To Hell And Back Under A Midnight Sun
With the 2am sun casting it’s final red-hued rays across the shadowed mountains and the full moon rising and falling from behind the same skyscraping crests, it was hard to imagine a more peaceful and surreal setting so close to Hell.
Half a day earlier, amongst the pristine alpine firs and pines, golden-backed brown trout warily sipped insects from a gin clear mountain stream, ignoring my not so delicately presented dry fly offerings.
In the few blue-skied hours of twilight between dusk and dawn, we sat rugged-up in waders, beanies and scarves, bellies full of ‘Jack’, beside a small oceanside fire that gently crackled driftwood to keep us warm.
And then, in purple reflections where the fresh met the salt, the bite began. Sea trout began leaping, shoulders forcing bow waves as they rushed to feed on minnows, shrimp and other unknown morsels. Presenting dark silhouetted wet flies and reggae coloured Tassie Devils, we had a fishing session I shall never forget. To me, and anglers the world over, an experience like this is as close as we’re ever likely to get to Heaven, and geographically as close to Hell (the name of a Norwegian town, would you believe?) as one might ever get.
Norway is recreational fisherman’s Mecca and a place referred to by Australian anglers in the know as the Northern Territory of Europe. In a day’s angling you can catch Atlantic salmon, sea trout, brown trout, cod (torsce), lyre, sei and mackerel (makrell). The ability to fish the fresh for salmonoids and the salt for a diverse array of new species in any given day truly makes an angling adventure in Norway a unique experience, and one I cannot recommend highly enough to any angler.
For those who are interested, I flew into Trondheim located in the middle of Norway. From there we headed north by car. This is an ideal location to access the boundless number of Atlantic salmon and trout rivers that this country boasts. Unfortunately the salmon are few and far between these days, and long days and thousands of casts are required to have the chance of catching one. Many visiting anglers aren’t as fortunate as I was and it may take up to three or four trips to catch just one.
The brown trout are, on average, small, even by Australian standards, and a fish over a kilo is to be prized (I couldn’t discover a biological reason for this).
The sea trout, on the other hand, are bountiful and grow to three and a half kilos. We didn’t catch them quite that big, but the ones we did encounter (just under two kilos) during a 4.30am dawn bite gave a great account for themselves and tasted as good as anything I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.
Close to these rivers are the famous fjords and thousands of low-lying islands. Amongst these, a richness of saltwater biomass to rival that of tropical oceans exists. Once the mighty Atlantic bluefin tuna called these waters home for part of the yearly cycle, but sadly those days have gone. That said, there are still plenty of fish to keep any angler busy for days. In addition to the fish species listed above, scallops larger than your hand can be collected free-diving, whilst crayfish and crabs can be hauled by trap.
Sydney winters are the perfect time for a European summer escape. The adventure and the bounties that await are worth the skimping one might have to endure to make it possible, but life is short so if you get the chance, take it.
Back on home ground, September’s Sydney-based fishing can be tough. If you just can’t keep away from the water, my advice is to stick to the bread and butter species – Australian salmon, bream and whiting off the beaches, luderick and drummer from the ocean stones, and the chance of tuna, yellowtail kingfish and snapper catches offshore.
Tight lines and summer dreaming!