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Tips of the trade and trip reports

FLY FISHING FOR GT (GIANT TREVALLY) AND HOW TO DRESS UP FOR THE OCCASSION

Here is my humble take and tips on fly fishing for GT all based on my 2 trips (far too few) and generous advice from Oliver Bernat and Stephan Gian Dumboj. Kudos to you guys.

Now, fly fishing for Giant Trevally (often called GT or Geet) is a relatively new sport. Much is still on the learning curve, and I am definitely learning by doing presently. It is all super exciting, and I dare you to find a more adrenalin inducing fish on the fly than a big GT coming within your casting reach. I am told even big tarpon do not compare to the explosive takes and runs of GT. Gear, tackle and clothing are vital elements in effective GT fly fishing, so let’s go through some of it.

First thing you need to know is that this type of fly fishing is extremely tough on everything, even right down to being tough on you physically and mentally. I do not exaggerate; I am a big guy, physically trained and strong, I have done heli-skiing in dangerous environments, filmed hunting in excruciating conditions carrying a 50 pounds camcorder (pre-DSLR days) for days, hiked countless miles in dense temperate rainforest and logged thousands of tundra walking hours. I get plenty challenged by GT fly fishing on the coral reef crusts and surf in the Maldives.

From feet to head you will need:

Sturdy wading boots or flat sneakers. I have heard of guys wearing down a pair of Simms flat sneakers (good, strong product) in a week. Just goes to show. Don’t go without, footwear protects you from trip ending cuts by sharp coral, twisting your ankle etc.

Wet wading socks or similar tightly woven socks. Protects ankles and avoids sand and pebbles in your footwear.

Tight Lycra bicycle rider type shorts as underpants. These will protect you against thigh burns (i.e. the skin on your thigh becoming sore from rubbing being submerged in saltwater for hours). I also add thick and greasy zinc baby cream to the inside of my thighs every morning for extra protection.

Quick drying and light shorts with zipped or Velcro pockets for storing your landing glove and extra small items (not waterproof).

Flat shirt or long sleeved quick drying (not cotton) T-shirt, preferably with a high collar to protect your neck.

Stripping guards on min. 3 fingers on each hand (thumb, index and middle fingers). Salt and water and friction from the fly line will quickly make your fingers bleed and sore.

Buff or similar. Simms has a great one with breathing holes so sun glasses do not fog. Don’t go without, your face is the most sun exposed part of your body and you could end up with severe burns.

Cap with dark visor (absorbs reflection from the water) or similar headwear. Mesh back part is more comfortable in the heat as opposed to a closed back.

Moving down your back, some disagreements here: Some prefer at full roll-down closure backpack, others a sling pack (with waterproof zippers). I use the latter (Patagonia) with a modified strap system invented by Oliver Bernat. It is basically using a snap hook/carabiner for a more comfortable fit of the right belly strap. A walkie-talkie attached via its holder to the main front strap and secured with a short string to the sling/backpack. This is a handy item when fishing separately on the reef, GT move quickly and communication can get your buddy ready for an onslaught!
Your pack should at least contain drinking water bottle, sun screen lotion, flies in zip bags, leader material, pliers, camera in waterproof bag/waterproof cam.

A Danish product and invention called a Flexi Stripper. Oliver Bernat kindly let me borrow one on my last trip, and have to say it’s very useful. See an image here: http://www.fries-rods.dk/images/flexi_stripper_040222_clarified_mirror_frame_350.jpg
You’ll use it to store your loose fly line as you walk the reef in the crucial ready-to-cast mode stalking GT. Without it there is an annoying tendency for the line to curl around your legs or to get tangled on the reef crust on incoming waves and surf.

Needless to say that you need to douse yourself with factor 50 sunscreen lotion (if you have light skin), preferably with zinc, every morning on face, hands and legs. Be sure to apply ample amounts to nose, cheeks, ears and especially calves!

You are all set for the ‘gangsta of the flats’! Well almost, ‘cause now comes the hard part, i.e. the physical and mental challenge.

Good luck!

GIANT TREVALLY, BAA ATOLL, MALDIVES

Location: Indian Ocean

February 2017

Target: Giant trevally, Bluefin trevally, snappers

Gear: Single hand fly rods 10 and 12 weights.

Ocean conditions: westerly winds, calm

Temperature: 28-30⁰ C.

Yes! I got my first GT on the fly. All the lore is true; explosive take, lightning speed runs, clever escape tactics (it circumvented a coral bommie trying to cut me off), stunning silver-grey predator. The photo failed as guide Areef fumbled (and panicked a little) trying to get my digital camera out of the sling pack standing in the surf wit waves crashing in on us and the GT trying to wrestles its way to freedom. Anyways, not a huge GT, but “the first cut is the deepest”. I am stoked, and would like more, of course. We spotted a few huge GT, and I actually hesitated for a split second casting, which has never happened before, to beasts that size… One of them charged and took the fly, but I didn’t hook it. I am still wondering what kind of mayhem would have ensued if…
All in all a great fly fishing trip with the addition of 10-12 nice sized Bluefin trevallies, 2 Bohar snappers and numerous Geets sighted. Huge thanks to Oliver Bernát and Areef Mohamed for the support onsite and to Stephan Gian Dumboj Junior for generous advice and tips over a dodgy Skype conversation. I could not have done it without the help and tips from you guys!
The new Merisoula saltwater fly line from Vision performed well; easy to cast and tackled a ‘tour de coral’ without a dent.

We were fishing the Baa atoll from a small local island north of the capital Male´. Fly fishing is virtually unknown is this area, although locals are mainly fishermen with some fishing pressure on the surrounding lagoon and nearby reefs. I would affectionately call the Maldives “the poor man’s GT destination” (if you do DIY). It does not have the fishing, nor prices, of the Seychelles or the Laccadives operations, but the GTs are there and they are big. If you succeed in landing 1 or 2 of these monsters, and that is not at all easy to do, I would define that as a good week in the Maldives.

Try it, and you’ll be hooked for a lifetime!


(the photo is of a big Bluefin Trevally, the smaller - but equally explosive - cousin of the GT)

ATLANTIC SALMON, VELIKAYA RIVER, RUSSIA

Location: Narayan Mar area, Russia

September 2016

Target: Atlantic Salmon and Sea Trout (sea run brown trout)

Gear: Switch rod 7 weight, 11’, floating lines.

River conditions: Normal water level, clear with a slight tea-coloured tone, 9⁰- 12⁰ C.

Temperature: 10-15⁰ C.

They shot a reindeer? Rudolph? I was way out east on the Russian tundra north of the article as these words were heard. In fact we had travelled east to the border of the realm of the Atlantic salmon with a theory. Maybe global warming has pushed the atlantics further east, where it’s the temperature and waters are colder. We came back without any confirmation of this. We caught some salmon, maybe 7-8, a few fresh bright ones, I landed a strong colored cock fish of 15-16 pounds. The river ran too low for a decent run of large salmon. As it usually does in the autumn, we were told by the local Russian camp manager… ‘Come back in June’.

We ate the reindeer shot by the Russian hunters on the trip. Barbecued steaks and raw bone marrow dipped in sea salt and washed down with ample amounts of strong vodka. We pretty much ate everything that comes from the tundra; goose, duck, polar hare, mushrooms (not magic ones), cloudberries, blueberries, grayling, whitefish and more. All shoot, killed or picked fresh from nature – survival and healthy stuff.

The salmon fishing was not great, but the sea trout fishing was ridiculous. Ridiculously good, even you take trophy sized fish out of the equation. I must have caught between 40-50 sea trout, and the three of us fly fishing guys landed and released over 100 sea trout total. All fat, bright and super strong fish that jumped like rainbows in the rather shallow water. On light tackle, i.e. single hand 5 weight and 7 weight switch rods they provided for some great fun. Some pools were literal aquariums and fish could be seen moving everywhere you looked making wakes. The best sea trout I got was app 70 cm, awesome! We also landed a few sea-run Arctic char with splendid colours and a couple of big resident browns. Grayling were so plentiful that they were actually a genuine nuisance.

Needless to say that we were in a tough and rustic camp we few, if any, modern commodities. We loved it and so did the Russians, primarily hunters, that came out with us. Kudos to Russian hospitality and the soul of the people, and at once stage we weren’t actually sure we’d make out of there with so many vodka toasts around the dinner table at night!

ATLANTIC SALMON, UMBA RIVER, RUSSIA

Location: Kola Peninsula, Russia

Late August 2016

Target: Atlantic Salmon

Gear: Double-hand Spey rods 8-9 weight, 13’, floating/sink tip and intermediate lines.

River conditions: Very high water level, tinged with a tea-coloured tone, 9-12 ⁰ C.

Temperature: 10-16⁰ C.

Well, well….. torrential rainfalls just before our arrival to the Umba Lodge, and high water conditions not seen in the autumn by me or the long-time guides. I reckon 1 – 1.5 meters over normal water level due to enormous rainfalls in mid-August. Umba veterans will understand, when I say that the big rock in Office Pool was only 40 cm above the waterline…

Umba still delivered. Even in these tough conditions my fishing buddy and I landed 13 salmon for the week, and even with several pools unfishable/un-wadeable, we had good fishing and quality fish up to 8-9kg. I hooked 8 and landed 6. Not many places you can fly fish for that kind of quality fish in the autumn/fall for Atlantics. We were fishing a little heavier tackle this time; intermediate lines with sink tips or floating lines with heavy sink tips. I was even compelled to tie on a Snaelda, which is a fly I don’t like, and caught my first Snaelda Umba salmon in Golden Run!

The Umba Lodge is still a fantastic place to go to, and the food this year was simply outstanding. With a new supply chain from Murmansk, instead of the small Umba village, the Russian women in the kitchen outdid themselves. Every day we feasted on delicacies such as fresh salmon sashimi, veal cutlets, salt-crust baked grayling, tasty soups, beef Stroganoff and a luxurious breakfast buffet. Good thing we had the option to do the Krivetz walk-in fishing thing (5-8 km); we all agreed that without this we would have put on 10 pounds by the end of the week.

There is a new operator on the river now, Roxton’s, and things look promising for the Umba operation. Bill Drury is the new camp manager, and his is a gentle and very competent person.

3-4 people have already shown an interest in going to Umba, and I will put a group together for the opening week in 2017 in late August/early September. Contact me if you are interested via this site (contact tab) or through social media.

ATLANTIC SALMON, 5 RIVERS, NORWAY

Location: Trøndelag, Møre & Romsdal, Sogn og Fjordane, Norway

Late June and July 2016

Target: Atlantic Salmon

Gear: Double-hand Spey rods 9-10 weight, 14’, floating/sink tip and intermediate lines.

River conditions: generally low water levels, 8-12 ⁰ C.

Temperature: 14-20⁰ C.

I fished 5 (!) rivers this summer in Norway, so I making an overall report here for these trips. Some are repeat destinations. The headline could be: Norway is awesome and tough!

GAULA

Film project on the Gaula. I was making a film on the NFC waters on the Gaula this summer, see it here: XXX The Gaula is a fantastic river, unregulated, big, and with some awesome fly fishing water on the NFC beats. It is not an easy river to fish, long casts are often needed and with such a big water area, the salmon can be hard to target. The attraction of the river is its healthy strain of big, MSW (multi sea winter) salmon sometimes weighing up to 50 pounds. I did not catch one; in fact I didn’t catch anything, which can often be the prize you pay for targeting early season big fish. Tough luck when you have brought a cameraman with you and are trying to get some good film! And maybe filming while fly fishing is just detrimental to fishing effectively and optimally. However some very nice fish were caught during the week, ocean-fresh, bright chromers. The Gaula ran very low and clear for the season; the usual sinking lines and big, colorful flies were replaced by floating/sink tip lines ad lightly dressed Sunray Shadows. I would, hopefully will, go back to the Gaula any day to face the challenge of catching one the river’s famed leviathans. I would recommend you to do the same.

See the video in the Videos tab

Information about the Gaula and the NFC lodge and beats: www.nfc-online.com

EIRA

Damn! I continued on from the Gaula without a cameraman to the Eira river and the Eira Fly Fishing operation. My bad luck continued; back home I had a huge water damage occur in my building and apartment. I had to cut the trio short and head home. I managed to get very little fishing done, but at least got a nice sea trout (sea run brown trout) on the first evening on arrival. The Eira is a stunning river having suffered from several dam constructions, but it seems to be recovering. There is a hatchery program to compensate for the sins of the past, and these fish provide for good sport on the lower beats. I hope to revisit soon with more fishing time.

LÆRDAL (LAERDAL)

What can I say about the Laerdal river? The Queen of Rivers to some, but not to me. I have fished there two times now with the same group and the results have not been super impressive. 95% of the fish were caught sheltering below rapids (threshold) on heavy sinking lines and Red Frances’. Only a few nice salmon have been caught, but for the price (on the beat I have frequented) I don’t feel it makes sense to me. Last year there was apparently too much water, this year the level was perfect – neither times has there been any run of any significance. I like wild rivers, untamed nature, and the Laerdal is in many ways an “artificial” river, it has been almost completely “renovated”, i.e. redirected, constructed banks, thresholds etc. to the like of farmers, anglers and the like. Maybe I have just been on the wrong beat at the wrong time, and perhaps I need to give it one more chance on another beat and/or a different time. We’ll see.

STRYN

Too much water, glacial river, heatwave. Changed destination to the Jølstra (see below).

JØLSTRA (JOLSTRA)

Finally! Some good action on the lovely Jølstra River. My brother, his fish-crazy cattle dog Ink, and I fished a very nice beat for a couple of days staying in a little hut literally on the river bank itself. Had there been a spate we’d been sitting in our waders feet in the water eating dinner! There were a good number of salmon moving through our beat, many of them racing through, but also some stopping and finding holding spots. I hooked and lost 3 and landed 1. My brother went blank and Ink came him the classical dog stare; “what are you doing, man?” The Jølstra is an interesting river, runs clear and fast, and holds some every big fish. The drawback, for the lower part at least, is that you are fishing almost in town, sometimes frolicking right up to peoples’ backyards. Rich vegetation does however provide for some sheltered existence on the river, and the upside is the easy reach to supermarkets and gas station for snacks! All salmon hooked on full floating line and the fly fished fast. The need for speed.

ATLANTIC SALMON, EIRA RIVER, NORWAY

Location: Møre & Romsdal, Norway

Late June 2016

Target: Atlantic Salmon

Gear: Double-hand Spey rods 9-10 weight, 14’, floating/sink tip and intermediate lines.

River conditions: Normal water level, crystal clear with a blueish-icy tone, 8-9 ⁰ C.

Temperature: 14-20⁰ C.

I have said it before, and I’ll say it again; Norway is endowed with incredibly stunning Atlantic salmon rivers – the Eira River is certainly no exception. I’ll let the images below speak for themselves. Sadly I had to cut the trip short due to issues at home, and got very little fly fishing time managing a 4 pound sea trout on the first evening. More time would definitely be needed to explore these crystal clear waters. The guys at Eira Fly Fishing run a newly started operation on the river trying to install fly only and C/R in the minds of visiting anglers in the area, and there are some awesome pools for salmon on the their beats. The stunning surroundings provide for a complete fishing experience. A place one needs to go back to!

http://eira-flyfishing.no/

ATLANTIC SALMON, GAULA RIVER, NORWAY

Location: Norwegian Flyfishers Club (NFC), Sør Trøndelag, Norway

Late June 2016

Target: Atlantic Salmon

Gear: Double-hand Spey rods 9-10 weight, 14’ and 15’, floating/sink tip and intermediate lines.

River conditions: Very low and clear for the time of year. 9-14 ⁰ C.

Temperature: 10-20⁰ C.

Great times on the Gaula and Norwegian Flyfishers Club - River Gaula (NFC). The Gaula is a natural, unregulated river and it ran low and clear while we were there. Some very nice fish were caught on most beats. I still claim that Norway has some of the most beautiful Atlantic salmon rivers in the world, and you’ll come back home from one of these wanting to return – as it is with the Gaula. If you do go to the Gaula, I can highly recommend the NFC; the lodge is outstanding with superb service on all levels (how many places equip first time, non-guided guests with a GPS navigator, so they can easily locate the beats!), awesome food, great staff and guides. Also big thanks and kudos to Simon Gawesworth for valuable casting tips. And yes, to answer your imminent question; even experienced salmon fly fishers must sometimes face the fact that all they know about salmon is that they in reality know very little!

http://www.nfc-online.com/

GIANT TREVALLY AND MORE, DHIFFUSHI ATOLL, MALDIVES

TEST FLY FISHING NEW AREA FOR GT

Location: Indian Ocean

Late May 2016

Target: Giant trevally, Bluefin trevally, bonefish, permit

Gear: Single hand fly rods 8, 10 and 12 weights.

Ocean conditions: Warm (32 degrees C!), westerly winds, clear water (no plankton).

Temperature: 28-30⁰ C.

The first thought that came to my mind flying in to Malé, and seeing numerous atolls surrounding by white beaches and azure colored water, was; does one really fly fish in such a place?! Yes, is the definite answer. Trevallies, or jacks, love these sorts of places and are a targeted species for numerous saltwater fishing operations. We were there on a test trip for a travel company called Libertine (http://libertinetravel.com/) scouting potential GT spots. Suffice to say that we soon discovered this was not prime time for such a venture; December – April is the best time, when the ocean is cooler and seas calmer. That did not deter the enthusiastic group from heading out every day on fast boasts to the reefs. This is actually quite tough fly fishing; wet wading all day in saltwater, big surf at times, scorching sun, and salt dissolving human skin and tackle, sharp coral stones, jumping off boats and almost swimming ashore and so on. But hey – you’re fishing in a tropical paradise, so who’s to bitch about that! In the end we managed a few nice Bluefin trevallies, and I spotted 3 GTs on the reefs – one was a monster that almost scared me, another hit the fly surfing inshore on a wave – and Bård, aptly named ‘Fishing Ninja’ by the locals, caught a small GT on the flats around the island/atoll. Of course this will not ‘do the job’ for us, and a new trip is being planned for prime time next January – stay tuned, this may get pretty wild!

ATLANTIC SALMON, MAALSELVA, NORWAY

Location: Northern Norway

River: Maalselva

Late July 2015

Target: Atlantic salmon

Gear: Double-hand Spey rods 9-10 weight, 14’, intermediate, sink 2/4.

River conditions: Realtively high for the season, cold water 8 degrees Celsius.

Temperature: 12-22⁰ C.

Northern Norway – land of the midnight sun and salmon. In many ways the Maalselva lives in the shadow of neighboring Reisa and Alta. It is a big river running crystal clear through a wide valley between snow-capped mountains and glaciers. An awesome place and a great river to swing the fly over. I was there with Jeppe Soegaard, a video photographer from Copenhagen, doing a promotional task for the Rundhaug Gjestegaard (inn or hotel). A historical place in the fly fishing world; Charles Ritz mentions it in his famous book “A flyfisher’s life”. I got off to a dragster start fishing on my own the first evening! After 5 minutes I hooked a salmon and lost it after a couple of head shakes. 5 minutes later I hooked another one, this time well hooked and landed it after a tremendous battle, where I had to run downstream after it. It was measured to 101 cm, before I released only getting a quick mobile phone snapshot of me holding its tail (see photo album from Maalselva in Pictures). After that things went very quiet; several spates kept the river in difficult conditions (high and cold – again!) and catches were very low. I hooked a salmon nearly a week later and we were just about to film the fight, when I lost it. Damn! The estuary of the river had some excellent fly fishing for sea trout. I am pretty sure that I saw several sea trout rising to large insects drifting down the river. A video from the trip will be released later in the year, so stay tuned on the website for more.

ATLANTIC SALMON, LAERDALSELVA, NORWAY

Location: West Norway

River: Laerdal

Mid-July 2015

Target: Atlantic salmon

Gear: Double-hand Spey rods 8-10 weight, 13-14’, sink 1/2/4, sink 6/7.

River conditions: High, very cold water 7-8 degrees Celsius.

Temperature: 14-20⁰ C.

”The Queen of Rivers” and the birthplace of the Sunray Shadow! Magnificent region with towering, snow-capped mountains and deep-blue fjords. Norway at its best. We fished the Eri beat, supposedly one of the best beats on the river and one of the first places salmon hold on their upstream journey. As the one Dane with a great group of Norwegians hardcore flyfishers, I was given plenty of good advice and help. We all fished our butts of, unfortunately results were not impressive for the 4 days we had. Previous weeks had fished rather well on the lower beats, but this week and the next the run generally slowed down a lot. The repeat story of the Norway season was also here; high and cold water very late into the season. We did not break the 8 degrees Celsius mark in the water, even on warm sunny days. The salmon were sulking, I had several offerings on sunk flies (heavy stuff, lines S6/7 etc.), but very soft takes and few hookups. I just managed two small salmon, which are not the reason one goes to the Laerdal! Øyvind Berg from the group landed the only + 10 kg fish caught; estimated (conservatively) 12.5 kg. Better luck next time on the Laerdal!

ATLANTIC SALMON, VOSSO/BOLSTAD, NORWAY

Location: West Norway

River: Vosso/Bolstad

Early July 2015

Target: Atlantic salmon

Gear: Double-hand Spey rods 9-10 weight, 14’, sink 1/2/4, sink 6/7.

River conditions: Spate due to snow melt, very cold water 7-8 degrees Celsius.

Temperature: 14-25⁰ C.

This will be a rather short report, I am afraid. Spate due to snowmelt and high air temperatures meant fishing was nearly impossible and almost futile. Enormous amounts of snow during the winter (snow pack of up to 6 meters in some places) and a very cold spring meant that the river was still running very high and cold (6-7 degrees Celsius) when I was there in the beginning of July. Hardly any fish were caught the 4 days I were there, most of the group went home blank. Tough, and later reports show that fishing did not pick up until mid-August. 1½ months later than normal! Very much the season in general in most of Norway this year (as you can also read from my Aaelva, Laerdal and Målselva reports), i.e. everything delayed 1-1½ month(s).

ATLANTIC SALMON, Aaelva and Vosso/Bolstad

Location: West Norway

River: Aa

Late June/early July 2015

Target: Atlantic salmon

Gear: Double-hand Spey rods 8-10 weight 13-14’, intermediate/sink1, sink 1/2/4, sink 6/7.

River conditions: Medium height, rather cold (8-10 Celsius).

Temperature: 12-18⁰ C.

”The hidden river” delivered again. I had a bonanza morning on the second day, getting up ultra early (often pays off ) and fishing the two lower pools on my own. 3 pulls, 2 lost and 2 landed within a couple of hours, nice bright and sea-liced fish around 75-80 cm. No bigger fish were landed while I was there, unusual for this great little river. Like most other rivers in Norway, it had a difficult and very slow opening of the season (June 1st), and even into July the water was still cold and high. Unfortunately there was a mix up in the planning, and I only fished the Aa 1½ days, before leaving for the Bolstadelva/Vosso river, which you can read about in the next trip report.

ATLANTIC SALMON, YOKANGA, RUSSIA

Location: Kola Peninsula, Russia

River: Yokanga

Mid-June 2015

Target: Atlantic salmon

Gear: Double-hand Spey rods 8-10 weight 13-14’, float/sink5 fly line, intermediate/sink1, sink 1/2/4.

River conditions: Medium height, slightly high water temperature, very mixed weather, some rain, very windy days and rather cool to cold.

Temperature: 5-12⁰ C.

It was not an easy year on the Yokanga in 2016. In fact troubled times on the Yokanga, it seems. Sadly, the new camp this year was no success. There appears to be huge problems with poachers and netting. 50 % of the salmon caught by our group of 6 rods had net damages/scars – far too high a number. Poachers (spin fishing) were spotted almost on a daily basis on the river. We only managed a few fish per day and very few Yokanga size MSW salmon. I had a 20 pounder as the best (go to the Pictures tab). Relatively low and warm water could mean the fish were running straight through our area, as well as the lower camp, which also reported low catches, very few large salmon and 50% net marked salmon. However, I am concerned control of the river and netting is not working, and with rising retail prices on salmon and a troubled economy in Russia, it is likely that local illegal net fishing in the Yokanga estuary has accelerated strongly. Something needs to be done to protect one of the world's few remaining stocks of very large salmon. Problems may not be solvable using a Western rationale (e.g. job creation for locals etc.), but at least the ‘lost souls of Grehmika’ must be offered something to turn their attention away from poaching for survival and activity. Hell, why not supply them with ample rations of vodka and food. Crazy idea or not…

STEELHEAD, TERRACE AREA, CANADA

Location: British Columbia, Canada

Rivers: Lower Skeena (not fishable), Kailum and Kitimat

Late April 2015

Target: Steelhead and Chinook salmon

Gear: Double-hand Spey rods 8/9 weight 13’, float/sink5 fly line, pink tube flies.

River conditions: Spate, heavy rain preceding week and for 5 days non-stop. High water, but dropping fast and clearing on tributaries to the Skeena.

Temperature: 5-12⁰ C.

Tough fishing in the Terrace area in B.C., Canada. Blow-out on the Skeena river and non-stop rain for the first 4 days resulted in difficult conditions on adjacent rivers, Kailum and Kititmat. My landing rate wasn't great either at 25 %; I basically got spanked by feisty steelhead. They have an uncanny ability to produce every rookie fighting-mistake in me! One big 20 lbs. buck (male) was lost centimetres from the guide's net and after it took off in an unstoppable run! I just have waited longer, before steering it to the net, wasn’t tired yet… Another bright chrome fooled me big time stopping the fly on the swing in water I thought was way too fast, right at the narrowest part of the ‘V’ before a huge rapid. I was sure I had snagged the bottom. Hell no! It tail-danced several times, and I was amazed it stayed above the rapid unlike the big buck described above. Darren, the guide came over in the raft with the net, and was just about to scoop up the angry fish and then…. the hook came out. Oh well, I got the best part. Plus ‘the-bottom-came-alive’ scenario doesn’t happen all that often, but man, it really gets your heart racing.

The day after in a huge spate and chocolate coloured water, I still managed to hook… and lose… a steelhead. This time I was so intent on not and landing losing the sucker that I started backing up with the fish towards shore way too early. Head shakes and throbs, while I was pulling backwards… and gone. Steve, the guide, had every reason to tell me that I had played it wrongly and I add; like an amateur.

Elation came on the third day. On the Kailum River I hooked an angry buck on just 5 metres of fly line out getting ready to extend casts. So much for long distance casting! This guy really took off and gave me a show for the money (don’t steelhead always?). The guide came up with the net, he heard my yells, and landed it safely and calmly. A great big Viking YES! Could be heard all the way down the river, I am sure. Beautiful coloured (actually my first non-chrome) steelhead; a rainbow trout with its most spectacular tone of colours. The excellent guides, Derek, Steve and Darren – thank you – told me that these fish may come up the river in full colour dress and not bright, sometimes sea-liced. This is probably because they are ‘elevator fish’. i.e. going in and out of the river and the ocean until conditions suit them.

My new Vision Mag spey rods 13 and 14 foot, 8/9 and 9/10 weight performed wonderfully. So did the new camo jacket, which got a few compliments on the way. Thanks go out to sponsor and to great guides, lodge and company.

Conditions were tough on this trip, but hey - that’s fishing!

Atlantic salmon, CHAVANGA, RUSSIA 2014

Location: Kola Peninsula, Russia.

River: Chavanga

Early-mid October 2014.

Target: Atlantic salmon, sea trout

Gear: Switch fly rod 7 weight 11’10’’, floating and float/sink3 fly lines, Ally Shrimp, GPs size 8-10 double hooks and small tubes. River conditions: Low and colored to begin with, clearing up later and dropping.

Temperature: -10 (!)-11⁰ C.

‘Well, that’s fishing…’ A short sentence you’ve probably also heard a dozen times, especially fishing for anadromous fish. This week was no exception to that rule, the run on the Chavanga was simply not on. Our small group of 4 flyfishers fished tenaciously throughout the week, but only managed to land 3 fresh salmon. My best fish was an 80 cm (app 7 kg) September fish, slightly colored. I landed 5 salmon and 6 sea trout for the week, but all the other salmon were colored and the sea trout relatively small. Not a bad result for a week - anywhere else but in Russia.

The journey to get there is an adventure in itself. A modern minibus provides for an undramatic first leg of the trip. Thereafter you are transferred to a Russian style minivan able to cope with a pot-holed gravel road. End of that road and you are taken across the Varzuga river estuary in a small boat and hop aboard an old military truck. 3 hours later, driving across White Sea beaches and the tundra, you arrive to the Chavanga village – home to 40 hardy Russian souls.

The Chavanga river is a rather small and very scenic rivers set in the Russian taiga. Like most other rivers on the southern part of the Kola Peninsula, it has its major run of salmon in September and October. The salmon are primarily grilse and medium-sized fish, but every year 20 pounders are landed. It is certainly a river with the potential for some awesome fishing in the autumn for ocean-fresh salmon on light tackle. Just not this time…

I was invited by tour operator Vasil Bykov, www.chavanga.com, he is a great host and runs his operation very smoothly.

Sea Trout (sea-run brown trout), Saltdalselva and Beiarn, Norway

Location: Northern Norway, Nordland region.

Rivers: Saltdal and Beairn

Early September 2014.

Target: Sea trout, Salmo Trutta Fario

Gear: Switch fly rod 7 weight 11’10’’ and double-hand Spey rod 8/9 weight 13’, floating and float/sink3 fly lines, Muddler Sunray Shadow (night fishing) and small tube Sunray Shadows.

River conditions: Too low and clear in Saltdal, no water/no rain. Beiarn grey-coloured from glacial melt - and low water.

Temperature: 8-18⁰ C.

Ups, I did it again! On a roll this season…. another PB, this time for sea trout. It has happened to me before; getting to a destination, tired and worn-out from traveling and not really up for fishing on the first evening. And then being talked into it by a friend, and on the first round in a pool – BAM!

So on the first evening we got down to the river quite late, and it was already starting to get dark. I was having trouble tying on the fly in the twilight and was getting frustrated at my deteriorating eyesight. Added to that was the fact that it is always difficult to start out on a completely new river unknown to you. I was fishing into the dark (which you do for the spooky sea trout in clear and/or small rivers) from large exposed rocks and was not really getting ‘the feel’ for it. But I heard a couple of larger fish splashing in the pool, so I knew they were there. A little further downstream I saw that it was possible to wade out and used the opportunity for long overhand casts to a classic ‘V’. Three casts later I got a violent and audible take from a good fish. An exciting fight ensued in total darkness, and we did not see its formidable size until we had it close to hand illuminated by our headlights. A sea trout of 89 cm and estimated at 17.6 pounds – awesome fish!

We left the Saltdal for Beiarn on day 2 due to low water conditions. The Beiarn proved a challenge, the run was not really on, but I managed 7 sea trout with a 6 pounder as the best. All bright and in mint condition; wonderful to be fishing ocean-fresh fish this late in the season!

Sea-run Arctic Char, Erfalik, Greenland

Location: West Greenland, south of Sisimiut, the Erfalik camp and river – home to obscene numbers of sea-run Arctic char.

River: Erfalik

Time: Early July 2014.

Target: Arctic char, Salvelinus alpinus

Gear: Single-hand fly rods, 5 and 6 weight, floating fly line and foam flies/surface flies.

River conditions: Perfect! Start of the run with large, chrome-bright and feisty char.

Temperature: 4-15⁰ C.

Wow! Almost too many fish… On the second day I hiked up to a waterfall with a couple of guests, and only in Alaska have I seen a congregation of fish like that. Almost like pink salmon running up a river, only here it was fresh, bright and strong Arctic char. I made a couple of casts and of course hooked and landed char immediately. It made no sense, so I just sat on a rock looked at the spectacle and took images with the camera of fish jumping up and over the waterfall.

The fishing was so good that I almost instantly changed to surface flies only. You can see which ones were most effective from the pictures. I don’t need to tell you that the action you get with this type of fly fishing is second to none. Explosive takes, water cascading in violent attacks, char chasing the fly right across the river, all 100% visual in the crystal clear water. Awesome!

On a less positive note, and completely unrelated to the fantastic surroundings and the great fishing, I had a strange experience with the group of people I was co-guiding. Listening to heavy metal music while walking along the river and fishing, and leaving trash around is not my idea and understanding of a wilderness experience. I fail to understand people, when they behave like this, and frankly get quite disillusioned. Talk about ‘ruining a wilderness experience’!

Atlantic Salmon, Yokanga, Russia

Location: Northern region of the Kola Peninsula, Russia, the mighty Yokanga River – one of the world’s premium rivers for large (MSW) Atlantic Salmon.

River: Upper Yokanga

Time: Late June 2014.

Target: Atlantic Salmon, Salmo Salar

Gear: Double-hand Spey rods, 13’ to 14’ rods 8/9 and 9/10 weight, intermediate-sink1 and Skagit fly lines.

River conditions: Snowfalls two days before arrival! Cold, wet, stormy, hail, snow rain all week. Hell on earth! Very high river (+ 1½ m) making it difficult to access the river in many places. Coloured water. Tough conditions.

Temperature: 2-6⁰ C.

A week to remember… in many ways. On the first night, after a few casts in Home Pool, I hooked and landed a +20 pounder. It was a so-called Osenka, so the salmon had been in the river since last autumn, but preserved its silvery colours. That was in a spot that you’d normally wade easily and just fish downstream taking 2-3 leisurely steps at a time. Now I had to crawl out between the trees, balance on submerged bushes and find the one rock I could cast from with enough room to form the D-loop. At the head of the pool, in the slower water, i.e. cold water, the salmon took on a 1’’ tube fly; classic taking spot in high and cold water conditions.

The next day I hooked and landed my PB so far for Atlantic Salmon; an awesome Yokanga beast of 30.8 pounds/109 cm. An almost angry and evil looking fish as you can see from the picture. Fierce fight, and I was actually pretty lucky to land the fish, one of the points on the double hook broke off…

I don’t need to tell you much about the rest of the week as nothing much happened. The weather conditions deteriorated rapidly and were in fact the worst I have ever experienced during my 7 years on the Kola Peninsula. Needless to say that sleeping in a tent was a challenge! But hey – not bad to get a personal best setting a new target for future ventures :o)

Dorado, Corrientes, Argentina

Location: Northern Argentina, Corrientes region, the Isoró and Ibera wetlands, with over 30,000 km2 the world’s largest.

Rivers: Paraná and Corrientes

Time: Early April 2014.

Target: Dorado, Golden Dorado, “tiger of the river”, Salminus brasiliensis

Gear: 8 weight fly rod, 400 grain fly line, big bulky weighted black flies.

River conditions: huge rainfalls in upland Brazil and Paraguay have increased water levels and added color to the Paraná river, Corrientes river still runs almost clear.

Temperature: 20-31⁰ C.

When I arrived at the lodge in Northern Argentina the sky was on fire, the heavens opened up with torrential subtropical rain and the 4WD almost got bogged down in reddish mud. I slept like a baby that night in the comfortable lodge in the cool aftermath of the storm, and was all fired up the next morning for my debut in dorado fishing. Literally 5 minutes into the fishing a had my first strike from a dorado. KAPOW!! Violent take, brute force, I was of course not prepared for it and did not strip strike tarpon fashion to set the hook in the fish’s hard mouth. 3 missed strikes later I was getting the hang of it. Dorado number 4 hung on and was landed after a good fight. What an awesome fish; spotted, golden, forked black and red tail, mean teeth – a salmon/trout on steroids!

We caught several dorados that day, no giants, but fierce fighters and great fun on the fly rod. Savory Argentinian steak by great cook Maria Luiza and Mendoza red wine sure made you well rested and feeling happy in this part of the world. The next day we drove over to the rio (Spanish for river) Corrientes to target larger dorado from this almost clear water river. The excellent guide Alfredo managed to locate a spot on the river, where two currents joined together and formed the river’s main current. A sand bank with a drop-off had been taken up by small sabalo baitfish. Right underneath dorado were lurking. Swinging that fly across the current was every bit as exciting as anything I have tried. And it did not take long before a violent jerk on the fly line almost had me capsize over side of the boat. I missed him, once again forgetting to properly strip strike the fish. On the next swing another big dorado came at it, and this time I hooked him perfectly. +10 pound dorado usually do not jump, this one was no exception so we knew it was a good sized specimen. After some brutal runs with a screaming reel and fly line flying out over the water, we got him to hand and the great battle was over. Awesome fish, probably 12 pounds or so.+

Later that day we spotted caiman, capybara (the world’s biggest rodent), marabou stork, thousands of ducks and birds in this true and unspoiled wilderness. The sunsets and sounds were just amazing. I caught 10 dorado in that short time, plenty to satisfy my curiosity for this fantastic fish. I decided to move on up to the border of Brazil and see the famous Iguazu waterfalls (you may have seen the film “The Mission”, which was recorded there some time in the early 90’s). Words do not suffice to describe this awe-inspiring splendor of the world, so I will let my images in the attached album do the talking. Hopefully they can render some justice to this magnificent place which will remain forever in my memory. Thank you lodge owner, operator and bon vivant Mario Battiston for inviting me to this wonderful place. Check the Dorado Adventure website here for more info: http://www.doradoadventure.com/index/

Interested in going Dorado fishing? Drop me a few lines.

The adventure lives! Live it!

Bristol Bay, Alaska

August 2013

Wow! Come to Alaska they say; well I am glad I did, that is really an incredible place. We flew out of Dilingham on float planes and floated the river for 10 days (app. 110 km). Already on the first day rafting down the river we saw to big grizzlies not far off on the bank. Later we spotted a mother bear (sow) with to cubs in the middle of a swimming and catching salmon lesson. Fantastic. All in all we saw 5 bears on the trip (including the cubs), one lone wolf that posed on a ridge for a couple of minutes, watching us… Lots of beavers and their incredible dams, bald eagles, cranes, geese and much more. Not to mention the salmon, but let me start at ‘the top’. i.e. where we started the float trip and camped on the banks of a small stream between two lakes. Up there we caught a lot of sockeye salmon, lake trout and a few coho salmon. But it was when we started rafting down the river that fishing exploded. We must have hit the run of sea-run dolly varden smack on! There were literally tens of thousands of them, and they readily (most of the time) took everything we chucked at them. It didn’t take me long to switch to skated flies, riffling hitch, dry flies etc. for more fun and action. They averaged a decent 3 pounds and the biggest we caught measured 70 cm. Bright, ocean-fresh and strong fish and superb sport on 5 and 6 weight light fly rods. We also encountered the first silvers, more of the colored version so far upstream, but a promising sign of things to come…

On a note; it’s amazing and probably very healthy for modernized man to suddenly realize just how ‘basic’ life is on a trip like this. I mean that all of a sudden you find yourself having to deal with the most basic stuff in life, mere survival actually, i.e. how to stay dry when it is wet outside (hypothermia is a serious thing that can kill you), getting enough protein, sugar etc. for your body to balance energy consumption (usually it is the opposite issue in over-plentiful, consumer ‘obese society’), staying hydrated (boil or filter water), staying mentally on top (combatting fatigue, weariness, fear etc.). The interesting thing is that it makes you feel more alive (I do at least), perhaps something about coming to terms with yourself and ones place in the grand scheme of things. I have put out a quote on my Facebook website by John Gierach, wherein he pins that pretty well: www.facebook.com/jandelaporte

Back to the silvers/coho. We had high water due to massive rain this August in the Bristol Bay area, and the salmon hadn’t migrated very far upstream yet. So we did not really find the big schools of fresh, bright fish until just before our pick-up point. But we still had very good fishing for spread out pods of silvers rafting down the river with a mix of colored fish, ‘rose’ and some bright silver fish. One day I managed to hook and land 15 salmon in different locations. And boy, when we finally encountered the schools of fresh fish, it just exploded. Tent and raft partner Soren and I landed a whole bunch (yes, we lost count) one morning, almost hooking a coho on every cast – all ocean-fresh, sea-liced silvers from 10-13 pounds with the odd 14-15 pounder in there. Just amazing, and lucky for us this was right at the end of the trip and we had to quit early –I fear things would have become too easy after a while!

Thanks to Getaway Tours for an awesome and well-organised trip and a great bunch of people. And to Alaska…. Oh Alaska!!

Help support the fight to save Bristol Bay from peeble mining – go on the internet and sing petitions.

I have over 500 photos to sort, so the full photo album will be on the website in a short while. Stay tuned!

Steelhead fishing, Northern British Columbia, Canada

July 2013

It has been a tough season so far in BC due to very hot and dry weather. Rainfalls are less than 25% of normal precipitations; Vancouver has not has a single drop of rain in July so far. River water levels are low to very low due to the lack of rain and very little snow this winter. Very much the opposite of last year, where the snowpack was immense and lasted long into the summer due to a cold and wet spring keeping river levels very high and far above normal levels.

We still managed some decent fishing, and in steelhead fishing guys count hook-ups as the fish are so strong and you lose quite a few. So we totaled 14-15 hook ups and landed 6 awesome steelhead. Not impressive and far below usual numbers, but that’s fishing. In any case Canada was as always a fantastic experience; bears keep politely away from our camp, but left huge fresh tracks in the sand, bald eagles were building a nest right above us, and we even saw fresh cougar tracks on the bank, a lone black wolf was spotted by other anglers. And not to forget; the locals as usual spoiled us with their great company, stories from the wild, moose tenderloin and Dungeness crab meat plus a wealth of other friendly gestures. It is a place you cannot forget, and a place that draws you back. We will probably come back soon. Thank you Canada - for being Canada.

Atlantic Salmon, Western Norway, River Aa

June/July, 2013

I arrived late Saturday evening at Aaelva or the River Aa. ‘Camp manager’ Pål urged me – and thank you for that Pål - to go fishing that same night as conditions were good, so I ignored fatigue from a long travel and jumped straight into my waders and headed for the river. 5 casts later I was into a salmon that let go after two hard pulls in Bridge Pool. I impolitely ignored dinner invitation at eight, and fished on. 20 minutes later, in Sea Pool, I hooked a strong fish and landed it alone; 105 cm and 12-12.5 kg (27 pounds), incredibly fat, sea liced. Awesome start on a new river!

The next day I had a tremendous battle with a very big salmon (how big, I don’t know) that came for a small Black Francis two times; typically this fly will provoke a reaction from big fish, the takes are not always good though. I changed to a Mikael Frödin’s Phatagorva, fished the pool from the top again and BAM! The salmon chased the tube fly at top speed (90 degrees cast) downstream through the pool and was hooked. After two hard runs and heavy head shakes with the 13 footer bending right down into the cork, he turned upstream and ‘parked’ himself in the strongest current he could find. No way to move him, and that’s usually the sign for a big salmon; 20 pounders can be moved with pressure, this one couldn’t! I took a fatal gamble and applied massive side pressure to the fish in attempt to get him out of balance and two move. The polyleader and nylon tippet ‘sang’ in the hard current through the water’s pressure and sadly the hook came loose after 5-10 seconds. Should I have done otherwise? Perhaps just waited with the rod held high and full front pressure on the fish? These are of course the questions you ask yourself, when this sort of thing happens.

Later on the week turned out to be more difficult. No rain fell and the water level dropped quickly from 30 cubic metres to mere 8 cubic metres, and fishing virtually came to a halt. I did manage to hook and land a fresh 10 pounder in Bridge Pool one evening. But even very experienced fly fishers on the river had a hard time getting any takes later in the week. Typically of bad luck, rain eventually fell in decent amounts on the last night and day of the week providing for yet again favourable conditions for the following week. Man it hurts to leave a river just when conditions and fishing is picking up again. Judging from the reports coming in now from Åelva, one should be there now!

Sea-run brown trout, Denmark

May 14th, 2013

Yes! My tough spring on the coast with 22 sea trout in smaller end of the scale has now been saved and crowned by this awesome 75 cm (30 inch) sea trout. I estimate the weight to be around 4.5 kg (10 pounds). It was a very calm morning with dense clouds and completely flat water. I spotted a larger school of sea trout cruising around with their pectoral fins out off the water, almost like mullet, at the drop off of the reef. Wading deep and casting to them with a shrimp fly produced no interest from them, so I changed fly to a small ‘Kobberbasse’ (Cooper Darling). I immediately hooked a trout of smaller size. The school swam away a little after the disturbance, but I waited standing still in the water, and sure enough after a little while the school came back. A saw a fin breaking the surface approximately 30 meters out and cast to it on a long cast. Two strips of the fly line and KAPOW!! – the fish jumped a couple of times and then decided to become real sea run as I headed towards Norway! I was dangerously quickly into the backing and was worried about getting spooled as I could see the fish racing off over the sand flats further out and towards the safety of deep water. I almost blocked the reel, and luckily was able to stop it. Walking back towards shore I was able to gain some line on the reel and things started to look a little more promising for me. Still the sea trout has some ferocious runs let in him, and landing with no net is always an exciting part in coastal fly-fishing. The fishing Gods were on my side this day, it was very well hooked in the scissors, and I beached him with no major trouble. Beautiful silver fresh sea trout, round and strong- fantastic fish on a 7 weight rod, a size 10 fly and sight-fished and spotted. World class fishing in little Denmark! The fish is now with the fishmonger being smoked, and that was a worthy way for him to go :D

Sea-run brown trout, Denmark

May 3rd, 2013

Finally! A bigger sea trout than the numerous 16 inch fish I have been catching lately. Great, and now back out there as soon as possible.

The winter has been loooong here in Denmark, like in most of Europe, and the sea trout season ‘upset’ in some ways. At least I have been struggling in the early parts of the season, and the usually very productive months of March and April only yielded smaller fish (around the 40 cm mark) for me, although some days were fun with sight fishing and ‘small bonanzas’ with double hook-ups for me and my fishing buddy.

Here is shot of this lovely sea trout, which I caught in a small school of smaller trout, I landed 4 in all within just 5 minutes. Then they were gone, which sometimes happens when you take out the large fish in the school. They seem to get disturbed by the sudden lack of ‘leadership’.