Over the next couple of days, the hatches and rising grew in intensity across the tundra. I realized I would be so lucky to experience the very first big combined hatches of both mayflies and caddis after the spring flood. This is what all fly fishermen dream of, at least the ones that have experienced it before. This is also the very reason many of the seasoned fly fishermen go to the Kola peninsula in the earliest weeks possible, year after year. Even though they risk both snow and high water, they know how insanely good this fishing can be. Now I was about to experience something similar, but here at home in Norway.
The challenge is to be at the right place, at the right time. The big hatches I am talking about can last up to a couple of hours, often pulsating in intensity. If you are there at the right time you will have very good chances to catch the biggest fish in the river. If you arrive an hour too late you might think the river does not hold any fish at all. Most likely all the fish are by then chilling out at the bottom, their bellies swollen from their recent feast. But for once, it was my turn to be the lucky one and time just about everything right.
It started with a stretch of river I had visited a couple of times in the recent weeks. There are thousands of these kinds of rivers and streams across the tundra and the ones coming in and out of the big lakes are usually the most interesting. The water flows quite fast in this place and if nothing is hatching it does not make sense for the fish to stay in the river. But I knew from previous years that the fish usually starts moving up from the lake below and into the stream when the nymphs start their journey downstream. And usually the rising begins the following day. I decided to see if I could locate some fish using one of my big rabbit strip streamers. Often the fish will react in some way or another to a streamer, for example by jumping and missing it. And this is exactly what happened. Several fish reacted and some even nipped the tail of the streamer, in very fast water. I now knew exactly where they were positioned in the river and where to start fishing the following day. The next day arrived and I made my way to the river in question. And sure enough, there they were. Yellow golden bars were jumping all over the place, attacking the caddis and mayflies that were hatching in good numbers. Most of the fish looked like they were around 0,5-1 kg and some looked like they might be a bit bigger. I started from the bottom and fished my way up, picking off the trout one by one. As the hatch grew in intensity the fish were rising all around me as close as only 1 m away! I ended up with 6 fish in one hour, the largest was 1,4 kg and the smallest was 750g. Then everything subsided and some smaller fish moved in to pick off any leftovers.
I decided to move on to another river some hours drive away that I knew had similar water levels and temperatures. Maybe it was “on” there as well? As I made my way down to the river I saw the conditions looked perfect. The current was looking real nice, not too strong and not too weak. There were bugs coming down from the fast water above and flowing into the nice long pool. Then I saw some whitefish rising, again on the inside of the current. But the whitefish were not alone. A big brown head and tail appeared about 1 m outside in the current. I saw the rear fin clearly on several occasions and I knew that it was a nice fish. I had never seen such a big fish in this river before and started to feel a little bit nervous as I plotted my next move. The fish was standing a bit out in the river and it was not an easy cast. Thankfully the wind came up the river in my back and if I timed my cast correctly with a wind gust, the fly might end up in front of the fish. This tactic worked on the 3rd cast and the fish took the fly aggressively. A big splash, some jumps and a couple of nice long runs downstream ensued. This was almost too good to be true and I was getting afraid that I might lose the fish. But after losing some big fish a couple of years ago I don’t fish with anything below 3x or 0,20mm in these waters. Thankfully everything held together and the fish ended up in the net weighing in at 2,4 kg! Although not trophy sized this is a really good trout to catch on a dry fly in Norway. More fish were rising out in the current and I found one that looked almost as nice as the one I had just released. It was standing in an even more difficult location and it took me some time to present the fly correctly. I hooked the fish and it set off downstream just like the previous fish. But this one also decided on going nose-in into some rocks and then straight into some bushes. As I started to think I maybe should have changed the tippet after the previous fight, it snapped. This is also something that has happened to me before and I should have learned my lesson by now. But eagerness combined with a bit of laziness had made me loose a very nice fish, again. Always inspect and be ready to change the tippet after fighting a big fish.
I have gotten quite of lot of questions lately from both friends and strangers about where exactly I am fishing these days. The answer is basically “all over the place up north”. I have been fishing this vast 400.000 km2 area known as Lappland, or Sàpmi in the local language, for the last decade or so. Usually no more than a couple of weeks at a time, but I have always spent time on exploring new locations and not only stay in one place. So naturally over the years I have discovered many “hot-spots” that have good chances of delivering decent fish. That does not mean that these places always are good, but they could be if you are there at the right moment in time. I try not to disclose these exact locations and take care of not including the background and other features when taking pictures. I also refrain from tagging the pictures I post with exact locations, sticking to the 400.000 km2 area known as Sàpmi. Instead I encourage other people to do what I have done, to explore and find their own special places. There are so many of them not only up north, but also in the middle and lower parts of Lappland, just waiting to be explored. Big fish reside in many places, and to discover an eager one without a sore lip is perhaps one of the best things a fly fisherman can experience.
But this approach is not good enough for some other people also fishing up north. As a fly fisherman, you meet all kinds of people along the river. These people usually come with very different backgrounds, but are equally passionate about this fantastic sport. Most people are very nice and I have met people who have become good friends while fishing all over the world. We all know that a nice fish can bring out intense feelings of joy and even make grown men scream like a teenage girl. But as I was about to discover, trout can also bring out the worst in people. Even making elderly men behave like 6-year-old boys wanting to have everything for themselves.