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This year’s salmon season is over. And, at least in our neck of the woods, it was utterly disastrous. The salmon stocks are declining year by year, catch-rates are plummeting, and we all know the main cause of the declines – large-scale industrial salmon farming in open net pens. Soon, we’re off to Mongolia to fly fish for taimen. Mongolia is living proof that with the right river management practices and conservation policies, fish stocks can thrive even in our day and age.
It’s tempting to get rid of all the salmon fishing equipment and focus on more sustainable and vital fisheries, but our collective engagement and commitment to salmon is their only hope for survival. So, let’s not give up!
Be an advocate for Atlantic salmon, spread the word about the filthy salmon farming industry, and join NGO’s and charities such as Redd Villaksen, NASF, Atlantic Salmon Trust and Trout Unlimited. The fight isn’t over until we say it is!
The September issue of In the Loop Magazine features contributions from Katka Svagrova, Keith Clover, Marina Gibson, Stephan Dombaj, Mervyn Tan, Drew Hollenback, Christiaan Pretorius, Tyler Hallock, Milan Marjanovic, Barry Ord Clarke, Trevor Johannes, and Jim Bartschi.
In the waters of Alto Sarca & Valle Del Chiese by Marina Gibsonby Christiaan Pretorius by Keith Clover by Mervyn Tan by Katka Svagrova
Oslo-resident, Rasmus Ovesen, was handed his first fly rod at the tender age of eight, and he has been a bor derline fluff chucking fanatic ever since. Rasmus has writ ten articles for some of the world’s most renowned fish ing magazines, and his trav els take him to remote areas across the globe in search for fish that will test and challenge his skills to the maximum. He has seen his fair share of exposed back ing in the tropics, but his heart truly belongs to the soulful realm of trout and salmon fishing.
Marina Gibson is a truly pas sionate angler who was lucky enough to spend much of her childhood chasing salmon, trout and sea trout. Following in the footsteps of her talented mother Joanna Gibson, her self a devoted fly fisher, Mari na has dedicated a significant part of her life to the pursuit of every type of fish at every available opportunity wherever in the world that may be. Check out:
is one of the most influential fly fishing journalists and photographers in the new Millennium. Stephan is extremely dedicated to the sport, and he splits his time between guiding and travelling. Having written for a myriad of renowned magazines across the globe, Stephan has become a household fly fishing name, and he continues to amaze with his spectacular photography and adventurous mindset.
Mervyn Tan is an ad venture junkie from Singapore who in dulges in fly fishing and hiking expedi tions in the wilderness, and documents them through his self-taught photography and short films purely out of pas sion just so he can share the stories with friends and fami ly. He is obsessed with exploring the most remote locations chasing his fly fishing dreams, a lineup that includes golden dorado, pacu, tarpon, roosterfish, goliath tigerfish, and permit. For more info: www.instagram.com/trachinotus/
Keith Clover is the founding partner and Director of Tourette Fishing. Tourette Fishing is Africa’s leading fly fishing guiding outfit and lodge operator. Tourette Fishing specializes in scouting and developing pristine fly fishing operations throughout Africa. Currently running both fresh and salt water fly fishing camps in Lesotho, Gabon, Tanzania, Botswana and Sudan. Full details www.tourettefishing.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew is an adventur ous Idaho-based fly fisherman with a very minimalist approach to targeting trout. His love for hike-in fisheries and remote mountain streams has led him to start Tenkara Rod Co, which builds on proud Japanese traditions. Drew grew up in Japan, but it wasn’t until 2010 that he discovered the art of Tenkara fishing. Nowadays, he is one of its main proponents in the US and abroad. For more info: www.tenkararodco.com
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.
Fishing in Trentino
In the waters of Alto Sarca & Valle del Chiese
From the bustling streets of Venice to Rome’s breathtaking architecture and its mouthwatering cuisine, Italy is a country that never ceases to amaze. With nearly 65 million tourists annually and a permanent rank in the top 5 most visited countries in the world, Italy’s cultural lore spans across the planet.By: MARINA GIBSON (FLY FISHING NATION)
Photos by FLY FISHING NATION
The sporting virtues of the alpine region, that is world-renowned for its structural splendor, deadline a life in the shadows compared to the tourism mayhem of the city of Rome. Endless amounts of water invite keen anglers on piscatorial adventures in a magnitude that a simple week of fishing will never be able to cover.
This story about a quieter way of exploring Italy’s culinary and piscatorial treasures takes right into the epicenter of its most famous salmonid rivers…
In August 2022 myself and a team from Fly Fishing Nation, comprising Stephan Dombaj, Paulo Hoffmann, and Simon Kay, set out on a journey to the Dolomites in the tourist area of Madonna di Campiglio (Trentino-Alto Adige) to indulge in its vast recreational and culinary virtues, resulting in one of the most unforgettable adventures we’ve ever had. With its steep mountain peaks and meandering rivers, this enchanting
region is like something out of a picture book and mere words and photos just can’t do it justice. You simply must experience it first-hand.
Trentino-Alto Adige is a region of northern Italy, bordering Switzerland and Austria. The region encompasses part of the Dolomites, a spectacular range of mountains in the Italian Alps with the mighty 10,900 ft Marmolada as its centrepiece. Trentino–Alto Adige/Südtirol (South Tyrol), comprises the provinces of Bolzano-Bozen in the north and Trento in the south. The population of Bolzano is largely German-speaking while that of Trento is Italian-speaking. Although we partook in many of the usual tourist activities, the main reason for travelling to Trentino was to fish.
“The valley has endless opportunities”
Out with the locals
The man in charge of our fishing adventure was a local guide called Stefano Fedrizzi who had organised a marble trout and grayling hunt for us, starting in the Sarca and Chiese valleys, on your way to the majestic peaks of the Brenta Dolomites, where Madonna di Campiglio, one of the well-known mountain resorts of Italy, is located.
Stefano’s story began when he was a child; spending nearly every weekend on the river fishing for trout with his father and brother and, as the years progressed, he got to know every single stone and the likely spots where fish were to be found.
Quite early on, he knew that the only work he wanted to do was on the river and, as he grew up, became eager to encourage more tourism to the Trentino area. Tapping into the family’s combined river knowledge of 93 years has enabled him and some friends to set-up a guiding service so that they can share their slice of heaven with anglers from all over the world.
As we waded up the turquoise tinted Sacra River Stefano told us, ‘The river is my home. I live for fishing and guiding, and helping others discover how special it is to spend a day out on the river, learning about our fish and the environment.”
It goes without saying that booking a good, local guide is important, especially when targeting trophy marble or brown trout.
Italian marble trout
To many, the marble trout is the most beautiful species of trout and until the 1970s was the undisputed Queen of the River. If a marble trout finds suitable living conditions it can reach up to 15lb in weight and live for up to 20 years, although historically much larger specimens have been caught. The marble fry feeds exclusively on plankton and once it has reached 20cm it feeds almost exclusively on small insects.
“Every so often it would circle around with determination”
It maximises the size of its prey as it grows and after roughly five years and around 2lb in weight, its diet will consist mainly of other fish.
The marble trout is endemic to the Trentino area, and with this come important actions to preserve and conserve the species. The Marmorata Project, which started 20 years ago, aims to enhance river habitat and spawning grounds, run a hatchery for native fish eggs and teaches anglers the importance of catch and release.
Sink-tips and streamers
When we were fishing for marble trout, we were using huge streamers with a 6 or 7-weight rod paired with a floating or sink-tip line. We covered vast amounts of water, casting in each pocket and wading up the river: The more water we covered the higher our chances of bumping into a willing marble trout.
and turn the river chalky white – the usual fisherman’s excuse! Typically, the best time to fish for marble trout in the area is in May and June as the temperatures increase, and as the water slightly colours from the ice melt. When this event happens the marble trout feel more confident, and they start to come out of their holes in search of food.
The upside was that this valley has endless opportunities and because the marble trout fishing was slower than usual, we turned our focus to other species and other mountain streams; it was a blessing in disguise because we had the chance to discover all the beautiful and intimate crystal clear rivers and tributaries that perhaps we would not have focused on so much if the Sarca River marble trout fishing had been on fire.
A “short” hike
Unfortunately for us, the marble fishing was difficult due to a drought, followed by a colossal ice melt, which caused the river to flood
On our second day Stefano told us to pack our dry fly and nymphing equipment and pack light as we were going to be fishing and hiking to the Rifugio Val Di Fumo restaurant.
When a local Guide tells you the hike is “Only 40 minutes or so.”, don’t believe them! Just make sure you pack a good pair of walking boots. We swiftly left the car park and followed the winding footpath across a steep woodland mountain, past a huge reservoir and over a few brows; once we reached the first fishing spot, we assembled our rods and started to deploy ourselves upstream. Some of us were using the Klink and Dink method (a dry fly with a nymph trailing behind), whilst others were using a single dry or nymph; all of which successfully caught a mixed bag of stunning wild brook- and brown trout.
The final pool to be fished - prior to clambering up the rocky hill path to indulge oneself in true Italian Alphine food - was below a wooden bridge. Three of us headed over there to see if we could spot any fish for the angler, Stephan Dombaj. As we peered down, we spotted the largest trout of the day in a three-foot glassy back eddy in the right-hand corner. Its nose was pointing towards the bank and every so often it would cir-
cle around with determination and munch on flies and nymphs or anything that dared enter his patch.
Stephan cast with a large dry fly and immediately the fish made a bee line for its next meal. However, Stephan couldn’t see the fish or the fly as a big boulder stood in the way and, instead, was relying on us to tell him when the fish had taken his fly, which we did with a roar of excitement! Unfortunately, as soon as the fish felt the hook, he shook his jaw in rage and spat it out. This fish had been caught before…
Falling into a coma
Hiking for a few hours definitely gives you an excuse to eat as much as your stomach can take, but the important thing to remember is that you have to walk back to where you came from. The four of us amateurs didn’t take that into consideration, or perhaps the food was just too good not to go over the top. Either way, we were toast. We all fell into a monstrous food coma and had to have a wee nap on the wooden benches in the restaurant garden.
When we all woke up, we rolled down the hill towards the river and fished a couple of pools before heading back down the path, considerably slower than we came up it.
We filled the middle of the week with other adventures, including a forest foraging session where we picked porcini mushrooms, hopped on some mountain e-bikes and pedalled to a secluded lake and fished until dusk, we hiked to a beautiful sky scraping waterfall where we took turns fishing in the plunge pool – too many adventures to list, but let’s just say we made the most of being there.
During our last two days, Stefano decided to take us to a different tributary and that’s where our grayling fishing came to fruition. He took us to a stretch where he knew of some very large grayling that resided on an association stretch, so they were smart, weary, and not for the faint-hearted. Luckily, the ice melt didn’t affect this tributary and once we had crossed the river and arrived at the ‘grayling location’ we could spot each one in
the gin clear water and were able to make out each protruding fin.
Like most wild fishing, success is often measured in perseverance, but also the ability to read the water, fish (if you can see them) and have a basic understanding of the aquatic insects, so you can choose your flies accordingly. The grayling that we spotted were laying in deep pockets of water and inconveniently sitting close to low branches and bushes that crept over the banks. They were using their sail-like dorsal fin to hold position gliding millimetres for their quarry. After all, why move more when the food is coming past you on a conveyor belt?
Amongst the average-sized grayling were some behemoth trophies, one or two individuals and a couple swaying together as if partners in a ballroom dance. We were using size 18-22 nymphs on a 10ft 2/3-weight nymphing rod and even the slightest slack in the line would cause possible misses so, coordination between judging the fish’s reaction and keeping a tight line/ feeling the take was essential, especially when the bites were so subtle.
Stephan and Paulo, caught one of the trophy grayling each on the first day and Simon, a lovely brown trout. I was feeling the pressure…
hardly flinched, but I felt the line imperceptibly stop, and as I lifted the rod tip I shouted, “I’m in, I don’t think it’s a big one,” to which Stephan replied, “No! That’s the big one, keep your line tight and don’t put too much pressure on that one, you have 0.10 diameter tippet”.
I continued to lift my rod tip, control it behind me in a straight path, swinging over the top again to plant my nymphs ahead of the fish; every cast had to be perfect and if it wasn’t you knew as soon as it landed that it would not drift towards the line of the grayling’s nose.
Whilst trying to catch the beasts, a couple of average sized grayling and small brown trout intercepted my flies, this certainly helped the time pass by.
As my nymphs bumped along the riverbed it was as if the grayling
As I hooked it from a high bank, I had to lead the fish downstream so that I could cross the river and land it in the shallow banks on the other side. My heart was pounding as the fish darted for large boulders, and the overgrown banks.
A personal best
After a short tug of war, Stephan who I trust more than anyone with a net, scooped her up and we all ran to the net in awe of this grayling of a lifetime. She measured 52cm from nose to tail, which is my biggest grayling to-date.
We kept her submerged in the net, and after a couple of photos we released her, filming her as she returned to her watery home.
“We all ran to the net in awe of this grayling of a lifetime”
Only a click away
It was overwhelming how diverse the fishing was in this region. If you plan to visit it is easily accessible and the booking process is straightforward; you can purchase tickets and licences online or book a local guide, like Stefano. I highly recommend booking a guide as the area is vast and if you have limited time then you will find the gold far more quickly than if you were by yourself.
It will take more than just one trip to fish and eat everything that is on offer and will likely lead to an ongoing love story with potentially big rewards that other trout fisheries can’t compete with as they don’t have the trophy-sized marble trout.
As well as the fishing, our trip consisted of a tasting menu of activities, including a day trip to the local museums and medieval castles, traditional pasta making, daily visits to local restaurants where we ate our body weight in ravioli, cold cut platters, slow cooked venison ragu, polenta in a variety of ways, Canederli, which is gnocchi-like dumplings
with speck, cheese and herbs, and delicious pastries and fritters for dessert. Not forgetting to have an Aperol spritz, or two to wash all of the above down! As they say, ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans.”
Trying to reduce Italy down to its sporting virtues wouldn’t do it justice. Embedded in rich culture and historic background, naturally the entire area invites the whole family and entourage, fishing or non-fishing, to explore and enjoy the region.
Here, is our top seven recommended restaurants to visit in the Trentino area:
1. Fishing and hiking to Rifugio
Val Di Fumo Restaurant (full day excursion)
2. La Polentera in Storo
3. Laboratorio Gastronomico
Luzzani in Lodrone
4. Pra Della Casa in Pinzolo
5. Rifugio Ponte Arno and a visit to the cheese factory ‘Malga Arno’
6. Filanda De Boron in Tione
7. La Civetta in Massimeno
Italy has more to offer than just its fishing and every other wonderful cliché you could think of graced our presence. We came to Italy to fish one of the most iconic fisheries in Europe, we stayed for the world-renowned cuisine, and we will be returning for all the wonderful people we met along the way. Follow Stefano on Instagram by searching @stefanofedrizzi_flyfishing and visit his guiding website: www.sacraflyfishing.com
Trentino Fishing (Licenses): https://www.trentinofishing.it/en
Regional Tourist Board
Fishing Association Valle Del Chiese: email@example.com
Fishing Association Alto Sarca: https://www.altosarca.it
Useful App to book fishing online: https://apps.apple.com/de/app/hooking/id1291376634?l=en
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when it comes to these fish,” he says. “I want to take care of this fishery for the future. It’s tribal tradition. It’s my family.” Arian Stevens
Wild fish activist and guide Matt Mendes roams his Deschutes home waters on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. “I’m a passionate person
The Longest DroughtBy: CHRISTIAAN PRETORIUS
In the world of fly fishing, where patience and skill intertwine, anglers occasionally encounter enigmatic phenomena that defy explanation. Christiaan Pretorius, an avid and experienced fly fisherman, found himself in the throes of one such perplexing period known amongst fellow insiders as “The Drought.”
During this mystifying stretch, even the most expertly tied flies and meticulously executed casts seemed futile. As if cloaked in a veil of ill fortune, Christiaan wrestled with the inexplicable as permit after permit slipped away. “The Drought” became a crucible of patience and a test of unwavering dedication, casting its shadow over the normally exhilarating pursuit and leaving Christiaan to unravel the mysteries of luck, karma, and the relentless pursuit of the elusive permit.
The permit obsession is something that is just not possible to explain. My obsession with permit started very early in my guiding career. It was my first day on the flats when I saw my first permit, casted at my first permit, hooked and landed my first permit. This is just not the way it is supposed to happen.
More often you will have pursued this fish for years with no success. That same week I managed to land another permit, that is two permit in a week - a very rare occurrence. It couldn’t have been skill as it was my first day shadow guiding on the flats, right? It’s been many years since I got my first permit and the first question I always ask the permit when we finally get one to hand is “Why?”
Unlike bonefish, GT’s, trout, you name it, you will always remember every single permit story as if it had happened yesterday. You appreciate every single one that you encounter. Most cases you hate them, but then you find a way to convince yourself you actually love them. It’s a strange game. Since that day I had the privi-
lege of landing my first permit, I was hooked, I knew this was a truly special fish.
An ”unhealthy” obsession
Permit addiction is a real thing and most fly fishermen who have casted at a permit suffer from it. It has been known to ruin relationships, empty out wallets, and pushed some people to even consider selling all their fly-fishing equipment.
Who would have ever thought that you could actually get nervous while fishing? Well, some of my most stressful experiences involved permit. It usually doesn’t happen quickly and takes many years before really appreciating this fish.
I had a pretty successful (relative term) couple of years guiding for these stubborn fish in the Seychelles where you find the beautiful Indo-pacific permit.
They are (almost) the same as the Atlantic permit only slightly smaller in size and more golden, but just as full of shit, ignorant, and stubborn as its cousin.
Anyway, I had been warned over the years speaking to many permit fishermen about “the drought”. I never thought this was a real thing until it happened to me. It was in 2014 when I had one exceptional day landing a double permit on Astove Atoll.
I must have used up all my luck, or Karma was mad at me, but something was off. Since that day in 2014, a long period followed where I casted at many permit, using many different flies, in many different areas. I had them turn on their sides to investigate my fly; I had them follow my fly to the boat, you name it! -it happened!
They ignored me full stop. Even through all this punishment there was nothing I enjoyed more than to go hunt them. It reminds me a lot about stalking with a bow and arrow, the hunt and stalk is where the real fun is at, getting to finally draw on an animal is a massive bonus. Well, permit fishing is exactly that to me!
Well, boys and girls, I couldn’t have been more excited when the drought was finally over. After years, it finally happened. I managed to get an eat from the fish I respect so much.
We had two hours before our next group of guests would arrive at the Lodge (Abaco Lodge in the Bahamas) and the weather was just right.
We decided to go try out a spot that Travis Sands (guide) identified a while back. We started polling around and about 10 minutes in, Travis spotted a ray in the distance. As we started poling in that direction we both saw it the same time.
“He’s got friends”, said Travis. I could just see the black V of two permit tails on the back of the ray. My fly of choice was a swimming crab that Ian Davis introduced to me when he landed a beautiful 40+lb permit earlier in the season.
Getting the hook-up
Travis stopped the boat a good distance away to not spook the fish and I fired a long cast in that direction. First cast landing about 5 feet short. Knees shaking, I stripped back and launched another one, this time the leader did what it was supposed to and launched the fly about 5 feet from the two permit. First strip, the fish was on the fly. He followed, and followed, and then finally, FINALLY it happened! I got a hook-up!
After a 20-minute fight, Travis managed to get a hand on the tail and we just went on like monkeys, screaming, slapping the water just enjoying that moment.
My girlfriend was there to experience everything, and it was very funny to hear her side of the story when she tells it. How the atmosphere suddenly changed from joking around to a very intense scenario. How Travis made his way down the poling platform as I stripped, while stopping Lindi’s blood circulation in her arm.
How she tried to keep us calm with very little success. It felt like forever, but in reality was not that long of a stripping session at all!
Releasing the fish, I knew it might take another 1000 casts before I’d eventually hook-up with another permit. However, in all reality, I knew I would have fun making each and every one of them!
Fact File – Permit
Permit, the highly prized saltwater fly fishing trophies belonging to the pompano (or Carangidae) family, come not only in one but four distinct species that challenge and captivate anglers around the globe. They may all be caught on small, realistic crab and shrimp patterns – but a couple of them display feeding behavior that will be foreign to many permit fishermen.
In the western Atlantic Ocean, spanning from the Gulf of Mexico to the Caribbean, the Atlantic Permit (Trachinotus falcatus) emerges as a formidable adversary. Adorned with a signature black “permit patch” on its silver-and-blue canvas, this species reigns over seagrass beds, shallow flats, and mangrove niches. The Atlantic permit’s discerning palate and selective feeding habits amplify the challenge, compelling fly fishermen to master the art of realism in both presentation and cast. Atlantic permit grow to more than 70lbs and are the largest of the “big four” permit species.
Countries such as the Bahamas, Belize, and Mexico are among the most visited among hard-core Atlantic permit fly fishermen.
The Indo-Pacific Permit (Trachinotus blochii) – also known as “snubnose dart” and “golden pompano”are found over the reefs and shallows spanning from the Red Sea across the Indian Ocean and all the way to the Central Pacific Ocean with Japan and New South Wales as the northern- and southernmost distribution lineages.
The Seychelles are considered the main hot spot by many Indo-pacific permit enthusiasts, but Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Australia also have great potential.
With its alluring golden sheen, the Indo-Pacific permit boasts a small mouth and an unmistakable oval body, navigating shallow flats and edges with unmatched finesse. Yet, its discerning eyesight and skittish tendencies test even the most skilled anglers, requiring perfect presentations to tempt it into a strike.
While they don’t grow to nearly the same sizes as Atlantic permit (usually weighing between 6 and 10lbs with a maximum of 20-25lbs), the Indo-pacific is highly sought-after for its beauty and scarcity.
On the southeastern African coastline, the Africanus Permit (Trachinotus africanus) takes center stage.
Pink-lipped, gleaming in silver and gold against the rough coastal backdrop, this permit is perhaps the least known of the “big four”. Its haunt is the estuaries and flats, where it thrives on a diverse diet of crustaceans, shrimp, and tiny fish -and in the surf zone along steep cliffs where it feeds (in schools of varying sizes) on mollusks, mussels and small crabs. They grow to around 30 - 35lbs, but most species caught on a fly rod (and not a lot have been caught) weigh between 8 and 15lbs).
And if you’re up for the challenge, Oman is the place to visit.
Venturing into the warm waters of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, the Anak Permit (Trachinotus anak) displays an unmistakable visage with its prominent, steeply sloped snout and dark bars along its flanks.
It is perhaps the most elusive of all permit species.
Locally known as “oyster pompano” or “giant oyster cracker”, Australia is the main site for targeting these fish -and fly fishermen in the area between Geraldton in WA and south to Brisbane have championed the saltwater fishery for these elusive fish.
The Africanus permit’s unpredictable behavior and elusive nature certainly give rise to the challenge, beckoning fly fishermen to decode its patterns and navigate its mercurial moods.
Estuary mouths are prime territory in far North Queensland, but the species also resides along open surf beaches, headlands, sheltered offshore reefs, ocean reefs, coral cays, and lagoons like in Exmouth in the West, often seeking its sustenance from crustaceans and hard-shelled benthic invertebrates such as mollusks and oysters.
Anak permit can grow to more than 50lbs.
Their preference for deeper water during feeding sprees tests anglers’ ability to present their flies precisely, while the Anak’s cautious disposition demands the utmost finesse and stealth.
Across the “big four” permit species, the thread of challenge weaves a tapestry that demands mastery over fly fishing’s subtle nuances.
Patience, precision, and an intimate understanding of each species’ behavior intertwine, allowing anglers to unlock the secrets of these elusive game fish and emerge victorious from the relentless pursuit.
But be aware of the drought!
Here are a few tried and tested outfitters for permit across the globe:
BECAUSE THE ONLY THING I LIKE FRIED IS MY FOOD
Solstrale, meaning “ray of sun light” in Swedish, stems back to our roots and our commitment to protecting anglers from the harsh conditions they experience. The sun is no exception. The Solstrale Pro was built for anglers who want to avoid being fried after a long day on the water.
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A Retrospective Look at 10 Years of Community, Conservation, and Fly FishingBy KEITH CLOVER
Photos by AFRICAN WATERS and TIM LEPPAN
Flyfishing, for any species is constantly evolving. Techniques practiced, tactics implemented, flies, and tackle used are dynamic; always oscillating between tried and tested, and new and experimental. Looking back on 10 years at Makhangoa it is plain to see how flies, methods, and our strategies when targeting a certain piece of water change from year to year. However, another universal truth when looking at fly fishing tactics and techniques is that quality lasts. And, for the sentimental anglers amongst us, just like an old dog sitting next to you at the fireplace, this truth is reassuring.
Looking back on our photos from our initial exploratory trips to Makhangoa almost a decade ago, our fresh faces and self-dyed fishing shirts (dark olive or you were not allowed on the river according to our mentor and great friend, Ed Truter) are symbolic of the blind optimism and unfaltering intent needed to get a project like this up and running. Ten years, a tented camp, then a lodge, a family cottage, hundreds of fly fishermen and -women from across the globe, thousands of fish, close to R1,4 million in community levies raised, over 50 individual jobs created, multiple skills development programs, and a host of life-changing community beneficiation programs later, and it is plain to see how fly fishing has irrevocably benefited the lives of the Makhangoa Community, played a massive role in conservation of this system, and created memories to last a lifetime for all guests who make the pilgrimage to this incredible valley.
So, what has changed, and what has not?
When the Makhangoa Community Camp welcomed its first guests to camp in the summer of 2012/13, the tackle advice was straightforward –9ft 4-weight rods, floating lines, and a handful of stock standard generic flies did the trick. On the dry fly front, DDD’s, Kaufmanns stimulators, Dave’s hopper’s, Elk Hair Caddis and Klinkhammers did the trick. These were combined with a selection of heavier GRHE nymphs in 12 and 14, and smaller generic mayflies in 14 to 18 fished under an indicator for when the fish were not looking up. Today, all of those patterns will work, but CDC has come into all the popular patters. Hoppers have moved towards simplerto-tie-versions, and stalwarts such the Balbyter Ant, CDC Klinkhammer and Shuttlecock are here to stay.
Personally, I think the advances in tying techniques and materials are more significant than the actual fly pattern changes. On the nymphing side, GUN’s, and similar jig style patters are the go-to. And those that incorporate CDC definitely get the
first call up. Static nymphing and euro nymphing seem to be more popular amongst guests than fishing NZ style under and indicator. Dry and dropper fishing is however as popular now, as it was 10 years ago. While fishing dry flies to sighted fish remains the pinnacle of the Makhangoa experience.
The tackle used We have seen fiberglass and spilt cane rods making a more regular appearance at the tackle set up. On the other end of the spectrum, highly spec’ed 10ft nymphing, and specialized dry fly rods are also now part of many anglers´ quiver. The application of these rods is highly specific, and acutely aimed to certain conditions and fishing styles. In these specific conditions, they are hyper applicable, but limited in the broader conditions. So, although the standard 9ft 4-weight will do all an angler needs to fish the Bokong efficiently, the addition of specific dry fly rods and nymphing rods is definitely a sign that anglers are looking to broaden their skill set and keep learning new things.
It also shows the power of marketing to a demographic that, overall, often can’t stop themselves from adding to their inexhaustible affinity for gear.
Presentation is key
Though there have been a lot of subtle changes over the years in tackle and techniques, the fundamentals in stream fishing remain the same and will trump any advances in tackle and tactics.
Fishing slowly and being stealthy, keeping out of sight, avoiding leader flash, understanding drag, and knowing that the presentation of a fly in a river environment such as we find at Makhangoa remains paramount to success. Watching experienced fly anglers fish with the grace and confidence that comes from decades spent on a river, and the seemingly effortless regularity that they have a bend in their rod, is testament to this.
The yellowfish experience
When the Makhangoa Community Camp first opened her doors (or tent flaps back in 2013), it was the yellowfish experience that had guests eager to get up into the Maloti mountains. Sight fishing to yellowfish in a river that runs clean and pure for most of the summer is an anomaly when it comes to yellow fishing. Add in the dry fly aspect and the fishery ticks a number of boxes. This was the initial impetus for setting up the community camp.
We were aware of the wild rainbows in the system which were caught between the yellows, but they were not a major focus of ours, or our guests. With 10 years behind us, and some exceptional year round fishery work done by AW stalwarts such as Stu Harley, Ed Truter, Johann Dupree and recently, Greg Maxwell, Tim Leppan, and Phil Geldart, and the Makhangoa Community Camp offers anglers the opportunity to fish to both incredible browns and rainbow trout.
The brown trout fishery is focused on the far upper beats of the river. Anglers access these beats through the Makhangoa Community Camp trekking operations. These operations include the cooperation of two smaller satellite villages linked to Makhangoa, and a team of dedicated muleteers.
Trekking to the upper beats where angler’s fish beats with names such as Angels Falls, Deadman’s drift, Gollum’s Neck and Song’s folly, while sleeping out under the stars, is a life changing experience.
Behind Makhangoa we have the vitally important Bokong and Katse confluence. The section we call The Estuary. It is in this area, and the lower beats of the river, that we have been fortunate to decipher the movements and feeding habits of some really quality rainbow trout each year.
the river as temperatures drop. Some of the fish then making their way up to the lower beats of the river to spawn.
This area is crucial to the wellbeing of the system as it is the zone that each spring/summer and autumn yellowfish and trout gather in high concentrations as they prepare for their respective spawning windows.
The cooler months of autumn bring prime time, as big aggressive rainbow trout congregate in this region to feed on yellowfish fry that leave
Pre 2013, this area was the focus of much illegal fishing activity. It now falls within the Makhangoa Community Fishery Management area, and the protection this affords the fish in these vulnerable time highlights the significant ecological benefits fly fishing is bringing to the area.
“The Makhangoa Community Camp offers anglers the opportunity to fish to both incredible browns and rainbow trout”
On a purely physical front, guests, guides and community members have been witness to, and part of, the wonderful organic growth of the camp and facilities at the MCC. Each year, since inception, together with the MCC tourism council, we have made it a priority to subtly upgrade the camp and facilities, while maintaining the unique culture and atmosphere the camp is renowned for.
Some changes have been forced, as in the fire that destroyed the main living area and kitchen building in April 2019 which necessitated a rebuild, however most have occurred gradually. Almost always driven by suggestions and comments from regular guests and guides who feel a strong sentimental connection with the camp and the people. Guided by these parameters, the charm, culture and ethos of the camp have not only remained constant, but the camp has also solidified into an institution over the decade.
It is however off the water that the most significant and noticeable changes have taken place at the MCC.
These being the social, economic, and environmental benefits to the area, all a direct result of visiting fly fishermen and women. I would like to briefly document a few of these success stories. The purpose of which is to illustrate what a significant positive effect responsible fly fishing can have on socioeconomic development and conservation in area such as this. It is also an indirect ‘tip of the cap’, to all guests who have visited the MCC over the past 10 years, without whom, these projects would not be possible.
The MCC employs over 50 individuals from the local community – a combination of full-time staff and part time staff. Hand in hand with this is skills development in the local community. The MCC has trained camp managers, river rangers, housekeeping staff, maintenance teams, and builders. All of these factors ensure long term financial security to a significant portion of the Makhangoa Community. Not to mention the intrinsic personal and emotional benefits that skills development and productive employment offer.
We have healthy community coffer, which derives funds from nightly levies from all guests. These community levies are tightly controlled by the Makhangoa tourism council and can only be spent on projects that benefit the community. There is no room for nepotism and pocket lining. The structure and implementation of this system has fast become a blueprint for others looking to engage in community tourism ventures, and is one we openly share in the hope to see similar projects thrive.
We have implemented a number of incredible projects which are funded independently from the community levies. Some of these are:
• Wonderbag sustainable cooking roll out –being above the tree line, with no access to electricity, cooking in rural Lesotho is reliant on gas or brining wood and coal, most of it taking place indoors, in unventilated rooms, coming with it safety and health risks. The Wonderbag distribution and training program has gone a long way to reduce the amount of fuels that need to be burnt, and indirectly have counted further benefits. To read more about these, go check out the Wonderbag page - https:// www.wonderbagworld.com/outcomes
• The Makhangoa Primary School Foot Bridge. A steel and concrete bridge spanning the Bokong River which allows community members, and more importantly primary school children, the ability to cross the river between schools and homesteads. Sadly, this bridge was destroyed in the Dec 2020 floods, and we are in the process of raising finance to rebuild it.
• School Stationary drives – every year the MCC sponsors stationary drives to three schools in the vicinity. Schools that due to their remote location sadly get little help from local government structures and funds.
• Solar Power Roll Out – in March 2021 with the help of IndiFly, we supplied and installed 65 solar units to the Makhangoa Village and School. These systems provide lights, radio and charging points to every homestead in the Makhangoa Village - ttps://africanwaters.net/ indifly-funds-makhangoa-solar-project-indigenous-community-in-africa-gets-electricity-for-the-first-time/
• Water delivery to the MCC village
• River Rangers Project ensuring best practices as well reporting and stopping any illegal fishing activity
• Fishery Managing Plans which are gazetted and now proudly supported by local authorities and policed by the Makhangoa River Rangers team
• Catchment wide environmental monitoring and reporting
If you are reading this, there is no doubt that fly fishing plays a part in your life. It could be the odd fleeting interaction, or an all-consuming passion. Whichever side of the spectrum you fall on, I am sure that it has, and will continue to bring immeasurable pleasure and benefits to you. What motivates you to fly fish, how you go about it, and your relationship with fly fishing may change, but, if you feel the same as I do, the fundamentals of what drew you to fly fishing, and what keep you inextricably connected, will never lose their luster. Be this time spent in pristine natural environments, quality time spent in solitude, or amongst friends and family, your affinity for beautiful tackle, or whatever your ‘why’ is. The same holds true for all who have fished, visited, supported, or worked at the MCC over the past decade.
The river, the camp, the fish and how we fish to them are fluid and changing. The connections we make with the place and the people, and the tangible benefits fly fishing has brought to Makhangoa remain constant. Much like the established truths of sound river craft, these constants motivate all we do and will ensure that next decade at the MCC we see further gains in the areas that matter most.
THE CRIMSON JUGGERNAUTS OF BORNEO
Fly Fishing for the Elusive Red Kaloi
Born and bred in Singapore, I am immensely fortunate to have a father who showed the family how amazing and important nature and wildlife is. His gutsy and free-spirited persona brought about this incredible adventurous and passionate approach to incorporate nature-based activities into our lives, and fishing is one of them. He is responsible for influencing and developing my undeniable love for it. There is something about fishing. I have always looked forward to hearing the incredible tales of fishermen and all the adventures in the wildest and most remote locations since I was a little boy.By: MERVYN TAN
Through the years, as my methods of fishing evolved, the life-changing moment was when I discovered fly fishing. It is as if I fell in love with fishing all over again, but with an inexplainable appreciation, respect, and admiration. The well-documented reference points and materials of fly fishing and its fisheries have always been widely inspired by the Western world, and understandably so. But there must be something worthy in the East, well, Southeast Asia to be more specific, since I come from that part of the world. Sure enough, there is.
fisheries are the snakehead (genus Channa) and the mahseer (genus Tor). But personally, my biggest obsession has been the hampala barb (genus Hampala), specifically Hampala macrolepidota, because it is the largest species within the genus.
Crossing of Paths
Within the region, hampala barbs have a fearsome reputation for crushing hooks, breaking lines and rods due to their hard-hitting, ferocious nature. Watching them violently hunt down fleeing baitfish in the rivers of the rainforests have been nothing short of spectacular.
In the fascinating world of freshwater species in tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia, the species richness is vastly wide-ranging and varying. Arguably, the two most popular
Mainstream methods have always been to use artificial lures on either baitcasting or spinning setups, and the largest hampala ever recorded by the IGFA was well over 6kg (13.2lbs). Specimens over 4kg (8.81lbs) are hard to come by, due to habitat loss, pollution, and overfishing. Finding and catching them that big on a fly is certainly a tall order.
“Distractions are aplenty, especially if you are a botanist or a wildlife conservationist”
My dream finally came true during a jungle expedition in February 2020 when I first stepped foot in Kalimantan, Borneo, on a jungle expedition with Fajar Setyawan (operator of Spice Island Outfitters who primarily conducts remote fly fishing expeditions in Indonesia) and landed a specimen well over 5kg (11lbs) on an 8wt setup. It couldn’t have gone any better, and I was truly grateful and fortunate. I could finally close the chapter on the hampala.
During the same expedition, I had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of another formidable yet somewhat mysterious species, the red kaloi, Osphronemus septemfaciatus. The red kaloi was brought to our group’s attention by Fajar prior to the expedition. You see, just right before the trip, the first ever red kaloi specimen caught on fly, well over 7kg (15.4lbs), was successfully landed by Minggaang Lejau, a self-taught local fly angler and guide, but more importantly, a Dayak (indigenous people in the island of Borneo) who comes from the direct bloodline of the chief family of Long Tuyoq, one of the villages in the upper reaches of the Mahakam River, East Kalimantan.
I have to say, at that time, I was laser-focused on finding that elusive massive hampala and anything- and everything else to me was a distraction. I witnessed my buddy, Lao Tan, lose two large male kaloi after days of hard work.
His 16lb tippet snapped effortlessly when both fish went straight into the underwater structures of fallen trees and branches. No males were landed; only the females, which are significantly smaller in size, and far less impressive morphologically. Needless to say, a new obsession was born.
Juggernauts of Borneo
Come January 2023, following over three years of wait, the time had finally come to have a proper shot at the red kaloi. The calls of the Müller’s gibbon (Hylobates muelleri) during first light evoked nostalgia of the previous expeditions, with a familiar scenery of massive Neram trees (Dipterocarpus oblongifolius), many of them over a few hundred years old, flanking the sides of the rivers, leaning over towards the center with the primary objective to facilitate dispersal of fruits, which are part of the diet of various fish species, including the mahseer and the red kaloi. Each and every day was an opportunity to be treated to a spectacle of various species of hornbills taking
flights from canopy to canopy. Distractions are aplenty, especially if you are a botanist or a wildlife conservationist.
I happened to be both, and the struggle was real. That said, I was (am still) totally fascinated and obsessed with the red kaloi as a fly angler. Only scientifically discovered and described as late as 1992 by the renowned American ichthyologist, Dr. Tyson Royal Roberts, the red kaloi is endemic to the island of Borneo, coshared by three countries - Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and Indonesia.
The red kaloi belongs to the gourami family, Osphronemidae, and is one of the four species of giant gourami in Southeast Asia. And since ‘kaloi’
is a local name for gourami in general, we know that they are omnivorous, obligate air-breathers.
“The strong jaws are lined with tiny teeth that give them a solid grip”
That’s pretty much all we could gather from the Internet. Thankfully, the Dayaks are very familiar with the red kaloi, and they quickly became a great resource. After all, this is their home, their backyard.
fiery colours, ranging from peach to plum hues across its trunk, dappled with copper mottling bands, hence its Latin name - Osphronemus septemfaciatus (Osphronemus, meaning olfactory, referring to its labyrinth organ, an organ of smell; and septem, seven, faciatus, striped or banded, referring to the seven-barred colour pattern).
It is as if they are made to blend in with the ever-flowing tannin-coloured water of the rivers and freshwater swamps of the Bornean jungle.
We know the red kaloi primarily feed on vegetative plant parts such as flowers, fruits and leaves, especially during mass flowering season at the start of every year, but would not reject small fish, frogs, lizards and insects when they come across one.
Whilst the common gourami (O. goramy), which are relatively widespread throughout the Southeast Asia region, are almost always dull grey or brown in colour, the red kaloi are their flamboyant cousins if you like, vibrantly exhibiting a burst of
Mature males boast an impressive set of morphological features that differentiate them from the females. First, they develop a huge hump (known as nuchal hump) on their heads as they mature, akin to the popularity-gaining bumphead parrotfish. Second, their lower jaws elongate and broaden dramatically.
These two morphological enhancements, along with the ability to grow exponentially bigger and stronger than the females, make them far more superior.
“Since you are constantly drifting, the landscape is ever-changing”
Both males and females have distinctive hyper-elongated ventral fins for steering and balance, which explains why they have the ability to either sit patiently while waiting for a fruit or an insect to drop despite the flow of the river, or inspect a potential prey, going back and forth, covering all angles. They are highly inquisitive and rely on sounds and vibrations most of the time, given the limited visibility of the water whenever it rains.
The strong jaws are lined with tiny teeth that give them a solid grip on a fruit or an escaping fish or bug. The big, powerful tail is responsible for that brutish force. Built like an absolute tank, these ray-finned fish have stout, rough bodies that are covered with a bony armour of spines all over, making them extremely hardy and nasty. I call them the Crimson Juggernauts of Borneo.
Against All Odds
There is a learning curve in everything and fly fishing for the red kaloi is no different. However, this is a real steep one. First, it is the weather. The entire island of Borneo is geographically located in the equatorial zone, also known as the ’ever-wet zone’, receiving huge amounts of rain all year round.
And when it rains in Borneo, it is no joke. In my time there, I have witnessed the rivers rise up to six to ten meters high, making them extremely dangerous and unfishable. And it takes time for the high, violent waters to recede - typically 1 to 3 days, provided it stays dry during this period. Problem is, it usually does not. There is always a high likelihood of rain occurring multiple times a day, and it is likely to continue over the next few consecutive days, weeks even. The speed of flow of the river, the water levels, and the water clarity are important elements that have a direct correlation to finding the elusive red kaloi. When the water levels are high due to the occurrence of rain (could even be from upstream),
it becomes exponentially harder to locate the fish with more real estate to cover, lower visibility (for both you and the fish) and their usual feeding patterns changed. Higher water levels enable the red kaloi to get access to overhanging leaves from vines and trees that would be otherwise unreachable during low or normal water levels. There have been several occasions when we witnessed the red kaloi feeding on these leaves, tugging them from beneath in the high, turbid waters, which could also present a rare opportunity to have a shot by placing your fly at them.
Second would be the challenging nature of the rainforest. As your boat drifts down the river, you are doing many things at the same time. You have to maintain a good sense of balance and stability on these narrow wooden boats while looking out for slower pockets of the rivers with structures, preferably where there are white-looking bubbles swirling or amassing. These are what we call ‘food collection points’ (again, the red kaloi do work smart).
Since you are constantly drifting, the landscape is ever-changing, as you attempt to avoid overhanging vines and canopy of trees when you cast. High temperatures and humidity mean wounds can potentially turn septic.
Infection sets in quickly and can become a problem – especially if bites and wounds, which are inevitable in such hostile environments, are not treated properly. Flies will start to land on these wounds and they become pus-filled and painful. I was feverish towards the last few days of the expedition and felt rather sick.
I pushed on despite all that but had to end the expedition on the 18th day due to the relentless rain.
“The rivers are filled with layers and layers of underwater structures from fallen trees and branches”
Lastly, it is everything about the red kaloi. The bulls can grow real big. A Dayak friend told me the village record was a whopping 18kg specimen caught on a spear. The largest ever recorded was 21kg. Why is that a problem, you ask? Well, you are in their fortresses.
They could approach your fly slow, take a pause and inspect, and retreat, and you think it is over, and when you think the opportunity is gone, it comes right back and at the fly, oftentimes in the most subtle of takes. It is a true test of patience and understanding, especially when you come across a red kaloi that is so careful.
One wrong move, you lose. And that particular shot could be your third or fourth day without a fish, with all that pressure, frustration and anxiety coming all at once.
The rivers are filled with layers and layers of underwater structures from fallen trees and branches - the exact places they hunt and nest.
What’s more? These highly territorial brutes are strong, dirty fighters at their core, and are extremely motivated to go for the snags. If you cannot stop the fish, you end up getting buried. They are also highly intelligent. They are also known to take a long time to inspect a fly, some up to 8 to 10 seconds long.
Choice of Gear, How to Work Them & Results
Whilst poppers work (slow pop, with occasional pauses), I have had the best results with hopper fly patterns. You basically fly fish the red kaloi like fly fishing a trout with a dry fly.
The only difference here is that your flies are way bigger (and don’t worry about your flies being too big; I used up to 3/0 hooks and most of the flies ended up completely in the mouth of the red kaloi).
“Hooks were mangled and opened. Just total chaos!”
And because we were told by the Dayaks that one of the favourite treats of the red kaloi are the big, black jungle cockroaches, Minggaang developed what we call the ‘BBC’, which stands for ‘Big Black Cock-roach’.
To catch the attention of the red kaloi and mimic a large insect falling and plopping on the surface of the water, you want to ‘slap’ your fly as hard as you can each time you cast. And once your fly is in position, you do not want to move your hopper fly or ‘BBC’, except to collect the slack line as your boat continues to drift.
Fly fishing and drifting down the rivers engulfed by the tight, overhanging canopy of the rainforest, a shorter ‘jungle’ rod is beneficial. I went with the discontinued 7’11” Sage Bass II 390gr Peacock as my heaviest gun, and the lighter alternative of the Sage Bass II 330gr Largemouth.
Whilst the reels don’t quite matter since you cannot allow much “giving” during a battle with a red kaloi, I went with a 10 wt Abel Super Series (I like fail-proof reels, especially when you are a long way from home) loaded with Scientific Anglers’ 10wt Jungle Titan for maximum casting efficiency in the 30 to 60 ft range.
Tippet/leader wise, I went heavy - 60lbs, 72lbs and 100lbs of fluorocarbon, yeah no joke. Thankfully, the red kaloi are seemingly not leader-shy. I landed a total of 7 bulls in my expedition, smallest being over 3kg and the largest at about 8kg. I have lost monsters that I simply could not stop. One of them broke my 390gr Peacock stick with a 72lbs tippet when I tried stopping it from burying me. I also suffered a few occasions when my 60lbs tippet snapped clean. Hooks were mangled and opened. Just total chaos!
The bottom line - there should not be any weakness in your gear. Rods need to have a strong backbone that lifts, tippets need to be heavy to withstand the high tension and tolerate the abuse, hooks need to be extra-strong (thick, big game, saltwater grade). You also want to cater enough time to buffer off rainy days. The odds of having good weather would be about 1:3 or 1:4 e.g. 3 days with more or less no rain in a 10-day trip.
My 21-day expedition was cut short to 18 due to the weather and the amount of wound infections I received. Within that period, I experienced 5 days of nice, dry and hot weather, but even with somewhat perfect conditions during those highly limiting ‘good days’, I did not catch kaloi on each of those days. You could say it’s a-fish-of-a-thousand-casts. You would also come across moments when you thought you had solved the puzzle, only to be left with more questions over the next few days that follow.
These are my biggest takeaways from the expedition, which hap-
pen to align with my mantra in fly fishing: Be open to new ideas and be flexible; always listen, especially to the locals, and adapt to changes; stay resiliant, have faith in yourself and never be afraid of hard work; and lastly, be prepared to grab it when the opportunities present themselves.
Borneo, being the second oldest rainforest (between 130 to 140 million years old), holds many secrets, and the discovery of this fishery is certainly one of them.
For fly anglers who are looking for something truly exceptional in so many ways, the red kaloi may be that fish. But if you ever decide to pursue the red kaloi, make sure you are able to lay everything on the line in search for them. The rain, the jungle, the hundreds and thousands of casts each day when you are able to head out to get a shot, the misses, the failures, the mistakes - don’t bother unless you are totally obsessed over the red kaloi. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
The Sailfish Capital of the World
As a seasoned traveler who traverses the globe in pursuit of fishing adventures, I’ve made it a tradition to inquire about the distinctive attributes of a country whenever I meet someone from a new corner of the world. This approach serves as an engaging icebreaker, prompting interesting conversations. For instance, if I were to discuss my homeland, the Czech Republic, the response would be straightforward: renowned for its exceptional beer and the allure of its beautiful women!By KATKA SVAGROVA
Yet, pondering the same question about Guatemala, a land I’ve now visited twice, I find several facets that define this nation. Foremost, it stands as possibly the ultimate destination on Earth for sailfish fishing enthusiasts. Additionally, its landscape boasts a multitude of volcanoes, four of which remain active. So, while angling might lure you to Guatemala, outdoor enthusiasts will find ample opportunities for exploration - including captivating hikes near the volcanoes, where one can witness their smoky emanations and rock-spewing displays from a secure vantage. The pervasive influences of the Mayan culture further enhance Guatemala’s appeal, rendering it an exquisite vacation spot.
World Heritage Site
My journey commenced with a flight into Guatemala City, with its modern airport facilities. My base was the nearby town of Antigua - a UNESCO World Heritage site celebrated for its Spanish colonial architecture. After a brief period of acclimatization, I embarked on a short drive to the Pacific coast, where I knew the thrill of billfish encounters awaited.
My lodging was at the esteemed Casa Vieja Lodge, undeniably one of the country’s premier fishing resorts. From the moment of arrival, this impeccably organized lodge displayed an unwavering commitment to guest satisfaction. Exiting my car, I was greeted with a deceptively innocent cocktail that hit the spot in the way only exquisite concoctions can.
From Florida to Guatemala
Guiding this establishment is David Salazar, who relocated from Florida to fulfill his vision on the Pacific shores of Guatemala. Over time, he fashioned an extraordinary lodge, supported by a team of skilled guides and a fleet of boats dedicated to pursuing anglers’ aspirations. And what aspirations they are!
Marlins (blue, black, and striped) as well as sailfish attract the majority of visitors, yet the waters also teem with abundant mahi-mahi and yellowfin tuna. Guatemala uniquely offers the potential for astonishing numbers of raised and released sailfish in a single day.
It’s not unheard of to raise over a hundred fish daily, a truly mind-boggling spectacle. Notably, Guatemalan sailfish can be encountered year-round, with peak activity spanning November to May.
This extended window ensures a nearly constant opportunity to schedule your expedition and uncover the wonders of Guatemala.
Now, while I personally identify as a fly fishing enthusiast, the prospect of tackling a 400lb Marlin with a delicate 12wt rod is, indeed, an overly formidable challenge for someone my size. However, the prospect of tangling with a 70-120lb sailfish lies comfortably within my skill set. Thus, it was the latter species that captured my angler’s heart.
“The captain’s proclamation of a sighting triggers a flurry of activity”
On our initial day, we embarked at dawn aboard a luxuriously appointed fishing vessel, replete with outriggers and an array of gear designed to entice sailfish. Armed with 12wt Hardy Zane Pro rods equipped with Leviathan floating fly lines from RIO Products, I swiftly learned the importance of a robust drag system and ample backing on my reel, given the frenzied runs these fish are renowned for.
The initial hurdle entails locating the fish, a task that often involves cruising across the water, although in Guatemala, the search is rarely protracted. Seabirds and leaping fish provided valuable clues to the whereabouts of the sailfish, complementing the captains’ knowledge of favored spots. Yet, serendipity also plays a role, as the boat maneuvers until the target is spotted.
How to do it
Luring a sailfish to the boat adheres to a straightforward, tried-and-true technique, likely familiar to most angling enthusiasts. The crew comprises a minimum of two individuals, with the captain stationed in a tower elevated above the deck, steering the vessel while scanning for fish. The captain’s attention is frequently fixed on a teaser, trailed behind the boat from one of the outriggers, positioned some 50 to 100 meters behind.
As the angler, your perch is on the stern deck, eyes locked on the teaser. Vibrantly hued, it dances along the water’s surface, synchronized with the boat’s velocity of 4-6 knots. Favorable weather conditions granted us calm seas, markedly simplifying the process.
Put the fly in the water and prepare to strike
The fly you present mirrors the teaser’s appearance, typically sizable and often vividly colored, though casting it can be demanding. Your line should be positioned at your feet, poised for action as the fish draws near. Upon your fly’s entry into the water, the crewman swiftly retracts the teaser, ideally inducing the sailfish’s confusion and subsequent strike at your fly.
When a sailfish materializes, pandemonium erupts instantly. The captain’s proclamation of a sighting triggers a flurry of activity as the crew expertly retrieves the teaser, ensuring the sailfish remains intrigued by the illusion of a potential meal.
Your mission commences with spotting the sailfish, a skill that becomes more intuitive with practice but initially proves challenging. The telltale sign is the towering dorsal fin slicing through the water, with the fish’s body just beneath the surface.
As one might imagine, this heart-pounding process is prone to mishaps, yet amid the cacophony of shouts and the surge of adrenaline, the boat may decelerate or even halt. Your role transitions to furious stripping in an endeavor to provoke the sailfish into engulfing your fly.The exhilaration mounts as the immense fish materializes, a shadowy figure beneath the surface, agile and swift. It approaches, recedes, then in a thrilling instant - potentially after several attempts - engulfs your fly with a forceful strike. With a firm strip and set, your connection is established!
“The exhilaration mounts as the immense fish materializes”
Set the drag
Should you have line on the deck, caution is vital to prevent entanglement around your ankles, between your toes, or underfoot. The fish accelerates at a breathtaking pace, leaving no doubt about its displeasure at the sudden intrusion. I engaged my drag firmly, yet the reel’s resonant whir echoed as the fish surged, 100 meters and then 200 meters. Sailfish tend to commence with a display of acrobatics shortly after being hooked, often leaping near the boat before embarking on another surge and descending into the depths. Ultimately, they resurface, permitting careful maneuvering to bring the fish to the vessel’s side for photographic documentation and safe release.It’s imperative to capture snapshots of these majestic giants while submerged, ensuring a continuous flow of water through their gills to maintain their well-being before they are released.
The trip in summary
Despite contending with less-thanideal weather conditions during our three-day stay at Casa Vieja Lodge,
we enjoyed innumerable encounters with sailfish, mahi-mahi, and even a handful of marlins.
The latter we chose to bypass, recognizing their size surpassed the capabilities of my 12wt rod. Ultimately, landing over 10 fish in three days solidified this as an exceptionally triumphant excursion. If you’re considering targeting billfish on a fly rod, Guatemala is unquestionably the ideal locale to immerse yourself in this pursuit. Countless opportunities for encounters with billfish punctuate your day, coupled with serene boat rides and an exceptional degree of service and professionalism from your crew. I genuinely struggle to envision a more perfect destination anywhere on Earth for indulging in such an extraordinary billfish fishing experience.
“Landing over 10 fish in three days solidified this as an exceptionally triumphant excursion”
Fact File – Casa Vieja Lodge
Built over twenty years ago as the private retreat to one of Guatemala’s most prominent sporting families, the newly renovated Casa Vieja Lodge is sure to delight guests who have fished all over the world. Family owned and operated by Kristen and Capt. David Salazar since 2013, yet Capt. David started in Guatemala 1998 with Tim Choate, as one of the original captains of Fins ‘N Feathers.
Continual upgrading makes Casa Vieja Lodge the ultimate retreat after a day on the water. There is no surprise that the Lodge was designed by lifelong sportsmen who believe that world class fishing deserves world class accommodations – regardless of how far you are from home.
A majority of the lodge staff and Captains were employees of the original Fins ‘n Feathers Inn that began the Guatemala sportfishing industry and are all masters of guest relations as well as lifelong friends of many clients.
The New Fish
Eat more fish, the doctors say. But is the salmon you are consuming really healthy? What happens when you create a new animal and place it in the sea? This book will tell you the answer.
The Brand Buffet
Simms: FALL RUN HYBRID HOODY
The balance to move freely through it all, Simms Fall Run Hybrid Jacket brings together premium lightweight insulation, water-resistant protection, and a stretch fleece construction for a layering solution that covers all sides of the equation. This hybrid hooded insulator is built with 100% recycled polyester ripstop with a DWR finish for water resistance, combined with fleece panels in the side body and underarms for stretch and mobility. It is constructed with PrimaLoft® Black Eco insulation (body) using 60% recycled materials and it is treated for water repellency. For more info, please refer to the European distributor: www.flyfisheurope.com/simms/
Hanak Competition: STRIKE INDICATOR LINE
This deep-dyed indicator line offers high-visibility strike-indication that doesn’t fade. The material is great for building your own euro-nymphing rigs and, having fished it for grayling and brown trout, we’ve found it to be both supple and abrasion-resistant. It comes in 0.20 and 0.25mm on 50m spools, which provide ample material for all your euro-nymphing needs. Highly recommended! For more information, please refer to https://www.hanak.eu/en/
Bajiío: OZELLO FRAMES
Named for one of Bajío’s favorite spots in Old Florida, where Grouper Gary braves hazardous wilderness waterways to help hook you up with Gag Grouper creeping out of springfed crevices in the limestone, Ozello is an aggressive fishing style frame with extra wide sun blocking temples for long, exposed days out in Ozello Keys - and beyond. We’ve had a chance to test these vivid and comfortable frames and have found the violet mirror lenses to be perfect for flats fishing and summer fishing throughout Scandinavia, where contrast-enhancing properties are required. Highly recommended! For more information, see www.bajiosunglasses.com
Fly Skinz: SPOON FLY SKINZ
These pre-made templates make tying perfectly shaped spoon flies so easy. Just tye them in by their tabs and epoxy glue over the top. Add paint or glitter to the epoxy to make them any color you want. Sized for hooks 2, 1 or 1/0 with 16 templates per package. For more info: www.flyskinz.com/
Forét: FORÉT X STANLEY TRIGGER-ACTION TRAVEL MUG
The best way to prevent coffee spills? Get a mug that won’t leak in the first place. With a NeverLeak™ technology, that features a unique 3-position lid that rotates open for easy sipping, then locks tight when closed. Take it and toss it anywhere without worrying about your stuff getting wet. Stanley’s signature vacuum insulation keeps your coffee or tea hot for hours. The lid also disassembles for a deep clean. More at https://www.foretstudio.dk
The North Face: BOREALIS
Nail your travel life with the Borealis Backpack. It transitions from forest trails to commuter trains with ease. Available as a 27-litre Womens Borealis and a 28-litre Borealis model, both roomy enough for extra travel layers and a packed lunch or camera essentials, books and binders. There’s a protected laptop compartment, organisation panel, zip pockets, two external water bottle pockets one with quick draw smartphone access that you can reach without removing the bag and an external fleece-lined pocket. The FlexVent™ suspension system of flexible moulded
shoulder straps, a padded mesh back section and a breathable lumbar panel delivers longterm carrying comfort. This season’s updated model is made using recycled materials and features an extended bungee cord system for more external storage. More info on their extensive backpack lineup here: https://www.thenorthface.eu
The Brand Buffet
FlyMen Fishing Co: THE FOXY SHRIMP
This Fly Tying Kit contains everything you need to tie 6 Foxy Shrimp 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. Simple and quick to tie, the fly uses the awardwinning Fish-Skull® Mini Sculpin Helmet to get the fly down fast and ensure that it will always swim in the hook-up position without snagging. For more info: www.flymenfishingco.com
FlyLab: ACID FLY REEL
New Zealand fly reel brand, FlyLab, has now launched its Acid series of fly reels for when you’re wanting some extra drag output. The reels feature machine-finished die-cast aluminium frame and spool, a Vcut spool for added line capacity, a lowprofile reel foot for improved balance, and a sealed drag system with stainless and ceramic stacked drag for low start up inertia and high output. The reel comes in sizes ranging from 5/6 to 9/10. For more info, please refer to the European distributor; www.flyfisheurope.com/flylab/
JMC Visiolight: MEMORY-FREE
Euro-nymphing has really taken off in recent years, and French fly tackle manufacturer, JMC, has been at the forefront of developing tackle for this purpose. Among the newest products is the JMC Visiolight floating Eurolines that meet World Championship diameter regulations. Having tested them, we’ve found them to be extremely supple and easy-to-cast. Being remarkably slick, they shoot well. Additionally, they are memory-free, which minimizes the risk of line tangles. For more info, please visit: www.mouchesdecharette.com
SEMI-AUTOMATIC NYMPHING REEL
The family of legendary YOTO semi-automatic reels expands in 2023 with the new JMC® Yoto Nymph version specifically developed to meet the demands of modern nymph fishing techniques using nylon as mainline. The ceramic guide integrated directly into the reel structure effectively reduces abrasion. The ultra-precise micrometric brake stands out for its ergonomics thanks to its large size. The fighting handle meets the expectations of nymph anglers who love big fish on light tippets. We’ve had a chance to test the reel on our local trout and grayling streams and have found the reel to exceed our expectations. It’s lightweight, robust, and dependable. The brake system is ultra-smooth, and the semi-automatic arm is intuitive and picks up just the right amount of line with the right (minimum) use of force. This is a great valuefor-money reel and competitively priced compared to, for instance, the Peux Fulgor, which is regarded by many as the bench-mark. For more info: www.mouchesdecharette.com
The Brand Buffet
FlyMen Fishing Co: FAUX BUCKTAIL SYNTHETIC FIBERS
Tie flies of all types and sizes from nymphs to Clousers to T-Bones with Fish-Skull Faux Bucktail, a tapered synthetic multi-use fly tying fiber designed to imitate typical premium-length natural bucktail. Fish-Skull Faux Bucktail fibers have the same basic diameter, gentle crinkle, and taper as natural bucktail. In appearance, it looks almost identical and has the same distinctive bucktail fly or lure action in the water. However, the fibers are not hollow (which helps your fly sink faster) and will not “flare” in the same way as regular bucktail while tying. This means you will need to tie with slightly different techniques to achieve the same effect. For more info: https://flymenfishingcompany.com
Primal Fly Rods: POINT ROD SERIES
Presentations must be on POINT when fishing tight twigwaters and skinny streams, which is where the shorter length and slower action of the Primal Point rods shine. Developed for technical fishing in tight quarters, for optimal line control on the smallest of streams, for when pin-point accuracy is need - and with focus on delivering finesse flies to trout and grayling. These New Zealanddesigned rods offer great value-for-money and they come in sizes ranging from #3-5 and lengths ranging from 7,11 – 8,9’. For more info, please refer to the European distributor, www.flyfisheurope.com/primal/
Smith Creek: ROD CLIP+ WEARABLE ROD HOLDER
The Smith Creek Rod Clip™ frees up your hands to tie on a fly or show off that trophy fish you’ve just landed. The original, patented Smith Creek rod clips hold your fly rod securely and out of the way, keeping it from being accidently knocked free. Besides keeping grit out of the reel, the Rod Clip™ also keeps your outfit above the salt and out of the mud. No more having to lay your rod on the ground while releasing a fish! For more information, please refer to: https://www.smithcreek.co
BANKSIDE WADING BOOT
The new Grundéns Bankside Wading Boot is designed to function as a system with their highend line of Boundary GORE-TEX Stockingfoot Waders. Offering a tried and tested fit together with a premium, waterproof Nubuck leather construction, the Bankside Wading Boots are built to provide the most comfortable wading experience on the market. A Vibram® Idrogrip™ rubber outsole offers the ultimate in-river traction and is compatible with the Grundéns HEXAGRIP™ alloy cleat and carbide stud system for truly elevated grip and performance. Check out Grundens.com or your favorite fly shop for more details. For more info: www.grundens.com
Anglers: AFTTA TRUE
The first series of lines to feature the revolutionary AST PLUS slickness additive, Amplitude Textured series will shoot farther and last longer than any other line on the market, according to line-maker, Scientific Anglers. Amplitude Textured Trout Standard is a true to AFFTA line weight casters fly line. Built with a mid-length head for exceptional mending and accuracy at long distances. If you love casting, this line will provide you with a true-to-weight casting experience that may also help you become more on-point. For more information, please refer to European distributor, Flyfish Europe – www.flyfisheurope.com/sa/
The Brand Buffet
Scott Fly Rods Review : NEW SWING SERIES OF DOUBLEHANDERS
Yes, it’s been more than 10 years since Scott released their last series of double-handed fly rods – the Radian series. But it’s not because, they haven’t had the time or resources to bring new double handers to the market. It’s just that it isn’t part of Scott’s DNA to do so – unless they have something new and better to introduce. In 2023 they have. After three years of development, testing, and fine-tuning in collaboration with experts across the Northern hemisphere – from steelhead and pacific salmon fishermen in Canada and the US to Atlantic and Baltic salmon fishermen in Scandinavia – Scott is finally ready to launch their new Swing Series of double-handed rods. We’ve had the opportunity to test these rods on the Orkla River this summer and we’re super impressed. The finish, of course, is immaculate; very minimalist and elegant, but what really sets the rods apart is the immense recovery speed and directional stability of the blanks. These rods load deep into the blank while recovering extremely quickly and linearly.
And with individually fine-tuned actions these rods will help you cast further and more on-point with less effort. The rods also feel exceptionally light in hand, which is due to carefully chosen fittings – including angled titanium shooting eyes with silicon nitride that prevent line tangle. Having fished the Radians for more than five years, we’re talking about a monumental upgrade. And not only that. These rods are, without a doubt, among the finest fishing tools out there for those who like to swing flies for anadromous fish. For more info: www.scottflyrod.com
Book Review : THE NEW FISH
The new investigative book by Norwegian journalists Simen Sætre and Kjetil Østli reveals the shocking truth about the emergence of large-scale salmon farming, genetically bred Frankenfish, and the environmental disastors the industry has caused. Over a period of five years, Simen and Kjetil have conducted an extensive examination into Norway’s involvement in the worldwide salmon industry. Their groundbreaking work marks the first comprehensive assessment of the adverse impacts of marine aquaculture while, at the same time, shedding light on the animal welfare aspects and the impacts on wild Atlantic salmon stocks. Additionally, their book delves into the emergence of dissent within the industry. Recent achievements, such as the prohibition of netpen fish farms in Washington State and southern Argentina’s waters, signal a growing awareness of the ecological costs associated with genetically engineered fish.
“The New Fish” is a thorough, well-researched, and well-written book with just the right mix of sarcastic distance and indepth critical journalism to make it a captivating read for anyone – no matter their prior commitment to environmental- or conservational causes. One thing is for certain: It’s impossible to read the book without becoming deeply agitated, acutely purpose-oriented, and solidly opposed to open net-pen salmon farming. For more information, please refer to: www.patagoniaprovisions.com
Mustad: RUNE BIG GAME FLY HOOKS
This versatile fly hook, perfect with Mustad AlphaPoint®4.8 Technology, will work for a range of saltwater species, such as trevally, cobia, tripletail and redfish – but also, in smaller sizes, for seabass, seatrout, cod, and coalfish. The straight eye gives the fly a more natural swimming action when stripped in. Micro barb can easily be pinched down without damaging the hook for barbless applications. The hook is part of Mustad’s new Heritage Series, which spans more than 30 new hook designs. For more info: www.mustad-fishing.com
WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE
A perspective onBrownAppalachian Trout
Expanding as far north as the Canadian province Newfoundland and as far south as north Alabama, the Appalachian Mountain range is filled with endless blue lines and mountains full of wisdom. While the range is vast and mighty, the focus of this article will be on the southern range and all its beauty. In sections of the Appalachian Mountain streams lives a wild and elusive predator; an apex fish eager to attack a fly. While most would venture to say the native brook trout, a key indicator species for the health of cold-water river systems, that’s not what this article is about. This article is about the elusive wild brown trout, the apex piscivore that resides in the jungle streams of the Appalachian range. This is a perspective on Appalachian brown trout.By TREVOR JOHANNES
First, I think understanding the history of brown trout in America should be explored. Brown trout were introduced to America in the late 1800s and early 1900s after overfishing, logging and other factors reduced the native brook trout habitat. To combat this issue Fred Mather proposed an idea that would change the history of brown trout fishing in America. An agreement between Fred Mathers, a fish biologist from New York, and Lucius von Behr, a culturist from Germany, led to the introduction of brown trout to America soil. With a landscape changed from anthropogenic influences, a more resilient trout species was introduced to appease the decisions of our past.
A shipment of roughly 80,000 fertilized brown trout eggs in exchange for whitefish eggs would create the most sought-after cold-water species in America. No one truly knows the origins of these eggs, but history has said these eggs came from the Black Forest of Baden-Wurtemberg, Germany. A place that still holds the ancestral traits of these fish today.
On April 11, 1984, in Michigan’s Baldwin River the first stocking event took place, where 9,700 fry were released into the river. The results were proven to be a success and were considered an invasive species to the waterway. Due to brown trout’s adaptive qualities, they were able to thrive and, hence, continued practices of stocking occurred throughout the eastern United States.
The following year brown trout eggs from Scotland arrived in America and were released to the same three hatcheries. For the next five years they were released across suitable habitats where they continued to thrive. These two strains thrived within the river, creating naturally reproducing trout.
“A more resilient trout species was introduced to appease the decisions of our past”
The two strains that were introduced into the river systems of the United States are believed to have created the “American brown trout” that we fish for today.
Where the rhododendron grow
When most people think of wild brown trout their mind wanders to the cowboy, treasure-and-gem states, rightfully so, but there is a place where these browns exist in the southeast. The southernmost regions of the Appalachian Mountains hold Wild brown trout. Due to higher elevations, lush rhododendron, and thick canopy cover these streams can thrive year-round. This article is going to focus on the southern region of the Appalachian Mountains and where my home waters are.
Throughout the Appalachian range there are stretches of river that hold elusive, depth dwelling brown trout, that can reach impressive sizes. Some of these trout can easily exceed 20 inches. Though knowledgeable and rare, these fish live all throughout the Appalachian range. These fish fight hard, giving even
the most experienced angler a run for their money. While most wild browns range from 10 to 15 inches in length, the lush forests and cascading waterfalls make it worth your while.
Cascading waterfalls into deep plunge pools, rhododendrons edging the river and slot canyons are just the start of what hidden secrets these waters hold. Most of these rivers have good access points and do not receive a great deal of fishing pressure. The exception to this is the Davidson River, which gets a great deal of pressure.
Within the Davidson, there are holdover fish, wild browns, and stocked trout that live in these areas. A Holdover fish is a fish that was stocked the previous year and stayed in the river. If you want to find the wild brown trout, you’ll need to go above the hatchery. Over time these fish will adapt to their environment and become quite knowledgeable on flies. Holdover trout and stocked trout have their place but let’s focus on the wild browns that live throughout the Appalachian region.
Bootleggers and fly rods
Weary and weathered, these fish dwell in deep pockets and ambush points that make them hard to target. When targeting these fish, start by fishing the deep pools and ambush points. Look for overhanging cover or fallen down logs where these fish can ambush prey.
Make your casts count. Examine the water, make a gameplan and execute. Most times these fish are lying in prime locations. With that in mind there are multiple ways to effectively target these fish.
Streamer and nymph fishing
We will break this down into two sections: Streamers and nymphing. While sulfur, march browns, caddis, yellow sally, stonefly and other hatches take place throughout the year using streamers and nymphing will be most effective.
Brown trout are lazy and will look for holding water where they exert the least amount of energy. These rivers run cold and clear, which can make the fish spooky. Look for changes in the river like seams, ledges, undercut banks and boulders. Rainy or cloudy days will increase your chances of connecting with these fish.
When targeting these fish think like Kelly Galloup, “Hunt, don’t hope”.
When targeting these fish, anything from a 3-6 weight rod will work. For streamers I would suggest a 5-6 weight 9.0’ rod that allows you to throw streamers. When using streamers on these rivers, less is more. Rarely will I throw a streamer bigger than 4 inches in length.
For nymphing a rod longer in length will allow you to high-stick. While nymphing, most will use a longer rod to get more reach, I prefer a 9’ or 9’6” rod due to the tight quarters some of these rivers produce.
“Look for changes in the river like seams, ledges, undercut banks and boulders”
Using nymphs with tungsten beads are extremely important to get your flies down quickly. This is essential because these fish will hold in deep holes during the day for safety. Your flies need to get down.
Although these fish can be targeted year-round, there are more optimal times during the year to catch these fish. Spring and fall are going to be your best bet for more consistent hook ups. During the spring, waters start to warm up and spring showers show up. This is the perfect time to use streamers to target these fish.
With water temperatures on the rise the trout’s metabolism begins to speed up. Top that with stained water from the rain and it’s a streamer junkies paradise! Look for prime holding waters, behind logs and off of seams. Imitating baitfish and crayfish will yield the best results.
water temperatures are rising, and this encourages bugs to take to the sky. This is an opportunity to trick one of these browns with emerger patterns or the dry fly.
Nymphing is also an effective approach in the spring because that is when the majority of insect hatches take place. Bugs also feel when the
As the year progresses you can target these fish in the summer, but they will go to the deepest holes and only feed during low light. If you do want to target them, do it in the morning or evening to avoid over stressing fish. I suggest targeting other species at this time until the fall rolls around.
Fly fishing for the wild browns in the fall makes them more predictable. Fall is when brown trout spawn and the best time of year to catch the biggest brown in the river. Their movements become more predictable as they work their way upriver to their spawning ground.
“Native brook trout have been pushed to the headwaters and higher elevations”
I want to note that fishing for trout while they are on their redds is considered unethical and if you want the future of your fisheries to thrive, I suggest you don’t fish on redds. It can be used to locate fish but never fish directly on a redd. Fish will hold below these redds and pick off eggs. This is my favorite time to fish BIG streamers. The males get big kypes and become extremely aggressive and will attack anything in range.
Fish deep pools as big browns stage and get ready to spawn. Lastly, you can target these fish in winter, but it is a different game. You will want to downsize everything and have slow long drifts in areas with slow current. Fish are predictably “on location”, but their feeding habits slow down substantially.
Separation of estates
Lastly, I want to address the presence of native Appalachian brook trout in these waters. Appalachian brook trout, a member of the char family, require extremely cold and well oxygenated waters to thrive. With that being said, their populations have been dwindling due to anthropogenic practices and it has pushed them to a smaller home range over the years.
Native brook trout have been pushed to the headwaters and higher elevations in order to survive the changes to the watershed. In a normal water system brown trout will outcompete brook trout but within these river systems there are natural occurring barriers, such as waterfalls, that help to separate these two and give them both a chance at thriving. Furthermore, brook trout have moved to the headwaters where their needs can be met.
Within the mountains there are big waterfalls and plunge pools that help to separate the brown and brook trout so they can live in the same watershed independently. Both species are important to the landscape, and both can share these waters.
In conclusion, there are hundreds of river miles throughout the Appalachian range that hold wild brown trout. A region of the east that will stay untouched and wild. These trout are truly wild and live in a breathtaking area. With thick rhododendron throughout, moss invested trees, roaring waterfalls, you truly feel like you’re in a jungle, coining these trout, “Jungle Trout”.
Go explore some of Appalachia’s most beautiful rivers and see why these fish hold a special place in my heart. Lastly, be a good steward to your land and water so beautiful places like this continue to thrive and continue to stay…wild.
You make the effort. We make it effortless.
Who’s Your Daddy!
Firstly, lets get something out of the way, so as to avoid confusion. In North America, a daddy long legs is the name given to the Harvestman spider, while in Europe, daddy long legs is the name given to members of the crane fly family, a little confusing but now that we are all on the same page…By BARRY ORD CLARKE (WWW.THEFEATHERBENDER.COM)
Tipulidae, craneflies or daddy long legs, are a familiar sight both on and off the water more or less the whole summer. There are in fact several hundred species of craneflies from just a couple of mm to over 60mm long. Although most species of daddy long legs are terrestrial there are a few that are aquatic. Craneflies with their scraggly demeanor are remarkably poor aviators and once airborne are largely at the mercy of the wind and where it takes them, being forced to crash land on the water.
With a decent breeze they are blown across the waters surface, like tumble weed, trailing their legs behind them, in some cases even making a bow wave as they blow and skate across the surface.
This behavior and their sheer size makes them extremely attractive to feeding trout and can provide the dry fly fisher with some memorable sport with violent takes.
Realism and durability
Many detached body cranefly patterns are somewhat delicate and
easily damaged, be it by fish, prolonged casting or just general ware and tare. Here is a pattern that I was shown by a fly tying friend Erwin Tibad some years ago, that is not only realistic but will probably outlast most other patterns.
The detached body method that is illustrated here requires a little practice but is an excellent way of creating suitable sized bodies, without extra weight or using larger hooks, that will in turn introduce more weight, which is inappropriate for patterns that are intended to float. What is needed is a material that will produce the length and bulk of the natural but also added buoyancy.
Once the technique is mastered, the vinyl body is a welded closed cell, full of air and will float respectively! That being said… You can also add an insert with a small slither of closed cell foam for super buoyancy! The foam body fits all these requirements, just make sure that the foam you use isn’t one that will take on water, like a bath sponge, but a foam of a closed cell type.
Although these bodies are transparent, look delicate and extremely realistic, they are remarkably stalwart and will withstand a hammering.
Tying and Material tips
If you find that the finished body is difficult to remove from the extended body tool, smear a microscopic amount of Vaseline on the business end of the tool before you wrap the vinyl strip. I have found that some tea light candles burn unevenly and are thus unsuitable for the job. You need a tea light that has a steady flame.
The felt pens that I have found work well are, Faber Castell, but if you already own felt pens try them, they may work. The colour I use for the natural body is ‘Nougat 178***’ But don’t just try the natural colours for the bodies, try bright attractor colours such as bright green, orange and yellow, these could make the difference when there are lots of craneflies on the water and add that extra attractor element.When knotting the pheasant tail for the legs there is a very simple method for doing this.
You can watch the video here:
Step 1 Step 2 Step 3
You will need a Vinyl surgical glove that is powder free. These are inexpensive and come in a box of 100, this is more than you will ever need so its a good idea to purchase with friends and share them out. You also get a little more for your money if you buy the XL or XXL size gloves.
With a large pair of scissors, make a cut across the palm just below the fingers. Take a glove and lie it flat on the table.
Leave the thumb on the glove. Now make a cut from the wrist, up over the palm to the edge of the thumb. Open the glove out and remove the thumb so you have the largest sheet of vinyl possible.
Boil a little water and place the vinyl sheet in a bowl with the hot water for a few minutes. This will remove the creases from the vinyl and make it easier to handle and cut.
Once its soaked for a few minutes and the creases are gone, remove it and let it dry.
The palm of the glove nearest the fingers is the thickest vinyl, so mark one edge of the sheet so you know which is the thickest/thinest.
Using a ruler and scalpel, cut the sheet into 4-5mm strips.
Step 11 Step 12
At the end of the tool is a small slot, place the thin end of the vinyl strip in the slot.
Roll the tool between the finger and thumb of your right hand, to wrap the vinyl loosely around the rod. If you wrap too tight the finished body will be difficult to remove from the tool.
Wrap the vinyl around and downward until the desired body length is achieved.
Step 14 Step 15
Holding the vinyl in place with index finger break off the excess vinyl. Leaving a little end piece as shown.
This maneuver has to be done in one movement burn and roll. Take a lighter and burn the end of the vinyl and while its still melted roll the tool so the vinyl end will ‘weld’ itself to the end of the vinyl body.
This should be the result. That little weld will hold everything in place for the remaining maneuvers.
Step 17 Step 18
Colour the body with your felt pen, using brush strokes from the base of the tail to the tip. This will give a better segmenting on the finished body.
Light your tea light candle. Now holding the tool 5-6cm above the flame carefully warm the vinyl while rolling the tool between your fingers. Take care not to burn it! When the vinyl body becomes shiny and transparent the body is finished.
The extended body tool is available just for a few $ from: https://shorturl.at/suCFZ
You can also view the whole tying video for this pattern here:
Mother of all daddies//
Hook: Mustad Heritage C49SAP #12
Tying thread: Sheer 14/0 Brown
Body: Vinyl surgical glove (Powder Free)
Legs: Pheasant tail fibers
Wings: Indian cock hackles
Hackle: Brown saddleLet the tool and body cool before you try to remove it from the tool.
The new Mustad Heritage Alfa point hooks are perfect for this pattern.
Secure your curved caddis hook in the vice.
Cover the first 2/3 of the hook shank with tying thread.
Take your finished extended body and remove it from the tool.
If desired you can cut a thin strip of foam to be used as a body insert.
Insert the foam into the extended body as shown.
Tie the extended body on top of the hook shank at the read of the foundation thread wraps.
Prepare six pheasant tail fibre legs by putting a couple of knots in them.
Trim away the excess foam insert and tie in two trailing legs - one each side of the body.
Step 10 Step 11 Step 12
Once secured, trim away the surplus hackle and secure with a few wraps of tying thread.
Step 13 Step 14 Step 15
Select and prepare a hackle. This is done by stripping off the fibers from the base of the hackle. Stripping a little more fibres from the read side of the hackle. This its always a good tip for all hackles, that little extra bare hackle stem helps you steer and position your hackle perfectly when starting the first wrap!
Tie in your hackle at the base of the wings.
At the centre to the thorax, tie in two more legs - one each side.
Now tie in the last two legs out over the hook eye.
Step 17 Step 18
Carefully wrap your hackle forward through the legs and tie off behind the hook eye as shown.
Whip finish and give the head a drop of varnish.two Indian cock hackles of similar length for the wings. the hackles in a X shape, with the center of the X being the tying in point, tie in both hackle at once.
FLY TYER SPOTLIGHT
Fly tying is a wonderful pastime and in our “Fly Tyer Spotlight” column, we present some of the most talented and innovative fly tyers across Europe and beyond. They are fly tyers worthy of acclaim and attention – and they represent a great source of creative inspiration. In this installment, we present Milan Marjanovic who has become well-known for his Danube salmon flies.By THE EDITORIAL STAFF
Full name: Milan Marjanović
Home country: Slovenia
Instagram profile: @mmayflytying
How did you get into fly tying?
Since my father took me fishing for the first time as a child, I started de veloping a deep attraction to nature and water. The love for fishing and my passion for creating things led me to discover the world of fly tying.
As a child, I was captivated by the process of my father making artificial flies, and it sparked a talent and a desire within me to inno-
Fishing and tying artificial flies have become an integral part of my life, a passion I simply cannot live without. This passion led me to establish the fly fishing brand MMayFly-Tying Shop.
What was once a personal passion has now become my business, allowing me to channel my happiness and emotional energy into crafting exquisite artificial flies.
What is it about fly tying that you enjoy so much?
I am deeply drawn to the sense of mastery that comes with mastering both basic and intricate techniques
in fly tying. The process provides me with a constant boost of creativity and allows me to push the limits of my imagination.
I relish the freedom to experiment with materials, colors, and fly functions, enabling me to create flies with a natural look and realistic colors.
“I pour my imagination and creativity into creating large flies”
Additionally, I find great joy in exploring various sizes and observing how different flies perform in the water. Whenever I successfully hook something new and it attracts a prized fish, the sheer delight I experience is akin to that of a child.
What kind of flies do you enjoy tying the most and why?
While I initially started with dry flies, my repertoire now encompasses saltwater and freshwater flies.
However, it is when I tie flies for ”the king of rivers”, Huchen, that a strong desire and a focus on intricate details awaken within me.
As I have the privilege of living just a few hundred meters from one of the best huchen rivers in Europe, this magnificent fish has become my ultimate challenge. Therefore,
I pour my imagination and creativity into creating large flies specifically tailored for huchen fishing. It fascinates me to
consider how to entice the fish with my fly, even at times when it is stationary and not actively feeding.
When designing a new fly pattern, what are the most important and determining factors for you?
For me, the key factors in designing a new fly pattern are stability, movement, the overall appearance, and the ability to tie it relatively quickly.
While I do occasionally fish with classic one-piece flies, I lean more
towards realistic, multi-part flies that incorporate various materials.
I find great satisfaction in expressing my imagination and skill by crafting intricate and lifelike flies that require more effort and attention to detail.
How do you source materials for your flies, and what qualities do you look for?
I source materials for my flies from various stores and manufacturers in the EU and USA.
“I particularly enjoy fishing with mice patterns and multi-part flies”
Being a part of several pro teams grants me access to materials through those affiliations as well.
When selecting materials, I have a preference for natural options, ensuring that the flies are crafted using high-quality materials. Before listing a fly in my online store, I make it a point to personally test and evaluate its catchability and performance. Sometimes, I even provide the flies to friends for their feedback and testing to ensure their effectiveness.
What is your favorite fish species to catch and why?
My preference lies in pursuing the king of freshwater—the huchen—followed by the marble trout and the grayling. There’s an immense sense of joy and fulfillment that comes with catching these native fish species.
I find similarities in their eating habits and lifestyles, which adds to the intrigue and excitement of targeting them.
Do you fish flies that require adapted or alternative fishing techniques?
While I typically prefer fishing with a single-handed rod, I am eager to explore the possibilities of using a double-handed rod, which has been gaining popularity for huchen and taimen hunting. Not only does it offer greater ease and reduced fatigue throughout the day, but it also opens up new techniques and strategies.
Both single-handed and double-handedtechniques have their advantages and disadvantages, ultimately dependent on the individual angler’s preferences. It’s wonderful to have the choice, but personally, I lean towards the single-handed technique due to my familiarity and comfort with it.
What’s your all-time favorite fly and why?
While I have several favorite flies, the one that brings me the most excitement is when I tie something new and it successfully entices a magnificent king huchen! Hahaha!
In terms of specific patterns, I particularly enjoy fishing with mice patterns and multi-part flies.
Among the multi-part flies, my favorite is the Game Changer. Crafted using a variety of materials, it perfectly suits my preference for tying large flies and experimenting with multi-part designs.
Regal, Where Tradition
Tradition Meets Innovation
”Must Watch” VIDEO
BOUND BY BLUE | COSTA FILMSBy COSTA SUNGLASSES
Anglers, divers, surfers and explorers... Just as the moon pulls the tides of our great oceans, so, too, are we driven by the water. Although we are flung far and wide across the sandy shores and rocky coastlines of our planet, at our cores we remain bound by blue. We set out to test our products with some of the top anglers in their respective fisheries, but we came back with a much greater takeaway than anticipated...
NASF NORWAY AUCTION
WANT TO GO SALMON FISHING? WANT TO GO SALMON FISHING?
Bid and help protect wild Atlantic salmon
A Fish Hotspot at Risk
Imagine a place where wild rivers still run free. In the countries of the Balkan Peninsula, this image is a startling reality. These countries are home to many of the most intact and beautiful rivers in continental Europe, providing sanctuary to a vast number of wild animals and plants, many of them endangered. The intactness of Balkan Rivers stands in stark contrast to most other parts of Europe where rivers have been largely degraded over time. The vast majority of rivers in the EU do not have a good ecological status, which has led to a dramatic loss in freshwater biodiversity.By RIVERWATCH, WWW.RIVERWATCH.EU Photos by VLADIMIR TADIC, AMEL EMRIC, ANTON VORAUER, PEDRAG ILIC and RIVERWATCH
Protecting the best of what is left of European rivers is critical to conserving European freshwater biodiversity in the future. This is particularly true for fish species: The rivers in the Balkans provide a sanctuary to 28% of Europe’s endangered fish. 69 species of fish can only be found here and nowhere else on the planet, making it one of the highest concentrations of endemic fish species in Europe.
Fish species at peril
Fish species are at risk in the Balkan haven for aquatic life. Rivers face imminent damming on an extensive scale, with approximately 3300 hydropower projects slated for development between Slovenia and Greece. This alarming surge in dam construction compounds the challenges posed by nearly 2000 existing dams. These dam(n) plans imperil the remaining hotspots of Europe’s freshwater biodiversity. If these proposed dams come to fruition, 49 fish species could teeter on the brink of extinction, representing a staggering 10% of all recognized freshwater fish species in Europe. This casts a
shadow over the notion of hydropower as a “green” energy source.
Hydropower plants, whether large or small, constitute the foremost impediment to fish migration and result in significant habitat loss. Fish passages, in practice, seldom prove effective. Frequently, particularly in the case of small diversion dam projects, the residual flow below the dam diminishes to such an extent that it becomes impassable for fish. In some instances, the fish ladder doesn’t even extend into the water, rendering it utterly useless.
For the past decade, Riverwatch and EuroNatur, within the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign, have tenaciously battled to safeguard these last bastions of unspoiled rivers. Their alliance with local NGOs, legal experts, scientists, artists, and various stakeholders has yielded substantial successes.
Hundreds of dam projects, primarily through legal actions, have been thwarted or delayed, preserving numerous rivers and stretches from destruction.
Notably, in the summer of 2022, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina enacted a law prohibiting future concessions for small hydropower plants, demonstrating progress.
In March 2023, the Vjosa River in Albania will achieve the distinction of becoming Europe’s first Wild River National Park. This resolute commitment to safeguarding our remaining river treasures, as evidenced, yields positive outcomes.
So, what can you do to help save Balkan rivers? Collect biodiversity data! As fly fishers, you have valuable knowledge about fish occurrences. We want to tab into that knowledge!
iNaturalist is a community-based tool which allows non-scientists to add observations and help identify species.
It’s as simple as uploading a photo of an animal, plant or fungus, and a global community will help you identify it! By doing so, you hugely help ‘real’ scientists with valuable data collection, which our lawyers in turn use for challenging dam projects in court.
Want to try out iNaturalist yourself? Simply start by downloading the app. Need a bit more help? Then check this list of this list of tutorials:
Spread the message!
Hydropower is still often sold to us as green source of energy, despite its known devastating impacts on already fragile river networks. Raise attention for rivers and against dams in your networks. Tell people about the beauty of Balkan Rivers as well as the threats they are facing. Follow us via Newsletter, Facebook or Instagram:
As anglers, we see the
INSTINCTIVE PERFORMANCE DEFINITIVE STYLE
From Starving Artist to Starving Biologist – and Back
Full name: Ty Hallock
Home Country: Midland Michigan, USA
Instagram: @TyhallockartBy THE EDITORIAL STAFF
Pictures: TY HALLOCK
Growing up in the serene enclave of Whitewood near Sturgis, South Dakota, Ty Hallock’s artistic journey took flight at the kitchen table. Birds and fish were his earliest muses, nurtured in the family’s art-adorned dining space.
High school’s graphic arts class introduced him to airbrushing, and college days at Northern State University were initially dedicated to pursuing an art major.
Settling in Casper, Wyoming, Ty’s connection to art took an angling turn. Guiding on the North Platte River, he found himself capturing the essence of fly fishing moments through his artistic lens. As he shared the river with clients, he captured more than memories – he gathered a wealth of reference photos that breathed life into his paintings.
Today, Ty Hallock’s art is an intricate dance of brushstrokes and memories, inspired by the world of fly fishing. With each stroke, he captures the essence of the waters, the thrill of the catch, and the magnificence of the fish. His canvas is a portal to a world where every ripple and glint of sunlight tells a story of the outdoors, an artist forever entwined with the angler’s spirit.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into doing artwork?
I grew up in a small town near Sturgis, South Dakota, called Whitewood. So small that the one cop we had used to patrol the entire town by walking the streets. I started doing art while sitting at the kitchen table while my mom was making salt dough Christmas ornaments. While she was hand-painting eyes on little Santas, I would sit on the other side of the kitchen table drawing whatever I could think of.
I started out drawing a lot of birds and fish while sitting at the family art/eating area. Once I got into high school I got into airbrushing in my graphic arts class. And after high school, I thought I was going to college to major in art. I went to college at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota and started out majoring in art.
I got married to my high school sweetheart after our sophomore year. Thinking that she didn’t want to marry a starving artist I switched my major to Environmental Science and became a starving biologist. During our first few years of marriage, I did a lot of seasonal positions all over the United States. I had some fun jobs and made a lot of friends all over the US. I was always doing art along the way in my free time.
I started carving ducks and fish, but still I was drawing and painting a lot. Most of my art in these first few years were given away for gifts and thank you’s to people I knew. My wife and I moved all over the West Coast after graduating college.
I eventually took a job in Burns Oregon at Malhuer Wildlife Refuge with the USFWS. Here, I started noticing and getting the opportunity to take pictures of fish and birds up close. While at the refuge, I had an abundance of free time, so I really started to paint. Mostly with acrylic paints but I was always focused on birds and fish.
My wife and I started to increase our family and moved closer to the Black Hills again. We settled in Casper Wyoming for 17 years. While in Casper, I started to get in to guiding on the North Platte River. I really loved this job, and I would take a bunch of reference photos for my paintings while on the river with clients. Now my focus of art was all fly fishing and the fish that my clients and I landed.
“Holding the fish in my hands helps with scale and color combinations”
Have you developed a specific painting technique along the way?
My painting- and drawing style really started out of boredom at an outdoor show while working at a booth with the Ugly Bug Fly Shop. Blake Jackson and I were sitting at the booth in Denver and the show was pretty dead. The area had gotten a bunch of snow the night before and people were not showing up to the show.
Blake suggested that I draw on the Cliff fly boxes that were in the booth. So, I ripped off the stickers and grabbed some sharpies and drew a brown trout and a rainbow trout that were sitting in the booth. As soon as I got them finished the two vendors on either side of our booth bought the boxes. So, sharpie markers are now my choice for mixed medium for most of my drawings.
I started out drawing on fly boxes and YETI cooler lids and figuring out how to seal these drawings was a major issue that I worked hard on getting figured out. Eventually I found some other plastics to start drawing on and now it is how I do the majority of my work.
What has compelled you to paint fish and fly fishing motives?
What has compelled me to paint and draw fish was my job as a guide. I came up with a fun way to make money in the winter once the guiding season had finished. During the season I would sell my products to my clients.
Also, if they caught a particular nice fish while on my boat, I would offer to do a catch and release drawing of the fish they had landed. So, fly fishing was giving me art to do and money to make it through the off season of guiding.
I really enjoy the catch and release drawings for my clients. Wall mounts are very expensive, and overtime become a pain because of all the dusting and maintenance that comes with them. With the drawings they would have a story about the art and the guide that helped them land the fish and then draw the fish. Adding that these drawings are done with sharpie markers adds a wow factor to the art I feel. Not many people are using sharpies to do the art that they are selling.
How did you get started fly fishing and why?
I started off in fly fishing in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I spent my summers playing baseball and I had a friend on the team that taught me how to fly fish. We would play ball and chase fish every summer in the lakes and streams in the hills.
I really got into fly fishing when I moved to Oregon and started chasing steelhead on the Columbia River. I really enjoy how a person can just melt away on a river and forget about all the issues in their world and just focus on catching fish. I have seen some amazing areas in this country while chasing fish with friends and family.
“The Sharpie fumes are taking me to far off places”
What is it about fly fishing that intrigues you?
Fly fishing is challenging and an artform in itself. When guiding on the Platte, I really enjoyed teaching people the art of fly fishing. It still amazes me that some people can pick up a fly rod and cast like they have been doing it for years.
It is also shocking how some clients never get better over time! (You know who you are!) I really liked giving tips and pointers to people in my boat and seeing how they would advance over the years while guiding.
Another aspect of fly fishing is just getting immersed in figuring out what fish are doing and eating while out on the water.
Studying the aquatic wildlife while fishing is a detailed part of fly fishing that I also enjoy. Different bugs that are hatching and what the water is like during these hatches are an intricate part of fly fishing that is intriguing to me.
In college I took an aquatic vertebrate class and got to draw all the organisms that we found in wetland ponds and creeks. I think my professor is still using my note-
book as an example in his class!
How do you split your time between fly fishing and painting?
Splitting my time now with art in fly fishing has become harder. My family has grown, and we have recently moved to Michigan. There is so much of this state that I have explored with my family and so much more to still try and get to.
I have three girls that are involved with so many things that it keeps my wife and I pretty busy. I think doing art in the meantime still links me to fly fishing.
While drawing, I am always thinking of the next body of water that I am going to fish. And while working on drawings I am always thinking of trips that I have been on. Or the sharpie fumes are taking me to a far-off place while sitting in my studio, I don’t know!
I have also traded artwork for guided trips so that is how my two worlds are always connected to each other.
This winter a friend and I got to go to Huma Louisiana and landed some incredible redfish. Along with reference photos my artwork helps pay for the trip.
In your opinion, do fly fishing and painting complement each other –and if so how?
Fly fishing and painting are very similar. They are both art forms and every person that does either has their own style of doing it. Fish art is different from person to person, some people focus on details while others are very abstract. Casting is the same way. People focus on the light details of throwing a small dry fly to a rising fish or doing a chuck and duck on the Platte to catch a fish. It is all different and each person has a unique way of getting to the end result of a fish on canvas or a fish in the net. Both things are relaxing and stressful all at the same time.
With sharpies I don’t really have the option of painting over a mistake or erasing an error. That is why I really love using these markers! With paint I can keep going over it and never finish the painting. With the markers once I hit an area with color there is no going back!
Has fly fishing helped you become a better painter – or vice versa?
Fly fishing and guiding has made me a way better artist. Having the subject matter in my hands and looking how each fish is different has improved my art. I look back at my art over the years and the detail is just getting better and better.
Time and technique have allowed me to get more details in my drawings. Holding the fish in my hands helps with scale and color combinations.
One of the hardest things on a fish is getting the eye to be a part of the head. Sometimes the angle of the fish really makes the eye hard to get to look right. The eye is flat and blends so well with the head and if that detail is off the fish never looks right. I almost always start with the eyes. If the eyes are wrong, then the fish is not going to look right.
What are your aspirations as a fly fisher?
This is a hard one! I want to keep helping people with their fly fishing skills. That is the biggest aspiration of mine. I want to assist guides with getting better with their jobs in fly fishing and help educate people on fly fishing.
I would love to get more involved with the industry and find a way to help everyone get better with this artform of fly fishing. Introducing people to fly fishing is a passion of mine and will continue to bring people into the sport.
One of my biggest goals is to get my wife and youngest daughter into fly fishing more. My smallest daughter loves to be the net girl, but I want her to get the fly rod in her hands more.
Do you have any cool projects coming up; fishing- or art wise?
I have some new projects in the works with Montana Fly Company, Bauer Fly Reel / Winston Fly rods, Orvis, and commission pieces. I have been working on a series of drawings that are fish species with flies they are chasing to eat. These series of drawings have been picked up with MFC.
I am working on more of these drawings with different combinations of fish and flies. I have been making canvas wrap copies of these drawings in limited runs of 10 prints. My first trout run has sold really fast. I am also working on getting a warm water- and saltwater series printed for sale with the limited numbers of 10 prints.
I have been drawing more waterfoul in the last few months also. I really enjoy drawing them and all the different colors and angles you can draw a bird with. I also have an art fair in downtown Midland that I am going to be in. This will be my first art fair in Michigan.
Any advice to fellow fly fishermen, who aspire to do fish art?
Any fly fishing or art advice that I try to give and go by, is always to challenge yourself to get better. I have been trying different techniques and subject matters to expand my skills. One of the ways, I have been challenging myself, is to draw dogs for people.
When I first started off drawing, I made a rule that I was never going to draw people and pets. Poeple have an emotional connection to pets and people they know. So, if the art is not perfect, they will not like the finished product.
I am still sticking with the no-drawingpeople-part but the pet drawing is a great break from fish.
Challenging yourself also works in fly fishing. This can range from researching euro nymphing to trying to learn how to spey cast.
Challenge yourself and try to get better with every trip out. I am always learning something in both fly fishing and artwork.
As for fishing, there are so many spots to explore and things I want to do again. Last year I did a streamer trip with Russ Maddin where I landed my first King Salmon in Michigan. It was an amazing experience!
FAILURE is not an option
UP TO WET-KNOT STRENGTH THAN PREMIUM COMPETITION
It’s a Marble
This trip started about 8 years ago when we were in Germany at an outdoor trade show. The state of Idaho had a grant that got us a free booth, so we said; Sure! why not? We had never been to Germany, and it seemed like it could be good for business. It was not! Our booth ended up being in the far corner of the only unairconditioned hangar in the show. People rarely walked by. So, what do you do in a situation like this? Leave the show early every day to go fishing.By DREW HOLLENBACK
The thing about people who fish is they seem to find each other. A German familiar with the area gave us a good spot to check out. There was another guy from the state of Utah booth named Lars who fished as well, so he joined us.
After the show, Lars was heading on a sales trip but first was stopping in Switzerland to fish with a friend he met on Instagram named Francois (@klorklor or Frank as we like to call him). Frank happens to be one of the coolest guys you will ever meet and showed us some really fun spots in Switzerland for a couple of days. He invited us to stay at his childhood home in the Swiss Alps overlooking a huge valley and we ate locally sourced food that his mom cooked up for us. The trip was fun, but it left us wanting more. (Sidenote: We had so much fun on our trip that we hired Lars, and he has been with us ever since).
Fast forward a few years and Frank invited us back. But this time he wanted to do a bigger trip through Switzerland, Italy, and Slovenia. He brought along his friends Mattieu and Geoffrei as well. So, it ended up being the 3 of us from Tenkara Rod Co (Drew, Tuna, and Lars), and 3 French-speaking Swiss guys.
be some barriers, until you figure out the language of laughter. Once we started joking around then it was all over, and we quickly became good friends.
They also speak great English so there was not a language barrier. But with different cultures, there are always going to
My one tip to anybody going to a different country or even in your own country is to try and get people to laugh. Once you can share some chuckles then you can do anything. For example, we were getting coffee at an Italian fly shop, and the owner started making everybody coffees. He had made 4 coffees and then on the fifth, for some reason, he yelled “coffee number 5”. So then for the rest of the trip (and even now) anytime coffee is around we have to yell “coffee number 5”. This trip was more like 3 separate trips all linked together. So, I will try to recount each the best I can.
Tenkara fishing in Switzerland
Switzerland offers some of the most uniquely beautiful backdrops when fly fishing. And we haven’t found a better Tenkara fishing spot since.
“We caught hundreds of fish, mostly brown trout and brook trout””
Oftentimes, a winding road through the Alps is close by, but you are in a little canyon, climbing waterfalls, fishing in little pools, and it’s so open with mountains all around you. We never saw another fisherman once.
The fish don’t get that big, but they are plentiful. We caught hundreds of fish, mostly brown trout and brook trout. What they lack in size they make up for in color, catching some of the most stunning trout with that backdrop is hard to beat.
On one occasion Tuna, Frank, and myself were fishing up a little creek near a road. On almost every cast we were catching colorful brook trout. There was an electrical fence next to us keeping the cows out of the creek, and on one occasion Frank hooked up with a fish from the wrong side of the fence, as he bent over to net the fish he brushed up against the fence and fell to the ground yelling, haha!
Camping in a vineyard
Switzerland isn’t the friendliest place to camp, but luckily these guys knew some spots. We ended up camping in the middle of a vineyard one night. Eating out can be expensive also, but our Swiss friends taught us a thing or two about fishing snacks. Instead of a bag of chips or granola bars, we were eating riverside caprese salads, fresh baguettes, and mushrooms. Ever since this trip we try to bring along delicious fresh food whenever we fish, it just adds to the whole fishing experience.
Heading towards the Dolomites
On our last day in Switzerland, a storm started to roll in, so we packed up and headed over the St. Bernard pass to Italy and started to make our way to the Dolomites. Being from the US you don’t hear a lot about Italian fishing. But just imagine an insanely unique mountain range, picturesque little mountain towns, incredible food, and rivers all around that have nice fish. Logistically, it’s a little bit tricky to figure out. You need to get a fishing license at the post office, and then figure out where you want to fish and find who you need to get permission from or schedule a time to fish certain waters.
logistically, but once you are out on the water at your scheduled time you know that no one else will be there.
So that whole stretch of water is yours and you don’t have to worry about someone else fishing your spot.
“It’s a maaarble”
That evening session, the fishing was mediocre. We all caught some small to medium-sized fish. But as it got darker, and we were just about done for the day, we found ourselves in a nice caddis hatch. We were all catching fish and it kind of made the day. Then right about dark, we were about to call it quits, but I saw some eats on the other side of a big boulder. So, I brought my fly in, applied some floatant, blew on it, and decided this would be my last cast.
My fly was barely visible, but I cast in front of the boulder and saw it disappear, so I set the hook. There were 5 people still around at that point and we all witnessed a very nice fish jump in the air and splash trying to free itself from the hook. It was then that Angelo said, “If it’s a marble, don’t lose that fish!” And, luckily, I didn’t lose it.
We met a guy named Angelo from www. flyfishdolomiti.com who helped us get all our permits figured out and scheduled us for a time on a river on our first day there. There are pros and cons to the system they use in Italy. It’s difficult to figure out
We got the fish netted and it turned out to be a beautiful 60 cm marble trout. This was - and probably still is - my favorite trout I have ever caught. On a small dry fly right at dark with 5 friends around to witness it all.
It was too dark to get really good photos or video, but the memory of that fish lives on with the phrase: “It’s a maaaaarble” (said with our best Italian accent). For some reason, we took Angelo’s words spoken very calmly “If it’s a marble, don’t lose that fish” and converted them into that phrase.
Wrapping up in Slovenia
While Slovenia, and the Soca River in particular, are better known for big marble trout, the pinnacle of the trip for me was that Italian marble. However, as we made our way to Slovenia, we knew this was the part of the trip we were most excited about.
The watercolor in Slovenia is unreal, the scenery is stunning, and it’s a fairly cheap country (except for the price of fishing licenses, haha!). We found a nice place to camp called Camp Lazar right along the Soca River. They also have a delicious restaurant there for after-fishing meals and make a very potent watermelon jungle juice.
“The watercolor in Slovenia is unreal”
We fished various different waters in Slovenia. The Soca was the main attraction, but we found out that some amazing fisheries pour into it. One, in particular, happened to be the best scenery of any fishing spot any of us had ever seen. You are fishing through these slot canyons with walls on each side. Each little pool has fish in it, and in some cases, you are swimming through the pools to climb the cascade that brings you to the next spot. I couldn’t tell you the name of the river because I can’t remember it, but it is the river that I now compare any beautiful fishing spot to.
We caught loads of fish in Slovenia. Tuna and Frank both caught really nice rainbows, we all caught marbles, and we even caught some brown/marble hybrids. I have fished in New Zealand, Patagonia, Alaska, and all over the US, but when someone asks me where my favorite place to fish in the world is, I would have to say Slovenia. There are just so many rivers with diverse scenery and features, a nice variety of fish, and access is amazing. But all 3 of these places will always be special and memorable to all of us.
It wasn’t just the fish we caught that made the trip. It was the massive cordon bleus we ate in Switzerland (that made Lars super sick the next day), the freeway espresso stops in Italy, the Swiss cows with bells on high up in the Alps, the insanely blue color of the Soca, eating pizza and pasta at an Italian restaurant right next to where we just caught fish, but mostly just adventuring around Europe with our Swiss friends is what we will remember most.
Normally, when you think of fly fishing and adventure, you might think of getting dropped off in a float plane in the middle of nowhere in Alaska or taking a boat across a lake in New Zealand and hiking for 10 miles to an amazing fishery with no one around. These are things we have done and all great adventure experiences. But making new friends, experiencing new cultures, and catching new fish, all in places where people normally go sightseeing, was an adventure all on its own. This trip took place pre-covid and we are dying to go back.
US MADE IDAHO BUILT
A VERY limited re-run of the legendary ULA Force and ULA Purist fly reels that set new standards for lightweight, large arbour fly reel design when they were introduced almost three decades ago. The ULA Force features a super-slick brake system that protects the lightest of tippets, whereas the ULA Purist comes with a click-pawl drag.
Swinging with Jim Bartschi
Embarking on an unforgettable adventure along the serene banks of the Orkla River, we recently had the extraordinary privilege of meeting none other than the legendary Jim Bartschi of Scott Fly Rods. Having just wrapped and lacquered the first few finished Swing rods – a new series of doublehanded Scott fly rods – we jumped at the chance to ask Jim a few quick questions.By THE EDITORIAL STAFF Pictures
So, we’re here on the Orkla in Norway. Tell us why you’ve come here?
To catch big salmon with good friends, of course! We’ve come to prepare for the European launch of the new Swing series. There’s a lot of moving parts to bring together. We’re also doing some team building on the river, fishing and celebrating the finished rods.
What is it that fascinates you about anadromous fish and salmon in particular?
I have a lifelong love for anadromous fish. I grew up fishing for steelhead on the coastal streams of Northern California. As soon as I was old enough to travel on my own, I expanded that range to Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Canada.
I’m fascinated by everything from the techniques used to fish for them, to the flies, to the natal rivers they return to. Trying to solve the puzzle to catch them never gets old or easy!
Salmon are especially fascinating since I have less experience fishing for them. The nuanced differences in how they like to see the fly, at which angle, and which speed. I also love the places they call home. It’s very special to fish in places like Norway. The Swing rod range is now replacing the Radian rod range, which has been around for 10 years.
Why is the timing right for a replacement range now?
With both new ideas and new technology, the time to make a better set of fishing tools had arrived.
What were your main goals in designing the Swing rod range?
Well, water type, fish size, technique, personal preferences all play a part in the rod you choose and how you rig it. One size really doesn’t fit all so our goal was to design purpose driven tools that best represented those fishing styles and conditions.
Can you tell us a little bit about the whole development process?
We’ve been building prototypes over the past two years and asking anglers who specialize in given techniques to fish them extensively. The rods have been fished from California to Alaska, and from Canada to Scandinavia. We didn’t stop making new versions until we all agreed the rods were finely tuned for the intended purpose.
“I have a lifelong love for anadromous fish”
And how have you succeeded?
I think on many fronts. The rods are very stable, recover quickly, and cast flat tight loops. They are very light in hand, and finely crafted. We’ve also introduced some innovative new components.
We’re using a titanium tangle-free stripping guide that helps shoot further and reduces tangles in braided or mono running line. We also designed a new reel seat with specially machined hoods that fit modern high-performance reels and most vintage reel feet.
For us, it’s always in the details.
“We’ve been building prototypes over the past two years”
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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!
Nor th Atlantic Salmon Fund
Nor th Atlantic Salmon Fund