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These fish were as fresh as a daisy...

John Boon

Arctic Norway

The long journey began as I left Liverpool on Monday morning. I was on my way to Norway for the first time to go fishing with ASI team leader Stener Skogmo. I was full of anticipation as to what the next few days would hold, picturing big Salmon and sea trout to keep me occupied as I made my way down to London, to catch a flight from Gatwick. After the rigmarole at the airport, I boarded my flight which finally arrived in Trondheim at midnight. I met up with Stener in arrivals, and he looked  just as tired as me, with both of us being away from home the week before. We drove back to his house he told me that the plan was to take the long drive North to go and fish the Rana for a couple of days.

We set of North just after lunch, stopping briefly by the river Nidelv to see if we could spot any fish moving, but unusually according to Stener all was quiet. Hopefully this wasn’t a sign of things to come? We carried on North past many rivers including the famous Namsen, a river of pure vastness and one I would love to fish. We took a break for a coffee at the falls on the now closed river Vefsna. It had been treated a few years ago for G.S. Although a drastic measure at the time it seems to have worked as there were plenty of Salmon to be seen splashing about in the wide pools. We sat in the café watching the river under the setting sun marvelling at the surrounding beauty.  It was getting late and we still a couple more hours in the car before we had arrived. By the time we got there it was pitch black so looking at the river would have to wait until the morning, but spirits where high after a decent day on the river with 4 salmon between the three fishing. We headed back to Torleiv’s house to get some well-earned rest, in preparation of the morning.

The alarm went off bright and early and after a quick bite to eat we set of to the river. It was bright and clear, not ideal especially as the water was low and more akin to a chalk stream in terms of its clarity. We fished through the morning with no touches until Torleiv moved downstream and hooked a fish instantly. Unfortunately it managed to shake the hook but at least we had seen some action. We kept ringing the changes throughout the day and I had a good pull to an intruder. We stopped for a break and after a couple of cups of coffee and a burger we were set to continue. By now the light was fading and I moved down to where Torleiv had lost his fish earlier. There was very little flow here so I cast the intermediate head and Willie Gunn square across the river. It came round very slowly so I started to move the fly to make it more attractive to the fish. Just before it came to the dangle it locked up.  After a short but spirited fight a Grilse of around 5 pounds came ashore. I was off the mark and I was chuffed. My first Norwegian fish, small but perfectly formed this was one I wasn’t going to forget. We carried on until darkness when Stener got a good firm pull on believe it or not a pike fly, but unfortunately he didn’t connect.

We were out even earlier the next morning. Right from the off I knew it wasn’t going to be my day. Before I had even cast I had fallen in and it was cold, very cold. Feeling  miserable I tried to fish but I soon went back to the car to try and warm up. It wasn’t a good start and the day didn’t really improve for me unfortunately. No fish, tired and cold. One to write off and forget about, it happens to us all. Still we were off North again that evening, and with the chance of fishing a different river my spirts rose. We bade goodbye to our kind host Torleiv who had allowed us to stay at his home and made us feel very welcome.

 A couple of hours in to our drive we passed into the Arctic Circle. I drifted off to sleep waking up about an hour away to the mesmerising sight of the Northern lights. They weren’t particularly vivid but it was the first time I had seen them, apparently my face was a picture, but this was something I had always wanted to see.

We stayed at Tom Jacobsen’s house. A gentleman Stener had taught on the Gaula. Tom was going to be fishing with us on the Beiarn about an hour’s drive from Fauske. The Salmon season had closed so we were going after the sea trout. We sat down to some food and I tried brown cheese for the first time. A new one for me, quite sweet and not very cheese like it in flavour; I enjoyed it to everyone’s surprise. Well-fed, we went to bed for the early start tomorrow. Dawn broke and we drove west to the Beiarn, we bought a two day license and disinfected our gear to stop and contamination. It was a much smaller river compared to the Rana. It was a similar size to the rivers I fish over here in the U.K.  I felt more at home, again it was low but with plenty of riffles there was still a good current in order to fish the fly. We fished hard but nothing much was happening apart from the odd fish falling to worm. Despite the fact we hadn’t caught anything it was a very enjoyable day, with some great company.

The next day was my final day so I was determined to catch something. I started of higher up with an intermediate line and small shrimp fly. The water I was fishing was around 6 foot deep, just under the bridge I worked the fly and got hit by a small sea trout. After a quick scrap it came to my hand and was quickly released. The next run down, I hooked into another, this time a bigger fish of around 2 pounds. I wanted to see how the others had fared so I made my way back to the hut. Tom had no joy, but Stener had landed 5 and lost a couple one of them a very big fish. These fish were as fresh as a daisy, having come in on the mornings tide. A good start to the day but we still had plenty of time in the afternoon to fish. Me and Sterner wondered of upstream and came to a lovely deep run just after some rapids. It was an obvious fish holding space. Stener went down first covering the water very well, just where you would expect a fish to be a big Salmon rolled. I followed down and straight away I was into another fish. It fought well in the strong current, but the free-flex 10 foot 7 weight subdued the fish quickly. The biggest of the day for me at around 2 ½ pounds, I was very happy indeed. We carried on but to no avail, so we made the decision to drive back to Tom’s, have some food and make the long journey back to Trondheim.

On the way back I reflected on my time here. A truly wonderful country with fantastic and friendly people,  I was welcomed into our guest’s homes and made to feel welcome despite me not knowing them, and vice versa. I have made some friends for life on this trip.

I really can’t recommend Norway enough as a place to go and Visit. Will I be back? You bet I will.
//  John Boon