JURASSIC MONSTER TROUT POLEDANCING IN THE JUNGLE NYMPHING #15
Photo by Matt Harris
Setting up a magazine full of spectacular images and accounts from a seemingly unending plethora of the world’s premier fisheries when you, yourself, don’t have the time or opportunity to head out and explore can be quite grueling. Sometimes, however, we get to share in the epic fun that a lot of our contributors experience on what seems like a pretty regular basis. After pressing the ‘release’-button on this – our Fall issue, we’re off to the Seychelles and Alphonse Island to see what all the GT-fuss is all about. We kind ‘a think we’ve deserved it. Wish us luck! The new issue features the usual dose of stunning fly fishing prose and imagery. The contributor list includes heavy-weights such as Val Atkinson, Matt Harris, Kurt Konrad, Barry Ord Clarke, Tarquin Millington-Drake, Claudio Martin, Daniel Vignjevic, Jennifer de Graaf, and Jake Keeler. Tight Lines// The In the Loop Crew
Photo by Matt Harris
POLEDANCING IN THE JUNGLE
Poledancing In The Jungle by Matt Harris The Laguna Verde by Tarquin Millington-Drake Trout Explorations with Rod and Camera by Val Atkinson New Zealand - Dreams Come True Pt.2 by Kurt Konrad Go Small or Go Home by Daniel Vignjevic The Last Untouched Steelhead Fishery by Juan Manuel Biott And much much more...
GO SMALL OR GO HOME
Contributors MATT HARRIS
In the Loop Magazine C/O Cast Away Media Org no: 999 320 147 www.intheloopmag.com
By Jennifer de Graaf
Matt Harris has been shooting fly-fishing images since 1999 and has been commissioned to shoot images and write articles all over the world. He has shot in Argentina, Alaska, Australia, the Bahamas, Brazil, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Cuba, England, Guatemala, Iceland, Ireland, India, Mongolia, New Zealand, Russia, the Seychelles, Scotland, the USA and Zambia. Matt loves any type of fly-fishing with a passion and is happy to fish for everything from trout to sailfish, but his favourite quarries are big Atlantic salmon and Permit. See more of Mattâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s images at: http://www.mattharrisflyfishing.com/
Although he has fished and photographed extensively around the world through his work as the MD of travel company Frontiers UK, TMDâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s heart lies with the Atlantic salmon. He has fished Norway, Iceland and Russia every year for the past 20+ years. He was also President of the Ponoi River Company for 10 years and is an international Director of NASF. He is lucky to be a member of the 50lbs + salmon club. You can follow his travels and love of photography at blog.www.millingtondrake.com.
We choose not to print this magazine and we are happy not to use paper and harmful inks as used in a conventional printing process. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced without the written consent of the publisher.
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.
R. Valentine Atkinson is an internationally acclaimed and much-published photographer specializing in flyfishing lifestyle and travel worldwide. His assignments have taken him to 29 countries. He divides his work between advertising, corporate and editorial photography and is published in most major fishing and outdoor magazines regularly. He has been the staff photographer for Frontiers International Travel for 18 years and operates his own stock photo library with 80,000 images on file. He studied commercial art and photography at the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio. Val is very proud of his 4 books; ”Distant Waters”, ”Trout and Salmon”, ”The Greatest Flyfishing Around the World” and recently; ”Friends on the Water”. He was recently inducted into the Flyfishing Hall of Fame. Please visit his website: www.valatkinson.com
JUAN MANUEL BIOTT
Juan Manuel is a brook trout fanatic. He has been a fly fishing guide since 2005 in the Santa Cruz province at Jurassic Lake and the Las Buitreras fishing lodge. Born and raised in southern Patagonia, Juan has dedicated himself to sharing the authentic Patagonia culture - always with a fly rod in hand. He is the Patagon member of the Fly Fishing Nation crew lead by Stephan Djombaj. Juan and his partners are Solid Adventure’s face in Patagonia via their company called Tres Amigos Outfitters. www.tresamigosoutfitters.com
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 ORD CLARKE
Born in England 1961, Barry is an internationally acclaimed and much published photographer and writer, including several photographs in the National portrait gallery collection in London. He is a regular contributor to numerous fishing magazines world wide. He has also written, co-written and contributed to more than 30 books about fly fishing and fly tying. He has won medals in some of the worlds most prestigious fly tying competitions, and for the past fifteen years he has worked as a consultant for the Mustad Hook Company. http://thefeatherbender.com/
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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POLEDANCING IN THE JUNGLE:
Rio Marié’s Spectacular Peacocks The Rio Marié is home to one of the most amazing sport fish out there, and reputed fly fishing journalist and photographer, Matt Harris, has sampled the hectic fishing there. By MATT HARRIS
If I told you I’ve just been having a wild time thrashing around with an irresistible pole-dancer and a mob of enormous peacocks on steamy afternoons in the Amazon jungle, perhaps you might suspect I’d been smoking something psychotropic. Or perhaps licking a few of the local frogs. But if I told you that I’d packed more fly-fishing kicks into a week than you can reasonably expect to enjoy on most Atlantic Salmon rivers in a fly-fishing lifetime, perhaps you might sit up and take notice.
just about anything – including each other – and are about as aggressive as anything that swims.
Let me explain. The peacocks of the Amazon jungle are not birds, but fish. Cichlids to be precise.
First-time peacock anglers are often astonished by the violence provided by even a humble little “borboletta” or butterfly peacock weighing in at just three or four pounds. These little guys are more than capable of giving a salmon or trout angler a very rude shock, and will happily break that precious new eight-weight rod of yours clean in half. Cross swords with a real trophy “Tucunare” of fifteen pounds and more, and be prepared for a savage brawl that often ends in heartbreak and splinters.
Don’t be fooled: if the word cichlid conjures images of timid little “tiddlers” nervously roaming the interior of a tropical fishtank, forget it. Cichla temensis – the Tucunare or Peacock Bass – is a big, truculent apex predator that prowls belligerently around the lagoons of the Amazon basin, seeking out trouble. These big, brawny hoodlums are larger than life: spattered in a psychedelic riot of red, green and gold, they will attack
These pugnacious brutes thrive throughout the vast Amazon catchment, but the very biggest are to be found in a very remote region of the watershed, in a far-flung corner of North-western Brazil, close to the Columbian Border. The Rio Marié is a very long way from anywhere, and it is very tough to access, but it is chockfull of outsized monsters that really do justify the river’s local nickname – Rio de Gigantes – the River of Giants.
The area is strictly preserved, and the only fishing operation on the Rio Marié is run by Untamed Angling (www.untamedangling.com). These guys have a huge amount of experience, having set up the fabulous Tsimane dorado-fishing operation in Bolivia, and they really know how to run a five-star operation deep in the jungle. The operation is based on a huge, live-aboard houseboat, and everything from the excellent food to the comfortable, air-conditioned cabins, is immaculate. Despite its size, the mothership has a remarkably shallow draft, and this allows it to move up and down the river accessing new spots every day of any given week using excellent state-of-the-art skiffs, equipped with poling platforms and stealthy electric motors. The operation is entirely catch and release, and is strictly fly-only, which not only helps to conserve the river’s stocks but is also undoubtedly the most exciting and challenging way to catch peacock bass. If you want to catch a world record peacock bass on fly, then Rio Marié really is THE place. Twenty pounds is considered a real monster in Peacock Bass circles, and
Rio Marié is stuffed to the rafters with them: In its first short exploratory season, Rio Marié produced more than 40 fish weighing over the magical twenty pound barrier, and in its inaugural full season, fish to a stupendous 26.5 pounds have been brought to the boat. When you consider that the all-tackle peacock bass record is currently a little over 29 pounds, you have some idea of just how remarkable the Rio Marie fishery is. Now here’s the best part: let me introduce you to my irresistible Poledancer. You should know from the start that my Poledancer is not a scantily-clad Brazilian beauty shaking her stuff to make ends meet, but is instead a whopping great foam-headed, tinsel-clad, rattle-loaded fly, designed by US angler Charlie Bishrat. Disappointed? Don’t be! Take this insane-looking creation into the jungle and it will provide more mayhem than you’ll know what do with – and, as a bonus, it’s all good, clean fun that you can tell your mother about.
The fly’s ingenious hydro-dynamic design makes it writhe and wriggle in a way that is bordering on the indecent, and to the monster peacock bass of the Rio Marié, it is utterly irresistible. If you want to tussle with the real leviathans, do your best to master casting the intimidatingly large 5/0 version. This monstrosity, fully eight and a half inches long, can push a huge quantity of water, and its erratic, zig-zagging action, reminiscent of the infamous “Zara Spook” topwater lure, seems capable of whistling up every last peacock bass in the jungle. It’s a big fly to be sure, but work on your double-haul to get your line-speed up, employ a steely, fast-actioned rod and an aggressively tapered short-head fly-line like Rio’s excellent Outbound Short paired with a short, manageable leader, and you’ll be amazed at what is possible. Rather than the usual full-floater, try fishing a line with a short, intermediate clear-tip, which makes the big poledancer bite into the surface, helping it to really sputter and ‘bloop’ on retrieval.
I’d recommend an exceptionally stout leader – I used 7 feet of 60lb fluorocarbon leader all week at Rio Marié, and, unlike many other anglers, I didn’t suffer any breakages or lose any fish to underwater structure. The heavy-duty leader allows you to set the big, thick-wired hook VERY hard, and also gives you some much-needed security when locking down as a big peacock goes rampaging towards the nearest sunken tree. Keep the rod low to avoid breakages, and use the butt end of the rod to put maximum pressure on these malevolent brutes. I cannot over-emphasize how strong these fish are, and you really want to invest in all the muscle that modern fly-fishing kit can offer you if you are not going to be just another “Harry Hardluck” story, bemoaning the one that got away over a few consolatory caiparinhias that same evening. You don’t HAVE to go slinging huge topwater flies around to catch these fabulous fish: Head guide Gerson Kavamoto’s elegantly simple, synthetic hair streamer is a great choice. Light
and aerodynamic, It’s a comparative breeze to pop into the keyhole gaps in the bankside vegetation. Many of the 20+ pounders that have been recorded at Marié have fallen to Gerson’s creation. I started off my week by using Gerson’s pattern, and my good manners were duly rewarded in the shape of a huge 23 pound fish that was not only my heaviest peacock bass to date but also the biggest of my week and one of the largest of the season. I was utterly thrilled, but as all anglers know, fishing is not simply about catching fish: anyone who LOVES their fly-fishing will know that a fish caught off of the top is worth any number caught on a sub-surface pattern The day after I’d caught my trophy with Gerson, I decided it was time to have some fun. While my boat-partner Rodrigo – co-director of the Untamed Angling operation and a hugely experienced peacock angler fished with Gerson’s tried and trusted streamer, I brought my big Poledancer out to play.
I was confident my approach would pay dividends: the fly makes an astonishing commotion, and in the dark, tannin-stained waters of the Rio Marie, it is an infinitely louder “Dinner Bell” than any streamer. The first cast had everybody in the boat entranced, as we watched the big fly twisting seductively across the surface. The fly had been on the water perhaps five seconds when the water exploded violently, and the fly was unceremoniously devoured by a stunningly beautiful “Paca” peacock well into double figures. For the next hour or so, the fishing was astonishing. Don’t tell him I said so, but Rodrigo is an excellent fisher – he casts beautifully and accurately, and he’s caught a million peacock bass. However, on that special morning, his conventional sunk streamer just couldn’t compete with the big pole-dancer. The huge surface pattern seemed to conjure a fish out of every little nook and cranny I cast it into, and in almost no time, it had caught me five magnificent peacocks all weighing well over ten pounds each. Rodrigo, meanwhile, had added just one to our tally on his orthodox tactics. No matter: Rodrigo is a generous
and experienced fisher, and he was clearly enjoying the mayhem that the big popper was creating as much as I was. Our indigenous boatman Adalberto laughed infectiously at the huge detonations of spray every time a big tucunare clattered into the surface lure, and we were all consumed by a mixture of euphoria and glee as the big fly worked its magic. Finally, just as Rodrigo accepted a big Poledancer fly from out of my box, the fun came to an abrupt end: a savage rainforest storm came whistling down from the mountains, far to the West, erasing the jungle shoreline in a dense white curtain of savage, stinging rain. The Rio Marie’s level came up very fast, and dirty, rising water is not conducive to good peacock fishing. Luckily, the rains soon abated, and two days later, the water began to fall and clear. Now, the big poledancer fly really was irresistable. Out early with my hugely likeable young guide Allan (guiding on his own for the very first time), and our brilliant and experienced indigenous boatman Charles, we explored the waters in and around the spawling Ipaca lagoon.
As well as a clutch of smaller fish, we managed “Gigantes” of 15.5, 17.5, 19.5 and 21 pounds. Each fish came from out of the dark tannin-stained depths to crash the big fly with more violence than I have ever seen in a freshwater environment. Every take was an unforgettable, nerve-shattering combustion that was exciting as anything I’ve ever experienced with a fly rod in my hand, and it was a day I will never forget. I was really thrilled for young Allan, who was the toast of the guides that night. There is nowhere else like Rio Marié. No other fishery is potentially so capable of dominating the big fish lists for a given species. Untamed Angling have done a magnificent job in working with IBAMA (The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) and the local indigenous communities to protect and conserve this precious resource. They are limiting the fishing pressure to a small number of anglers every week, fishing fly only and employing only strictly enforced single barbless hooks. For the 2016 season, IBAMA have permitted Untamed Angling to access 700kms of the Marié, as opposed
to the 250kms they have been able to fish so far, which will further decrease pressure on these magnificent fish, potentially allowing anglers the thrilling prospect of fishing virgin water every day of every week. The operation is absolutely remarkable, with a team of universally excellent and likeable guides and staff, and food and accommodation that defies belief considering the remote and extreme environment. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Rio Marié is one of the most exciting fly-fisheries on the planet, and if you like your fly-fishing a little on the wild side and chock-full of mayhem, I strongly urge you to go there – preferably with a poledancer or two in tow. Contact: Rio Marié is run by Rodrigo Salles, and all details can be found at http://www.untamedangling.com/ In the US, the operation is represented by Mike Michalak’s excellent and highly professional outfit, The Fly Shop: http://www.theflyshop.com/
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THE LAGUNA VERDE:
Jurassic Monster Trout â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Part I Nine years ago names like Monster Bay, Sea Bay or El Puesto meant nothing to us fly fishers but in a few short years they have become iconic, hallowed pieces of water that we talk of with lust in our eyes and dream of fishing when conditions are right. They have very quickly established themselves amongst the great, revered fly-fishing destinations and deservedly so. They are named bays and features on the Estancia Laguna Verde Lodge water of Lago Strobel (aka Jurassic Lake) in southern Argentina, five hours from the town of El Calafate. So what is the story behind these celebrated pieces of water?
By TARQUIN MILLINGTON-DRAKE
It begins in 1989 when Julio Citadini, a Peace Judge and the then owner of the 40,000 acre Estancia Laguna Verde decided to put 50,000 fingerlings from the Santa Cruz river (originally McCloud river strain rainbow trout) into the Barrancoso river to try and create some fishing for himself. He assumed they had all died until some years later, while walking along this remote river, he spooked some trout and chuckled to himself that in fact, it seemed to have worked. The trout thrived and soon there were plenty and they were getting big and fat. He then realized that the key was the huge food source, shrimps, or scuds, as we call them. He then decided to put some fish in other lagoons on his estancia with the idea of rearing the fish from a free, self-sustaining food supply (the scuds) and harvesting the fish from time to time. Rumour has it that he was encouraged to do this by a sea fishing operation that needed to invest inland in order to gain marine licenses. As soon as they had achieved their objective, they walked away. Now, as well as Lago Strobel itself, there are lagoons with large, flourishing populations of now wild, self-sustaining rainbow and, in one or two lagoons, brown
and brook trout. Move on to 2008 and Julio decided to sell the estancia and Roberto and Luciano Alba, a father and son team of lawyers from Santa Rosa, La Pampa, who had enjoyed a lifetime of fishing together since Luciano was a boy, decided to buy the estancia and develop it for the enjoyment of the fly-fishing fraternity. They still take some fish from the lagoons from time to time but basically they are left for fishing. I was flattered that I was the first person they contacted about their new project and we have corresponded and done business ever since but while others from Frontiers have been, it has taken me until 2016 to actually make it to see their operation. My journey began from London but I had to visit some other locations beforehand so the excitement only began to build when I was on the 3-hour and 20-minute flight south to El Calafate from Buenos Aires. The airport there is modern and pleasant and soon I was on my way, rushing to go and see the Perito Moreno Glacier because the Glacier National Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site) closed at 8pm and I landed at 5pm.
It was 90 minutes to the glacier by car and when I arrived I almost had the incredible maze of steps and walkways to myself. It is the only glacier in South America that is not retracting because they say it snows in the mountains every day. I was very lucky to catch 30 minutes completely alone with this extraordinary phenomenon. It is a living thing and grumbles and growls as if mad at the world for not looking after the planet. A truly moving and memorable experience. But it was time to head to my hotel for the night where I was very kindly a guest of the wonderful Eolo Hotel. It sits proudly on a hill up its own valley about half way back to Calafate so about 30 minutes from town. Calafate airport is 30 minutes the other side of town. Up the unpaved track we drove and arrived at the archway into the centre of the completely square building. The very kind Valentin Virasoro, the in-house manager, was there to meet me and he lead me through to the main lobby of the hotel to a row of windows and there in front of me, in the evening light, was the most stunning, classic Patagonian view. The flat valley with a river, mountains in the back-
ground and white-tipped mountains beyond with the most beautiful pastel brushed sky, again so typical of Patagonia. We stood there until the view faded into darkness. Eolo (ancient Greek for â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;windâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;) is a place of activity but also relaxation. It has the most serene atmosphere and yet they can help you enjoy riding, walking and mountain biking directly from the hotel among other activities, as well as excursions to the glacier and many other dramatic landscapes. It is a place that lives by the light, everyone was up early and off to see or enjoy what they planned for the day but when darkness fell, it was dinner and bed in one of the 17 spacious suites after a long energetic day. I cannot recommend Eolo enough and I wished I had planned to stay longer. I was due to be picked up at 8am and was ready and waiting having been rushing around photographing the Patagonian sunrise. Being on time for your pickup is vital and this fact is perhaps not emphasized enough by Estancia Laguna Verde (ELV) because those departing the lodge rely on you being on time in order to drive back to El Calafate to perhaps catch the 3pm flight north to Buenos Aires.
Ricardo, the driver, was there and we headed into Calafate to pick up some other guests before heading out of town, turning north, across the Santa Cruz river (same as the Province) and on our way. The drive was 3 ½ hours including a bathroom and coffee stop at La Leona overlooking the Leona river. This place had seen a few travellers in its time and had real character. I enjoyed our short stop there. The majority of the road is paved and one follows the Leona river with wonderful views across Viedma Lake towards the town of Chalten and the Fitz Roy and Torre mountains that tower over the town. Then, one leaves the views of the mountains (the third largest ice mass in the world after Antarctica and Greenland) and heads across open plains and onto the dirt road for about the last 50 minutes of the journey. This road is due to be fully tarmacked in the next couple of years. By the time one has enjoyed the surroundings, had a nap then spotted the blue of Lago Cardiel (a sign your journey is coming to a close), the journey is pretty much over and the rendezvous point with the guides and their vehicles is reached just off the road. A quick movement of luggage from one vehicle
to the other and off we go to begin the climb onto what is called the high plateau which is the term used for the kind of country we were due to be fishing and staying in. Soon one is spotting various raptors and guanaco as well as an impressive number of smaller birds that flit from bush to bush as the car goes by. The 90-minute drive is bumpy and slow going but it is a good chance to get to know the guides and understand more about the fishing and the area. Occasionally, signs show you the way to the lodge but make you chuckle, as there is only one road and one possible way to proceed. Over the brow of the final hill and there is the small settlement overlooking Laguna Verde (‘green lagoon’) and either Luciano or his father Roberto smiling to welcome you. Remarkably, they take great pride in hosting the lodge themselves. They split half the season each away from their law firm. This is no grand lodge. It has a pioneer or outpost feel to it with traditional hand carved stone walls forming the first and main part of the building, but inside it is cosy, warm and very friendly and everything one would hope for from a lodge in such a remote place and harsh environment.
The staff is wonderfully friendly and welcoming and the seven rooms are a good size, each ensuite with all necessary facilities. You will not be making calls on your mobile but you will be able to use the sat phone and slow but adequate Internet. It is not long before you are sitting down to lunch with Luciano explaining the history of the estancia and why a fishing lodge has two birds as its logo. Back to the previous owner Julio Citadini, who had chosen the two hooded grebes, which Luciano and his father decided to keep because of the significance of the birds. Hooded grebes were only discovered in 1974 and they are very rare but this area is one of their strongholds, again because of the scud populations in the lakes and lagoons. A fully-grown hooded grebe will eat 5000 scuds a day. Luciano and Roberto are very proud that their estancia has been selected to be the headquarters for a breeding programme that they support. The grebes lay two eggs but only tend one and therefore scientists are taking the other and trying to incubate and rear the young for release. The first seven failed but they adjusted their incubation techniques and the
eighth chick has survived and the girls working the programme go out and gather scuds each day to feed it in its personal swimming pool. It also has a mirror in its pen to socialize with! With lunch complete, rods rigged and guides allocated, soon everyone is off to the lake or a lagoon for the afternoon and evening of fishing. The drive to some lagoons is 5 minutes, others longer and to the lake itself, from 25 to 40-minutes depending where you are fishing, by the time you are sitting by the lake. One of the first things that struck me was the descent into the lake crater, which is about 170 metres going down several layers of rock. About half way down, layers of white rocks begin from previous water heights of the lake many, many years ago. The white of the calcium carbonate was created by algae, which, once dry, hardens and turns white. It layers the basalt rocks and around the lake erosion has sometimes taken the top off the rock, the result being almost a nest-like structure or a boiled egg, which has been opened. This feature is everywhere along the lake edge and is both an obstacle and an asset.
Obstacle, because they have to be climbed over and walked on and can crumble under foot; asset, because they are great casting platforms either under the water or beside it. Nobody really seems to know what took place geologically to form the lake and lagoons but they look like old craters full of water. The theory seems to be that they are not old craters but the result of flowing lava which hardened on top but kept flowing underneath digging holes which many years later (through erosion and freeze/thaw) collapsed forming the giant holes. Some lagoons are slowly drying up, others, that never had fish have dried up. Soon, I found myself at Sea Bay with my superb and very detail-orientated guide, Nano. Let me say now that if you do not like long drives, bumpy drives or wind, then this place may not be for you. But if you can tolerate them (I am likely in such a category) then it is more than worth it. That afternoon we were faced with a rare situation (which we did not experience again) of having no wind and sitting in the car watching rising fish. Lots and lots of them. These fish are somewhat like sea trout or salmon, or better still, the brown trout of Lake Thingval-
lavatn, which pretty much only feed on one thing. In the case of Iceland, it is six-inch char, here it is scuds, scuds and more scuds but with the occasional caddis, black gnat or daphnia. Basically though, you are fishing for a reaction but that does not mean you rip streamers through all the time, far from it. We started our efforts with a CDC emerger with a small pheasant tail underneath. We caught some small, but beautifully shaped and very fat fish but none of the bigger ones. As the numbers of fish rising grew to the point of ridicule (one would cast to a sighted fish and spook a half dozen one had not seen landing the line on the water like spooking bonefish). We switched tactics to a bigger dry, a small mouse-type pattern and after a while removed the nymph wondering if it was spooking the fish. Trout began to come and look at the fly and it was not long before we had our first 4 or 5lbs fish, humble by Lago Strobel standards, but the most beautiful rainbow trout I have ever seen - and strong. More rises followed which for one reason or another did not hook up, but then a great solid take of the dry by a good fish which took off tail-walking and jumping chaotically. It was a beautiful 10lbs+ fish in perfect condition.
Almost as if a switch was flipped while we were photographing and admiring the fish, the wind got up and the waves were soon mounting. We changed tactics and caught one or two small fish but soon it was time to head home. Everyone that evening had experienced the same thing, extraordinary numbers of fish moving before the breeze and great fish hooked, landed or lost on dry flies. Glasses of fine wine were raised to our wonderful first afternoon and we learned that Luciano’s other passion was wine and his generosity was much appreciated. His selection sits on shelves by the dining table for everyone to look at. But there was also concern around the table – the forecast was for a very cold storm coming in the morning. Everyone just hoped the forecast was wrong as one does. I will not go into a blow-by-blow account of the rest of my fishing but by 10.30 the next morning some of us were enduring snow, others hail and all of us rain and high winds. I lost a great fish, which nearly got away with my flyline and during the brief respite in the afternoon I landed a 5lbs, 11lbs and close
to 13lbs fish all on small nymphs fished slowly. Truly… utterly beautiful fish and wonderfully strong and powerful. The next three days of my stay were more of the same, very cold (an over 20 degree drop in temperature), very windy (which can be normal but not with the cold) and at times extreme wind of up to 70 kph. The guides say you know the wind has hit 70 when it starts to spray you with water picked up from the lake. At one point they were predicting wind of 120 kph! Believe it or not we still caught some fish. I got another 10lbs fish among others and the best fish amongst us was a 17.5 beauty but the fishing was not as it should have been, in fact, the guides said it was the worst fishing they had ever known. But we had the ever-upbeat and happy Luciano and his fine wine collection as well as excellent company and remained a happy team of rods with some very jolly lunches in the small lunch huts at Monster and Sea Bay. The guides cook up wonderful stews and other dishes using the gas cauldrons or barbecue that are stationed at each location. To be continued in next issue…
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Trout Explorations with Rod and Camera Val Atkinson is one of North Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most accomplished fly fishing photographers and he has travelled extensively in search for trout and salmon. His travels have also taken him to South America â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and to the stunningly beautiful rivers and lakes of Chile. Having spent considerable time there, Val has managed to shoot an extensive portfolio of pictures from the pristine Chilean trout fisheries, and during the process he has enjoyed many memorable moments with good friends, guides and fellow fly fishermen. In the following, Val presents us with a selection of his favourite Chile-images. By R. VALENTINE ATKINSON
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Exterior of the rustic Granite Canyon Lodge located on the Manihuales River which is owned and operated by fisherman Monte Beckerâ&#x20AC;?
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Guests gather for the evening meal at the Granite Canyon Lodge after a big day of fishing. A cheery time with good stories and appetitesâ&#x20AC;?
“Another feisty Rainbow comes to net during a float down the Rio Pico in Chile’s Patagonia”.
“Floating a wooded section of the beautiful Manihuales River with Patagonia Drifters outfitters”
“A selection of Cone-headed Buggers and other furry creations perfect prospectors for big browns”
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Mike Mercer (of The Fly Shop) gets an early start on the day by fishing the home pools right in front of the guest cabins at El Saltimontes Lodgeâ&#x20AC;?.
“An average beautiful brown trout from the rivers and lagoons of Chile. Notice the purple spoting around the gil plate covers. I’ve noticed this on a lot of trout in Chile”.
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Head guide Sebastian at El Saltimontes casts a mean loop on the Nirehuao River- Chiles first catch and release streamâ&#x20AC;?
â&#x20AC;&#x153;A romantic candle light dinner occurs most every night at the El Saltimontes Lodgeâ&#x20AC;?.
“This bedroom looks pretty inviting after a long day’s fishing at El Saltimontes Lodge in Chile”
“Jose Gorrono the owner of El Saltimontes proudly points out whats for dinnerfreshly roasted lamb”
“Mike Mercer shows off a beautiful fat Rainbow from the Nirehuao River”
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Mike Mercer and head guide at El Saltimontes showing a fine pair of browns taken on grasshoppers right in front of the lodgeâ&#x20AC;?.
“Head guide Sebastian at El Saltamontes lodge in Chile has a unique way of getting over cattle fences, which is not for the timid or the old. Putting one hand on the fence post, he catapults himself right over the barbed wire. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. Being both old an timid, I elected to crawl under.”
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Mike Mercer sets the hook on a big Rainbow way down the other side of the pool. It was exciting to see this masterful fisherman setting the hook and playing this large fish with a full fly line outâ&#x20AC;?
â&#x20AC;&#x153;A beautiful red spotted brownie from the Nirehuao River in southern Chileâ&#x20AC;?
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Patagonia Base Camp guides motoring down river on the lower Palena weaving our way through mist covered mountains headed for a secret lagoon rumored to hold massive brownsâ&#x20AC;?
“While fishing a Lagoon with Patagonia Base Camp guide Greg Bricker late in the day Mike Mercer hooks what looks like a massive record brown trout. After playing it for 20 minutes we finally get it in the net only to discover it’s a 30 pound King Salmon. The guides had never caught a salmon in this lagoon before so it really was quite a surprise”
Dreams come true
After 14 days we ate proper food, had a hot shower and slept on a soft bed. In the morning we bought some coolant at a petrol station. The moment we poured it in, all the coolant leaked out on the ground. We found out that the radiator hose had broken open. Peter solved the problem effortlessly again, solely with the help of a Swiss army knife and a bunch of spanners from IKEA. But while the problem seemed to be solved, we couldnÂ´t trust the car anymore.
By KURT KONRAD
With doubtful feelings we relocated through a mountainous massif to a valley, where several rivers met. The plan was to stay there during the following week. We began the fishing on a river, which - according to Peter, had peaked two years earlier. Access to the river was not possible by car, so we had to pack everything needed for 3 days. We got to the river after an hour of striding, each of us carrying a 20 kg heavy backpack. Because of the strong head winds, we used 6-weight rods. We spooked a few dark-coloured fish that were only half a meter away from the bank. In Slovakia, I would never have fished in such headwinds. It had a bad influence on the accuracy of our casts. The result: we spooked all the fish. I tried to switch the line and cast upstream but because of the 6m long leader, the flies would land right in front of me. If I cast over the fish, they would spook and stop eating. During that day we spooked about 20 fish. Only Peter was lucky enough to land one. Over us dark clouds suddenly ap-
proached, so we found ourselves in need of cottage. We got there absolutely exhausted, not only physically, but also mentally. What´s more - the sand flies started biting us unmercifully. They bit us on every tiny bit of exposed skin and our insect repellent didn’t provide proper protection. I ended up wearing socks on my hands while I was eating dinner to prevent more stings. The cloudy weather made it hard to find fish the next morning. And even though the headwinds had died down, we repeatedly spooked fish. Near the cottage, the river divided into two arms. Kubo and I chose the smaller of the two arms and all of a sudden I noticed a beautiful fish. It was Kubo´s turn so he cast a cicada. He couldn´t see the fish, so I was responsible for telling him when his cicada was in the right place. The Cicada attracted the trout; it turned and went after it for about two metres. I shouted: „It´s coming, it´s coming, It´s coming, It´s there! “ A huge fish emerged out of the water, but Kubo pulled the fly out of the fish´s mouth with a premature strike.
A few hundred metres upstream, the other guys were lucky to spot a beautiful dark fish. I entered the river about 15 m lower and offered it a dry fly. To be honest, I assumed it would be another attempt in vain. I thought I was going to lose the fish, as I was still disgruntled about the previous day. My cast wasn´t very accurate, which the guys weren’t late to comment. The trout, however, decided to get the fly although it passed him by two metres. I couldn´t believe what it! I hooked the fish and was now running after it on wobbly stones for almost 100 metres as it was trying to escape down the stream. For a few minutes, the fish tried to fight its way out of the landing net – but after 3 days of not landing a single fish, I finally got it! It was a moment of pure euphoria, where I realized that length isn’t everything. The fish’ massive, wide body was much heavier than any fish I had ever landed of similar length. While being bitten on my head by sand flies I took a photo of the fish and finally released it back to the river. For the rest of that day, I didn´t feel the need to catch another fish.
Later in the day, we arrived at an impassable lagoon in which Peter spotted another gorgeous fish. It started to as we went down to the river. Wading through the water was more than difficult there. Peter had to go into the cold water up to his chest. He tricked the fish using a dry fly, and afterwards Kubo willy-nilly ran with a landing net to help him. I followed him with my camera. In the crystal clear water we watched an exciting fight with a fish that measured 70cm and probably weighed over 5 kilos. The light rain changed into a heavy one. Walking through the difficult terrain back to the cottage lasted around an hour. We came back totally exhausted and soaked. On the other hand, we were all extremely happy, because each of us had landed a beautiful fish. It was raining all night, so in the morning, we woke up to a cloudy, flooded river. All the rivers in the area were flood and so we headed into the nearest town to find out the forecast for the following days. 3 days later we moved to another river.
Our Czech mate Petr visited us and therefore we formed 2 pairs. Petr and I went on a river that hadn´t cleared fully yet. We tried desperately to find trout but had no luck. Petr cast at random and landed a smaller trout, but it took a while before we finally spotted a gorgeous fish at the end of a deep pool about 2 metres from the bank. The fish was actively feeding on the surface and in the water column. I offered it a cicada; the fish turned in direction of the fly and swam towards me. However, the fish turned and swam into the middle of the river where it continued to feed. It took me 15 minutes to trick it on a pheasant tail nymph. You can´t imagine how happy I was about that heavily built and amazingly coloured fish. Because we didn´t find any more fish we returned down the stream to the confluence and we set out on the other river. Straight away, we found a huge fish. Petr, however, cast too far and spooked it. In another pool he tricked a fish using a Blow fly: A magnificent wild trout. That night we had experienced the coldest night on New Zealand so far.
Peter, who had slept in a thin sleeping bag, was as cold as ice in the morning. After the huge success we had had the previous day I took the rest of the guys to the river in which I had fished with Petr. I landed a nice fish using a Pheasant Tail nymph but the rest of the guys weren’t very successful and mostly just scared their fish. Having noticed another fisherman, we got out of the water and marched several kilometres upstream where the river divided into two tributaries. As we were marching along the river we could hear two people whistling at us. It turned out that our Swedish friends, Jacob and Christian, whom we had met in a town a few days previously were trying to reach us. They saw our car and decided to come have a look. Jacob knew the river very well so he informed us not only about the exact number and usual positions, but also about the length and weight of fish in particular pools. We arrived at a pool with two fish, both of admirable size. It was now Kubo´s turn.
Being instructed by our two Swedish mates he cast his fly to the fish closest to him. It distrustfully hid below a tree´s roots so in stead he focused his attention on the second fish a few meters upstream. He finally hooked the fish and he was rewarded with loud cheering and clapping: “Yeeeeah! Nice fish, man!” Unluckily, the fish unhooked itself while he was playing it. Later we arrived at the beginning of a deep lagoon. It was now my turn. Jacob told us about a large fish. We had to find it. Peter spotted it while he was hanging from the tree above the canyon. The fish was in the shadow near the rock wall. I was a bit nervous because of the presence of our Swedish friends: I really didn´t want to screw up my chances of catching that fish while they were all watching me. I cast my first cicada according to Peter´s instructions. The fly drifted over the fish, and I prepared for a new cast. However, as soon as I raised my rod, I heard Peter shouting: “No, no, it´s coming!” In that very moment the fly flew out of the water, and the fish disappeared. Feeling gutted and disappointed, I started reeling in the line –
but then Peter suddenly shouted that the fish had come back only a few metres upstream. I waded a bit further in and cast. And when the fish hit the fly, I could hardly believe it. I hooked it and the fish took off up stream and soon after I only had about 20 cm of line left on the reel. Luckily, the fish turned around and swam back towards me. I started reeling, but the fish didn´t stop fighting. Suddenly, the pulling stopped and the fish was gone. The last meter of line was totally frayed on the rocks. That´s fishing! You win some, you loose some. A lot of fishermen came to our camp the next morning because the unpleasant weather had driven them away from the west coast. By the river we could see a lot of cars. The fishing there was over for us, and we decided to spend the last couple of days by the New Zealand lakes. It took us all day to transfer to the lakes but in the evening we finally got there. The surrounding nature was tough, but it surely had its allure. The lake, we arrived at, was lined with parched grasslands and crags. A strong wind was blowing, but from time to time we could spot a feeding fish.
We decided not to fish that evening and we cooked our traditional meal - penne pasta. We wanted to have enough energy and stamina for the following day. A half day of unsuccessful casting had passed when Peter finally hooked a fish using a Green Beatle. That lake was home to a traditional form of Scottish trout, so we admired the beautiful fish. During the three days which followed, we didn´t hook any fish. They were either feeding too far from the bank, or we couldn’t persuade them into biting our flies. We tried at both dawn and at night, we tried streamers, chirono-
mids, nymphs, dry flies... To put it in a nutshell, we tried everything to no effect. We found it really, really hard to leave New Zealand on that note! I’ll remember New Zealand for its magnificent nature, of which I saw only a fraction, combined with truly nice and friendly people. Altogether New Zealand is a heaven on earth. In my dreams I can still vividly see how I hooked my biggest fish on that small Cicada fly. That’s why I´m a fly-fisherman. However, I have to warn you. Once you visit this country you will never stop thinking about returning.
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Go small or go home
Locating fish when fly-fishing is not usually what you would call a problem where I fish. Actually, quite often, it`s not a problem at all. The tough part is how to catch fish that undoubtedly feed onâ&#x20AC;¦ well, something! By DALIEN VIGNJEVIC
It is great to escape the hot summer and early fall days and spend them in the magical environment of a nice trout stream or river. It is wonderful to wade, tune in with the river, frenetically repeat casts, see beautiful creatures through clear water and fill your lungs with fresh air. I also enjoy having a nice lunch break and sharing laughs with fellow anglers.
right way to catch trout for me (and other fish as well). There are so many beautiful aspects of fly-fishing that many fly fishermen repeat time and time again that the catch is not that important. It really isn`t! Especially if you consider that most of the good trout streams have enough fish for you to always catch a few – just for the memory or a nice shot.
I have to admit that I`m not an experienced fly fisherman and that all these joys have been unknown to me until a few years ago. As a lure angler, at first I had trouble shaking off the thoughts of how great it would be to effortlessly cast my spinner to the opposite bank, or how much would I catch with a little twitch wobbler.
Now, all of this is very nice in deed, but one of the most common issues in this period of the year is that the fish are visibly feeding, but totally ignore our offerings. This is especially true when water levels are low and the water is clear. Then the fish become finicky – and even more so, because they have seen everything throughout the season, and have become selective feeders.
Still, I cannot grasp what changed exactly, but with every new trip, the fly fishing state of mind settles deeper in my psyche. I enjoy a great cast more than I ever did before, I love feeling a hard thump on the streamer or watching a perfect dry fly take. The joys of fishing – not catching “The line-carries-the-fly” concept, slowly but surely, becomes the only
I think all of us have gone through this process at some point, and even though I consider myself a versatile angler who has tried all sorts of fishing styles from tuna to dry fly grayling, I have to say this is the most frustrating experience in fishing altogether. It really makes you feel incompetent and lets your ego weigh in the situation.
A feeding fish is in front of you, active and feeding with you standing there for such a long that it doesn`t even register that you are there. Every ignored pass in this situation will make you feel worse and you’ll start to question your skills. I`m not competent enough to dive into a trout feeding analysis, but some of the tricks that I have learned from exceptional fly fishermen around me have helped me catch a few fish when the going gets tough! Present them with something different The first thing you can do, when the fish are finicky, is to use flies the fish haven’t seen before. Let’s say something in an unusual color, size or appearance. Do NOT, for instance, use goldhead-nymphs because they are the most common and used by everyone. The best thing to do would be to go through several flies with two or three casts before tying a new one on if there is no interest. As long as the fish are actively feeding, once you find the right fly, the reaction will be immediate. It is also a good idea to try different presentations, say dead drift followed
by stopping and emerging your fly. Downsizing - Micro Nymphs I personally think that the best thing you can do, when the fish are finicky and keep rejecting your flies, is to downsize. My buddy, Ado Jeginović, who is a professional fly fishing guide in Bosnia, taught me this lesson. Our recent trip to the Ribnik River was a prime example. This shallow clear river is full of fish that are under heavy pressure by anglers. The nymphs tied on size 22 and 24 hooks Ado gave us were like toys, so small that they looked like they were just for display - not for serious fishing. Along the way, I got the feeling that the type of fly wasn’t that important as long as it was micro sized. Certain spots on the Ribnik River hold many fish, but they know all the flies, and it can be tough to make them eat yours. Naturally, the micro nymphs have to be fished on super-thin tippets: 0,10-0,12mm are obvious choices, but with such light gear you will have more takes regardless of how good your presentation or basic skills are. We certainly did!
After a very successful day on the water with many grayling and brown trout, we spoke with several anglers who hadn`t been doing that well. We agreed it was all about the micro approach, because bigger flies were consistently ignored and basically it would’ve been a struggle for us as well if it hadn’t been for small stuff. We used 2-weight gear and caught several grayling up to 55 cm that day - no problem! Go small – or go home During summer trout will eat tiny fly with much more confidence than a bigger sized one. Also little mistakes in your cast or presentation will be much less noticeable for the fish when you’re using the light tackle. I brought the same “Go small or go Home” concept to Sava Bohinjka in Slovenia a few weeks later.
The scenario was pretty much the same with slow moving, clear water and spooky fish, except this time they were mainly rainbows. I saw active fish on several spots that gave me THE ignore look, until I pulled out Ado`s tiny nymphs and it was bingo right away! Three takes in three casts! The same principle goes for dry fly action, which can be exceptional this time of year. The smaller, the better! Try to present your fly from upstream, so it is coming to a fish before your tippet. This way the fish cannot see the surface tension from the line. Angled upstream positioning and casting to a feeding fish is the best, so you can mend and straighten your line before letting it drift to a strike zone. Small flies call for light tackle, so I started using a 2-weight Scierra Brook rod. This rod is not that limber and it has a lot of backbone in the lower section.
Anyways, more so than the 0,10 mm tipped you will be using. This rod also has great casting abilities, so getting fair distance is not a problem! A 2-weight line also helps because it is not very heavy, so it will not disturb the water that much - and you can get away with shorter leaders without spooking the fish. Also, it doesn’t cause as much drag as heavier lines. It is awesome to land average and even small fish with this setup, not to mention big fish – every battle is epic! Some anglers think such small nymphs aren’t necessary, and that a bigger hook with a small body on a shank is better solution for landing fish. Ado thinks
that the fish can see bigger hooks, so a small one is also important. Certainly, getting more bites will increase your odds of actually landing a fish, compared to not getting any strikes at all. Still, for targeting big fish - or if the river is full of grass or wood, it is probably a better idea to use heavier tackle. The experience and skills involved with casting light tackle will always be helpful, but simply switching to a light approach will make your fishing easier and will probably provide you with more strikes. At least this is what I’ve experienced. So make sure you have one of those size 22 nymphs and a #2 or #3 weight rod in hand next time you go fish for finicky trout and grayling.
The Profile of a Fly Fisherman
Name: Jennifer de Graaf Born: 1986 Occupation: Photographer Country of residence: Canada Website: www.ammolitephotography.com
How did you get started fly fishing and when? I started fishing in 2008. A friend at the time was an avid fly fisher and over the next few years was patient enough to teach me the skills I needed to develop a passion so fierce that it was all I could think about. What is it that intrigues you about fly fishing? At first it was about learning something new, being in all these new beautiful places outdoors, then it was all about catching, holding and admiring every new species that I could. After that it was chasing
the biggest fish and I would be lying if I said that still wasn’t still very much part of what keeps me coming back. 8 years of fly fishing has passed now and the focus has changed a little bit. I have found that I like teaching people how to fly fish, it’s fun to watch people’s reactions to all their firsts. Their first fish, Their first time netting a fish, their first time catching something on their own hand tied flies and their joy once they take what they have learned and they go out into the great wide open and have success all on their own. Besides that I like to still get
Jennifer de Graaf out on the water for myself because I enjoy the challenge of the day-to-day changes on the water. Every time, I think I have a body of water figured out, I am humbled by a day or two of catching absolutely nothing and the pursuit to understand the underwater world continues. What goes through your head when you’re out fly fishing? Haha oh boy… I guess this all depends on whether I am “fishing” or “catching.” Some days I am on the water for 10 hours or more so I would say the thoughts run wild in those times about anything really. For those that know me well, they have come to know me as the goofy one. I do a lot of singing on the water since my brain has an all day radio collection of songs I have heard in the past. Occasionally I will even make up my own lyrics. I am not a good singer so my friends must really love me, haha! Other than that, I can’t say that I really have specific thought patterns out on the water. What characterizes the most rewarding moments as a fly fisherwoman? The most rewarding moments for me have been catching a fish that I have pursued for a long time. For example; catching a huge bull trout. I’d been fishing for almost 5 or 6 years before I was able to seal the deal on the biggest of bull trout. I had lost many big fish before that. It was really frustrating for me because I had no problems fighting other large fish, but every time I had the opportunity something would happen and I would lose that fish.
The Profile of a Fly Fisherman
I mean to the point where I had shed tears of frustration on the water. Then one day it all changed and I have had the absolute pleasure of catching the biggest of bull trout and releasing them back into the wild. Now I have my mind set on a different species...Pike. All I want for Christmas is a really big pike, haha!
most important lesson I have I learned from fly fishing is patience. Anyone can catch a fish, anyone can catch a big fish... you just HAVE to put in the time. That lesson can be used in almost anything to achieve success. If you put in the time you will succeed. There is no guessing as to WHEN you will succeed, just the knowing that you will.
Does fly fishing help you become a better person? Without a doubt! For one being out in Nature is good for the soul. The single
What is your favorite species to target on a fly rod and why? Hmmmm this is a tough one to answer. At this point, I will choose brown trout.
Jennifer de Graaf Brown trout are an incredibly beautiful species of trout. Big or small, they are the eye candy of the fishing world. What are your fly fishing ambitions for the future? I would really like to get to a place where I feel confident enough in my knowledge and experience to become a year round fly fishing guide and instructor in my area. I think for a job it really could not get any better than that. Any exciting new projects coming up? In regards to fly fishing projects of my own
this year I would say no. I am really trying hard right now to build the portrait/family photography side of my business in my hometown so a lot of my focus will be there. However I do have plans with 2 different videographers to be part of the outdoor videos they are putting together this year. I think that will be a really fun experience! Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re a great photographer. How did you get into fly fishing photography? Thank you so much for the compliment! In 2010, I impulsively decided that I was going to become a photographer. Just like that. I went out and splurged.
The Profile of a Fly Fisherman Purchased camera gear, a computer and editing software with absolutely no clue of what I was doing, haha! Naturally, I took my camera with me everywhere including in fishing trips. A couple years later I noticed that the following I had on Facebook for my photography did not have any interest in my fly fishing material. So I started a separate page called â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Fly
Fishing dream with Jenn and Grace Rose Photographyâ&#x20AC;?, which at the time was the name of the photography business. Well, I had no idea that there were so many businesses and people out there who had this passion for fly fishing and my page took off. So many awesome fans of my work spread the word and I have so much gratitude for those people because the adventures I got
Jennifer de Graaf
to go one because of that are some of the best memories of my life. Including getting to shoot for a week with April Vokey up in New Brunswick. If you could be anywhere in the world right now fly fishing, where would you be - and why? Fishing for Arctic Char in Alaska because the fish and the landscape up there look so rugged and breath-taking. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a bucket list adventure I intend to live at some point.
NO ONE CAN PREDICT THE WEATHER THE BEST YOU CAN DO IS BE PREPARED
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The door to Dream Waters
VIDIDALSĂ Iceland Pictures by Rasmus Ovesen
Iceland is home to an abundance of supreme salmon rivers – and the Vididalsá is right up there among the very best of them. Like many of Iceland’s other incredible salmon rivers, the Vididalsá River is located in the northwestern corner of the island, between Blöndós and Laugarbakki. The river drains a fertile agricultural expanse comprising some 1,130km2 of land, and together with the tributary, Fitjá, it offers 50 kilometres of pristine water with more than 100 enticing pools carved into a mesmerizingly beautiful and at times dramatic lush-green valley. Vididalsá offers a total of eight rods and four different beats, and the average land-
ing rate over the past five years has been around 1000salmon. For the last couple of years that average has increased considerably, however. The season at Vididalsá stretches from June 24th until September 15th – both days inclusive. The first couple of weeks sees the river invaded by massive amounts of medium-sized chromers, and from the middle of July and onwards until the end of August – in what is generally considered to be the high season – fully grown salmon enter the river in great numbers. The majority of the fish in the river weigh between 4 and 8 kilos, but every year several 10 kilo+ fish are
landed – and throughout the river’s rich fly fishing history, a number of fish in excess of 15 kilos have been landed.
in the river stretches with slow flowing water and scattered boulders and rocks.
The majority of Vididalsá’s pools are quite easy and unproblematic to access, fish and wade. They are typically fished with medium-range casts towards the opposite bank, and the gear that’s usually in use is either light double-handed or single-handed fly rods in weights ranging from #6-8 in combination with floating fly lines and small hitch tube flies such as Sunray Shadow, Collie Dog, Francis and Snaelda.
On average, the arctic char are quite big with an occasional 4-kilo+ fish thrown into the mix, and when there’s a good hatch you can rejoice in experiencing some exciting dry fly fishing – so be sure to bring your dry fly gear and some small mosquito imitations. Late in the season, you can also experience some great brown trout- and seatrout fishing with the chance of catching trophy fish in the 5-6 kilo range.
In addition to serious amounts of salmon the river also boasts a healthy population of arctic char, which usually hold
The Vididalsá River is home to its own fly fishing lodge with full-catering services and atmospheric rooms and facilities.
The lodge will host up to 24 fly fishing guests per day in comfortable double rooms with private showers, and once the dinner is ready in the evening, something truly extraordinary awaits the guests. The dinners at the lodge are a chapter of their own. They consist of local ingredients, produce and cooking techniques, and accompanied by a glass of classy wine they mark the perfect ending to a good day’s worth of fishing. For additional information: http://www.vididalsa.is/ Email: firstname.lastname@example.org FACT FILE – TRANSPORT / LOGISTICS / LODGING Iceland’s airport, Keflavik, is easily accessed from most countries, and depending on the season and the time of
departure you can fly with Icelandair (www.icelandair.is) for anywhere between 150 and 250 euros. The transportation to Vididalsá takes about 3 hours from Keflavik, via road 41 and 1-North. For rental cars, please check out Holdur (www.holdur.is).
Martin Ejler Olsen
PHOTOGRAPHER & FLY FISHING GLOBETROTTER
I’m lucky enough to get to fly fish some of the most remote and beautiful destinations in the world. When I’m there, however, I don’t want to rely on luck. I want to eliminate all the stochastic variables! That’s why I only use the best gear available – and Lenz Optics have become an integral part of my gear setup. Lenz Optics keep me sharp and focused when it really counts!
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New on the market The Imperiled Cutthroat: TRACING THE FATE OF YELLOWSTONE’S NATIVE TROUT Yellowstone National Park is a place of unreal beauty and wondrous geological phenomena. It is also one of America’s greatest trout fisheries, and it has served as one of the most important playgrounds for conservation management development. In the book, The Imperiled Cutthroat, Australian fly fishing writer, Greg French, travels to Yellowstone National Park to give a first hand account of the place, its heritage and the challenges faced by its native cutthroat trout – a species of fish that has been under strenuous pressure throughout the park’s history. Via talks with key people in the Yellowstone Park fisheries management combined with his own deeply intelligent observations, Greg French turns the amassing constraints of the Yellowstone cutthroat trout fishery into a case example for other trout fisheries elsewhere in the world, and on this note Greg ends the book by drawing parallels to Mongolia, Pyramid Lake in Nevada, and Tasmania. As such, the book is an interesting read for anyone, who is interested in conservational work and the protection of our beloved trout. For more information, please refer to: http://www.patagonia.com/product/the-imperiled-cutthroat-book/BK765.html
Dressed in Scales: SCIERRA SALMON TEC TUBE The new Scierra Salmon Tec Tube is a multifunctional headwear, which can be used as a beanie, neckerchief, headband and a “mask”. The tube comes with a cool salmon scale design and it is made out of soft, stretchy, and seamless breathable 100% polyester microfiber keeping your skin dry and comfortable at all times. If you’re looking for a tube to keep you warm and protected from the sun during those late-summer and early fall salmon trips, this is just the thing to look into. For more information: www.scierra.com
The Last Wild Trout: A FLY FISHING ODYSSEY Despite his name, Greg French, is one of Australia’s foremost fly fishing writers, and he is fast becoming one of our favourite authors. His latest book, which is called The Last Wild Trout, is a comprehensive travelogue and homage to wild trout across the globe. And it is a superb and well-written book that testaments why so many fly fishermen are obsessed with trout in all their varieties. The book details Greg’s travels to some of the world’s premier trout fisheries – including Tasmania, New Zealand, Iceland, Mongolia, California, Hokkaido, Nevada, British Columbia and the British Isles, and along the way, Greg provides the reader with vivid, exciting, humorous and contemplative accounts of his personal experiences. For the globe-trotting trout bum, the book not only serves as an interesting look into the mind and life of a fellow troutaholic, it also provides inspiration and invaluable information about the world’s trout species – some of which you probably don’t know exist, their genetics, biology, conservational status and geographical distribution. As such, the book can be recommended to anyone who shares in Greg’s fascination for trout. We’re certainly among them, and we therefore highly recommend this book! For more information, please refer to: http://affirmpress.com.au/publishing/the-last-wild-trout/
Scierra Brook: FLY LINES FOR SMALL RIVERS AND CONFINED CONDITIONS The relatively short heads of the Brook WF-lines are designed to present your flies carefully and with precision to high-strung fish pumped with adrenaline and flight instincts. Scierra’s product developer, Mathias Lilleheim, has tapered these lines to ensure controlled turnovers and feather light presentations. “A brook line is a perfect remedy if your normal fly fishing habitat includes narrow rivers and cramped condition and is yet another example of man gaining on Mother Nature”, says Mathias. • Total length 25m • Head length 8.8m For more information: www.scierra.com https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5I_y6ivbGY
New on the market New Bible: GT BY PETER MCLEOD Fly fishing for the voracious giant trevally – or GT’s as they’re commonly known – is fast becoming one of the most popular endeavours among saltwater fly fishermen with extremist tendencies. Now, these extremists have a new bible to refer to: Peter McLeod’s book, GT, which comes fresh from the press. Peter McLeod is evidently one of the leading capacities when it comes to fly fishing for giant trevally, and the book clearly reflects that! GT is a hugely impressive book both visually and contentwise, and for anyone interested in giant trevally this is a must-have book. It starts out with a thorough introduction to giant trevally fishing and giant trevally as a species and moves on from there to distribution, biology, habitats, behaviour, prey preferences, feeding conditions, fishing techniques, tackle, general equipment and much, much more.
A Flyfisher’s Guide to Giant Trevally P ETER M cLEO D
Peter McLeod writes with great insight and authority, and throughout the book he feeds the reader with generous amounts of practical information that will make the difference between success and failure on your next giant trevally expedition. The book is also laden with incredible accounts of erratic and spectacular giant trevally behaviour, that serves to add to the legend of this fish - and the book finishes off with more chocking tales and stories from other giant trevally experts such as Keith Rose-Innes, Serge Samson, Jako Lukas, Gerhard Laubscher, and Tim Pask. All in all, this book competently underpins the hype that surrounds fly fishing for giant trevally at the moment, and it will get anyone excited to attempt landing one of these brutish apex predators. For more information: http://www.merlinunwin.co.uk/bookdetails.asp?bookid=177
ThermoWade: CLEVER COLLAPSIBLE WADING STAFF UK-based ThermoWade have just given the traditional wading staff a complete makeover. They have now launched a collapsible 7075 height adjustable wading staff with superb ergonomics and some 21st Century gadgetry that will appeal to all the anglers out there, who like to collect data. The wading staff features a ruler numbering system for fish length checks, a stainless steel tip for durability, and an adjustable height system that goes from 142-152cm. Besides these upgrades, which enhances overall wading safety, the ThermoWade wading staff comes with a clever monitoring system that allows you to record water and air temperatures. ThermoWade explains that: â&#x20AC;&#x153;The staff delivers monitoring and recording of water temperature on the bottom and air surface simultaneously against time and date - this offers valuable information for the modern astute fly angler looking to match the hatch with local temperatures in their water systems. It can record up to 10 sets of data sequentially for review from previous fishing excursions while offering back-light viewing for dusk and night fishing. Coupled with a visual alert for temperature targets sought and temperature change alert, this product is a must have for all fly fishing anglersâ&#x20AC;?. More at www.thermowade.com
New on the market
Fin Chaser Magazine-writer and photographer, David Lambroughton, has just released his 2017 fly fishing calendar. To get your hands on one, please contact Peter Elberse at email@example.com
The Gen Ho
Fish Mongolia: www.FishMongolia.com
e Guides for nghis Khanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ome Waters MONGOLIA RIVER OUTFITTERS
Mongolia River Outfitters: www.MongoliaRivers.com
BURROWING MAYFLY NYMPH
By BARRY ORD CLARKE (WWW.THEFEATHERBENDER.COM) Although many nymph patterns today are intended to imitate a much greater spectrum of aquatic foods, rather than the nymphal stage of one specific, the Burrowing Mayfly Nymph imitates the final nymphal stage of the largest burrowing mayflies Ephemera guttulata (Green Drake) and Ephemera simulans (Brown Drake) and the European relatives Ephemera danica and vulgate.
Burrowing nymphs prefer soft organic or sandy and muddy bottoms, where they can live more or less buried for up to several years, only appearing occasionally to feed on decomposing vegetable and plant matter. They have been known to burrow as deep as fifty feet. These large nymphs that range from 12-32 mm in length, can be easily recognised by the breathing gills along the sides of the rear body, and over sized fore legs that are adapted for burrowing.
they leave the safety of their burrows, swimming quickly with an undulating body movement, (something that ostrich herl and CdC imitate beautifully) towards the surface, trout can feed on this ascending nymphal stage for several hours before turning on to the subimago winged stage. The weight that is placed under the thorax of the nymph helps emulate this undulating swimming action when pulled through the water with short pauses.
The gills however are not only used for breathing but also function as a ventilation system for the tunnel they burrow keeping water flowing through it, which in turn keeps it open.
When it comes to tying these large nymphs your hook choice should reflect the natural body length, so a 3XL or a 4XL hook in a size 8-12 works well. The dubbing used for the rear body and the thorax should be one that absorbs water and not a water repellent dry fly dubbing.
If the nymph leaves its burrow or stops the undulating movement of the gills, the burrow collapses shortly afterwards. These nymphs are, for most of their life, unavailable for the trout, but one of these on your leader at the correct time can make the difference between great sport and no sport. When the time is right and
Another trick that helps to get the nymph down is after you have tied it on your leader give it a few seconds in the water and then squeeze it hard between your finger and thumb to press out any trapped air that may be caught in the dubbing and CdC. I also like to use a UV treated dubbing and Ostrich herl.
Although I have not had the same marked results that show trout prefer the UV patterns in fresh water, unlike the results I have had in salt water, it does no harm in giving the pattern that extra edge that may make a difference. Previously I have used golden pheasant centre tail fibres for the wing case but these have proved to be a little too fragile for the small sharp teeth of trout, so I have substituted it with Antron body wool.
MATERIALS: Hook: Mustad R73 9671 # 8-12 Thread: Dyneema Tail: Olive ostrich herl Rib: Olive Ostrich herl Body: Olive brown Antron dubbing Thorax: Olive brown Antron dubbing Wing case: Floss or Antron body wool Legs: Olive CdC
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COSMO By YETI COOLERS The Seychelles are an angler’s paradise – if you can actually get to them. This chain of remote islands sits about as far into the middle of nowhere as you can get. But once you arrive, the fishing is on. Follow the crew of the Alphonse Fishing Company as they wade the flats of the Cosmoledo Atoll, hoping for a shot at Giant Trevally.
“PATTERNS” By VITAL FILMS Vital Films presents Patterns, a short fly-fishing film. We are excited to announce our first ever fly-fishing film with the official teaser! Patterns will be a unique look into the sport of fly-fishing and the art of mastering it. To understand is to perceive patterns.
HATCH - FLY FISHING CREW By ROBADALOCAL
Meet JAKE KEELER
An Interview with a Fishy Artist Meet Jake Keeler, an incredibly talented fly fisherman and artist with a style all his own. We’ve had the opportunity to talk to Jake about his passion for fly fishing, his art and how fly fishing ties up with being an artist.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where do you live, how old are you, and what do you for a living. I live in Eagan MN, which is just South of Minneapolis. It’s a nice suburb, which is new to me, but I’m growing to enjoy it. I’m 39, and I work in the realm of Marketing for a living. My day job keeps me busy, and I love it, but art and fly fishing is who I really am, so I try to leave work at work.
When did you get started fly fishing? About 10 years ago I guess. I’ve been fishing my entire life, but didn’t pick up a fly rod until a couple close friends of mine introduced me to it. I’ve been in love with it ever since. Did it coincide with you starting to do art? No. Well, not necessarily. I’ve been making art forever as well.
I come from a family of artist, so making art was a part of growing up, and it’s what I devoted my schooling to. I have a Masters in Fine Arts, and it’s really who I am and what I am. It drives my life, and guides my decisions. It wasn’t until abut 5 years ago that I started combining my life as an artist, and my life as a fisherman/ fly-fisherman. How do you muster the stoicism to do art relating to fly fishing, when it takes time away from fly fishing? The long Minnesota Winters help! Honest-
ly, for about 4 or 5 months it’s hard to do any fishing (besides ice fishing) here in MN. So, everyone gets used to having a hobby or activity during that down time. Those off-months when fishing is non-existent or infrequent get filled up with a lot of studio time. Also, I can’t always go fishing because of work, my family, and other responsibilities - which is totally cool. But, I can almost always grab a pencil and paper and draw. The two activities are essential for my being, so I always make time for both; one without the other would leave an emptiness.
Queen For Days | 2013 | 12” x 8” | Pen and ink on paper
Why did you get into painting in the first place, and why have you decided to paint fish? What inspired you? Drawing and painting always came naturally, and its what my grandfather did, my mother does and what my brother does - it was in the blood! I spent a good deal with ceramics as well, but painting and drawing always gave me the best way to express my ideas and bring something new into the world. Having fish as subject matter came first out of a commission, and quickly through this project, I had found a way to combine my artistic output with my life as a fly fisherman. It was a pivotal moment in my life. I think every artist aims to achieve those moments where their lives so perfectly match their art... it becomes a level of inspiration that is non-stop, and less susceptible to down-turns and slumps. If I’m excited about fly fishing (any and all aspects) then I get excited about making art... they feed off each other. How do you split your time between fly fishing and painting? I fly fish whenever I can, which is to say, whenever it makes sense and fits into the rest of my life. I try to focus on local waters, and places I can get to in less than 30 minutes. Summer evenings are the best; after work and after spending time with my wife and son, I can many times run to a small river or lake and get an hour or two of fishing in - that’s the best. When it’s a full day where I feel like I’ve hit all my marks, and STILL get out fishing... that’s wicked!
Necromancer: Zane, Bringer of Gonzo | 2015 | 12” x 12” | Mixed media on wood
The Ghost I Have Been | 2014 | 12” x 12” | Mixed media on wood
Necromancer: Slint The Red Hooded | 2014 | 19” x 18” | Mixed media on wood
Smalljaw | 2016 | 36” x 20” | Mixed media on wood
Crusty Old Brown | 2016 | 9” x 6” | Pen, ink and watercolor on wood
Necromancer: John The Engager | 2015 | 10” x 7” | Pen and ink on wood
9. Energy Weapons! | 2015 | 12” x 12” | Mixed media on wood
7. Coho | 2016 | 9” x 6” | Pen, ink and watercolor on wood
I’ll get out here and there on weekends as well, and then a few trips through out the year further away. I’m lucky to live in MN where there is infinite water to fish and so many species to chase.
Necromancer: Kirby Bucketmouth (Thienes Concept) | 2016 | 12” x 12” | Mixed media on wood
11. Firebirds! | 2015 | 12” x 12” | Mixed media on wood
Art happens all the time. My mind never really turns off. The making comes in spurts; sometimes a few hours in the evening, sometimes an hour on a weekend morning, sometimes on a long plain ride for work, and sometimes while I drink my coffee before hitting the morning commute. Making art can’t be some kind of grand experience or ritual for me... it has to be a natural activity like anything else. It’s woven into the everyday life. Is there a common allure involved in fly fishing and painting - or do these endeavors represent different emotional involvements. They are definitely related. Observation is a key ingredient to both of them. My drawing instructor in undergrad always stressed great work is a result of “looking more than drawing” - I always took this to mean that one needs to observe and understand their subject matter and their ideas far more than expressing them on paper/wood/ steel/word/music. I think the same goes with fly fishing. Especially with rivers - one needs to observe the water more so than throwing casts.
You could make 100 casts to the wrong spot, mend incorrectly, or use the wrong sink-tip and never get a hit. Or, make one cast to the right spot, with the right mend, with the right sink-tip and fly and get nailed. It all comes from observation (and experience of course). I also think they are both life-long pursuits. You never master your art, and you never master your angling. The pursuit is in many ways what drives us to all keep doing it.
Necromancer: Bringer of The Slab | 2016 | 8” x 11” | Pen, ink and watercolor on paper
What is your favourite species of fish to target? Smallmouth bass - Natives to Minnesota. I’ve been fishing them my whole life... I love everything about them. And what is your favourite place to fish? The Mississippi River. I grew up fishing the river, and I’ve always lived in close proximity. If people want to buy one of your paintings - or order one - where can they go? Nowhere! I don’t sell my work. That may sound weird, but I decided to not sell my work (for now) in order to stay focused on making work, and thinking about my ideas. Selling work requires time, energy and focus - I need to devote those precious resources to creation, observation, and reflection with my work..... and fishing. I need to go fishing. ;)
Necromancer: Spirit of Mille Lacs | 2016 | 8” x 11” | Pen, ink and watercolor on paper
Necromancer: Warlock of the Smalljaws | 2016 | 8” x 8” | Pen, ink and watercolor on paper
Sketchy Brown | 2015 | 16” x 16” | Mixed media on wood
THE SANTA CRUZ:
The Last Untouched Steelhead Fishery!
By JUAN MANUEL BIOTT
Located in the south of Argentinean Patagonia, the Santa Cruz River shines crystalline and bright like an oasis in the middle of a desert. The river teems with big steelhead, but in light of the fact that all Southern Hemisphere trout and salmon are introduced, the question remains: Where does this Steelhead strain come from?
The Santa Cruz River steelhead strain was originally derived from California’s McLeod River Steelhead population. These fish were introduced in the early 1900s, and they have thrived here in Patagonia in relative secrecy ever since. The river has been a sanctuary for these fish with very few people in the area and a fishing pressure that is almost non-existing. It’s because of their unusual migration into the Atlantic Ocean that these fish have recently come to be known amongst fishermen as “Atlantic Steelhead”. Chasing Atlantic Steelhead in the Santa Cruz River has been compared to fishing some other major rivers like British Columbia’s Skeena River. But what no other salmon river on earth can compete with is the solitude that anglers feel when staying in the surrounding area. The Santa Cruz is more than 250 miles long from its mouth in the Argentino Lake to its estuary and outlet in the Atlantic Ocean, and along that stretch there’s nothing besides Guanacos (lamas), Rheas and some other native animals of this region.
The overgrazing in this area, which was done by uncontrolled sheep farming during the sixties, seventies and eighties is the reason why there are very few Estancias (ranches/ farms) in operation today. Los Plateados is the base for Tres Amigos Outfitters - the only fishing operation on the river. With a cabin located on the riverside, inside an Estancia with the same name, approximately 50 miles upstream from the sea, it provides accommodation for up to 6 guests. An Argentine chef is in charge of the meals where beef, lamb and pasta are part of the typical menu. The story behind running a project in the Santa Cruz area started around 2005 and 2006 when our associate company Solid Adventures (www. solidadventures.com) (Loop Adventures at the time) decided to try it as a destination for their clients. Shortly after, the company left the project due to the developing of other destinations, but it remained our favorite river. We kept fishing and scouting it throughout the decade until we found Los Plateados as the strategic spot to do it right.
The reason why Los Plateados looked like the perfect place was the location and close proximity to some of the major holding runs and pools in the river, hardly accessed before. Part of the investment in the first year was to make a road parallel to the productive stretch of the river, in case the conditions were not good enough as to go out on the zodiacs. This idea made the operation safer, in order to be able to fish as much as possible. The season in the Santa Cruz River is short, compared to other rivers, as it only has a fall run, with a prime time of 8 weeks from mid March until mid May. During that period, anglers always have a chance of hooking into a fresh silver fish as well as colored males that arrive earlier than the rest and display the most beautiful colors. The Program A normal day begins after breakfast, leaving the cabin at 9:00am with a planned rotation that allows anglers to visit and fish the different beats during the week. Fishing around three pools/runs per session is the normal procedure, with lunch being prepared by the guides on the riverbanks with the flexibility of going back to the cabin for lunch and a little break or perhaps a short siesta.
The operation is run and guided by the three Amigos who developed the program and who now personally manage the cabin and the fishing. Weather The one thing that makes this place different from the rest of the south of Patagonia is the microclimate it has. The Santa Cruz valley has mild weather during fall and early winter with little wind and warm middays, allowing anglers to take most layers off and enjoy the sun. During late March and April, bright sunny days with temperatures of 72ยบF are normal. By May frost in the morning is normal but the temperatures picks up rapidly, again reaching up to 60ยบF. The sunsets in Patagonia are legendary by now and this place is no exception. Fishing Techniques The way to fish these Atlantic Steelheads can be compared to winter steel heading in the Pacific North-West. As for the tackle involved (normally 8 and 9 wt. Spey rods, set up with Skagit lines and followed by a variety of T-tips), most of the times you would cast square across or slightly upstream to let the fly sink and get close to the bottom to make long controlled swings afterwards.
The flies, most of the time, are Intruder-type-patterns, Leeches, and other articulated flies, in a range of colors that go from Blue to Orange and of course always some Black and/ or Purple. Even though this river is huge â&#x20AC;&#x201C;some stretches exceed 200 yards in width - most steelhead go upriver close to the banks, avoiding the main stream and normally using any little bump or rock to rest behind, in water that normally goes from 3 to 6 feet deep. Reaching the right depth and speed of line in the swing is the key to get a take, so mending the line correctly is certainly a must. Species & Statistics Together with the Steelhead, the Santa Cruz is home to smaller poerch, native to this region, and among the introduced species, sea-run brown trout and lake trout are occasionally found as well.
The number of steelhead that run up the river every year is unknown and difficult to even imagine but clearly immense considering the fish caught and the dimensions of the river. In our experience in the last two seasons, the average number of fish caught has been around one fish per angler per day, where sessions with half a dozen fish for one angler happen as well. This exotic steelhead destination is slowly gaining its place on the anglerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s map, where a huge part of the experience happens in between the fishing sessions with a quality of service gained after 15 years in the business.
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