“Distance becomes an issue; decisions must be made or the fish will empty the reel …”
Here’s a gem from the Norwegian Flyfishers Club website. Written by an NFC guide, it describes fishing on the Bogen Søndre beat which can be booked exclusively by parties of anglers from four to six in number. You get to stay in the superb English House and fish Bogen Søndre 1 and 2 beats, some of the most productive on the Gaula.
It is Friday. The rain has stopped and with it will come our fish, the news on the bush telegraph is of numbers of fish passing through the lower river, not stopping, pushing on to the middle and upper river. It is not unusual for these year groups of 2 SW fish to travel in discrete pods; it is one of the many rhythms of the Gaula that become ingrained in the psyche as a result of many summers spent on the cobbles and gravels that form the banks and bars of the river which has become a part of me. The water is not so noisy now, a cognac colour with the flecks of silica released through the erosive power of the Gaulas’s flood sparkling a deep burnished gold in the midsummer sunlight.
The river rips and roars down the long riffle from Kotsoy bridge, falling into Bogen’s Top Pool in a smooth ruffle. The stones in the neck take the power from the stream, here the salmon will wait, rest, comfort and reassure themselves as to their proximity to their home pool which lies high up in the wild headwaters of the narrow gorges of the upper river. The pool stretches away in a gentle curve nearly 800 meters long, the river diffusing its power onto the high bank opposite. At the taking place the pool is some 20 metres wide, not a long cast but line control is critical, the fly must hang here, swim over the stones reminding the fish of their ocean home to provoke that feeding instinct. The banks are a blaze of green in every shade and permutation, alder birch and aspen shake their leaves in a shimmering breeze, vetches, bladder campions and ragged robin provide a palate of yellows, crèmes, pinks and reds. On the steep hillside opposite firs and pines provide a darker green, highlighting the crags of metamorphic gneiss and schist.
I take a firm grip on the wrist of my fisherman as we enter the stream. The power of the flow increasing as we feel our way to the middle of the pool. I take a step back and upstream of my man, I watch the slight tremble in his hand as he strips the line off prior to the first cast, he senses it too. The Silver Blue lands millimetres from the rocks on the far bank, an instant mend using the purchase of the water to reposition the line without moving the fly; the leader swings into the main current and another mend finishes the job.
The line passes over the stones; I know that the fly is still a metre to the left and in the laminar flow so friendly to salmon and those who desire them. A tiny movement on the surface and the fish is on the reel as the line darts in a stabbing zig-zag down into the torrent, my fisher still digesting both the series of events that have occurred in the previous two seconds and the realisation that my confidence in the morning was indeed well founded. We smile noiselessly at each other.
In the evening we fish in the Island Pool [BS2], wading carefully over the round cobbles, marvelling at the lung capacity of the willow warblers and chiff-chaffs that sing seemingly without ceasing from late May to mid July.
At the head of the pool we pause long enough to put a Dunkeld tube onto the short leader in front of the sink-tip. My fly-fisher begins to cast, lengthening out line before placing the fly in against the bedrock which lay under the Devensian ice for millennia; a resting place for salmon since the ice flowed back into the oceans releasing the valley back to the life which lives within and without the river.
This time the fish takes slowly, the loop has gone and my man wants to lift the rod; I suggest he waits a few second longer, feel the weight. Three revolutions of the reel turns into many, he looks across and I nod.
The hook is set, the fish however is flap-jacking into the big House Pool and distance becomes an issue. Decisions must be made or the fish will empty the reel, it is an experience I have learned to avoid. I suggest we swim the shallow channel across to the bank of the bottom pool. The fisherman looks sceptical but convinced.
We plunge in to the channel, the fish is jumping high in the air 100 metres away, we swim a short distance before feeling bottom and stagger out rod held high onto the fine white sand. The fight is long and character building for us both, we feel many things that are not described by words; words are few as we halt the fleeing fish at the rapid below the English house. We have won.
We say very little, it has taken an hour. Together we climb through the birdsong into the clover field in front of the house. It is eleven o’clock. We squelch silently across to the house, the fish is 23 pounds and liced. We feel the spirit of the Englishmen who built the house in the 1850s; and understand why the house stands at Bogen Søndre. In the morning the fish will stand under the wires, resting before moving to the top pool after their struggle through the torrent that descends into the Island Pool.
Tomorrow, but first we must drink to the spirit of the fish; among friends in a place where the world cannot find us. Then we must sleep, and dream of what has been and what blessings may await us when we awake.
Simon Kitcher, NFC guide