ALPHONSE ISLAND Argentina
AN ODE TO RIO GALLEGOS Northern Norway
THE LEGENDARY LAKSELVA Spain
SIGHT-FISHING FOR BARBEL www.intheloopmag.com
Europeâ€™s free online fly fishing magazine
Photo by ALVARO SANTILLIAN
WELCOME... Welcome to the first issue of IN THE LOOP fly fishing magazine – or rather welcome back! You may know about us already, since we’re actually the people behind Fin Chasers Magazine. Long-story-short, Fin Chasers Magazine has now evolved and transformed into IN THE LOOP MAGAZINE, something that has been necessary both commercially and creatively. We hope, you’ll keep checking in – and that you like what you see and read. We’ll serve you up another dish of vividly illustrated fly fishing journalism in three months’ time. In this edition, we’re proud to feature the work of Tom Leslie, Stephan Gian Dombaj, Damien Brouste, Alvaro G. Santillian, Jonatan Ternald, Erik Jackson, Rasmus Ovesen, and Martin Ejler Olsen. We hope you enjoy it! Tight Lines// The In the Loop Crew
Photo by ALVARO SANTILLIAN
The Legendary Lakselva by Tom Leslie Freshwater sight-fishing for golden ”bonefish” by Alvaro Santillian Alphonse Island by Rasmus Ovesen & Martin Ejler Olsen An Ode to Rio Gallegos by Stephan Gian Dombaj Welcome to the Jungle by Damien Brouste Tigerfish! by Rob Scott And much much more...
Contributors RASMUS OVESEN
In the Loop Magazine C/O Cast Away Media Org no: 999 320 147 www.intheloopmag.com
By Martin Ejler Olsen
VISIT US ON
Oslo-resident, Rasmus Ovesen, was handed his first fly rod at the tender age of eight, and he has been a borderline fluff chucking fanatic ever since. Rasmus has written articles for some of the worldâ€™s most renowned fishing magazines, and his travels take him to remote areas across the globe in search for fish that will test and challenge his skills to the maximum. He has seen his fair share of exposed backing in the tropics, but his heart truly belongs to the soulful realm of trout and salmon fishing.
MARTIN EJLER OLSEN
Danish fly fisherman and photo journalist, Martin Ejler Olsen, has years of experience fishing for the many and varied freshand saltwater species in the Danish rivers, lakes, and fjords. He has landed some truly massive sea trout on the fly, and he has a certain gift for hooking up with the biggest fish in the schools. Martin is also a keen tropical fly fisherman. His expeditions abroad has seen him battle bonefish, permit, barracuda, tarpon, GT and sailfish â€“ and being a gifted photographer, these trips have resulted in some great footage.
STEPHAN GIAN DOMBAJ
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.
is one of the most influential fly fishing journalists and photographers in the new Millennium. Stephan is extremely dedicated to the sport, and he splits his time between guiding and travelling. Having written for a myriad of renowned magazines across the globe, Stephan has become a household fly fishing name, and he continues to amaze with his spectacular photography and adventurous mindset.
ALVARO G. SANTILLIAN
Alvaro G Santillian Álvaro was born in northern Spain where he fished since his early childhood. He has since specialized in sight-fishing for trout and Atlantic salmon, Álvaro travels extensively in search for the best dry fly fishing spots. As a nature lover and photographer, he never travels without his rod and camera. As a founder of the LineasVivas flyfishing guides in 2006, he combines his work as a guide in www.lineasvivasflyfishing.com, with photography in www.focusonthefly.com.
Keen fisherman and owner of Fin and Game (www. finandgame.com), Tom Leslie represented England from the age of 16 and has since traveled around the world chasing a magnitude of species. Despite traveling to several exotic destinations, Atlantic Salmon are Tom’s true passion, and he has been lucky enough to fish all over Scotland, Russia, Iceland and Norway landing fish over 40lbs.
is an avid sight fisherman. Based in New Caledonia, he satisfies his fly fishing passion by stalking big bonefish. When ever the stalking on the flats proves adequate, he looks for Tasmanian or New Zealand trout that are just hours away. Damien spends precious amounts of time with his camera trying to show the world how beautiful the sport of flyfishing is - and he has a special knack for capturing the magic moments. See more of Damien’s images at www.dbflyfishing.com
Rob Scott is an adventurous globetrotting angler, who is particularly fond of stepping off the beaten path in search for virgin waters. He resides in South Africa, where he has established himself as a successful freelance fly fishing journalist and photographer. Rob is an owner/director for the travel agency Tourette Fishing (www.tourettefishing.com), where he tests and develops new and exciting fishing destinations, as well as managing their small but professional team of guides.
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.
Salmon Fishing on the Legendary Lakselva No fish has had more written about it than the Atlantic Salmon. A fish that has captured the hearts of fishers for generations. The 1st records of anglers targeting Atlantic Salmon dates back to the early 1800â€™s.
By TOM LESLIE Photography by TOM LESLIE and STEPHAN GIAN DOMBAJ
Fly fishing for salmon started in Scotland on the banks of famous rivers such as Tweed, Dee, Tay and Spey. The latter is the home to Spey casting. These names are now well known throughout the fishing world. From here, salmon fishing has spread widely throughout Europe and North America. Anywhere these magnificent fish swim you will most likely find wader clad fishermen waving their fly rods about in hope that the king of fish will take their offering. The Atlantic Salmon has the ability to get under your skin and has won over the hearts of many. It has cost others their marriage as it is the true love of their life. Unless you are a salmon junkie, it is difficult to explain the draw of these fish. Maybe it is out of respect of the epic migration they undertake, traveling thousands of miles to feed before returning to their home river to spawn. Or maybe it is the way we fish for them; swinging long lines down and across using double-handed rods with classically dressed flies with names that capture your imagination. Everyone’s attraction is different with these fish and
there isn’t a right or wrong answer. It was the love of salmon fishing that made me move from the chalkstream littered lands of Hampshire, in the south of England to the more rugged Scottish Borders where the mighty Tweed flows. Like any true addict, I have devoted every spare moment in pursuit of the slow pull of an Atlantic salmon taking my fly. The tug is the drug after all. I even went one step further and opened a tackle shop, ‘Fin and Game’, which is located a good cast away from the famous Junction pool. Sadly, even in my short fishing career, I have witnessed a decline in fish numbers. There are still fish to be caught and red-letter days are still possible, but they are happening less frequently than in years gone by. The average size has also been declining. Gone are the days of 40 and 30lb’ers regularly being caught in Scotland. Now 20lb’ers are noteworthy fish with the odd 30lb fish being caught. As with any fisherman, large fish have always intrigued me and captured my imagination.
Each year, pictures from a handful of rivers in Northern Norway, of 40 and 50lb salmon caught on the fly appear. These are the ultimate target. These images give you renewed hope that the next fish that takes your fly could be the fish of a lifetime. With this in mind, you should be able to understand my excitement when my good friend and fishing buddy, Stephan Dombaj – founder of Fly Fishing Nation, rang me and asked if I would like to join him to fish on the stunning waters of the Lakselv in Northern Norway, famous for its giant salmon. Without checking my diary, I said I was in – this was too good to miss out on. A true once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fish over some of the biggest salmon in the world. Flights were booked, and the preparation began. The Lakselv runs through Finmark in Northern Norway. Compared to its neighbour, the Alta, it is relatively unknown. However, good things don’t stay quiet for long and this fabulous river has increased in popularity over the last few years as people have
heard of what rewards lie within its fast-flowing waters. It has shown itself to be one of the top rivers worldwide, when it comes to large salmon. Every season it gives up several fish over 40lbs, some over 50lbs and tales of fish much bigger hooked and lost. Enough to get any fisherman’s heart racing. We were fortunate to be able to call Oldero Fly Fishing Lodge, run by Henrik Andersen, our home for the week. Between Stephan and I, we have stayed in one or two fishing lodges. We both agreed that others came close, but none bettered Oldero. The lodge is located on an Island in the river and is only 100 meters from the river and offers breath-taking views of the surrounding landscape. 8 guests comfortably stay in the lodge which has a wonderfully private feel about it. Everyone at the lodge made sure we had everything we needed during our stay. We were in our element - 1st class food, free flowing beer, a fly shop so we could stock up on the local musthave patterns and exceptional fishing on the door step.
Oldero has access to 6 private beats up and down the river meaning, whatever the conditions, there will be suitable water to fish. Private fishing isn’t always a given in Norway, which is what makes Oldero such a special place. The beats are fished by 2 rods in rotation, with only 3 beats being fished at a time meaning the water isn’t overfished and gives it a chance to rest. I should say here that fishing in Norway isn’t a numbers game, but it offers the chance of a true fish of a lifetime. If you are looking to catch lots of fish, then Russia or Iceland maybe more your thing. If, like us, you are searching for a new personal best, then Norway might just be the place for you. We arrived late on the 20th August, we were greeted by Mads, the camp manager and one of the guides, taken to the lodge and shown our rooms. We were to start fishing the next day, so we decided to call it a night. Excitement prevented me from sleeping that night and I was already showered and dressed by the time my alarm went off.
Stephan and I were to fish together and had drawn to fish the home pool for the first morning. The river was much higher than the normal for this time of the year but, unlike it would be at home, was running crystal clear. Chris and Mads, the excellent guides, assured us we would only need floating lines and sink tips despite the high water as the fish are aggressive and will happily come up for the fly. It didn’t take long for us to prove their theory right. On my 1st run down the home pool, the swing of my Monkey bottle tube fly was rudely interrupted by a lively salmon fresh from the sea. I was into my 1st Norwegian Salmon on the first morning of our trip and on my 25th birthday – life was good! It wasn’t the monster we both had hoped it would be, but a beautiful 7lb’er covered in sea lice.
What a great way to start. That was all the action for the morning but that afternoon we were to fish the stripping pool. A long, deep channel that held a lot of fish – and some big ones! Stephan soon connected with an angry 24lb hen fish that took a liking to his one-inch red Frances and led him a merry dance downstream before it was slipped into the net. This fish equalled his personal best. What a fantastic first day. We both caught fantastic fish in stunning surroundings. We decided to call it a day and retire to the lodge where we enjoyed a cold beer in front of the fire. Another fantastic meal was served using local ingredients and we turned in for the night. The next day, we found ourselves back on the top beat. We started at the top of the beat, fishing all the likely spots. Despite seeing a good number of fish, we didn’t connect. We worked our way down to the stripping pool again. The previous day’s events were still fresh in our mind. Stephan went through the pool first. As he was half way down he lifted into, what was obviously, a very good fish.
The rod was bent double and the reel was screaming. I ran back to the car to get the camera equipment and the net. It became apparent quite quickly that this was a true monster and the reason why we had come to Laksleva. It took line with ease and each time it took more line we wondered how big it really was. No one wanted to tempt fate and say anything before it was safely in the net. 45 minutes passed before it slipped into the net. She was a huge! A beautiful, coloured hen fish – the biggest salmon either of us had ever seen. A true Lakselv monster. She took the scales of the Mclean weigh net down to 42.5lbs! We carefully photographed her and returned her without taking her out of the water. With a flick of her tail, she was off to continue on her journey up river and to spawn. Hopefully to pass on her genes so that others can experience this for themselves in the future. For once, Stephan was speechless. A man who has caught most things that swim up to epic proportions was reduced to a nervous wreck by a salmon. That is the power of these majestic fish. Whatever species you choose to target – salmon will always lure you back.
It was now my turn; I went back into the pool just above where Stephan had hooked his fish. I was still buzzing from witnessing the epic catch minutes earlier when I too was into a fish. I hadn’t even gotten all of my line out. Instantly I knew I was into the biggest fish I had ever hooked. I started thinking about how big it could be. After an eventful fight, where the fish wrapped the line around a tree, charged at Stephan - sending him swimming and killed a camera in the process and then breaking the net, Stephan managed to tail a cock fish in its spawning colors. It weighted 26.5lbs – small compared to Stephan’s fish but still a great fish and a new personal best for myself. After a few quick photos he too was returned to the river. So, in two casts, we both had caught personal best salmon with a total weight of 69lbs. Lakselv really is a magical place where dreams become a reality. To top off the experience it was all experienced with a great fried in beautiful surrounds. I think we are both still smiling. We caught more fish as the week went on, but nothing could possibly top that
morning. To put it into perspective – Stephan’s fish wasn’t even the biggest fish of the week. Chris, guided by ‘Big Fish Chris’ had a 46lb hen the next day out of the same pool and we know there were bigger fish in there! Lakselv and Oldero were generous to us all that week. The average size of fish was 25lbs! I had never seen a 25lber before that week. It was a truly fantastic experience and one I will treasure forever. If you ever get the chance to cast a line on the Lakselv’s magical waters – drop everything and go! You won’t regret it. Norweigan salmon are not exempt from the threats that Scottish Salmon experience. There are many factors that are impacting the survival of salmon throughout Europe. These include predation, global warming, fish farming, commercial netting, changing environments and more. There is no one factor causing the decline, most likely it will be a range of factors all impacting stocks. We are not able to control all of the factors but those we can we should do our best to limit their effects. Salmon have been around for thousands of years and with proper management they can be around for thousands of years to come.
Recent talks are of an open net fish farm opening in the fjord at the mouth of the Lakselv. The impact that fish farms have on wild fish stocks is widely known. The negative effects are generally caused by the increased levels of sea lice associated with large numbers of fish in a small area. These can have devastating effects on the smolts as they head to sea to begin their migration. Unique gene pools of wild fish can also be impacted by cross breeding with escapee farmed fish. I hope you agree with me, that as humans, we have already done enough damage to this planet and the creatures that inhabit it. Surely, we have a duty to protect what we currently have so that future generations can enjoy it. Wouldnâ€™t it be a crying shame if no one was able to enjoy the magic of Lakselv in the future because someone thought it was a good idea to put a fish farm where we all know it will cause damage to a fantastic natural resource?
Freshwater sight-fishing for golden â€?bonefishâ€? Fly fishing for barbel and carp is still something very new in Spain, but with the enormous variety of rivers and lakes present in the country, versatile freshwater fisheries for alternative fly species just keep popping up. Come join in on the gold hunt.
By ALVARO SANTILLIAN
Most people don’t consider Spain a fly fishing destination. But that’s a bit of a paradox. Spain is the second most visited country in Europe in terms of tourism and it’s generally considered a place flush with beautiful beaches, warm weather and unique meals. Spain, however, has lots to offer fishermen who are looking for new challenges and new species. From the ancient monuments left by the Romans and Moors to world class gastronomy there is a great mixture of cultural attractions in Spain. The landscape, carved out by its massive lakes and rivers, is home to a great variety of animals; from small singing birds to big mammals. The overwhelming richness of flora, fauna and wildlife makes you forget how close you actually are to civilisation. On the other hand, the evergreen estuaries of the north could hardly be more different from the deserts of Aragón or the rugged mountains of the Sierra Nevada to the south. Those are places that should be on your “to do” list when visiting Spain – if fly fishing doesn’t end up con-
suming all your time that is! The abovementioned characteristics make Spain a unique country to visit – and, if you bring your fly rod, you might just be in for the adventure of a lifetime. While in Spain, you will have the opportunity to target unique species on the fly – species that aren’t readily available elsewhere. Barbel and carp, for instance, are plentiful – and they offer exhilarating sport on a fly rod. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that you can fish for them while enjoying new cultural sights and experiences, warm weather, and extraordinary food. Due to the stable temperatures throughout the season, plus a favourable food supply all year long, a very special behavior is developed by these species. They stop feeding along the bottom, searching for small larvae and plant particles, and – instead - start feeding towards the surface, searching out insects falling from nearby trees or – like us fly fishermen – patiently waiting for a good hatch. And you know what they say: There is always a hatch somewhere!
THE SPECIES Barbel are known as “Spanish bonefish” because of the similarities in their behavior, shape and fight with the macabí. In the Iberian Peninsula, eight different subspecies of barbel exist. The main ones are: • • • •
Comizo Barbel (Barbel comiza) Common Barbel (Barbus bocagei) Graells Barbel (Barbus graellsii)* Mediterranean Barbel (Barbus guiraonis)* • Gypsy barbel (Barbus sclateri)* The last three are endemic to the Iberian Peninsula, so yes, you could add some new and unique species to your list when visiting here. Cool, Eh?! The average weight goes from one to two kilograms, but some of the species named above grow bigger than others, so finding barbel of around five kilograms is always a possibility. On the other hand, the carp introduced by the Romans some 2000 years ago are now fully adapted to our rivers, lakes and reservoirs where plentiful and healthy popula-
tions can be found. Their average size varies between two kilograms in some rivers to six or seven kilograms in others. This is just the average size, which means that much bigger carp, sometimes up to fifteen kilograms or more, are often sighted. Catching them, of course, is a completely different story! The spawning season of both species occur during the spring. The carp gather near the river banks or close to the lake shores in big numbers, while the barbel run to the upper parts of the rivers in search for cold and oxygen-rich water. During this period of time, both species can be rather apathetic - being focused, as they are, on “their own business”. Generally, the feeding habits of both species are similar, and they depend on the habitat type, water temperatures, weather etc. Their diets are varied and include little gregarious fish, crayfish, crabs, amphibians, nymphs and insects.
THE SEASON Good fishing can be had almost throughout the whole year, with the exception of the winter months. During the last years, due to global warming, the water temperatures in the southeast regions haven’t decreased enough as to change the fish’ behaviour, and they have therefore still been active (although a little slower) during the winter months. One thing is certain, you have to be able to adapt to every possible scenario when targeting barbel and carp. Depending on the time of year, the water temperatures, the weather, and most importantly, the food that the fish are currently feeding on, you will need to dig deep; find the right flies and the right presentation. While sometimes, the fish will be feeding on big dries, you always have to be ready to change your game. Moments later, the key to success could be a small streamer or simply a more delicate and careful presentation. The prime weeks are during the spring and the autumn. On the one
hand, April and May can be really good too. After the winter lethargy, the good weather of Spring warms up the water and brings new life to the rivers and lakes: The insects start to hatch again and the fish, which have been starving during the winter months, begin feeding actively again. After the summer months, comes yet another period when the fishing can be red hot. Once the temperatures start declining, the barbel and carp start feeding hectically. They seem to instinctively know that cold weather is on its way, and they therefore begin to fill their winter reserves. SCENARIOS The number of places you can fish in Spain in search of “golden fish” is enormous. Their prime habitat is usually located on the lower parts of the rivers where the water is fairly warm and slow, and where the bottom starts to eutrophicate. Moreover, as a consequence of the high number of damns built in Spain, they can be found in almost all the reservoirs throughout the country.
Sometimes they even cohabitate with other species like salmonids in the upper parts of the rivers and with pike, bass and catfish in the lower ones, or in the reservoirs. Without a doubt, the feeling of solitude is overwhelming in most of the locations that one might encounter barbel and carp. Kilometres and kilometres of rivers and lakes surrounded by oak and birch trees in the middle of a grassland, known as dehesa… with the red-toned earth under your boots and your eyes squaring the shallow waters where the barbel and carp usually feed. It’s quite an experience! GEAR If I could give just one tip in terms of gear, it would be the following: Be sure your clothes and shoes are as comfortable as they can be. You’ll be walking a lot, and it’s all about spotting the fish before they see you. As a result, light sneakers will surely do the trick instead of the big and heavy boots we normally use with our waders. Most of the time, while fishing reservoirs and lakes, you don’t even need waders and the same goes for the summer fishing in the rivers,
where I personally prefer not to wear them - not only because the days are long and hot, but also because these are very spooky fish. The less time you are in the water, the better chances you have of hooking a fish. If I had to choose one rod for the whole season, the 9,6 #6 would be my choice. Why? This rod allows you to cast heavy- or voluminous flies like small streamers and foam bugs. The extra length of the rod, compared to a 9,0, will help in a lot of situations. It also has better power reserves when fighting the fish, but sometimes – especially when looking for the big ones, a #7 is, perhaps, a better idea as more fighting power is needed. Pair these rods with reels that have strong brake systems and tie some good fluorocarbon tippet between 3X and 0X at the end of the floating fly line and you will be ready for action. I have lost too many fish as to continue not using fluorocarbon. These fish tend to go to the bottom very quickly, searching for every stone, submerged tree or whatever they can use to find shelter and break your tippet.
FLY BOX I am a 100% presentation believer, so I donâ€™t necessarily think that a small pattern change will make a big difference. The truth, however, is that there are some flies you cannot leave home without when targeting barbel and carp. The first one is a foam bug. Both carp and barbel love eating ants, grasshoppers, cicadas etc., so when they are near the bank, no matter if they are eating on the bottom, they will always pay attention if something falls onto the water. Be imaginative and tie a good amount of these bad boys on hooks ranging from #16 and #10. Secondly, nymphs are important. My favourite ones are chronomids, but the possibilities are endless. I prefer tying the nymphs almost without weight, because in my experience, the fish usually prefer when the nymph drops at a natural pace. Finally, a good bunch of streamers is highly recommended to have. They can really be game changers. Between 3 and 7 centimetres in length with not much weight â€“ and in a multitude of natural colours, these flies will sometimes be the key to catching big fish.
I distinguish between the ones that imitate little gregarious fish or bottom-feeding prey fish like sculpin and the ones that look like a crayfish or a little bottom animal. You might not think these fish are actual predators with their soft mouths and fleshy, toothless lips, but make no mistake! In some areas, especially where they cohabitate with a large amount of smaller fish species, they have adopted some incredible predatory strategies. SIGHT-FISHING I think the sensation of seeing the fish; your target; your dream right in front of you and watching how it reacts to your fly has a certain power over your mind that potentially leads to madness. In my case, it is the fuel behind all those hours spent and all the thousands of kilometres travelled in search for golden silhouettes. Sometimes, during a bad day (one of those where the fish seem to have disappeared and you have to walk miles before finally seeing one), the distance covered surprises me. Yes, when you are hooked, you canÂ´t stop searching for them, even if you have to walk gruelling long distances for just one opportunity.
The truth is that sight-fishing fishing is like a drug; it makes you addicted. You will never forget your first time. Mine was at the age of ten, when I had just gotten started fly fishing. Back then, my ability to properly present a fly at ten meters was almost non-existent. But you know how a ten years old kid is: Thereâ€™s no stopping - so I learned a lot that summer. And a lot of times, the hard way! The river near the village where I spent the holidays provided me with important experiences. It taught me that the key to tricking one of these fish is being able to locate your prey before it even senses you are there - and that is not easy, especially not with barbel and carp. Their sense of sight is outstanding, but they are also capable of feeling all the vibrations transmitted through the water and riverbed because of their hyper-sensitive moustaches. And, unfortunately, especially our steps are easily recognizable to these fish. After days spent along the river, I was finally able to approach a barbel that
was unsuspectingly feeding along the bottom in less than 30 centimeters of water. My Red Tag (as you probably know, there are many weird things in the fly box of a ten-year-old boy) hit the surface and the barbel, immediately, fixed his eyes on it and slowly swallowed the fly. I still remember it as if it were yesterday! ENDING Returning to what I have said at the very beginning of this article, maybe itâ€™s time to change our perspectives and see Spain as a playground for mixed pleasures: A place where you will find good weather, one of the best culinary scenes in the world, a vibrant culture and some good quality fishing in close proximity to some of the most beautiful cities and beaches in Europe. As you may have realized by now, Spain isnâ€™t one of those conventional fishing destinations where the angler poses with a trophy fish surrounded by outstanding peaks and green forests, nor is it one of those where you can enjoy a mojito on a boat deck while fishing.
If, however, you are searching for a different kind of experience, maybe on your own, sleeping in a little cottage near the river or lake, or exploring the hidden parts of the country - perhaps even with your family, in a healthy mix between vacation time and fishing… Spain is surely worth a try.
Álvaro G. Santillán www.lineasvivasflyfishing.com www.focusonthefly.com
More info about flies: www.moscasjoaquinherrero.com www.crrflies.com
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A Tropical Fishing Paradise in the Seychelles Pt2 Text: RASMUS OVESEN Pictures: RASMUS OVESEN and MARTIN EJLER OLSEN
The Seychelles is an archipelago located North of Madagascar, and it mainly consists of small coral islands, atolls and reefs. The Seychelles is known for its beautiful palm beaches, but it is also home to some of the best and most diverse tropical saltwater fly fishing in the world.
Continued from last issue… IT’S WITH A SINKING HEART and a minimum of confidence that we begin our last day of fishing. Here, we focus on catching one of the gold bars of the flats – an Indo-pacific permit. These incredibly attractive and challenging fish often forage in the wake of big stingrays, which dig for crustaceans on the sand flats. And during the morning we’re fortunate enough to experience this phenomenon several times. I succeed in hooking one of these shrewd fish twice, and I’m connected with the latter for about 10 minutes before the fly suddenly – and without much cause or occasion – looses its hold. The disappointment is so intense that I feel like fainting. When, later in the day, the tides have gradually dried up- and exposed many of the sandy flats, there are no more permit to be found, so we head for the outer reefs. Even though it’s still early in the season, and the sea is still relatively agitated, we can’t resist the temptation of locating a school of Alphonse Island’s mythical milkfish – a nervous species of fish that look like over-dimensioned mullets and fight harder and longer than any other fish. If we’re lucky, and the conditions are just right, it’s possible to trick these finicky, vegetarian fish into eating a fly.
On this particular day, we’re fortunate enough to find a big school of milkfish lazily cruising along a tidal seam that runs parallel to St. Francois western coral barrier. Our guide for the day, Wesley, shuts off the engine, jumps to the fore of the skiff with an oar, and gets us closer. Shortly after all hell breaks loose! I PLACE A CAST well ahead of the school and keep good contact with the green algae fly as the school passes. Shortly after, I feel a subtle tug on the line, and as I lift the fly rod, the fly line immediately starts gushing through the guides of my 10-weight fly rod. The fly reel now pitches in with a tormented, flanging squeal as the reel spool spins out of control and raw amounts of fluorescent orange backing cuts through the water surface and disappears into the ocean. Out of the corner of my eye - in a completely different direction than the one my backing has charted – I now see a giant, silvery fish in the vicinity of 50lbs thrusting itself meter-high out of the water with the flyline dragging behind. It’s as if it’s suspended mid-air unnaturally long, and it isn’t until it collides with the water again - making a huge crater in a wave trough – that I realize that it’s the actual fish I’ve hooked. Several meter-high jumps later, and with a backlog of about 150 meters of backing, the pressure on the leader and the small hook become too great. The fly loses its grip in the fish’ soft mouth, and the battle is lost.
This scenario repeats itself an additional three times, and the toughest blow comes when, late in the afternoon, I loose the last milkfish of the day: a fish of a much more manageable size than the previous ones: One that I fight for a long time – long enough to actually start believing that I’ll be able to land it. When I loose this fish, nothing much is capable of consoling me. Not even the guide’s well-meaning statistic offering when he states that only one in 10 hooked milkfish are actually landed. Statistics don’t mean anything to a defeated and broken man! NOW THAT THE DAY IS OVER, the flats skiff is anchored up, and we’re on board the catamaran slowly headed towards Alphonse Island, a burning sense of failure – of having missed out on a unique opportunity – rages relentlessly inside me. And whilst my fingers minutely work their way across the keyboard as I write these passages – far away from the Seychelles in the cold North – the feeling comes to life again. But now it is diluted by the conciliatory bliss of time and distance - and of a deep-felt gratitude for having experienced such a heartbreakingly beautiful destination and such a unique and breathtakingly exciting fishery. The challenge no longer consists in mending my wounds but finding a way to plan and finance another trip to Alphonse Island and the St. Francois Atoll. I’m yearning to get back there with all my heart and soul, and I’m confident that I will regain what was lost there!
FACT FILE Alphonse Island and the Seychelles Alphonse Island is situated in the Indian Ocean some 400 kilometres southwest of Mahé, which is the main island in the Seychelles. The island, which comprises an area of a mere 171 ha, is the home of an exclusive resort with a pool area, outdoor bar, full gourmet catering, and an array of super-comfortable private villas along the palm-strewn waterfront. The resort caters up to 12 fortunate fly fishing guests – and in addition to being spoiled with service and cuisine in a league of its own, they are treated to some of the world’s best and most diverse tropical fishing. It is possible to fish on your own along Alphonse Island’s flats with good results, but the guided fishing takes place around the St. Francois Atoll, which offers varied hunting grounds in the form of flats, coral reefs, tidal currents, and drop offs. You’re transported to St. Francois on a catamaran and will subsequently get on board one of the flats skiffs that are anchored up there. Once there, you’ll find massive schools of fully grown bonefish, plenty of Indo-Pacific permit, trigger fish (Yellowmargin, Moustache and Picasso), milkfish and giant trevally – in addition to snappers, bluefin trevally, brassy trevally, groupers, bonito, parrotfish, nurse sharks and much, much more.
FACT FILE Alphonse Island and the Seychelles A typical day at the St. Francois Atoll involves close combat encounters with triggerfish along the coral reefs, quality shots at golden permit and nervous milkfish on the flats in addition to chaotic intermezzos of foraging giant trevally that appear suddenly and unannounced along drop offs and reef formations. There are bonefish enough to keep one plentifully entertained from morning till evening, but most people target either giant trevally or permit. Or they’ll methodically sweep through promising areas, cover the water and cast at whatever presents itself – and that’s a lot! If the impulse to go big game hunting should manifest itself, Alphonse Island also has the option of renting a charter boat. On it you can easily access deeper water and fish for sailfish, marlin, tuna, wahoo, giant trevally and much more. Especially the sailfishing is in a league of its own and the same is the wahoo- and tuna fishing. If you’re interested in booking a trip to Alphonse Island, or some of the other renowned Alphonse Fishing Co destinations in the Seychelles – including Cosmoledo and Astove, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org For further information, be sure to check out these links: http://www.alphonsefishingco.com http://www.seychelles.travel/
FACT FILE Transport and logistics The transportation to Alphonse Island is usually via Dubai to Mahé and Seychelles International Airport. Here, Emirates is an obvious choice, seeing as they have regular flights with appropriate arrival times in relation to the journey onwards: http://www.emirates.com/no/English/ Depending on your itinerary, you might experience a good deal of layover in Dubai International Airport, and it might therefore be a good idea to get some rest in the Dubai International Airport Hotel, which is conveniently located inside the departure terminal: https://www.dubaiintlhotels.com/ From the airport in Mahé you’ll continue your journey to Alphonse Island on a 1-hour IDC flight arranged by Alphonse Fishing Co. It departs from a hangar outside the International Airport, and getting there involves a five-minute taxi-ride.
FACT FILE Gear and equipment Since the species diversity at Alphonse Island is quite overwhelming, you’ll need a versatile range of tropical fly rod-and-reel setups. You’ll generally need a minimum of four setups: an 8-weight setup for bonefish and triggerfish, a 10-weight setup for permit and milkfish, and two 12-weight setups for giant trevally – all of them pre-spooled with tropical floating lines. The reason why it’s a good idea to have an extra 12-weight setup on you at all times is that it enables you to switch quickly between poppers and streamers when sight-fishing for giant trevally. Everything happens dizzyingly fast when fishing for giant trevally, and you have to make the most of each opportunity. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a second setup at hand, if you need to try a new fly – or if you’ve been blind casting with poppers, and a sight-casting opportunity suddenly arises. Furthermore, giant trevallies are known for breaking rods, melting down reel drag systems and emptying backing reserves. In this regard, a backup 12-weight setup is essential. While the gear required for bonefish, triggerfish, milkfish and permit is similar to that used elsewhere in the tropics, the gear needed for giant trevally is in its own league. Here, you’ll need the very best saltwater fly rods – like the Thomas & Thomas Exocett or Orvis Helios II in combination with a fly reel that can stop a span of wild horses: For instance Nautilus NV Silver King, Einarsson or Orvis Mirage.
FACT FILE Gear and equipment As a life-insurance during the utter mayhem and chaos of a giant trevally outburst you’ll need a minimum of 300 meters of 80lb backing in combination with a specially designed fly line – such as Airflo’s 50lb core Ridge Tropical GT fly line. The fly line is then linked to the fly via a 2-meter long 90 – 110lbs fluorocarbon tippet. It may sound completely out of proportion, but it is all due to the fact that a giant trevally needs to be treated with extreme strictness and pressure during the fight. Otherwise, they will run off and you’ll risk getting spooled or being cut off on corals and other subaqueous structure. The flies that are most commonly used at Alphonse Island are specifically designed and developed for the fishing here. Fulling Mill, in England, have launched a series of flies, which have been developed in close cooperation with the guides at Alphonse Island, and they can be found here: http://www.fullingmill.co.uk/ Alphonse Island’s bonefish aren’t particularly picky, and they can be caught on traditional bonefish flies like Crazy Charlie, Beck’s SiliLegs, Bonefish Bitter and Gotcha in sizes ranging from 10 - 4. The permit, however, is a chapter of their own. They’re typically caught on ultra-realistic crab- and shrimp imitations like the Alphonse Crab, Flexo Crab and Sand Prawn in sizes ranging from 2 - 8 fished on long (5m+) and thin (15 - 20lbs) leaders.
FACT FILE Gear and equipment
The Triggerfish are most effectively fished with smaller crab flies, which should be mounted with weed guards so they don’t snag on corals while retrieving them. And since triggerfish are capable of biting hooks clean over they should be tied on the strongest hooks available. The milkfish, which predominantly feed on algae and seaweeds, can be caught on pulsating lushgreen flies such as Wayne’s Milky Magic - and then there’s the giant trevally! Giant trevally are fished with either NYAP poppers or gnarly streamers tied on the strongest possible 6/0 – 8/0 saltwater hooks. They should be bulky, pulsating and have big, staring eyes – and it’s an advantage if they’re made out of materials that don’t suck in too much water. Among the local favourites are the Brush Fly, GT Mullet, Bus Ticket and Serge’s Wrasse. When it comes to wading equipment, clothing and such, you can pack like you normally would for similar tropical trips. Otherwise, Alphonse Fishing Company provides in-depth information about what to bring prior to the visit at Alphonse Island.
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An Ode to Rio Gallegos It was almost seven years ago when I first set foot onto the desert-sand of Patagoniaâ€™s southernmost city, Rio Gallegos. At the tender age of eighteen and accompanied by a group of likeminded fellow anglers I made a pilgrimage to fish one of the most prolific sea-run brown trout rivers in the world.
By: STEPHAN GIAN DOMBAJ (www.flyfishingnation.de)
Oh, how little did I know back in those days that a trip that was supposed to be a once in a lifetime experience would spark a lifelong addiction and lead me down the path of doing what I love for a living. Initially awe-struck by the endless skies touching an infinite horizon, this refreshing piece of nothingness happened to nurse the Rio Gallegos watershed, home of enormous sea-run brown trout.
The late Mel Krieger put it very well: â€œSolitude without lonelinessâ€?. These words of wisdom capture the essence of what makes adventure-seeking anglers and travelers return year after year. It takes less than a split second to get lost in the captivating beauty of Patagonia Austral.
This is not only an ode to Rio Gallegos, itâ€™s an ode to all the amazing people that crossed my path, to the local hospitality, my friends down in Argentina and those who join me year after year in the frontier line down at the river.
The Estancia Las Buitreras Camp is managed by Christer SjĂśberg and his team of dedicated anglers from Solid Adventures.
Plus, the Asado and the vino tinto that lifted my crawling-back-to-bed-in-the-dark-abilities to a whole new level and of course... Well, I could go on forever but as long as my skinny legs will carry me, I will be back searching for another 20lb chromer and a little piece of tranquility in the land of the big sky.
More information about the guided fishing on the Rio Gallegos can be obtained here:
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Welcome to the Jungle:
New Caledonia Rivers By DAMIEN BROUSTE
Big bonefish; thatâ€™s what New Caledonia is known for. This 400 km long island lost in the massive expanse of the Pacific Ocean has the biggest lagoon in the world, and it is teeming with bonefish of enviable sizes.
Bonefishing gets me giggling with excitement like a little school girl every time, but for me, New Caledonia has another feature of interest to me - its rivers. When I can’t go on the flats, I really enjoy fishing the warm waters of the inland jungle rivers. These narrow, clear and relatively slow-flowing rivers hold a number of interesting species that offer great sport on light fly gear. Here, you’ll find different species of jungle perch, Tilapia, eels and koi carps. All of these species can be caught with a selection of small streamers and nymphs, and since the rivers are very shallow and extremely clear, you’ll find yourself stalking fish after fish – employing all your stealth skills and implementing whatever precision casting skills you can muster. I’ll usually be walking in knee deep water with sand under my feet, subtropical trees all around me - like tilting walls of green prospecting for jungle perch.
Iâ€™ll follow the river upstream until I reach a perfect spot, where the fish are hiding in the shadows beneath the roots of one of New Caledonias endemic trees. With limited room for overhead casting, I sneek up on the fish, attempt a delicate and careful trick cast. The fly lands in front of the little school of fish, and split seconds later the fly has been inhaled and a feisty little jungle perch is dangling at the end of the fly line.
It isnâ€™t a monster fish, but it is all over the place, and in the process of the fight it scares off most of the other fish in the pool. A few moments later, I release the fish back into the sedate flow of the river, and head further upstream. The spooked pool is the perfect excuse to explore new territory.
Around every bend of my New Caledonia rivers something new and exciting await. The fish usually huddle up in some of the bigger pools, but here and there - you suddenly ambush a big eel, a Tilapia school or feeding groups of koi carp. Especially the koi carp are enthralling. They are genuine explosions of colour and muscle, and considering the relatively minimal water flows and minute character of the rivers, they grow to considerable sizes. They feed off of a variety of insects, and sight fishing for them is a mind-blowing experience. Koi carp are sceptical at heart, and they spook easily. Making precise casts and presenting the fly in a stealthy and subtle manner is crucial. The fish will usually inspect the fly carefully, and they will only engulf it, if it looks and behaves convincingly. As a result, every take is unique â€“ but the problems only get started, when the fish is hooked. Koi carps will explode once hooked, and managing to land one in the midst of the jungle â€“ with overhanging trees, chaotic underwater root systems and debris - is a critical and dubious affair. Landing one of these famboyant river kings is a small miracle every time, and it is something that keeps me heading back into the jungle time and time again.
New Caledonia is a group of tropical islands 1200km to the East of Australia. It is a French colonial state with a little more than 250.000 inhabitants, and lots of great coastal fly fishing for some of the worlds biggest bonefish. The island is silverlined by an approximately 1600km long coral reef â€“ which is only second in size to Australiaâ€™s Great Barrier Reef â€“ and it also boasts the worlds biggest lagoon. The fishing in the many jungle rivers can be extremely entertaining, and it is virtually unexplored. The species are: koi carp, jungle perch, telapia, and eel.
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Scott has paired that performance with best in class components like Snake Brand Universal snake guides, Flor grade cork grips, titanium SiC strippers, and CNC milled reel seats, and then added little touches like measuring wraps and alignment dots.
If you’re in to fishing small pristine waters, and jewel like wild fish, the F-Series is for you. Five By carefully controlling the distribution of different models are available ranging from mass and stiffness, Scott has created very light 5,8’ to 7,2’ and #2 – 4. fiberglass rods that are stable and form sweet loops with just a few feet of line out of the tip. For more information and recommended reThat way, you can accurately cast into the next tails prices, please refer to: plunge pool or along overgrown banks even on creeks you can step across. That’s not so- www.flyfisheurope.com/scott/f-series/product/ FS5834 mething your graphite rods can do easily.
Comfort on the flats: SIMMS FLATS SNEAKERS Nothing compares to stalking fish on saltwater flats. Simms new purpose-built Flats Sneaker is the goto choice for roaming these skinny waters, blending the durability and support of a wading boot with the lightweight feel of a sneaker. Non-marking rubber outsoles deliver the traction you need on the boat or in the water, while Right Angle® footbeds and a midheight design promote surefooted, all-day comfort. The Simms Flats Sneakers featuture: • • • • •
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Joint forces: VOLANTIS SHOOTING HEADS For all you seatrout-fishermen out there, and for those of you who like to toss bulky streamers on stillwaters, Scientific Anglers and Flyfish Europe have joined forces and designed a new series of shooting heads called Volantis. These 9,4m shooting heads, which come in weights ranging from 5 – 8 and in both floating and intermediate versions, have been developed and tested by some of the top seatrout fishermen in Scandinavia. They are made to quickly and effectively load the rod in order to perform controlled long-distance casts with great turnover no matter the weather conditions. The shooting heads are fitted with loops at both ends, come with vibrantly-coloured tracers, and they incorporate Scientific Angler’s AST shooting slickness formula as well as a clever line identification system. For more information, please refer to: www.flyfisheurope.com/sa/sa%20volantis%20series/
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Camera backpack: FOR THE DSLR-LOVING FLY FISHERMAN The Whistler BP 450 AW II carries equal parts camera, video and functional outdoor gear – including fly fishing apparel and kit. The backpack features a roomy front pocket that expands to fit extra clothes, flyboxes and leader materials. A waterproof barrier with drain hole separates wet gear from main compartment while 420 Nylon Ripstop with TPU/PU dual laminate provides robust abrasion and tear resistance plus waterproofing. ActivZone™ back panel and dual density foam harness provide increased comfort. Nifco® side-release buckles and Duraflex® hooks offer robust attachment options in any condition. We’ve had the chance to test the Whistler BP 450 and it is a super-comfortable backpack with great ergonomics and adjustment solutions. It is a great all-weather solution to the carrying needs of serious fly fishing photographers, and seeing as it carries Personal gear up to a 15-inch Laptop, 8 lenses or other accessories, DJI Mavic 2 Pro or Zoom or DJI Osmo, it’s a superb travel back pack. It’s a highly recommended backpack to store and protect your highly valued camera equipment – and a great solution to your additional fly fishing-related carrying needs. For more information, please refer to: www.lowepro.com/us-en/whistler-backpack-450-aw-ii-lp37227-pww/
Icelandâ€™s Premium Fly Fishing Outfitter Iceland is without a doubt one of the top trout fishing destinations in the world. We at Fish Partner offer a wide variety of premium brown trout and Arctic char fisheries. Join us on a trip of a lifetime! Our passion and promise to you is to do everything we can to make your fishing experience in Iceland an unforgettable one. www.fishpartner.com - email@example.com
Fly Fishing in Iceland
”COSMOLEDO INDO-PACIFIC PERMIT” By IN THE LOOP MEDIA
What an epic way to end the year 2018. Rasmus landing his personal best Indo Pacific permit at Cosmoledo Atoll in the Seychelles. More at: https://vimeo.com/intheloopmagazine
CAPT. SHANE SMITH
They just keep coming...
The awards, that is. IFTD Best of Show Overall, IFTD Best Saltwater Fly Rod, Gray’s Best, Field & Stream Best of the Best, American Angler Gear of the Year, Yellowstone Angler 8-weight Shootout, Fly Fisherman Best Saltwater Fly Rod, Fly Rod & Reel Kudos Award, and so many more… Thank you all, we’re honored to receive the recognition.
Scott Fly Rod Company
2 3 5 5 A i r Pa r k Wa y, M o n t r o s e , C o l o r a d o 8 1 4 0 1
The door to Dream Waters
The Mur River
Pictures by Clemens Ratschan, Ivan Dragojlovic and Rasmus Ovesen
Austria is a rather small but incredibly beautiful country, which is situated right smack in the middle of Europe. Besides skiing, Bavarian October-Fests, Apfelstrudel and Arnold Swarzenegger the country is famous for being the home of some of Europe’s best grayling, brown trout and hucho hucho fishing. Among European fly fishermen there is a saying: “If you want to fish for trout, go to Montana! If you want to catch them - go to Austria!” While going to Austria
doesn’t magically improve your fly fishing skills, there is actually some truth to this statement. The Austrian trout aren’t actually dumber than American trout, they just happen to live in rivers that are rather cold and fast-flowing. And since the summer growth-season is rather short – especially for the high elevation rivers - this generally means that the austrian trout and salmonids need to feed aggresively all through the spring and summer season.
is in the upper reaches of the river. On the lower reaches – especially from Knittelfeld and further downstream – the trout and hucho hucho become more and more abundant. Additionally, since the water flows are fast, the fish don’t have much time to inspect passing food items, and as a result, they aren’t as tricky to lure into striking. Austria offers many divine mountain rivers, but the Mur River is definitely one of Austria’s very best. The Mur has its origin in the Hohe Tauern National Park in the Alps with its source being 1,898 metres above sea level. From here is gushes downstream for almost 440 kilometres entering the Drava and subsequently the Danube. The Mur river’s aquatic inhabitants count grayling, rainbow trout, brown trout and hucho hucho. The grayling are abundant throughout the full length of the river, but their stronghold
Especially the feisty and immaculate rainbow trout are interesting, but the Mur also provides some super-exciting brown trout fishing. The brown trout are known to reach trophy sizes. Fish in the 50-60cm range are abound, and record brown trout up to 16 kilos have previously been caught in the Mur. The hucho hucho are the river kings, and the population is among the very finest in all of Europe. These fish grow up to 25 kilos, and they are super-challenging to taget on a fly rod. The fishing season for trout and grayling starts in May and last until the middle of September. After that – in october and all the way through January - it’s hucho-time!
THE STF SHRIMP By JONATAN TERNALD
In recent years, there’s been a trend towards more and more realistic seatrout flies. One of the proponents of this trend is Swedish fly tying-wizard, Jonatan Ternald, and in the following he presents his mouth-watering STF Shrimp.
It’s 4.30 in the morning and I’m anchored up near a reef plot with strong currents pressing against it. It’s the middle of summer in the archipelago outside Gothenburg, and I’ve headed out for a short fishing session before going to work. It’s time to make that all-important choice: Which fly?
My fingers dig confidently into the fly box and retrieve the fly that is usually my safest bet: The STF Shrimp. I place the fly along the edge of the reef and twitch it. Then a short break followed by what is meant to be three fast strips. However, on the second strip the line just stops and then starts going in
the opposite direction. Fish on! After a couple of jumps and some deep diving I’m able to land a big and strong summer seatrout. A fish on the very first cast: In my book that’s the perfect way to start! Lately I’ve been asked a lot about what seatrout fly I would choose, if I only could pick only one. First of all, it would have to be a shrimp-pattern. I fish a lot of baitfish-patterns too, but I’m pretty sure that I catch more fish on the shrimp fly relative to the time spent fishing. I love patterns like the Magic Shrimp by Rune Westphal and my own pattern Super Shrimp. Both are realistic and fish really well. They
both have a quick sink rate, which is great in a lot of fishing conditions - but the STF Shrimp has a hover to it, which makes it more versatile. I fish it in all depths adjusting it with the sink rate of the fly line when needed. One of the first shrimp patterns I ever tied was a small STF Shrimp. No legs, antennas or back shield - super simple and super effective! Coastal fly tiers have tied different STF Shrimp ever since the product hit the shelves and from my point of view, because of its transparency, it’s a perfect material for tying shrimp.
MATERIALS: Hook: Ahrex NS 122 size 4-10 Thread: Uno mono clear Tail/tag: Seal fur dubbing - fl. Orange Head/dubbing: STF Dubbing - Tan Ribb: 0.20mm nylon Eyes: Burnt mono, painted and finished with UV resin Antennas: Wild boar, 0.40mm flourocarbon or 0.5mm sillicon thread Legs: Wapsi round rib 0.5mm (sillicon thread) painted with brown and blue permanent markers My current take on the STF Shrimp has a lot of similarities with Kern Lund’s awesome shrimp pattern, the Perfect Leo Shrimp. The biggest difference between them is the main component: The STF dubbing. I use STF dubbing in a lot of flies, mainly because of its versatility and its really hot, translucent look in the water. For the most part, I strip this fly like I did that summer morning. A slow hand twist, short break, and 3 fast
strips - then over again. In the summertime, I increase the speed as it seems to really trigger those hot-tempered summer-fish on the prowl. I then put the rod in my armpit and retrieve the fly with both hands. Whether this high-speed madness actually helps create the illusion of an actual fleeing shrimp is debateable, but – during summertime - it’s harder to fool a seatrout with realistic imitations presented at slow speeds.
Sign the petition and help save Icelandâ€™s pristine waters, aquatic life and wild fish stocks. Let nature have the benefit of the doubt.
Tigerfish! Over the last decade or so, targeting tigers has become a big focus for many South African, as well as a growing number of international, fly anglers. This is to be expected since the species has so many attributes that make it an incredible adversary.
By: ROB SCOTT
“YOU HAVE TO FISH
WHERE THE BIG FISH ARE“ One of these attributes is that there is still a lot to learn about this species. In my mind discovering new ways to target them, and honing existing techniques is at the core of what the sport of fly fishing is about. One of these frontiers is targeting really big tigers, and to specify, I am referring to feat of landing a 20lb plus tiger fish on fly. There are only a handful of anglers that can claim such a privilege, making landing one of these amazing fish that more special. Over the last few tiger seasons we have managed to find a number of good techniques and subtle changes to increase the chances of connecting with a tiger of a lifetime. Firstly, and this may seem like an idiotic statement, you have to fish where the big fish are. Although I am the first to say that true fly fishing is more about the experience and journey than the size of the fish, if you want to catch a trophy fish you have to choose a destination where there is viable chance of doing so. Tanzania has grown famous for the num-
ber of trophy fish that are landed on fly each year, and it is important to look at why. The main reason is because of Akram Aziz, a prominent businessman and conservationist. His work in conserving the Mnyera and Ruhudji rivers and surrounding wilderness is exemplary, and without his vision the fishing in this area wouldn’t be anywhere near what it is today. This is what makes it possible to catch so many of these incredible specimens there. By restricting the number of fisherman on these rivers, and following a strict beat system, Akram Aziz is ensuring that the quality of this fishery is maintained and even improved. Obviously it is not possible to do this is most destinations, but there is a valuable lesson that can be taken away from this is. This is the vital aspect of managing your beats and resting water. Granted, in most tiger destinations this is hard to do, because of the amount of traffic on the water, but even in these conditions it is possible to micro manage your own fishing.
Finding a spot that is working, and bagging a number of good quality fish is great, but most anglers make the mistake of rushing back to that same spot day after day. A much wiser approach would be to try and rest the water for a couple days before going back. The problem with this scenario is threefold; firstly, you are fishing to area that has been pressured and the fish are spooky; secondly you are wasting time on the water when you could be exploring and fishing a more productive area; thirdly, you are continuing to put pressure on a good spot which will ruin chances of great fishing in a few days time. Be overjoyed that you had a great session but use the next couple days to explore new spots, or travel further. Donâ€™t be shy to use this time to fish off the beaten track, or spend time trying to figure out a new spot, or one where you know there to be good fish, but have never worked out a strategy to connect with them. By planning your fishing like this you can greatly improve the effectiveness of your time on the water, and improve your chances of landing a real trophy fish. Knowledge is an imperative part to be able to consistently connect with big tiger fish. Over the last five years on the Mnyera and Ruhudji rivers we have accumulated almost 450 days on those 2 rivers. If you multiply that by the number of guides, it amounts to an astonishing 3950 days.
Granted not all the guides have been there for the full 5 years, but this is often an advantage as well. New guides quickly learn want the older guys have discovered about the rivers, and their fresh energy drives them to figure out new spots and techniques. Having the right combination of experience and youthful energy is the key to any successful guideâ€™s team. I digress, the point I am making is that experience with a certain species, and particularly a certain stretch of water is paramount to maximising your chances of connecting with
a trophy fish. If you are not being guided by a professional guide who knows the water well, then make provisions for this. Do your research before reaching the destination. There is a mountain of information available so make use of this and read articles, contact people who have fished the area before you, speak to locals. Whatever it takes you need to educate yourself with enough local knowledge to give yourself the edge.
Cold Fact: Arriving at a new destination armed with only enthusiasm and good gear is not going to get you that fish of a lifetime, local knowledge will. During this last season we found that we were consistently connecting with big tiger fish off anchor. Each spot that we anchor is different, but following a certain methodology can result in a much higher return for effort. Most importantly you have to have plan. Approaching a spot and merely fishing it is never going to have the same impact as thinking about your actions and applying yourself to a certain strategy. This can get extremely complex, but there are a few simple ideas that can make the world of difference.
â€œ you can almost predict when the fish are going to eat the fly â€œ Having a plan of action with your choice of fly can most definitely have a big impact. The area and light conditions definitely have a big impact on the choice of fly, but I am talking more about the sequence of patterns rather than any particular fly. As a general rule, this is how I often approach a new spot. First of all, I will fish with something large and natural. For example a natural brush fly, or olive deerhair pattern. After fishing this for a 10 to 12 casts, I would change this to something smaller and sparser, such as a clouser in any of the darker to natural colours. After the bigger original pattern, changing to a smaller pattern will often induce a take. Importantly, in a lot of situations I will often make the change from the bigger fly to a smaller pattern before the fish stop eating the larger fly altogether. This way you can often get better results, as you donâ€™t want to put too much pressure on the fish with one pattern, leaving them too spooked once you eventually make the change to the smaller offering. Lastly, before leaving a spot, I will fish with very hot colours, such as a fire tiger clouser, or hot orange brush, thus invoking an aggressive response rather than a feeding response.
Once you get into the right frame of mind, and you get your timing right, you can almost predict when the fish are going to eat the fly. Some days it works so well that every fly change will get a result. I am not advocating the practise of continually changing flies, as I think this is an article on its own and is hugely detrimental to your fishing, but am rather trying to shift focus onto having a strategy. Once you have a plan in place, but before you actually start to fish a spot
it is important to realise the fact that the first few casts you make are the most critical. If a fish is going to eat the fly, it will more than likely be in the first 1 to 5 casts. This little snippet of vital information can be used to your advantage. As anyone I have ever guided will know, I will always reiterate the importance of concentration. Having the ability to anticipate the hit is often to difference between a successful hook-up and the missed opportunity at the fish of a lifetime.
I would say that after arriving at a new spot the importance of concentration is a priority above everything. When fishing for that one fish of a lifetime, one that will be remembered forever, you donâ€™t get endless shots. In reality you may only get one, or perhaps as many as a three. The difference between getting the shots and holding that 20 plus pound tigerfish in your hands is often concentration. In summation: donâ€™t let the tiger catch you by surprise.
A vital aspect to consider towards the end of fishing an area, is the matter of changing the angle of your fly. This is a big problem with fishing off anchor, in that it is very hard to significantly change the angle of retrieve. For this, consider what the tiger has been seeing for the 15 minutes you have been casting at drop-off or area with good structure? The patterns would have been taking the same route back to the boat, cast after cast.
Changing the angle can be hugely affective in inducing a take. This can be done in one of two ways. Firstly, by re-anchoring the boat so that you can cast at the spot from a different angle, getting the swing of the fly and the retrieve to be totally altered from the original spot. Alternatively, and often more effectively, you can pull the anchor and make casts towards the spot off the drift. By doing this you can change the angle of retrieve from straight upriver, to perpendicular to the current. From my experience, this change can be incredibly successful. Although the size of oneâ€™s smile is of-
ten closely correlated to the size of the fish Iâ€™ll be the first to admit that size doesnâ€™t really count. With this in mind these small changes can be used to improve your time on the water, no matter what the size fish you are targeting. Connecting with the fish of a life time after carefully thinking through your fishing may be one of the greatest feelings in our beloved sport. It is often the subtle changes that make the biggest difference and unfortunately these are often the changes that are most easily overlooked. So take the time to plan properly: before you arrive at your destination, the night before, and before you make your first cast.
ERIC JACKSON’S “ALIGNMENT”:
Full Movie and Feature Interview
By OWEN RINGWALL Photos by DARCY BACHA
As humans, we often have a tendency to lump people into particular categories dependent on a single defining characteristic. If you love to fish, you’re a fisherman. If you love to snowboard, you’re a snowboarder. But what if you love more than one thing? Surely your character and personality aren’t constructed solely by one determining force. This is a question that has been at the forefront of Eric Jackson’s mind over the last few seasons. As a professional snowboarder, his career– like many others–has had its fair share of ups and downs. His performance in Travis Rice’s Fourth Phase was widely regarded as noteworthy and exceptional, yet the film’s release also coincided with him losing three of his long-time sponsors. The following year, he filmed for the X Games Real Snow competition and landed himself in third yet once again struggled to reap the benefits often thought to accompany such a victory. For Eric, this series of events did not act as a deterrent, but rather a motivator–forcing him
to look inwards while constructing a path forward. Where he landed was at the crossroads of his two greatest passions, snowboarding and fly fishing, in a land he has long called his favorite place on earth, Northern British Columbia. It was here, deep in the woods of a place Eric has known well for over a decade, that the concept of alignment was realized. Fishing no longer acted as only a pastime, and snowboarder no longer had to be his singular descriptor. By focusing on the two together, fly fishing soon became a method to recharge and find a balance to the inherently dangerous factors associated with his backcountry snowboarding. This is Eric Jackson’s Alignment, and this is how nearly two decades into his career that he’s found his best self yet. Eric at home in the wilderness, grizzly beard and all.
What was the idea behind your new film, Alignment? This is a film that I have wanted to make for a long time. I always fish, and I always snowboard, but I have never really committed a whole winter to fishing and snowboarding. Combining the two birthed this idea of alignment because I feel like I am at my best when my two favorite passions come together. One of the cool things for me about this concept of alignment with fishing and snowboarding is that snowboarding is intense a lot of the time--at times you are a little nervous, scared sometimes hitting a big jump or dropping into a big line-and then fishing is the exact opposite of that, it’s very chill and peaceful. I think that they balance each other out. That’s the real beauty of it. We would be
snowboarding this year and the snow would go to shit, and instead of stressing out about it, we would just go fishing. I don’t have to panic to Europe because there was some storm hitting Saas Fee or anything. We’re going to chill and fish, and then it will get good again. We had a really good rhythm.
How did you pick the crew for the film? Curtis used to live in Mammoth, and we were best friends growing up. We would always compete in all of the USASA contests and go to nationals together. We have known each other for a really long time and have very similar interests in life--we really like to fish and we really like to snowboard. I also really wanted to keep it small and tight, and my brother likes to fish, obviously, he is also an incredible snowboarder.
So I really wanted him and Curtis to be a part of it. At first, Curtis was down to do a trip, and then after he got up to Northern British Columbia he wanted to stay. He’s an incredible snowboarder, an incredible fisherman, and he loves sledding. He would go break trail, and we probably broke into a handful of zones that we wouldn’t have gotten to if it weren’t for Curtis. Not only that, but Curtis is just so funny, he’s got this awesome dry sense of humor that is super sarcastic and he just brings so much to the crew.
I’m not a big fisherman, but I have heard that there is a lot of localism involved in fly fishing--kind of similar to a backcountry zone. Did you guys run into any issues with locals throughout the season? Oh boy, there are definitely a few select individuals up here that were not very happy that we were making a film in their area. With that being
said, we were so respectful, we’re not blowing out any spots, we’re not saying any names of rivers. And honestly, there were only two people that were really upset. Everyone else was so stoked we were here. We met this snowmobile club, and they were so stoked. They would watch us hit jumps, shuttle us around, and help with breaking trail. Then we also met a bunch of local fishermen, and we would go fishing with them. You get back what you put out, and we really tried to tread lightly and respect everyone here.
What were some of the instances like where things didn’t turn out so well? Oh man, we got some really angry Instagram messages. I ran into this guy on the river--and he can remain nameless. He saw me on the river and just tore me up. I told him that I respect that he wants to keep this place so hush-hush and that we weren’t making a fishing movie but more of a snowboard movie with some fishing in it.
And honestly, if you see what river we’re fishing in–and you know what it is–then you already know. We did some pretty crazy missions, man. Packed all of our sleds up with camping gear, chainsaws, banjos–we did a mega snowmobile mission way out to a remote river on a logging road. We camped out there, and it was snowing on us every day.
You mentioned banjos, how does music fit into your life and the idea of alignment? I love music. I play music almost every day, and I even think there is a little tune in the movie. But music is just another way to really shut it down and let your brain go into limp mode.
What was it about the last couple of seasons that made you feel like you needed to make an effort to find alignment? Honestly, the last three seasons I haven’t really known what I was doing. Last year, I had nobody to film with until the middle of February, and then I finally got on the Man Boys crew. The year before that I did X Games Real Snow, but I had no money. I had no travel budget. I also lost a couple of sponsors three years ago. It’s been hard figuring out something to do with my winter, and I really just wanted to do my own thing. I have never had my own filmer before–where we can go do whatever we want. I love fishing and I love snowboarding, and I love Northern British Columbia. The more I thought about it, I realized that fishing and snowboarding balance me out so much, and it made me wonder what would happen if I came into this perfect alignment between the two. How would I be there? Would I be landing tricks? And
dude, this winter was insane. Sometimes things just click, and this winter, for the most part, things clicked. Not only with snowboarding but fishing as well. We were really fortunate.
You mentioned losing sponsors and having a lack of direction. Simms has since gotten involved with this project, and they are arguably one of the biggest brands in fly fishing– guides work their whole lives for an opportunity to be an ambassador for them–what has that experience been like? Man, it’s pretty crazy. Doors are just opening for me in the fly fishing industry right now. Simms approached me, and they have every fly fishing guide they could ever want. They have fly fishing marketing dialed. But what they need is a younger, next generation ambassador to reach a different demographic.
They want to reach snowboarders. That is one of the coolest things that happened. At first, I was just stoked to get free fishing gear, and then they came on board with this film as the presenting sponsor. We are actually doing a lot more together in the future. That said, I have never looked at fly fishing as a job or as a way to make money. But to be able to do some badass short trips and make some little films is really cool.
It’s also really cool to incorporate other parts of your life in this film. Personally, I find content to be vastly more interesting and relatable when it shows the different layers of a person, in your case, fly fishing, snowboarding, and music. Totally, man. I am actually driving to the middle of BC tonight, and I am doing a shoot with Fish BC–a government organization that is promoting fishing in BC. They were super stoked on the film and want-
ed to do something else. I am going to meet them and do a shoot with them for the next four days. Not only them, but 10 Barrel is really on board as well, and, I mean, beer and fishing go great together. Curtis and I did a little thing on the Deschutes River called “Smoke on the Water” for them. Little stuff like this is what I want to do. I just want to see what doors open, and see where they lead.
Tell me a bit about the code of ethics when it comes to fly fishing, from what I have heard, that is a pretty big part of the community. Totally, and we always try to be the most ethical. Your fish never comes out of the water. If you get a chance to take a photo of it, sweet. If not, whatever. We always take the hook out right away, and if the fish wants to kick out, we let it kick out.
Well, and it’s not so much about the photo as the experience. Yeah, and that’s another thing. For me, this balance of fishing and snowboarding, this alignment between the two, is not about the act of catching the fish. That is a secondary bonus. It’s all about being in the river–being in that peaceful environment–and if you get a fish, that’s incredible. The majority of the time when you are steelhead fishing, especially in the winter, you’re not catching any fish. We went weeks and weeks without catching fish. If it was about catching fish, I wouldn’t fish with a fly rod, I would fish with a gear rod and salmon eggs or something.
Just like snowboarding isn’t solely about landing the trick. Exactly.
Sounds like you had quite the winter. It was my favorite winter of all time. But it was also pretty hard. We didn’t know the zones, and it’s not like you are in Whistler and there is a groomed trail right to everything. You need to break your own trail, and we were just looking at random logging roads and just going up and exploring random areas. There were two high-pressure systems where the snow was really good, and we basically spent them exploring and didn’t even get any shots.
Do you plan to go back now that you have more information? Oh, for sure. We definitely would have had a bit more in the way of shots if I had all of this knowledge in January. But with that being said, I am psyched on all of the footage we ended up getting. We hit a lot of
jumps. That was the terrain that was presenting itself. We were always planning on going to Alaska, but that didn’t happen, unfortunately. It was just shitty snow. So then towards the end of the season, I really shifted my focus–I didn’t want to hit another jump. So we found some lines that were pretty sick, but you had to hike them. We were working really hard.
You just had to make it happen yourself. Absolutely, this film was made on a super minimal budget. I am actually pretty deep out of my own pocket. But this is my passion project; this is the first one I did everything on. I hired the people, raised all of the money, directed it, produced it, and helped edit it. It’s been a major learning experience and very humbling because it was so much more work than I expected. That being said, I am having a great time and set myself up for the next one.
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