you guys know what it takes. But believe me; when a fisherman sits in a kayak, he instantly becomes a better fisherman!
How do you typically set up a joint kayaking and fly fishing trip?
If the rivers are easy to kayak, I prefer to go alone. It just makes things more special and magical. When in a group there are other advantages, though, and I am looking forward to seeing more aspiring kayak anglers on the water and enjoy their company.
I get ready in the same way as for a regular kayak trip, I only add the fly fishing rod and reel and the most indispensable pieces of gear in a dry bag inside the stern of my kayak. On top of that, I bring a warm sleeping bag, light air mattress, a tarp instead of a tent, a hammock, some cooking utensils, first aid kit and some schnapps; if you go on a trip down a clear and cold river the good side is that there’s no need to bring the drinking water, just a bit of a disinfectant, haha.
The weight is always an issue when setting out on a multi-day-class IV-V river trip as you want to keep your boat balanced in those demanding rapids; mistakes are something you’ll want to avoid as every swim can mean “game over” for you or - at least - goodbye to your kayak and all the gear inside it.
Having said all that, these multi-day-trips deep in the wilderness really produce unforgettable experiences. These trips are REAL! You are out there on your own, testing your kayaking skills in the most remote corners of the globe while stopping for some casts in eddies that hold fish. If you don’t bring enough food, such trips can also turn into real hunting missions where fish end up on the plate – out of hunger and necessity, and not just some fancy dinner idea.
Do you have any special kayak-fly fishing moments that come to mind?
Oh, there’s quite a few. One of my first trips like that was a 7-day source-tosea descent on the Aoss/Vjosa river, the last big free-flowing river in Europe that slopes from the high Pindus mountains in Greece to the Adriatic sea in Albania.
It was hard work catching fish in its deep canyons with crystal-clear water, especially because I was under pressure to catch some. (I had promised the Balkan Trout Restoration Group to bring some tissue samples for DNA analyses of a catchment never sampled before).
I managed to catch 5 beautiful little trout and I was happier to each of them in my hands than some of the big trophies I’ve caught in the past. The sample (with just 5 individual trout along 80 kilometers of river) was a super small sample but it provided 3 different genetic lineages; fario, dentex
and marmorata, which left all of us in awe – just imagine the diversity of that river!
We even made a film on that topic called “One for the River – The Vjosa Story” which kick-started the fight for last free flowing rivers of Europe in the Balkans and then evolved into Balkan River Defence (https://balkanriverdefence.org). So, a simple kayak trip combined with some fishing has the potential to grow into something big, haha!
You’ve spent considerable amounts of time kayaking and fly fishing the Balkan rivers. Which threats are they facing?
Yes, I’ve been paddling rivers around the world, but I always refer the Balkan pearls with the greatest of joy. The rivers inside this geographically, politically, and culturally diverse area are just that – very diverse. Mostly flowing on top of limestone they are truly special. Sometimes they disappear into unknown underground systems only to reappear on the other side of a mountain as a river with a different name.
Crystal clear, still packed with life and lots of rapids, the Balkan rivers are my great love. They offer the perfect environments for fish and kayakers, but unfortunately also hydro development; from big, tall dams for large scale hydropower plants to super-small hydropower plants that divert whole flows into pipes trough mountains.
So, when I heard that they want to build 3.000 dams in the Balkan region I was shocked. My first reaction was holy f***, then I had a glass of schnapps and then I said: “Well, you can’t just sit down and watch them destroy everything, try and do something!”
So, a very long story (of the past 5 years) short would be something like this; I dropped everything else in life and dove into the project I named “Balkan Rivers Tour”, which proved that river conservation can be rock’n’roll, that everybody can join in and help - no matter prior expertise – and that the outdoor community needs to come together in order to protect the places we love and get so much from.
With the help of my good friends and fellow NGOs in the region, we pulled off the biggest direct action-for-river-protection in Europe in invigorating a tour in 2016 and we are now continuing to do the same every year – expose, prove, and show that these proposed dams are unnecessary (there is no real need for extra power supply in the region as most of the countries are net exporters of electricity), that they are funded by profit-mongering world banks and institutions, that most of the projects are fueled by rampant corruption and individual greed. On top of that, we are doing out best to show that hydro is not green at all, that it destroys the essence of the
river – flow (fish can’t migrate upstream to spawn, the frys can’t go downstream, there is no sediment transport, warmer water temperatures in reservoirs etc.) and at the end of the day – dams are dangerous and are causing global warming with their CO2 and CH4 emissions.
Are there any ways that kayakers and fly fishermen can unite when it comes to protecting the Balkan rivers?
Oh yes, for sure! My little personal project was to try and dispel the myth that kayakers and fly fishermen can’t coexist.
Fishermen were always angry at kayakers when they passed them in their favorite spot on the river and though it’s the end of the day since vivid colored boats and yelling guys spook the fish. They also believed kayakers to be damaging the spawning grounds. But that’s all totally untrue. And the same goes for the kayaker’s idea that all fly fishermen are arrogant, old men trying to have the river to themselves and injuring poor fish just for the photos.
It took me some years, but I managed to get kayakers and fishermen around the same table. After a few beers a constructive debate started, and many prejudices and fixed ideas were dispelled. It went so far that some fishermen became kayakers and some kayakers became fishermen too, and that made me super happy.
I knew it would work as the time has come for people to really care about the rivers and to join forces to fight for them. If we do things on our own and in different directions we can keep on fighting with each other, but we will lose our essence, all the free-flowing rivers. So yes – we can unite and realize we are the same tribe, completely crazy about wild rivers - and with our big hearts we can do some big things. What is boils down to, quite simply, is this: If you really love a certain place and feel an organic need to protect it – act on that impulse!
The global fly fishing community is much bigger and more influential than the global kayaking community and we should be aware and use that as an advantage. Kayakers will always be the crazy crew ready to do some crazy unconventional things; but we need more than that to win the battle for the rivers. We need masses, we need funds, we need sustainable tourism as an alternative to energy production, some very influential people on our side, and we need to spread the word about the attack of foreign investment and greed into the last pristine river stretches of our continent so that even more people can join and resist.
I firmly believe that kayakers and fly fishermen possess all the assets needed to protect these rivers. We are literally a perfect combination. So lets just all realize what Ed Abbey said years ago: “Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.” So don’t just fish to get that photo and show it to your friends, remember that the river in which you caught the beauty is your close friend and that we all help friends in need.
See you out there on- or next to the river. Tight lines and good lines (as we kayakers say).
Home Rivers Recycled
Behind the Film with Emilie BjörkmanBy THE EDITORIAL STAFF
The new film by Emilie Björkman and Ted Logart, Home Rivers Recycled, is about the love of the outdoors and the act of passing down a passion for fishing through generations. But it’s also about something a bit more sinister – the fate of the Baltic salmon, which was on the verge of extinction in the 1990s. We’ve had the chance to hook up with Emilie for a chat about the film and what she learned during the process of making it.
We’ll get to your wonderful new film, Home Rivers Recycled, in a little bit. But first, can you tell us a little bit about your background? And why you’re still a salmon fisherman to this day?
Thank you for inviting me to do this interview. Well, I’m born and raised in a fishing and hunting family, so I’ve always been into fishing in some way since the dawn of time. Fishing has always been like a safe spot to return to whenever I’ve been- or felt lost in life.
After I graduated from the sport fishing academy I moved to Umeå. That’s one of the centers of the northern Baltic salmon rivers. I think there are like seven of them that you can reach during a day trip, which is awesome.
I can’t really say that I was hooked on becoming a salmon fisher after catching the first salmon. No, I was hooked because it fits my personality and the way I like to fish.
Like I say in the movie, you eat because you need energy to fish and you sleep whenever you find your rock. That’s why I am salmon fisherman to this day. I like the struggle.
What is it that fascinates you about salmon in particular?
It’s a beautiful fish and not easy to catch. It fascinates me that they return to their home river for spawning and that it works. Just imagine to actually find your birthplace after spending years in another environment.
I also like the fact that quite a few actually manage to survive all these dangers and obstacles like commercial- and sportfishing, predators and the long migration to the spawning grounds.
What are your dreams and aspirations as a salmon fisherman?
Of course I dream of healthy rivers with vibrant wild stocks and to catch a 121 centimeter salmon. Ted Logart’s (the photographer and editor behind our movie) biggest salmon from the rivers up north is 120 cm. That is my true dream. It’s not a competition, but I would just love to send him that photo of my salmon.
Onwards to your film. How did the whole idea and concept behind the film come about?
I like to have projects rolling all the time. In December 2021, I came up with an idea in my head that I wanted to do a film about Tomas Johansson, CEO of the Baltic Salmon Fund (https://balticsalmonfund.com). I really admire his work and long term efforts for the rivers in the northern parts of Sweden. He’s one of the people that you actually can say that have made a positive difference. Perhaps it’s even part of his work that has allowed me to catch a few salmon.
Anyway, so with a blurry idea I called Ted Logart and said I wanted to fish and that I wanted him to make a video about it. He said okay and here we are - the home rivers recycled.
What were the most important things you learned along the way, while you shot the film?
Puh - I don’t know how many times both me and Ted have said “let’s never make a movie about salmon ever again”. Ha ha! It was truly difficult for us.
You know, when salmon fishing, you hope for the right conditions, salmon in the rivers and the luck needed to be at the right place at the right time. We had neither. Perhaps the film would had turned out in another way if we have had awesome fishing but we’re happy how it turned out anyway.Distribution map of Softmouth trout in the Balkans:
What, do you think, the future of the Baltic salmon looks like?
Listen to Gustav Hellström the scientist in the film. The long term trend is pretty clear and the wild stocks should improve all over. There are, however, threats like diseases, strange governmental decicsions, climate impact and such that, sadly, may turn the trend. I have my fingers crossed that the positive trends will continue.
In your opinion, what is the most important message behind the film?
To explain the potential and challenges both in the rivers and for those who aim to catch a wild salmon. You can’t take anything for granted and we all need to remember that we can make a positive (and negative) impact.
We live now in a YOLO-type of way but we also have future generations to think about. I also like the fact that we have showed how it is to be fishing after the salmon and how we feel about it. We are really weird people, that’s for sure!
For more info: www.undefinedflyfishingproject.com
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Join the fight to protect our oceans, lakes, and rivers, the pristine aquatic ecosystems across the globe and thei precious fish stocks.
Join the fight to protect our oceans, lakes, and rivers, the pristine aquatic ecosystems across the globe and thei precious fish stocks.
It’s an acutely important battle - and one that we simply cannot afford to lose!
It’s an acutely important battle - and one that we simply cannot afford to lose!