KAMCHATKA BOLIVIA, THE JUNGLE NEVER SLEEPS NEW ZEALAND, DREAMS COME TRUE #14
Photo by Keith Clover
The summer-edition is always fun to put together. There’s a buzzing and tingling feeling inside when editing and laying out the articles, as if it was oneself emanating from the pages: gripping n’ grinning a big trophy fish caught at some far-away paradisiacal place. That’s what summer does to you: It infuses you with a sense of freedom, endless possibilities and adventurousness – even though you’re trapped in front of the computer. We’ll make our escape soon! The June/Summer edition features contributions from a veritable rat pack of trout bums and flyfishaholics including Lukas Bammater, Keith Clover, Jonas Borinski, Dalien Vignjevic, Kurt Konrad, Barry and Cathy Beck, Paulo Hoffman, Ken Morrish, and Martin Bawden. Tight Lines// The In the Loop Crew
Photo by Paulo Hottmann
Exploring the Trentino Proxy by Jonas Borinski Fly fishing and Philanthropy in Lesotho by Keith Clover Kamchatka - A Time Travel to a Salmonid Paradise by Lukas Bammater New Zealand - Dreams Come True by Kurt Konrad The Magical Home of Giant Croatian Rainbows by Daniel Vignjevic The Jungle never sleeps by Paulo Hoffmann And much much more...
Contributors KEITH CLOVER
In the Loop Magazine C/O Cast Away Media Org no: 999 320 147 www.intheloopmag.com
Keith Clover is the founding partner and Director of Tourette Fishing. Tourette Fishing is Africaâ€™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 email firstname.lastname@example.org
email@example.com KURT KONRAD
By Paulo Hoffmann
We choose not to print this magazine and we are happy not to use paper and harmful inks as used in a conventional printing process. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher.
Kurt Konrad is a Slovakian fly fisherman and professional photographer who has been fly fishing all his life. He travels extensively - fly rod in hand, and even though trout and grayling are his main foray, he also finds time to pursue pike, barbel, carp and other borderline sportfish with the fly rod. Kurt also dabbles in fly fishing films, and he often finds himself conflicted about whether to be fly fishing, shooting pictures or filming.
Jonas Borinski is a Germany-based flyfisherman and filmmaker. Along with his two brothers he runs a website, combining his two passions by frequently releasing quality fly fishing videos about trout and grayling fishing in Germany and Northern Scandinavia. Find out more about the Borinski brothers at www.brothersonthefly.com
German fly fishing journalist, photographer, guide and full time fish-head. Despite his young age, he has been captivated by the sport for a good 10 years now, fishing and guiding both home-waters for local species and remote, exotic places around the world with equal enthusiasm. His work has been published in various magazines across Europe. Whether it is Golden Dorado in the Bolivian jungle, sea-run browns in Patagonia or heavy cover pike in his backyard in Cologne, Germany – he always finds an excuse to be outdoors.
Lukas grew up in Zurich not far away from beautiful trout and grayling waters. He works part time as a fly fishing journalist, photographer and guide (www.rundumfisch.com). From an early age he was fascinated by the element of water and its inhabitants. The passionate fly fisherman loves sight fishing in the unspoilt and clear rivers and streams of the Swiss alps. Lukas used to be chief editor of the Swiss fishing magazine «Petri-Heil» and has recently written his first book on tying and fishing dry flies. In addition to his fly fishing activities in the mountain areas of central Europe, he loves to travel and fish all around the world.
Croatian fly fisherman, Daniel Vignjevic, or ‘Dalien’ as he likes to be called, is a pragmatic fly fisherman with a knack for catching uncatchable fish. He especially enjoys targeting trout, but he will cast his fly at anything that looks remotely fishy. In his case this means that lowland species such as pike, asp, chub and carp in local rivers and ponds can’t ever feel completely safe!
Barry is a bit of an icon in the American fly fishing lore, and he has kept setting new standards in fly fishing photography for decades. Barry travels extensively with his wife Cathy, and in between all the hosted and guided trips he finds time to work on blogs, book projects, article submissions, and instructional work. For more info about Barry Beck, be sure to visit his website: http://www.barryandcathybeck.com/site/
WANNA CONTRIBUTE? Do you have any great fly fishing photos, videos, or stories that you would like to share with our readers? If so, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We are always looking for quality material for In the Loop Magazine, and we look forward to reviewing your material.
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Exploring the Trentino Proxy If I ask any of my non-fishing friends why they think people go fishing, I would get a seemingly obvious answer: We go fishing to catch fish. While there is certainly a piece of truth to that answer, is it really that simple?
By JONAS BORINSKI
For most of us fly fishers, it’s a little more complicated than that; in fact there are dozens of reasons that make our sport so compelling. It can be about nature and atmosphere, balance and silence, about simplicity or just about getting out. It can be about several things, which can vary from person to person, from time to time. For my brothers and me, the family aspect has always played a major role since, after all, what is better than spending time on the water with the people you have grown up with, whose every flaw and quality you know? Nonetheless, when choosing new destinations to visit, it is often simply about seeing and experiencing new places, about taking the risk of choosing the unknown over the sure thing. In Search of New Adventure In the spring of 2015 this meant that, instead of going north - to familiar Scandinavia, we decided to head south. When hearing about the magnificent mountain rivers in the north of Italy with very low fishing pres-
sure, holding various species such as the native marble trout, at first we were a little confused. Marble trout? We had only ever associated the famous Marmorata with Slovenia, but fly fishing for it in Italy? We had to find out for ourselves! Some weeks later we found ourselves on a plane to Verona, Italy. After picking up our rental car we started driving north, deep into the Italian Alps. Just like the beauty of the scenery increased with every kilometer, so did our excitement. Gin-clear mountain streams attracted our eyes wherever we looked and it became clear that fishing would be quite different to what we were used to from Germany and Sweden. The roads kept getting narrower and just as we thought we were lost, we reached our Lodge “Pra de la casa”, a beautifully renovated traditional old mountain house right by a mountain stream. After talking to the lovely owners, we went to bed, excited for the first fishing day. The next morning, our guide Paolo was already waiting for us when we got up at 6.
After a quick and nutritious Italian mountain breakfast, we grabbed our lunch packages and followed our guide’s car even further into the mountains. It was really difficult to keep up with him, as his style of driving was only short of being dangerous, but quite normal for local standards, as we would find out in the days to come. He had told us that fishing would be difficult but the scenery would make up for it. We soon saw with our own eyes that he was more than right! We reached a beautiful valley, steep mountains on either side, divided by a crystal clear mountain creek waiting to be fished. The water was so clear, however, that we spooked the first couple of fish before even making a single cast. It became clear that we had to be way stealthier in addition to using very long leaders and thin tippets. We were told that we were fishing a reserve - right above the bigger Sarca River - with a strict “no-kill” policy, holding various species like browns, rainbows, brook trout, char and last but not least native marble trout.
While secretly hoping for marmorata, nothing could ruin this morning for us, as the scenery and weather were guidebook material. Although the summer sun was doing its best to warm up everything the freezing cold mountain water physically stunned us when we entered the stream. We were totally lost in the moment, thinking about nothing else than what we were doing. We managed to catch a few decent wild Browns and char, as beautifully colored as I had ever seen and it dawned on me that this was what it is all about. Sharing the experience of fishing an unfamiliar stretch of pristine river with one of my brothers. We couldn’t have cared less about the size or weight of the fish. Still, we could not ignore that we had not caught a marmorata yet, so the goal for the following days was clear. When we got up the next morning, we had no idea that the day would bring a lot of things ranging from frustration to true temporary happiness as well as a new nickname for one of us.
Italian Nymphing Arriving at the river, we were welcomed by a cloud of huge stoneflies which were hatching and resting in the grass on the banks. These insects were rarely smaller than 5cm, their nymphs looking like creatures from another planet. We were eager to tie on dry flies but our local friends convinced us otherwise. The river was peppered with big rocks and pockets in between where the current wasn’t quite as fast. This was the first time we came across what we would later call “Italian Nymphing”: long rods, short line and really heavy nymphs, quite different to anything we had needed in other countries. Naturally we started to mock our Italian company, since this didn’t really seem to test ones casting skills at all. However, we soon had to admit that they were catching fish whereas we weren’t. After borrowing a couple of heavy nymphs and “mastering” the skill of placing them in the holes between the boulders, my brother started to hook into some fish. At first all seemed well as the fish seemed to like our imitations. Our guide Andrea, who had a tendency of communicating mainly with his hands rather than with words, was able to sight fish in spots we wouldn’t have even looked at.
But as we all know, fishing isn’t catching, and sometimes one has to find out the hard way. After losing a couple of fish everything still seemed perfectly normal for Lukas. But as the day went on, we couldn’t help but notice that he became more and more quiet as he kept loosing fish just before netting them. Unsurprisingly, the guides’ constant reminders that even in a “no kill zone” you were in fact allowed to land the fish, didn’t really help to improve his mood. Dry Fly Action in the Last Light of Day As the day went on and the sun began to move towards the horizon, our guides told us about a pool where fish would almost certainly rise to a dry fly just before sunset. Of course we didn’t argue, as we still hadn’t come in contact with a marble trout, or for that matter, caught a single fish on a dry so far. Arriving at the scene we saw the kind of structure so typical for these mountain rivers: Big boulders and between them various currents and pockets.
Above this stretch, however, we were able to make out a big calm pool with an even flow and were very tempted to skip the more difficult parts nearer to us. The guides were barely able to stop us, but they convinced us that the evening hatch would not start for another hour so we had to settle for the pockets for the time being. Of course, everybody seemed to catch fish except for us Germans, who weren’t used to “high-sticking” long rods with heavy nymphs. Still, our excitement increased with every step as we fished our way upstream towards the huge pool as we were eager to put our dry flies to good use. As the ‘golden hour’ approached – and because I was stuck behind the camera, Lukas was given the privilege to be the first one casting a dry fly to rising trout. He began to fish the pool from the tail end so as to not spook any fish, but his nervousness was difficult to ignore, as he hadn’t managed to land a single fish so far. As everybody was keeping their fingers crossed, the dry was taken on the first cast but the fly ended up shooting out of the water towards its caster.
The second cast, however, produced another take. With everyone holding their breaths, Lukas managed to hook the fish. However, with all the accumulated frustration he forgot that he was carrying a net, so while trying to land the fish by hand he ended up loosing another fish. The rest of us standing on the bank could almost feel his frustration and as his older brother – being familiar with the experience of sharing my sibling’s emotions as if they were my own - I was in pain. This phenomenon most likely only occurs between close family members and referring to Norman Maclean in his famous book, I was probably one of “those referred to as ‘our brother’s keepers,’ possessed of one of the oldest and possible one of the most futile and certainly one of the most haunting instincts.” Happy Endings As spectators we didn’t have to share a single word in order to agree that we wouldn’t touch our rods until Lukas had caught his first fish. We kept watching him as he began to walk upstream where he had seen some rises in the middle of the current. The sun had already set when he began false casting and we knew that he would
only have a few more opportunities to insure a good night sleep. To this day, it feels like we wanted him to catch that fish just as bad as he wanted it himself. The fly landed perfectly in the center of the main current and began its way downstream in a perfect dead drift. It seemed as all natural sounds had suddenly gone quiet as we were holding our breaths, concentrating on the dry fly. The take was gentle but clearly visible and the strike perfectly timed. Finally, he was back in the zone, routinely doing what he had done hundreds of times before. Although not the biggest fish we had ever seen, the content of the net did provide a pleasant surprise: The pattern on the fish’s skin was different to anything I had seen before, clearly qualifying the trout as one of the famous Marmorata. Just as I had shared his frustration only minutes before, the smile on his face made me put a smile on mine. It always astonishes me how a caught fish can change one’s mood so drastically, turning you from a miserable, frustrated human being into the happiest man alive within seconds.
In this case, this short moment of happiness alone made the trip worth it for Lukas and me. As we all know, this happiness is only temporary and we never stop seeking these short moments that make our lives worth living, constantly accumulating memories, making sure that you are living life to the fullest. For my brothers and me, this often means travelling to and fishing as
many different places on earth as we can, making different experiences that will later turn into specific, distinguishable memories that we are happy to look back on!
MAKHANGOA COMMUNITY CAMP:
Fly fishing and Philanthropy in Lesotho The Kingdom of Lesotho , a country completely surrounded by South Africa, is a land of extreme beauty ruggedness. A mountainous kingdom with hot summers and frigid winters, the land scarred and scoured by opposing 3000m peaks and tumbling mountains streams gorging deep valleys into the landscape.
By KEITH CLOVER
With an average altitude of over 2000m above sea level, this small country (just over 11,720 sq mi) has a population of just over two million people. With its high altitude, good rains and 1000â€™s of miles of pristine mountain rivers, Lesotho also boasts some of the best fly fishing in the Southern Hemisphere. With subsistence farming in this harsh environment being the staple for many people, and 40% of the population living under the international poverty line (surviving on less than $1.25 per day), harnessing the power of fly fishing to stimulate local economy, and conserve the pristine environment in Lesothoâ€™s most remote and poor communities has been a passion of ours for the past decade. Ultimately culminating in the Makhangoa Community Camp â€“ a one of a kind fly fishing community partnership, offering fly fishermen and women from around the globe access to a world class guided fly fishing experience in the heart of the Lesotho mountains. Fly fishing and the Community: By definition and default, pristine fly fishing opportunities in Lesotho (and around the globe for that matter) often go hand in hand with remote locations,
sensitive ecosystems, and extremely poor rural communities. This scenario presents a myriad of socio-economic conundrums on one hand, or an opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of these communities and the natural resources they have been blessed with, on the other. So, just how does a fly fishing lodge in the middle of Lesotho, tick the boxes required, to make these sweeping changes to community and environment? Well, it simple really - by allowing fly fishermen to do what the love most, fly fish! The Makhangoa Community Camp was built with one thing in mind. Bring the world class fly fishing in Lesotho to the attention of the world, while delivering much needed social, economic, and environmental benefits to the Makhangoa Community. The latter, achieved through a range of beneficiation projects and partnerships with the community. A few of which are summarized here; All building of the lodge has been done with local tradesmen and labour. At no point in the process has any external labour been used.
Unskilled labour have been mentored by skilled elders, contributing to skills development that would have been impossible before. The Makhangoa Community Camp is built with local materials. All collected and harvested responsibly and sustainably. Jobs creation has been achieved by training camp managers and staff, tour guide and the River Rangers. The River Ranges project has been implemented. This project educates young adults as to the importance of fishery management (catch and release protocols, beat management, fishery laws) and conservation and how when implemented properly, these aspects ensure a sustainable future for the project. Sustainable cooking methods have been introduced, with far reaching benefits on numerous levels (read all about this here http://blog. tourettefishing.com/wonderbag-training-and-distribution-with-the-makhangoa-community-f ly-fishing-making-a-difference/ ).
Daily community levies and fishing licenses, compulsory for all visitors to the camp are used to fund beneficiation projects which include: water delivery to the village, foot bridges over the river to help children get to school in high water periods, stationary drives for the local school, and vegetable growing projects which allows village members the opportunity to sell excess produce they grow to the camp and surrounding villages.
very few drivable roads (even with 4x4), the task to find the ‘perfect’ spot has been one of glorious exploration.
Lip service without a product….so what about the fishing? We can put all these plans on paper, build a fly fishing lodge, staff it, train a guides team, empower a community, and promise all the benefits in the world…..but without a product and visiting fly fishermen there is nothing at all. Fortunately, the Makhangoa delivers in bucket loads. From when we first began leading back country fly fishing pony treks in Lesotho in 2007, we have been passionate about the potential to set up a world class community based fly fishing lodge.
Depending on the season, these fish are taken sight fishing size 20 mayflies to single sighted fish sipping off the surface on one end of the spectrum, or after the yellowfish spawn, swinging 4 inch bait fish patterns to trophy trout which are locked into baitfish fry on the other end.
But with 1000 mi’s of river crisscrossing this mountainous country, and
Although there have been many sites and fisheries that have come close, it was the Makhangoa area that pushed all the right buttons, and the project began to take shape in late 2012. The river is home to a healthy population of wild rainbow trout that make the lower to mid beats their home.
Over the course of the 2015 season, numerous fish broke the magical 10lb mark, with the largest estimated at staggering 20lbs. The far upper reaches are home to a wily population of brown trout, only accessible via multi-night back country pony treks, and suitable for the fittest and most technical of anglers.
This experience is not dissimilar to fishing remote creeks in NZ - Low fish densities and spooky fish. Brown trout up to 32inches have been taken on dry fly from the Makhangoa Community Camp. It is the however the incredible yellowfish population which really set this fishery apart, and give it its â€˜blue ribbonâ€™ status. These amazing fish are incredibly active in the warmer summer months from Nov to March. They move into the system in vast numbers, eagerly committing to a well-placed dry fly. For international anglers, the best way to describe the yellowfish, is a cross between and bone fish and trout. Belonging the Labeobarbus family, these golden rockets run hard and fast, and go ariel when hooked. They do not suffer fools, and stealthy presentation and drag free drifts are needed in the skinny clear water. The sheer number of fish as they move though the system finding their summer residence is a site to behold. And at the risk if further geographical clichĂŠ, this mass seasonal migration of fish is something which can only be compared to migrations of fish as seen in Alaska.
To get a feel for the yellowfishing experience, take a look at this trailer to Bokong, a short film we are working on with Cptn Jack Films that highlights this ground breaking project. See below.
At the risk of trivializing such a worthwhile cause. You donâ€™t have to be Prince Harry to provide meaningful help to less fortunate communities in Lesotho. So, if Lesotho has not been on your fly fishing radar up until now, why not consider the bounty and beauty on offer in this harshly beautiful country. She will get under your skin. Not only will the fly fishing and wilderness experience blow you away, but you can feel extra warm and fuzzy knowing you have made massive steps in using your passion for fly fishing, to make a meaningful contribution to those far less fortunate.
single / switch / doublehand / 4-6 piece
The strongest, lightest and most powerful materials on the market were at our disposal. We chose the ultimate mix of materials to build the ultimate fly rods based on our philosophy of depth, smooth, unbroken bending curves and short stroke lengths. A Surge fly rod will bend almost all the way, but the short stroke length will mask the inherent power of its factual depth until the need for longer casts unveils the true nature of a cultivated beast. Enjoy the seemingly effortless elegance when casting short lines and feel it morph into equally effortless brutality anytime you engage the deeper and more powerful parts.
scierra.com | facebook.com/scierraflyfishing | youtube.com/scierraflyfishing | The difference between a good day and a great day!
A Time Travel to a Salmonid Paradise The Kamchatka- landscape is still wild and untouched. On the remote Russian peninsula fishermen can experience an ancient world where courage and a pioneering spirit are needed to explore the pristine rivers with their vast abundance of fish. By LUKAS BAMMATER
“Look at this!” says our guide Roger and points to the river beneath us. Ten pairs of eyes stare magnetised out of the small windows of the MI-8 helicopter. “Are those fish?” asks my seatmate in disbelieve. I have to rub my eyes before I understand what I am seeing. Hundreds of fish are standing there, lined up like yellow cabs during New York’s rush hour. As we fly lower, discoloured bodies of countless sockeye salmon are clearly visible. Loud cheers almost drown the deafening hum of the rotors. After more than two days, the long and expectant journey has come to an end. Welcome to fishermen’s paradise The shrubs and small deciduous trees welcome us with their intense autumn colours. Snow-capped peaks enthrone in the distance between thin cloud bands. That’s where the crystal clear water of Ozernaya has its source. It’s hard to find the words to describe my feelings when I get a first proper look at the river with all its promises. Even if we are not after the spawning sockeye salmon, they increase my fishing fever. It takes some time till I
manage to take my eyes off the salmon. But then I discover the Dolly Varden char, waiting for aborted salmon eggs. I quickly choose my fly of choice. The char shouldn’t be able to resist a Glow Bug – and it proves to be true! Five casts and my rod bends under the weight of a powerful Dolly. The fish quickly swims up and down the pool, vigorously shaking its head. After a few minutes I am able to drag it into shallow water and pull it up on the gravel bank. I am overwhelmed by the beauty of this fish. I have never seen a wild fish with such intense colours and remarkable contours before. The fish’s belly is coloured in a deep orange-red and as are the bright points of the turquoise flanks. Its head is strongly built and blotted dark black below and yellow-green above, with a teeth-menacing mouth and a forbidding hooked jaw. On the top, the snow-white edged fins. I happily glance at this natural beauty for a few moments before slowly releasing it into the deeper water.
A bite every cast! Back at the camp, everybody is enthusiastic about the stunning nature and the impressive numbers of fish. At dinner every fisherman shares what he has experienced during the day. Apart from the char, they caught a few rainbows and grayling too. One guy tells a story about his encounter with a young bear and how he ended up in the river feet-up because he was so frightened! As the evening progresses more alcohol is consumed and the stories get wilder and more elaborate. But soon the long journey takes its toll and everyone crawls into his or her tent, tired. Although excruciatingly loud snoring rings out of the neighbour’s tent, I can still hear the wonderful morning sounds of chirping birds in the tree. The night was cold and clear, our waders are stiffly frozen. I have to dip them in the river before I get the chance to slip my legs in. After breakfast, the guides prepare the boats for the first day drifting on the river. Evenly spread between four
boats, we drive off. Soon the river widens and the water slows down. During the whole trip we only pass small rapids. Most of the time we comfortably drift over long slides, deep pools and shallow glides. As soon as we reach a nice looking spot, we ask our Russian guide Dima to drive us to the shore. We often stop at sections where we can see dense swarms of char and grayling. Usually it’s just a matter of seconds before one of us gets the first bite. We are often all standing in the water with deeply bent rods at the same time. Almost every cast catches a fish. Stream course unchanged for 10’000 years Slowly we settle into a certain routine. In the morning we pack our sleeping bags and camping mattresses then unpack it again in the evening. In between are ten hours of fishing. There is almost nothing we need to take care of. Our camp cook Oxana conjures deliciously cooked meals three times a day. Then, when we finally return to camp, all the tents are already setup. We have no problem getting used to this luxury out here in the wilderness.
For us fishing a river that looks like how our streams back home were several hundred years ago, also means luxury to us. I am fascinated by the versatility of the river: broad gravel banks, sweeping curves with deep eroded banks and high towers of deadwood. It is fascinating how much space the Ozernaya uses to build countless branches, islands and back eddies. On the third day the pools are getting deeper. Chum salmon join the omnipresent Dolly Varden and grayling. No giants, just up to 90 centimetres, but with their typical hardiness and power. For those in our group who have never fought such a hard fighter before, it is an unforgettable experience. Though for my part I canâ€™t wait until we reach the famous Mikischa territory. It is considered as the original genetic form of the rainbow trout. No fish were ever introduced here by humans, their genetic identity has remained unchanged for millennia. Not only are the Mikischas famous for their pure genes, but also for their feeding preferences. Their staple diet are mice that jump into the river to swim to the other side â€“ but more often than not, they never get that far...
Spectacular surface eruptions The eroded, overgrown grass banks are the favourite hiding places of the Mikischas. More and more of these structures show up from day four and on. But for now my mouse pattern slides over the surface without any reaction. Then it finally happens. The back eddy is only about two meters wide. Long blades of grass are hanging just above the water surface. My mouse pattern lands right in the grass bank. After a short, soft pull, it slaps on the water. Milliseconds later a bow wave arises behind it. The trout carries out his attack with no haste as it leisurely breaks the surface and sips in the mouse with the bushy tail. Its temper is instantly aroused as it feels the hook. A long run into the strong current follows - and several wild jumps. All in all I need three attempts to bring the creature back into the shallow back eddy. What a fish. It is about 55 centimetres long and its body is covered with small black spots. On the yellow edges of the pectoral fins they are lined up accurately in a line. An intense pink glint runs from snout to tail. The head
includes violet, emerald blue and amber nuances. The vivid colours of the Mikischas are just as strikingly beautiful as the Dolly Vardenâ€™s. The big finale From now on we also catch rainbows out of the drifting boat. Dima skilfully steers the boat down river, always in casting distance to the strike zone. We get a lot of attacks on our mouse patterns but get only a few hooks-ups. As long as the fish donâ€™t feel the hook, they will attacks a second, third or even fourth time. From the drifting boat this is almost impossible. There is only time for one or two casts to the same spot. But it doesnâ€™t matter. The further downstream we drift, the higher the density of rainbow trout. During the last two days there are fish every few metres. Bites and false attacks now follow in rapid succession. At times, I feel like the striker of a highly entertaining football match. One great opportunity to score after another. The ball hits the bar or the goalpost once a minute, but the result in the end is still a double-figure. In our boat there is enough space for two men fishing at the same time.
The other two guys comment the happenings with the emotionality of hot-blooded football fans. The big finale follows on the last day. A few hundred meters above the camp, I jump off the boat and fish the last 200 meters from the shore. Suddenly I hear a loud splash. Further down another guest stands on a gravel bar with his rod bended deep. Twenty metres offshore something that is many times bigger than the rainbows we caught so far rolls on the surface. The closer I get, the better I see a red flank shining on the surface. Obviously it belongs to a handsome silver salmon. So far, we caught quite a few fish on streamers but this one here, to our great surprise, has taken the mouse imitation. Not until it is lays in the net do we realize the true size of this greatly discoloured male: nearly 90 centimetres long and in perfect condition. My friend is glowing with happiness as he presents his catch for the last picture of this extraordinary fishing trip in this â€“ the salmonidâ€™s paradise.
Dreams come true
The depression I suffered from after returning to Slovakia is now disappearing. While writing this article, IÂ´m reading in my diary and all the memories from New Zealand are coming alive. Me and my mates Jakub and Peter - will remember every single experience we had on the southern island until the end of our lives. After only a few days spent there, we knew we that we need come back one day.
By KURT KONRAD
The first time Peter mentioned New Zealand was on our fishing trip on the San River in Poland. He described it so colourfully I could hardly believe him. A tempting idea crossed my mind and my desire to fulfil it was increasing with each photo and video of New Zealand I saw. Finally, I called Peter and asked him: „I´m going to New Zealand. Are you coming with me?“ He hesitated: „I would love to go, but we´re building a house, you know, and... Maybe Kubo would go... “ Peter was far too important to leave behind, since he had already visited New Zealand two years earlier and knew the rivers, effective fishing techniques, flies and so on... I kept on teasing him and hoped that circumstances would allow him to go. Fortunately, everything went according to my plan and in November we booked 3 flight tickets. The hustle and bustle of looking for information about rivers, lakes and flies started. An online fishing license purchase, stocking of equipment, and the purchase of a car followed. In the beginning of February we ar-
rived at the airport in Prague. A 35 hour long journey was ahead of us. The most nervous of us was Kubo, as this was his first flight ever. However, a bottle of white wine helped overcome the stress before the takeoff. We had a stopover in Dubai and expecting the worst, we got on the plane to Australia. The flight lasted 16 hours. Soon after boarding the plane, it turned out that the most beautiful of all the stewardesses was a Slovak called Janka – so we started a seemingly endless conversation with her while she was serving us drinks and snacks over and over during the flight. Our economy class thus changed to first class, and the journey was passing unexpectedly quickly. The last 4hour long flight from Australia to New Zealand was a piece of cake. Our baggage also arrived safe and sound and we went through the bio security smoothly. In the end we got to Christchurch. Peter, our Czech friend who lives on New Zealand welcomed us at the airport. He handed us a Land Rover, which he had bought before our arrival.
We went shopping for food supplies, camp equipment and then we set off. We left the flat surroundings of Christchurch and headed inland. We passed the first and then a few more bridges and turquoise rivers and were driving into mountainous terrain. Behind each hill, new jaw-dropping sceneries revealed themselves. The following two weeks: „Are you kidding me??? “ became my most used phrase. After that I became used to such immense beauty. In February, New Zealand was in midsummer. Splendid mountains with glaciers shiny white glaciers atop, countless rivers, rivulets, streams and lakes were everywhere to be seen. Grasslands full of sheep, cows and horses. It was balm for the soul and a sight for sore eyes. We stopped on each bridge if it was possible, and watched the water full of hope of spotting a fish. At sunset we crossed the river on our map of interests and decided to set up a camp. After it got dark we went for a walk along the river. Because of the lack of daylight, we found it really hard to see anything below the water surface and we found no fish. We
were wading through the river back to our camp, when the guys suddenly spotted a fish sipping insects on the surface. I still don´t know why, but I went to cast as the first guy. Nervously, I tied on a large cicada, and after few imprecise casts with the 6m long leader, the fish finally bit and I hooked it successfully. The fact, that it was almost dark made the fight with my first 50cm New Zealand trout even more exciting. What a nice start! In the morning, we set off upstream and we found a few fish here and there. As we came to a large pool I saw four fish feeding on the surface and a few more in the depths. As it was Peter´s turn I navigated him and he cast his first cicada precisely to the fish rising at the edge of the pool. The fish completely ignored it, so Peter changed the cicada to a Blow fly. Cows grazing everywhere around meant a lot of excrement, which brought on a lot of flies and that led to the huge effectiveness of this pattern .The fish inhaled the fly immediately! Peter was enjoying a beautiful fight, while Kubo was trying to scoop the fish. Meanwhile I was taking photos of them.
We changed our position and while I was standing in the water Peter was shouting to me where he had seen another fish. At first I cast two meters too far and one metre to left, then one meter further and two meters to right. After a few attempts, the fish hit my dry fly and I hooked it. But – alas – the fish broke off! I asked guys what I had done wrong, but Peter only shrugged his shoulders and informed me about another fish only a few meters upstream. This one I hooked successfully and I fully enjoyed the fight. The same scenario repeated when Jakub took his turn and he caught the third fish from the pool. The length of each fish was over 60 cm. They were beautifully coloured and full of power. Exhausted, but happy, we returned to our camp. After having a bath in the cold river, I taught the guys how to cook pasta the way I love it - al dente. While eating, they kept on swearing, as we only had plastic forks to eat with. When we finished with the dinner, the guys started sipping on a bottle of New Zealand white wine below the wonderful constellation of
the Southern Hemisphere sky. The following day we woke up to the unusual sounds of local birds and we drove our Land Rover upstream. Here, the countryside was changing with each hill we passed, which I obviously commented with my usual: “Are you kidding me”? The first fish of the day I hooked on a nymph. I enjoyed the fight to the fullest and also the clear water, which allowed me to see every move of the fish. In that part of the river there were a lot of trout and we each had luck several times. A few kilometres upstream, the river changed character as we arrived at a rocky canyon. In the beautiful pool here, the depth was about 4 metres, and the guys caught 3 gorgeous fish using dry flies. The last fish of the day I hooked in the surging main current of the river – and it hit the dry fly with reckless abandon. The motto of the third day was clear: “Things that won’t kill you, will make you stronger”. Wading through the canyon wasn´t possible, because of the deep water and steep, rocky banks.
We had to walk through the jungle beside the river. We got up the steep, almost sheer precipice with the help of lianas and roots. One wrong step would have meant a fall into the flume below us. Tiredness, poor water intake, high air humidity and temperatures gave us a hard time. Only then I realized what an extreme situation we were in but I tried not to think about the possibility of anyone getting injured. The car was a few hours of walking away and we had no cell phone signal! Fortunately, after about an hour the canyon below us opened and we could go back to the river again. There, we found the biggest trout we had seen so far - with a length of about 70 cm. It was on the opposite side of a large boulder. It was a hopelessly difficult position for casting, so instead I chose to get closer and approach the fish from behind the boulder. I then planned to cast the dry fly without the line backing and I hoped the fish wouldn´t see me. Crouched behind the boulder I cast a cicada and the trout slowly lifted from the bottom towards it. Through the
clear water I could see everything. I was about three meters away from the fish. It came close to the fly, but just before it was going to take it, the fish turned and sank back to the bottom. The guys started shouting: “Change the fly, change the fly!“ So I tied the Blow fly on my RioFluoroflex 18mm tippet. Unfortunately, I threw the fly over the fish, which frightened it and it ended up swimming into the depths of the main current of the river. Peter, who was standing nearby, tried to trick it on the nymph, which he managed successfully after about 20 minutes. Until dawn, we were all lucky to catch a few more trout. The risky journey through the jungle over the canyon was worth it! I and Kubo felt like in heaven. Peter, However, tried to calm us down, because in his opinion we really had gone too far and had risked more than necessary. The last three days each of us caught 3 to 4 fish a day, which was way above average when considering the type of river we were fishing. After this wonderful experience we headed to Reefton, where we replenished our stock and outside the library we got online to let our families know we were still alive.
Right there we met a group of Swedish fishermen. We recognized one of them, whom we were friends with online - and we talked for about two hours. We really had a lot to chat about. They had planned to spend three months there, and were in the middle of their stay. Lucky guys! We moved to a river, which was about 50 km from the nearest town. We were just looking for the right place to camp, when white smoke started to rise from beneath the bonnet. The indicator needle of the car temperature gauge was lodged in the red zone. We jumped out of the car, and as we opened the bonnet, steam and boiling water was running from it. In my mind I developed a catastrophic scenario...What would we do in this backwoods with no telephone signal??? Peter solved the problem excellently by asking: „ Are we by the river? We are! The forecast for the next few days is perfect. We can fish for 3 days and then we will solve it somehow. Ok?“ So we pushed the car away from the road and set up a camp. The following day we got to know the river, caught a few fish, and found
some beautiful places to return to after dinner. We wanted to try night fishing using mouse patterns. At sunset we set off along the gravelly road, through a few rivulets, over four fences and finally we waded through a swamp until we found our pool on a blind arm of the river. On the surface we saw little ringlets like those done by a bleak. However, during the day we had seen several trout there. Their length was about 65 cm. Those ringlets had to be done by them! We let Kubo start fishing, because he had caught no fish that day. After a few minutes he tricked an awesome trout. I then took my 6-weight rod and tied on a mouse pattern. I was casting the line for 20 minutes, but to no effect. The last cast... I started to reel when suddenly: Splash! My mouse was under attack. Unfortunately, due to he initial shock I didn´t hook the fish. At that point I unreeled the line and cast across the creek. I speeded up the retrieve and after a few casts the fish bit again. Once again I blew it! And when the guys heard my loud swearing, they ran closer to find out what I was up to. Suddenly I got the third bite! But yet again the fly was spit!
The following day we decided to explore smaller tributaries of that river. The fish we found were truly nice, but we couldnÂ´t persuade them into biting. Everything that had worked before was worthless there. The strong wind made the situation even worse and our casts were, despite all efforts, inaccurate. In the evening I could hear a fish splashing on the surface. In the shallow water, I spotted a large fish at the edge of the stream. I admired its massive 70cm-long body and offered it a stonefly nymph. A few moments later the fish inhaled it. Its pulling power was unbelievable. It started swimming against the strong current, so I began running after it for tens of metres. Meanwhile, the sun was setting beautifully and I imagined how I would take photos of it. Suddenly, the fish ruined my plans and unhooked itself. I was out of luck! It was time to change the place. We poured some water into a radiator and we prayed for it to take us to the nearest town. The exciting journey came to its end on a car park in front of a motel. Smoke and bad smell started to rise from beneath the bonnet anew. To be continuedâ€Ś
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THE VITUNJCICA RIVER:
The Magical Home of Giant Croatian Rainbows River Vitunjcica`s best days were some seven years ago when giant 80-90cm trout were caught on a daily basis. It has all gone south after that amazing period and the river became somewhat forgotten by the fly fishing community. At that point I wasn`t really into fly fishing, but luckily the river rebounded in a big way for us to enjoy some amazing flyfishing this spring.
By DALIEN VIGNJEVIC Photography by DALIEN VIGNJEVIC and RASMUS OVESEN
The key component is heavy shoreline brush, so dense and extensive that fish can retreat during low water periods. It also makes them really hard to land. Spring is the best time to fish Vitunjcica, because the fish will feed out in the open, especially when the water is high and turbid.
perceive you as a part of their natural enviroment if you hold still for some time. The worst thing to do is go down the bank and try to visually see where the fish are at. Usually you will see them as they are running away from you and that is too late of course! Patience is the key!
My buddy Sanjin Despot, who lives close by, was the first to fish this spring, so he gave me „the call“. They caught up to fifteen nice 40-55 cm fish per day with some of them pushing 70 cm! Most of them on dryflies. The thought of landing a 60+ cm fish on a fly made me super excited, I just couldn`t wait for it.
Dry fly big gun There are two presentations that work for these big fish. One is a large caddisfly (tular) nymph and the other is a large dryfly during the warmest period of the day. Though large nymphs are common throughout the year, at the start of the season there is a strong hatch of stoneflies making dryflies one of the most important part of the trout`s menu.
What makes Vitunjcica so special is that a lot of basic hunting skills come into play if you want to be successful. Stalking, waiting and moving slowly are paramount. Usually the best thing to do in close quarters is to wait for the fish to get used to your presence and start feeding. If you have a feeding fish in a clear casting range, half of your work is done. Trout are different than most other predators, because they tend to
When you get in position to make a cast at an actively feeding fish, the excitement is hard to describe because the odds are in favour of the fish eating your fly. With any other predatory fish you have to make cast and present your fly as fast as you can, and there’s always the risk of rejection. But with actively feeding Vitunjica-trout you have all the time in the world to set up and make your presentation.
The longer you wait, the more comfortable this fish will be with your presence. It is one of the most exciting things in fly fishing. Dry flies are also good for â€˜power fishingâ€™ stretches of river with no surface activity, because you can let the fly drift and search for active fish. Feeding fish will quickly notice something on the surface and most like they will not let such an easy meal pass by. Sometimes, however, you have to go down and precisely present your nymph. You are presenting basically the same thing, only in a different stage of the hatch. First trip Our first trip was in the beginning of March and right away we caught some beautiful fish on nymphs in the upper river section that is more suitable for nymphs due to faster water. As we went slowly to the lower end that has less current, the timing for the dryfly became right. Looking through a narrow hole through the brush, I saw a strange swirl on the other side of the river. I stopped and waited until I saw another sign of activity.
This time I was sure it was a big fish feeding, but the problem was the very tight space between the bushes. I managed to get my head through and somehow lob a big dryfly out. The cast was bad and it landed in the middle of the river some 3 meters away from the swirl, but that didn`t stop the big rainbow to get it like a shark. I just saw a huge wave rising as it approached the fly. PLOOOP... I got it! It jumped two times and I could see it was a big one, I went into the water and managed to land the fish that was well over 60 cm. What a feeling to catch such a big fish on a dryfly! My buddy caught several smaller fish and an additional big one on a nymph. His big fish just poked its head outside the brush and the nymph immidiatelly went into its mouth with a super precise presentation. Big fish on a turn We had an amazing day and were ready to go home, when I stopped at a river turn that has produced huge fish in the past. I waded and settled a bit before I made my first cast with a nymph.
The line stopped and I had a little fish on which came off as it broke the surface. I made another presentation without any hope of another fish in that hole, but again the line stopped and I got into a really big one. I had 0,18 mm tippet on, which I knew was on the light side, and as it turned out the fish broke me off after ten seconds of violent fighting. Well, it was a great day regardless. Seven days later I got my nymph back After a week, Sanjin and I went back to the Vitunjcica River. This time we had a cold snap and there was not much insect activity. The water was still, very clear and not much was going on. Sanjin had a few smaller fish and that was it all the way until the early afternoon when I got to the river turn where I lost the big one seven days earlier.
I tied a stronger 0,22 mm tippet on and was ready for the big fight. First pass with a large nymph and I had the big fish on. As it broke the surface shaking it`s head, I knew it was the same fish, but the real suprise came as I landed the fish after some five minutes of intense fighting. I found my nymph, that had broken off seven days ago, in the corner of the mouth! How about that! The Vitunjicica River lies just beneath the mystical Klek mountain: A mountain that inspired stories of wonder, strange creatures and magic for most famous child novelist in Croatia, Ivana BrliÄ‡ Mazuranic. It proved to be magical for us anglers as well.
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The Profile of a Fly Fisherman
Name: Barry & Cathy Beck Born: About mid way through the 20th century Occupation: Program Photographers & Trip Hosts Country of residence: USA Website: www.barryandcathybeck.com
How did you get started fly fishing and when? Cathy - I grew up in a farm family and we all fished as kids. I didnâ€™t know anything about fly fishing though until I met Barry. Barry - My parents had a sporting goods store and both fished with spinning rods. I started fly fishing at about age 9, when a friend of my fatherâ€™s showed me a fly rod. Never fished with a spinning rod again. What is it that intrigues you about fly fishing? Cathy - how it always changing; condi-
tions, techniques, fish, flies. No two times are ever the same. Barry - I love to hunt trout. By that finding a good fish that I can see and cast to makes the game much more interesting to me. Beyond that, I just simply love being out in the environment. How have you evolved as fly fishermen? Cathy - In the beginning it was enough to master small stream trout fishing. Because of our work with Frontiers, we are blessed to fish all over the world for all species of fish which has allowed me to
Barry and Cathy Beck become much more rounded. Barry - in the beginning it was simply about catching a fish on the fly. And then, as a teenager, I became obsessed with numbers, but eventually realized as I grew that the numbers were unimportant. Today I know that I am blessed to simply be there, to see a hatch, to see rising fish - that’s what it’s all about to me. What’s it like sharing your passion with your spouse? Cathy - My fishing partner is also my business partner and my best friend. It doesn’t get any better than that. Barry - I am Cathy’s biggest fan. From the very first time we fished together to the present day, I am much happier in her success. That’s what is important to me. Does it ever get complicated being in a relationship with another fly fisherman? Cathy - I spend my life in relationships with other fly fishermen. I can’t imagine it any other way. What would we talk about??? Barry - traveling with our clients we are constantly involved in trying to make sure they have the best experience possible. Their success is our success and we enjoy the opportunity to mix with other anglers.
What is your favorite species to target on a fly rod and why? Cathy - Over the years I would have answered this question differently, but I think I’ve come full circle back to trout fishing. It’s still as exciting as ever to watch a trout rise, figure out what it is he’s eating, select a fly, cast, and if I’m lucky have him eat it. Barry - Like Cathy, we’ve been lucky enough to cast a fly to almost every sporting species that I can think of and yet, I can still remember as a young boy the first trout that I caught. It was a brook trout all of 7” long and I immediately killed it. I then set on the bank and looked at how beautiful it was and started to cry so I buried it. When I met up with my dad later he laughed at my story, but I know he understood. So, if push came to shove, and I had only one more cast to make, I would hope it would be to a rising trout. If you had to choose, what would you go for? Freshwater- or saltwater fly fishing? Cathy - What time of year? Remember, we live in the northeast and winters can be long and cold. Any warm climate for anything is very tempting whether it be a rising trout or a tailing bonefish or permit. Barry - I find each year that I dislike winter more and more, so if I’m lucky enough
The Profile of a Fly Fisherman
I will leave winter behind and head to South America to fish rivers like the Rio Malleo or the lake at Tres Valles, Argentina. And yet, there’s always that pull to cast to a tailing permit in the Yucatan. I hate touch choices. If you could only fish one river, lake or flat for the rest of your life, which one would it be? Cathy - Our home stream, Fishing Creek in PA.
Barry - Funny, I’ve been asked this question a number of times. Actually to reword it a little bit, the question usually comes as, “If God gave you one more day to fish, where would you go?” My answer is always the same, I hope God wouldn’t do that to me. You’re among the best fly fishing photographers in the world. How did you get into fly fishing photography? Cathy - Barry was very interested in pho-
Barry and Cathy Beck tography when we met and had sold a couple of photographs by then. In the years since I have just followed along. There are times when I shoot a lot, but he still shoots most of our stock. Barry - I got lucky early on to spend some time with Sid Neff, who was then Art Director for Trout Magazine. I was just a teenager but managed to sell my first cover to Sid. I continued to shoot and submit to many magazines but it was seven more years before I sold another cover. When I’m teaching a photography class, I always remind my students that if rejection bothers them, they probably should not try to sell their photos. As time went on, I found that the more persistent I became the more images I sold. To this day, photography has given me a greater appreciation for light . I often my myself in quest of light and composition, but maybe more importantly, to capture the moment itself. Are you ever conflicted – feeling caught between being a fly fisherman and a photographer? (Is it difficult to put down the fly rod and pick up the camera in stead?) Cathy - I seldom put down the rod to shoot. Barry seldom picks up the rod to fish. Barry - Certainly, it causes a conflict. I am a fly fisherman first and always will be, but if you make your living with your camera
you soon find that you can’t do both at the same time. You can’t capture a jump shot holding a fly rod. So, for me shooting is just something I have to do, but when the good light is gone and there are still feeding fish you can bet I will have a fly rod in my hand. You seem to be on the water all the time. What do you do, when you’re not out fly fishing? Cathy - Spend time at home with our grandsons, or if I must I chain myself to my office chair and get some work done. Barry - I have a 92 year old mother and I’m the only family she has left so we try to spend as much time as we can with mom and I try to fit in time with Bridger and Colter, our two grandsons who live nearby. They are a breath of fresh air and I think they help keep me young. Beyond that, there is hours upon hours at the computer editing and marketing our images. What are your fly fishing ambitions for the future? Cathy - Well, there are still a couple places we haven’t fished…. Barry - Our good friend, Lefty Kreh, once told me that the secret to not getting old is to stay so busy that you never realize it has happened. There are still a lot of places that
The Profile of a Fly Fisherman I look forward to fishing. This year we have a new trip to Ireland and I’ve never been there before. 2017 part of our schedule will be Jurassic Lake in Argentina and golden dorado at Pira, also Argentina, so I am really psyched about seeing both of those. You have travelled all over the world. What is the coolest place you have ever fly fished – and why?
Cathy - Maybe it doesn’t take much to impress me, but I have to say my home stream, Fishing Creek, a freestone trout stream that runs close to our home. Maybe it’s not the stream it once was, (I’m sure every generation says that) but it’s still clean and cold with good hatches and a good trout population. I’ve lived my entire life near it and can’t think of anywhere else in the world where I’d rather be. I think it’s pretty cool.
Barry and Cathy Beck
Barry - This is a hard one for me because I think they are all cool. There’s a lake at Tres Valles in Argentina, where you may have to make a thousand casts to catch a trout, but when you do it might be a double digit one (I mean pounds). And, there’s the Ur River in Mongolia with 50 inch plus taimen that take flies as big as a squirrel. But then there’s Aldino’s bank on the Malleo where I can watch selective brown trout sip tiny BWOs and I can share a drink with my friend Ronnie Olsen at San Huberto, and talk about how humbling these fish can be. So, you see I simply don’t have the coolest place, there are many.
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Tarpon are legendary for their raw muscle power and their ability to thrust themselves into thin air multiple times when hooked – with glittering scales and flaring gills. The tarpon really is the essence of a saltwater gamefish. It is challenging to lure, it is difficult to hook, it is a master at throwing off hooks, and it is a spectacular fight-
er. And once you’ve experienced sight casting to a chunky representative of this prehistoric predatory species with a fever-like tenseness and your heart in your throat, you’re likely to be hooked for life. In appearance tarpon are silvery with bluish and green backs. They are
Photo: Dylan Rose
Photo: Rasmus Ovesen
adorned in silver coin-sized scales, they have elongated soft ray dorsal fins and broad, bony mouths with prominent lower jaws. Additionally, they have shrewd and sharp-sighted eyes of a size that have given them their Latin name. “Megalops” basically means ‘mega eyes’. Tarpon aren’t just desirable fly fishing quarries because of their brutal takes, their penchant for spectacular aerial displays, and their explosiveness. They also get BIG! A tarpon can reach sizes of about 2,5 meters in length and can weigh in excess of 150 kilos. It takes a
while for them to get that big though. They grow relatively slowly and they don’t reach sexual maturity until they are about 75cm – 125cm in length. The life span of a tarpon can be in excess of 50 years, and the oldest tarpon recorded was 63 years old. Tarpon inhabit the Western Atlantic Ocean range between Virginia and central Brazil through the Mexican Golf and the Caribbean as well as the coastal realms of Southeastern Africa. Here, they can be found in shallow coastal
areas, in estuaries, tributaries and tidal creeks, and in open marine waters around coral reefs – and in the odd freshwater lake and river. This is due to a rather unique feature of the tarpon: its swimbladder, which functions as a respiratory pseudo-organ. In other words, the tarpon can use its swimbladder for ‘breathing’ when the water is low on oxygen – or if the salinity decreases. This is also the reason why tarpon are oftentimes seen rolling on the surface. They, quite simply, come up to fill their swim bladders with fresh air. Tarpon breed offshore in rather isolated areas with warm and clear water. The females are very prolific and can lay up to 12 million eggs in one single go. The spawning usually occurs in late spring to early summer – and afterwards the fish head into the shallows
to feed – oftentimes nocturnally – on baitfish, crabs and shrimp. When it comes to feeding, tarpon prefer water temperatures between 22 and 28 degrees. When the conditions are right they’ll hit just about anything that looks edible, but most of the time they prefer imitations of baitfish – in silvery colours, or in bright chartreuse, black or purple colours. These flies should be retrieved with long and fairly slow strips, and when that pivotal strike comes out of the blue, you should be ready to strip strike as hard as you can. Once the fish is hooked all hell will break loose, and you need to be able rely on your fighting technique and your equipment, which, depending on the size of the fish, should be in the 10 – 14-weight range.
Photo: Stephan Gian Dombaj
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The door to Dream Waters
El Rancho Pinoso
Pictures by Charles Gehr and Ken Morrish
Tucked away in a remote private corner of southern Colorado is a place, that for trout fishermen, offers an experience that borders on perfection. Ideally suited to private parties or families of four or more, El Rancho Pinoso smacks of understated quality, utter privacy, and indescribable beauty. Anglers have exclusive walk and wade access to two remarkable properties including the home waters of El Rancho Pinosoâ€™s Rio Blanco and seven miles of the meandering Weminuche River. With easy wading, great dry fly fishing and plenty of trout pushing 20 inches, this
undiscovered gem is one of the finest and most fairly priced private water venues in the West. El Rancho Pinosoâ€™s fishing program is based around fly fishing two distinct private systems: Rio Blanco and the Weminuche. All rivers are walk and wade systems that have benefited from extensive stream restoration work. Typically anglers are picked up between 8:00AM and 9:00AM and return to the cabins between 5:00PM and 6:00PM. When fishing the home river, anglers will return to the cabins for lunch.
Due to the exclusive private party nature of El Rancho Pinoso, the schedule can easily be adjusted to meet the needs of each party. For all practical purposes this is more a deluxe private rental property with a skilled guide and cook staff than it is a regular lodge. Groups are not mixed but rather the gates open for private groups of four to eight anglers. For larger groups of up to 14 anglers, they also offer an incredible home on the nearby Weminuche Valley Ranch. To reach El Rancho Pinoso guests will fly into Durango, Albuquerque or Denver and then rent a car and drive to the
ranch. Many guests prefer to fly into Durango, overnight there and then make the leisurely 1.5 hour driver to the lodge the following day. Private planes can land in Pagosa Springs and guests will be picked up by the staff there. Their season runs from June 20th through October 1st. Stays of varying length welcome. For more information please contact Charles Gehr at Fly Water Travel. 800.552.2729 Charles@flywatertravel.com
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Streamertubes: IMPROVE YOUR HOOK UP RATE - DRAMATICALLY Back in 2013, Jens Bursell and Rasmus Ovesen released their book “Reflektioner på kysten” about sea trout fishing from the coastal shores. The book included some new ideas on how to drastically improve your hook-up and landing rate by using tube flies, L-rigs and small trebles (the so-calles ‘Release Tackles’). This method has now become a bit of a trend, and recently a range of Streamertubes, which makes it super-easy to fish tube flies in combination with small treble hooks, has been launched. Streamertubes are regular tubes with a twist. They are mounted with an additional angled tube, which provides the fly with the asymmetrical hook exposure that is at the basis of the release-tackle technique. The Streamertubes can be purchased online here: www.streamertube.com
Wiggle Tails: FLIES THAT SHAKE BOOTY Flyskinz is the name of a series of rubber fly tying materials that will help you create patterns that exert an almost hypnotizing effect on predatory fish. We’ve had the chance to test their Spiked (and Unspiked) Slow Rolla Tails, and we’re hooked! The tails are super-easy to tie in, and make your flies act and behave quite a bit like jigs – with fluttering and squirming tail motions. It is something that trout, perch, zander and other predatory fish find it hard to resist. Flyskinz are distributed by The Fly Company (www.flyco.dk), and they are now available across Europe.
New DVD: CASTING AND STRATEGY Casting and Strategy is the name of the latest fly fishing film by Danish film producer, Niels Vestergaard. This time around, Niels has done a film with Danish casting instructor, Ronny Lagoni Thomsen, about fly casting and practical casting and fishing strategies with double-handed rods – especially for river fishing. The film is very pedagogical in its approach and sequencing, and there is something to learn for everyone from beginners to advanced fly casters. The 1-hour and 30 minute film begins with a thorough introduction to choice of tackle and then moves on to strategy and casting techniques. It is beautifully shot film with tons of great information that will help you become a more reflective and efficient fly caster and fly fisherman. For more information, please check: www.wideopen.dk Scierra Traxion 1: A SMOOTH PERFORMING REEL The new Scierra Traxion 1 reel is a no-nonsense fly reel that is based on a large arbour aluminum design with a U-shaped spool for additional backing capacity. It comes fitted with a reliable and watertight drag system, and it is quite lightweight making it perfect for nymph- and dry fly fishing. The reel comes in four different sizes to suit different European fishing challenges: a #3/4, a #5/6, a #7/9 and a #9/11. For more information, please visit www.scierra.com
Lenz Optics Laxa: SPOTTERS FOR SALMON FISHING AND MORE The Lenz Optics Laxa sunglasses derive their name from the Stora Laxa River in Iceland – a place with gin-clear glacial water and superb sight fishing opportunities. The glasses are perfect for just that – sight fishing, and it is thanks to their base-curved frames, which effectively block out false light, and their unparalleled ZEISS polarized glasses. The handmade acetate frames are light and comfortable, and we’ve found the sunglasses, which come in four different versions for different conditions, to be extremely easy on the eyes. For more information, visit: http://www.lenzoptics.com/product/premium-laxa/
The Gen Ho
Fish Mongolia: www.FishMongolia.com
e Guides for nghis Khanâ€™s ome Waters MONGOLIA RIVER OUTFITTERS
Mongolia River Outfitters: www.MongoliaRivers.com
THE SHRIMP TAIL GOTCHA
By MARTIN BAWDEN (WWW.FLYMENFISHINGCOMPANY.COM) The Shrimp Tail Gotcha is a next-generation rendition of the traditional Gotcha fly. This modern fly is tied the same way, except it’s tied with a Fish-Skull Shrimp & Cray Tail – a stainless-steel weight molded in the shape of crustacean tails – instead of
with bead chain eyes. Not that bead chains are bad; in fact, bead chains or small dumbbells have been one of the most successful and enduring fly tying materials ever since they were first popularized several decades ago.
However, their sole purpose on shrimp or crayfish patterns is purely as a weight. On these flies where we’re trying to imitate shrimp and crayfish that typically swim backwards (often assuming a diving, defensive posture), their purpose is purely functional. They simply add weight to the fly, and being tied in underneath the hook shank, they play an important role as a weighted keel, helping to keep the hook oriented upwards. So as a weight, they work well and provide good function, but they simply have no form! As a fly tying material, bead chains and dumbbells don’t
actually represent or imitate any part of the shrimp or crayfish. They actually look a little odd and don’t contribute to the aesthetics of the fly. In designing the Shrimp & Cray Tail, my key “form” objective was to create a more anatomically correct weighted shrimp and crayfish tail available in some basic colors that would blend well with the typical white, tan, sandy, or brown body colors. Doing so would allow fly tyers to create more realistic and more finished-looking flies. With “functionally,” my key objective was to provide the same or better performance as a bead chain eye.
To achieve this, I designed the metal tail in 3 sizes that have the same weight as a small and large size bead chain eye and a small dumbbell. This gives flies the same predictable, proven sink rate weâ€™re used to and eliminates the need to redesign proven fly patterns. Fly tyers can simply tie their Gotcha or other favorite shrimp or crayfish pattern in the same way they are used to and go fishing!
the hook shank. Tied in roughly the same position as a bead chain, the Shrimp & Cray Tail acts as a weighted keel that keeps the hook point riding upward. My hope is this simple, new material will spark your imagination, get your creative juices flowing, and allow you to expand your fly design and fishing possibilities. Enjoy and catch a few big ones for me!
In addition, I wanted to make the Shrimp & Cray Tail quicker and easier to tie with and eliminate the twisting and durability issues often associated with bead chains. To achieve this, we created a quicker, easier, and stronger method for tying on the tail on directly underneath and along the length of
MATERIALS: Hook: Saltwater size #2 or #4. Thread: Pink Tail: Fish-Skull Shrimp & Cray Tail, gold, medium. Underbody: Flashabou, silver Body: Craft fur, tan or sand color Flash: Crystal flash
Step Step 211
ALPHONSE-THE HEART OF THE INDIAN OCEAN By BLACK FLY EYES ”ALPHONSE - The heart of the Indian Ocean” is from Black Fly Eyes’ latest trip to Alphonse: one of the most beautiful islands in the Seychelles. An awesome six days session of fly fishing for bonefish, sailfish and many other flats species: ”An amazing place to be and fish - you just can’t get it better. It was a great adventure and an unforgettable experience!”
FLY FISHING ARGENTINA - FREAKS OF NATURE By GIN CLEAR MEDIA Lago Strobel, aka Jurassic Lake, has earned a reputation as the best place on earth to catch a trophy rainbow trout. Ten pound fish are common and twenty pound plus trout are caught every week.
TUNA ON DRY FLY By RICCARDO RADICE
The Jungle never sleeps! While the mist of fog slowly lifts from the calm riffles of the Rio CasarĂŠ with the first touches of the sunlight on the waterâ€™s surface, thousands upon thousands of birds have already cheerfully welcomed the day. The silhouette of this jungle riverbed starts to shape and the ever-increasing sunlight unveils new footsteps in the sand around our tents. Colorful butterflies start to flutter though the air while the cicadas are chirping their mating songs. It seems like a change of shifts between the countless creatures of this ecosystem: the jungle never sleeps.
By PAULO HOFFMANN
It could not have come more unexpectedly for me to get the chance to visit this magnificent place – and for two straight months. In December 2014 I got hooked up with Patrick Taendler and Federico Marancenbaum from Angling Frontiers who were looking for someone, who could complement the team as a guide for the 2015 season. Golden Dorado in the Bolivian headwaters of the Amazon? My eyes started twitching and I instantly agreed to this deal, having to move around my entire schedule while restricting this gig to “only” two months. Although I had a good nine months of forward planning prior to leaving Germany in September, it seemed like the very next moment I was sitting in a classy Cessna 206 aircraft hovering over the steep jungle mountains into what seemed like unchartered territory. Even though this was not my first experience with the Bolivian jungle it seemed like something completely new and out of this world: living, fishing, communicating and working with indigenous Tsimané people, who (most of them) don’t even speak a word Spanish, was something I faced with a bit of anxiety, a lot of excitement, and most of all respect. But more about that later…
The Amazon It’s not a secret that the Amazon basin is one of the most diverse and complex ecosystems on the face of the earth and by far the biggest. With over 2.000 documented fish species (and a great deal of undescribed ones) – which is more than all other river-systems combined – most anglers can’t even imagine the fishing potential this system offers. The origin of the unbelievable amounts of water is the western boundary of the basin is the Andes mountain range that stretches all the way from Venezuela down to the abandoned sceneries of Southern Patagonia. Countless springs and mountain creeks merge along the way forming a massive river system that drains into the Atlantic Ocean on the other side of the continent. Way up in these headwaters, the water is crystal clear and home to some of the coolest gamefish to be caught on a fly: Golden Dorado, Pacu, Yatorana, Surubi and even the mighty Muturo. Fish like these catfish species all of the sudden become accessible on a fly due to the relatively shallow and clear water conditions that allow for super visual fisheries.
Our way upstream We landed on a tiny jungle airstrip that is occupied by a few nuns of a Christian mission in the middle of the jungle. A couple dozen Tsimané kids ran up to the still moving plane to bid us a warm welcome. Families of indigenous communities had settled along a small creek, that flows into the Rio Casaré – a name the indigenous gave the river according to the name for Golden Dorado in the Tsimané language – the river that we would depend on for the next two months: whether it was for transportation, as a food source or for laundry. After loading the gear from the aircrafts into the already packed boats that had met us at the mission after a 3-day ride from the last accessible port downstream, we started the engines and with that our journey upstream began. At first, the river seemed murky, with beige-orange sandy bottom and filled with log-jams that had gotten stuck in the sand from previous floods. The long propeller-shaft on our engines made it possible to navigate in a slalom-manner through and in-between the tree barks and branches, that the current had piled up onto one another.
Our means of transportation: hand carved, dug-out canoes made out of a single big tree trunk, allowing for the best hydrodynamics and stability under those harsh conditions that awaited us. The first couple of days were easy-going and the riverbed was deep enough to be passed through at a persistent pace. Slowly, however, the environment started to change and what used to be sand turned into pebbles, causing the water to become much clearer. You could tell that we were moving towards the headwaters of this river. Not only did the river seem to gradually narrow down and the banks were getting significantly steeper, the riding also became significantly tougher: shallower runs and rapids required us to exit the boat more frequently, push it upriver and eventually move rocks and boulders to build aisles for the boat. 35 °C temperatures, the beating sun, and unbelievable humidity made the going tough and chewing Coca leaves was a welcomed local custom that we all adapted quickly. This may sound tough, but damn was it worth it!
The Bolivian Jungle The jungle here is not necessarily a dangerous place per se, but a very isolated and unforgiving one to say the least. Any major injury or illness here can cause you the trip and evoke the need for a heli-evacuation. Paying utmost attention to every step is the single most important key to prevent a disaster, because after all it turns out there are nonetheless quite a few opportunities to get yourself injured, hurt or poisoned. Like waking up to a tarantula on the inseam of your tent zipper while still half asleep seeking for a calm spot to empty the bladder, almost getting bit by a bushmaster snake because it missed your leg by an inch, or overseeing a wandering spider that has found shelter in your wading boots, just to name a few. All of those almost-moments remind you of the dangers that can occur while not paying attention. And it turns out (not like it’s a big surprise), that the critters that could harm you the most are the small ones that happen to perfectly blend in with the environment. And then there are mosquitos, no-seeums, wasps, bees, ants, even bigger
(bullet) ants, and other annoying creatures, that are always around – basically everywhere and which you learn to ignore at some point in time. Being part of such a vast and diverse ecosystem puts a lot of things into perspective. Like the role of the human species in the fauna-network, and it’s important to embrace and cherish these thoughts, because not always are we the ones in total control of everything. And the sooner you realize that, the sooner you will truly (and I mean truly) learn to appreciate this environment. So let’s focus on the stunning beauty and mystery of this place. Whether it is the amazing variety of exotic birds that captivates you, or the sheer beauty of an incredible flora, each turn of the river unveils new amazing sights that will put you awed into silence. Colorful orchids that have learned to grow on gigantic treesbarks to harvest more sunlight, red & blue and green macaws that majestically glide over the high treetops of this dense jungle roof, or the little waterfalls that appear out of nowhere on those big rock walls that line the banks of Rio Casaré here and there.
Whatever it is that leaves you in awe this place will haunt your dreams, and so will the fishing… Digging for gold… … is a serious problem and one of the diminishing factors that cause the biodiversity to decrease in the amazon: panning for gold with the means of quicksilver – one of the main reasons why explorers from the western world first ventured into these jungle territories. But this is not why we are here or ever will be! The gold we are looking for is ferocious, mean, and has a muscular jaw, packed with razor-sharp teeth that will rip your fly apart and leave you nothing but the bare hook-shank. Upon our arrival, the water conditions were low - very low. Lower than Patrick and Federico had ever seen in five years. It was one of the effects of the El Niño Southern Oscillation, which causes heavy rains and floods on the western coastline of South America, droughts and low water on the eastern side of the Andes – the Amazon basin. This made it even tougher to move upriver, as some of the runs were only ankle-deep.
On your way you see all kinds of fishy action. Mostly splashing schools of Sabalos, the main baitfish and substantial food-source of the Tsimané people, which around this time move upriver in big schools to their spawning grounds in the headwaters. The further we got up however, the more clearly we got reminded about who dominated these rivers. Packs of hunting fish, feeding frenzies with bait flying through the air, gigantic Pacus smashing fruits under overhanging Ambaiba trees, or football shaped Dorados surfacing in the tail-out of a long runs. The excitement got us all pumped up, but Patrick and Fede calmed us down with the words: “wait ‘till we get up there”. And although there was no way we could resist a few casts and land the first couple of fish, we didn’t waist much time. We were curious to find out if they were right… Once past the last Tsimané village, the fishing became nothing short of spectacular. And you could tell by the excitement of our indigenous guides, who relentlessly pushed, navigated and sacrificed their lifeblood to get the team upriver. The given conditions massively affected the fishing with regard to the spookiness of the fish. Low
and clear water called for realistic, smaller, light-colored baitfish pattern. This subtle approach however, made for amazing sight-fishing with violent attacks. Pretty much every promising run produced fish and it was not unusual to see half a dozen Dorado all well over 15 pounds compete over your fly. Once a fish is hooked and realizes it, it will go ballistic, thrashing and shaking its head on the other end of your line. And most of all jump, I mean really jump and put on an artistic airshow. If not, its either a truly big fish, or not a Golden Dorado. I will never forget the sight, when pulling in a smaller fish out of a short run, and suddenly a fish twice its size had buried its teeth in the one on my line. The fly popped out and a split-second later a third Dorado had collected it: what a mayhem. The fishing is very much like that for trout in terms of reading the current and locating fish, and the river is rarely wider than 80-100 ft. really. You’ll find fish hiding in pocket water behind large boulders, on the transition line of fast and slow flowing water – basically in the back-eddies, and in the tail ends of the pools almost motionlessly attached to the gravelly bottom.
The best indicator for the presence of these fish however, are nervous schools of Sabalos, that are being pushed into the shallow bank areas, while the predatory Dorados lie in wait behind the drop-off. Sometimes you’ll be lucky enough to see groups of 2-3 large fish literally patrol Sabalo schools of 500 or more fish, to all of a sudden launch at the school and unleash a spectacular feeding frenzy. 30 seconds later all fish will be gone. I could go on and on about this trip – and for instance tell about the amazing night fishing under the full moon, when you couldn’t see, but only hear the fish smash your titanic-slider from 60 feet away, but you get the point: The fishery is something special, and it does not do justice to simply write about it. You have to experience, feel, breathe and live this adventure to ever truly appreciate it. I, for my part, will be back again and again, to soothe the pain of wanderlust to these forgotten places…
The gear I recommend a rather fast 9-weight, rigged up with a short, aggressive taper that can handle big flies (e.g. Rio Tropical Outbound Short F/I). Intermediate or S1 heads will help submerge the fly even in fast rapids. The first couple of runs after the bite are powerful and, although Golden Dorados are not so much enduring fighters than airborne acrobats, I recommend 100 yards of 30 lbs backing, as the fish could always use the current to its advantage and take you downstream. The leader can be fairly short (6 feet is enough in most scenarios), especially if you fish a clear intermediate head, but should be 35-40 lbs in test, attached to a 40 lbs steel wire (at least 10 inches, in case it gets wrapped around the fishâ€™s head during the fight). This might sound like an overkill-setup at first, but the strong headshakes while jumping and the powerful jaws have made us look like idiots more than once. For Pacu, a 9-weight with floating line (Rio Permit works really well), to be able to present fruit-/nut-flies and smaller streamers accurately, will do the trick. And if you want to play it a little lighter, take a 5/6 weight outfit with floating line (Rio Bonefish Quickshooter is my choice for this) for Yatorana. These guys will eat smaller streamers (although, weâ€™ve even had them on 8-inch Dorado flies, too), terrestrials or fruit imitations. Just like Pacus, these omnivorous-living fish will be happy to kick your butt in the fight and leave you gaping at your crying reel.
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