Argentina Dreaming!

Sea Trout and Browns - Rio Gallegos & Penitente

This is once again fairly over due - due to this trip happening back in March! I was lucky enough to visit the Rio Gallegos in southern Argentina to stay at El Rincon lodge. The lodge was super cosy which was good as it was pretty nippy whilst we were there, the food was awesome and the guides and staff really friendly! 

The surrounding countryside wasn't what I expected, although I wasn't sure what I was expecting. There are just vast open plains in all directions, you can see the Andes mountains in the very distance, and there are virtually no trees I assume because the wind is so strong most of the time that they just don't grow.

We had some excellent days out on the river, the weather was fairly kind, the first day was cold, raining and extremely high winds, the next couple of days were warmer and windy, leading up to one day of sun and no wind and then heading back up to cloudy and windy. A bit of wind is good, to give the water a chop and to allow the fish to be a bit braver.

The two rivers are very different the Gallegos big and powerful but some areas with slow pools, and the Penitente smaller and in some ways a much prettier river. Both were fun to fish but required different styles, the Gallegos fished with double handers and swinging flies and the Penitente could be fished with single handers and a range of different fly techniques - streamers, buzzers, dries and bombers and had many pools that could be reached one after another by foot. The lodge has 25km and 35km of private fishing on the Gallegos and Penitente respectively.

They are not easy rivers by any stretch, you had to put work in but the rewards were awesome, these rivers hold some really big spectacular fish. Both Jonny and I had a good share of browns and sea trout throughout our week, with a couple of real exceptional fish. I sadly lost a battle with a fresh 20lb sea trout, lost at the net, but the memory is still there!

The wildlife here is also pretty spectacular with rea, foxes, flamingos, skunks and armadillos to name a few!

Over all it was an amazing week and I was really sad to leave, it is deffinatly a trip I would like to do again someday.

For more information please visit www.elrinconflyfishing.com click the link below!!

1461758408.png

Click the link below for more information on how to book your Argentinian adventure!

Return to the salmon lodge

So here we are again! Its 2017 and I have found myself back at Reisastua, the salmon lodge on the banks of the Reisaelva Northern Norway. I must have forgotten how tough it was last year! But seriously we have returned for a second year to run the lodge and hope to get some time to fish for the famous Reisa monsters.

As I write this the season is almost over, it has been way too busy to keep a diary style blog like last year (yay I hear from you)! So this will be a kind of summery.

We had a few days before the season started and chaos would resume, so we spent a few nights targeting coastal sea trout in the fjord. We did this from belly boats one night which was really great fun!

The season started on July 1st and the lodge has been busy ever since, most weeks fully booked with excited guests and so Jonny and I have been pretty busy. This sadly for us has meant very little chances at prime time fishing for us, and although we negotiated a day off on Sunday this for is also when everyone else in the valley has a day off for fishing too!

But this season has been and outstanding one for the lodge! With many fish being landed in the first few weeks and a record number of PB's to the lodge! A guest from the USA, returning for the 3rd year managed to landnot one but ** 20lb+ fish through his week and the holy grail of salmon fishing on his last day,  a fresh 45lb beauty! A friend of ours, Peter Andreas Christiansen visited to do some filming and has not fished for Atlantic salmon many times before although is an avid stealheader! He managed to net a 35lb beast on a floating line and a 'tiny fly' as recommended by the one and only Matt Harris. 

The line up of the day had changed from last year as the river is open longer, the guests came back to the lodge every day, and fished until late. This was tough on the guests, the guides and also on us working for most of the time on 3 - 4 hours sleep. Our boss was kind and arranged for someone to do breakfast for me for one week so I didn't die of sleep deprivation! But we got through it and I think so did the guides, just! It was difficult to get away to fish because of the layout and the workload, but one day Jonny worked alone so I could fish and I did the same for Jonny.  On my day I lost a fight with a big fresh salmon after about 10 minutes, but landed a nice fish at the very end of the day. 

After most of the guests have come and gone we had a spare day to take an over night trip to the upper river with Morton and Peter. Although we had very little contact with salmon we caught some beautiful Char.

My last two weeks here in Norway we has guests spaced out allowing a couple of free days with no guests so we have been able to do some fishing, although there have been no available licences for fishing in the areas we would like, but there are now species we wish to fish for before I head home. 

We headed to our secret lake from last year to cast a line for some specimen perch, we took the Berkley belly boats down. Jonny lure fished and I stuck with my zephrus 8#. We caught a number of large perch, and although Jonny had a nice size pike attack the perch he was playing, we could only find teeny tiny pike to take the fly or lure.

We have spent a number of mornings and afternoons between looking after the guests and a couple of full days on the boat with Morton in the Fjord, searching for halibut and cod. The boys were jigging lures and baited jigs, I stuck to my 10# zephrus and faithful half and half fly where I could fish it. Trying to keep it as close to the bottom as possible without snagging, and slowly retrieving and letting it sink. I have a big hit from what must have been a halibut and it took a big run before it came off.  We went out the following day and we all caught a halibut, Morton the largest on bait, I caught on fly and Jonny caught on lure.

But as hard work as it has been its been so noce getting back into the Norwegian wilderness, fishin', making fires and enjoying the outdoors!

Lots to learn!!

This most recent blog is a bit delayed - I never wrote a part 4 to my Norway adventure and I also had planned to do one of those 'my year in a blog' things....but as I am completely useless at time management sometimes....and always find an excuse to put things off to go fishing...so never got to it!

So how did Norway go? I sadly never managed to catch the monster salmon. At first I was gutted about this, but when I thought about it I came to a conclusion which finally resulting in the decision that I must return next year to take them on once again! I had my chances at a big one, 3 in fact, and each time I missed the take...why....because I did not give the fish time to turn, take to loop and get hooked. I thought about when my friend Marina Gibson cam e out for one week to fish with me and bagged not one but two big salmon...she has been fishing for salmon since she was 10 years old. I watched her when she caught the second fish, she felt the fish on the fly and said the universal fish on claim of 'yes', but she kept her calm and I remember noting a short time before she calmly lifted the rod. I have had this in my mind ever since but when the next time came I still did not hold my cool long enough...this kind of connection and understanding with salmon only comes after years of experience.  So I began to feel better about it, I wasn't ready or worthy yet and it was my inexperience with salmon fishing which ultimately made me fail my salmon mission. The big ones are there - in fact Jonny saw them when he dived the pools to take part in the count - but I just wasn't good enough to catch them yet, I still have a lot to learn!!

 I also experienced that some times even if you stick the fly on his nose you still might not get him! There was a pool where we could stand on the bank and see a huge cock fish guarding his female, I cast fly after fly that swung perfectly past him but he had only one thing on his mind! At one point as my surface fly disturbed him as it went past, he stuck his huge head out of the water to take a look, but still no attack, he must have been 30lb! But I am all set to return in 2017 (not sure if I'm ready for the lack of sleep and miles of smiles yet) but I can't wait to breathe the fresh air, drink the river water and stand in awe of the mountains.....and of course do battle with bagging a big one!

But it turned out that salmon was not the only fish that Norway has to offer, we took a few days out to look for cod and halibut in the fjords. They come into the shallows to sunbathe and feed, we had huge shoals of cod chasing our flies and lures. Also something happened which made me feel better about not catching the big salmon, I bagged a monster halibut on fly! I tied up a half and half fly on a 4/0 partridge sea prince, cast it out let it sink and allowed it to hit the bottom as I stripped it in. When the fish hit it was so powerful and really put my greys salt 9 weight through its paces. It took 35 minutes to tame the beast and when on shore we measured it and took some snaps. I eventually had this fish confirmed as the new fly caught Norwegian record. I will share the article which was published in Saltwater boat angler and a soon to be published field sports

There is only a couple of months left of the river season so I will now be concentrating on pike and trying to meet a big one before the rest period. I have a few fly tying shows coming up, and in February I have the honour of opening the river Teith in Callender! I will follow up soon with a report of how this all panned out!

Keep it reel

Jo x

Life in a Salmon Lodge : Reisaelva Norway :Part 3

I have had some people asking me where part 3 of my blog entry is at, I am sorry it  has taken a while to get to writing this - time is just flying by!

So I think the last time I wrote here we had just received our second set of guests. It was a bit mental for a while here as we have had full weeks with lots of salmon obsessed people! We must have had a few days with 10 guests here so it was a bit hectic at times, mornings were the worst as they would all filter in for breakfast at varying times, and we worried at times we had not prepped enough food! Each group needed boxes prepared with tea, coffee, snacks and drinks, the correct licences for each person needed organising and then the logistics of ferrying the various groups to the river. Jonny did the driving as we had the one car and getting everyone to the river when they all want to get there at opening time was a bit stressful. Sometimes the guides would pick them up which would help heaps. Then it was time to prep lunch, sometimes they would take grill food to cook by the river which was good for us as it gave us more time to do the shopping, clean etc... and other times they wanted to come back to the lodge for lunch, and sometimes each group wanted to do different things! It was all a major learning curve but I think we coped quite well, and the most amazing thing was Jonny and I seem to be able towork well together....without arguing!! (for those that know us this is quite a big achievement :D)

Β 

Over the weeks and various groups things started to settle as we averaged maybe 4- 6 people which was much more manageable. The guest we have had have been really awesome, all friendly and happy to just be fishing in a stunning part of the world, so this made our job fairly easy and satisfying!

I have learnt a lot about salmon fishing since I've been here, firstly people get salmon fever and become utterly obsessed, and secondly salmon fishing is tough and you have to be committed.  I have learnt that river height, temperature and clarity effects things hugely, and the perfect day is a very rare event. Some of the guests were unlucky with the conditions, and others struck it hot. People come here for the chance to catch a personal best salmon, as the salmon here can grown to great sizes. Some of our guests managed to catch their PB salmon and others caught salmon but will need to come back again next year for another shot at their PB! One week on of the members of the Reisastua family landed a massive near 40lb fresh salmon, his face says it all - disbelieve at what this river is capable of producing! This beautiful fish was released to finish his journey and share his genetic code for future generations of monster Reisa salmon!

Jonny and I managed to get away to fish when we could, but often this was just and hour or two, or on sunday switch over day we got a few more hours in between guests. I started to learn why salmon fishing was 1. addictive and 2. soul destroying! I concentrated on my casting when fishing, trying hard not to think about the fish, the more I expected a pull the more crazy it would make me when it did not happen. I have never experienced so many blank days before! I started to dream about salmon and starting to love and loathe it at the same time.

One afternoon we went down to a Sone which was quite hard to cast in, high banks and high water and lots of trees. I went through the pool and snagged so many times! Jonny followed me in the pool, but I was so wound up I needed a second to sit and calm myself - so Jonny skipped ahead....you can guess what happened next right? Yep, he bagged a nice 18lb salmon.

So this added pressure to things for me, and I realise its only me who puts pressure on myself.

One afternoon we had no salmon licences so we strapped up our kayak and went to explore a lake down the road - mosquito heaven! But we had a really fun day catching some really awesome Perch and Pike, and we even had a front seat at a moose show!

So we continued the search for salmon, Jonny was super sweet and let me fish first all the time so I had the best chance of catching. Eventually one afternoon we had a couple of hours and travelled to a really awkward part of the river. I think maybe on the 3rd cast I hooked a salmon, only small but it was my first Atlantic salmon!! Then another 3 casts and I got another of the same size! I can understand why people find these fish so special, you have to work so hard for them! Fortunately the surrounding valley, the river and landscape makes it worth while even if you leave empty handed that day.

We had 4 days when we had a family of 10 people here at the lodge, but they wanted to look after themselves and so did not need us, we actually felt a bit in the way! So one night we took our kayak to the coast, had a fire on the beach, made supper and about 1 am launched the kayak into a very misty fjord and went in search of coal fish, cod and sea trout. I was fly fishing and Jonny used the lure. There were fish going off everywhere, Jonny managed to hook, small coal fish, mackerel, and even a sea trout. I had fish chase my fly but not one would take the hook, they just nipped at the tail, it was very frustrating. Of course because the sun does not set we kept fishing until about 5am, then packed up back to the lodge to sleep! We did this again one other night but conditions were different and it was too unsteady for the kayak so we cast from the beach and caught a few coal fish, only small considering the huge sizes they can reach here, but really fin on a fly rod! Jonny caught another beautiful sea trout!

Β 

The week just gone we had a group of 2 guys and my good friend Marina Gibson come out to fish. Marina and I had the first day together on sone 8 which is the sone the lodge is on. We had a run through the pool each, and then on her second run through she hooked an amazing 20+lb hen fish! Her personal best! I netted the fish for her and we couldn't believe the size of it when we looked in the net, after she released it we all a bit stunned at what had just happened! I unfortunately then had to go back to the lodge to cook dinner for a group of 4 south Africans who had arrived, so I left Marina to it for a while. Once dinner was done I paddled Marina and I over to the small Island in front of the lodge, I had a floating line with a small red and black sunray I had just tied. I cast out to the pool and stripped it in and a grilse nailed it and I had my 3rd salmon! Only small compared to Marinas monster, but perfectly formed and beautifully fresh!

Marina and I had a day together on the upper part of the river, the valley was even more stunning! it was a really fun day fishing lots of different pools and stopping to make a fire and cook meat, proper boy scout stuff. We had a really experienced guide with us who knew all the hiding spots! Marina caught her personal best brown trout, it was gorgeous with incredible markings. On the next pool just before lunch she was working her was down and hooked massive coloured cock fish, she'd wanted to catch one of these for 10 years! The valley was breath taking, and it was great to see these beautiful fish up close, definitely a day I will remember!

So I'm pretty much up to date for now, all the guests are gone and currently we have no - one booked in for the rest of the season which is a shame as August is apparently a really good time to fish (so we don't mind having more time to fish! Ha!). We have some jobs to do around the lodge and of course as much fishing as we can try to do! Yesterday Jonny, I and one of the guides Kris all headed to sone 3 for the day. It was a really mild sunny day, whilst waiting for Kris I took my newly tied yellow and black tube for a run down the pool and I hooked another small salmon, definitely a good start to the day. When Kris arrived we took the boat to the next pool, Kris fished the lower section and I started fishing the upper section. Using my yellow fly again I had a larger fish take my fly whilst I was stripping the line in, it jumped pretty much as soon as it felt the hook so I had no time to strip down and get it under control, so I lost it! Gutted! a couple of casts more and I had another take unfortunately not as big as the one I'd lost but it was my 5th Norwegian salmon! Whilst I was doing that Jonny was nailing some beautiful the sea trout!

Β 

I am fast becoming the grilse queen. I realise how special salmon are and you really have to work hard for them, but I think I have had my grilse training and now I need one of these famed Norwegian big salmon! But in the mean time I will enjoy getting to catch anything and being out by the river. We have a 3 day trip hopefully planned to the top of the river next weekend, this will be my best chance of a big one. So I will let you all know what happens....!

Tight Lines....Jo x

Β