The fish doesn’t care who you are
Updated: Jan 2, 2019
Hi, my name is Emilie Björkman. I’m an educated fishing guide by the Academy of Sportfishing – yes, such an academy actually exists in Sweden – a chef and now a student in boreal forestry. But most of all, I’m a fly fisher.
The best thing about fly fishing is that the fish doesn’t really care if your’re a well educated scientist or a hamburger joint employee. The only that matters is the ability to present the right fly to the fish. I do this fly fishing thing a lot and I can’t really think of anything better than to spend every second possible by a river. I love the fact that there’s always something new to learn or to see.
You know how it works. Prior each season you picture yourself catching enormous amounts of large fish and you travel to the most epic places on earth. However, in reality when already the majority of the season has passed you end up there looking back just to a few small fish, bad weather and cancelled travels. Here’s when the stress kicks in. At least you want to catch one fish. The fish of the season. Is that too much to ask you may ask yourself.
Last season was just like this. I had so many hours by the rivers but somehow I managed to either loose the big ones or even spook them. I had one last travel left and if I was about to catch THE trout this travel was it. Or else I would once again be standing there like a fool wondering what the sweet mother of earth I was doing with my life.
The last chance
We trekked way up the headwaters of an arctic stream in Swedish Lapland. We had six days to our disposal and I mean, six days of fishing should at least give one a fair chance of a big fish?
Anyhow, day one, two, three and four passed without any luck whatsoever. The weather was way too stable with a high pressure increasing the water temperature rapidly. This confused the insects who didn’t hatch as they were supposed to do. The water became clearer and clearer which made the trout even more spooky than normal. And trust me, they are spooky even at more prime conditions. So all this led to that the trout had an irregular feeding schedule on the surface. They did one rise and then you didn’t see them for some ten to thirty minutes again. For a dry fly fisher like myself this is frustrating because I want to lay my dry fly to a actively feeding trout. It’s just a personal preference.
Day five. We had trekked for about three hours downstream to set a new camp. A beautiful spot by a long glide with a small tributary confluence. What I’ve learned through the years is that an area where a tributary runs into the main river almost always is a good spot for trout. The tributary may bring more food and it may also bring cold fresh water that may be important for the trout if the main river is too warm.
I had a careful look in the confluence to see if my theory was correct. Indeed it was. The surface was broken by the fast water running in from the tributary but beneath it I saw a big dark shadow moving and feeding on nymphs. My heart started pounding and my hands were shivering. This was my chance.
It was no doubt. Even if it were feeding on nymphs the shallow water was perfect for a small dry fly. I’ve also learned that active feeding trout in shallow water seldom refuses to rise to a well presented dry fly. I carefully sneaked up behind it to come to a good casting position holding my head low. Well at the position I could still see the big dark shadow. One cast later the shadow spots my tiny dry fly and slowly rises towards it. Then it appeared. Just a big head. Just like the New Zealand trout takes the fly. The size of head even looked like the giant trout that inhabit New Zealand. I took a gasp, set the hook and the fight was on.
And so I finally caught the trout I was searching for and it also happened to be the largest one for me yet on a dry fly in Sweden. The rest of the season continued as it started. I lost some big ones and the weather made new missions tough. So yes, it was the trout and I’m happy for it. But don’t get me wrong. Fly fishing isn’t just about catching large fish – it’s about everything else. The learning, the travels, the struggle, the anticipation and so on. We always dream for the big ones but when it all comes down, it doesn’t really matter if we catch them or not. Next season we’ll be standing there like fools by the rivers again wondering…