July 15, 2010
Somehow I actually jumped out of bed at 1:30 am feeling good this morning. I was confident and felt lucky. Vladi Trzebunia whipped up some coffee and we both headed to the salmon shed. Like last night, there were several of our new friends. They had been fishing all night but nothing. The rain was stopped and the Gaula River had already dropped a foot.
Unfortunately despite feeling lucky, by 6 am not one fish was caught by anyone. Vladi and I went back to the camper for a quick breakfast that turned into a well needed 2 hour powernap. When we woke up it was 9 am and my permit for the Stǿren beat was finished. The sun was out and for the first time it was hot in Norway. It was about then that Vladi suggested I fish the beat one more session. I was reluctant because I’d love to see another river, but I knew there were fish here so it was hard to leave. Again I bought a permit.
Vladi still wouldn’t get a license for himself. He’s determined to see me catch a salmon before he fishes. I’m bummed about this because I could learn so much from watching Vladi like have in the past, but there was no changing his mind. When I arrived at the salmon shed with my updated permit, the place was packed. There were our usual friends and several new folks. Everyone was waiting for 2b but no one was on 2a so that’s where I went. I tied on a double hooked salmon fly that I picked up years ago. I have no idea the name but can tell you it resembles a gray ghost, one of my favorite landlocked salmon flies that I grew up with.
From the top of 2a I methodically worked my way downstream. It’s not simply cast at a 45 degree angle let your fly swing and do it again. Depending on the current sometimes you cast 60 degrees and sometimes 35 degrees. Sometimes you wiggle your fly a tiny bit in its swing while others you dead drift it. Experienced Atlantic salmon anglers have a feel for what to do like I know when a trout is about to steal my fly from the surface. Slowly I was learning my salmon presentation.
At the bottom of beat 2a, literally on one of my last casts, I got the strike I’d been waiting for. It was at the very and of my swing with my fly dangling exactly 60 feet below me. It was not a classic light touch but rather a nice thud and wham I had a fish. All you do is take a deep breath and raise your rod tip and everyone stops what they are doing and runs to see what you have. By the time the first observer stumbled in the rocks behind me I knew my fish was small and suspected another sea trout. But when the fish thrashed on the surface the first time I could see my first wild Atlantic salmon. I slid the fish to the shallows and after a few quick pictures released him.
The small salmon (grilse) was lucky to be alive, not only because I released it, but scars indicated the fish was recently tangled in a net. It’s a challenging life for these salmon both in the ocean and while migrating the rivers. The way back to the shed was an exciting moment with a lot of congratulations and high-fives. I was stoked!
Two minutes after everyone went back their business, the Italian got hooked up. I was expecting this for the last three days for his casting and fishing concentration is the best in the group. Alfonso’s fish was a good one as you could see his 16-foot spey rod bent to the hilt. After a great fight, Alfonso landed a 4.6 kilo salmon. That wasn’t all either. After a true celebration amongst all of us, Manuel, the Swiss angler also hooked up and landed a 6.4 kilo fish. All the fish seem to bite at once. I couldn’t wait for my next turn!
Turn after turn came and went but that would be all for everyone today. About ten of us rotated beat 2a and 2b all day but nothing. All three salmon taken today were in a period of about a half hour. Then nothing. At 7 pm Vladi and I returned to the camper for dinner and a few hours sleep. The plan is to get back on the water by 1 am.