After my trip to the Laerdal in Norway and subsequent stay in hospital when I got home I was looking forward to a weeks trip to the far north of Scotland. The conditions where perfect but the fishing was a bit of a struggle and I managed one 5 lb salmon and a small sea trout for my efforts. The river we fish is a spate river and has produced good results in the last few visits and we will definitely be going again next year.
The next trip is to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada and we leave Manchester Airport on Monday 25th September and return on 16th October giving us the possibility of 18 days fishing. This will be my seventh trip to the Island with my first being in 2003 and the last in 2015. The chief organizer of the trips is Phil who has been over to BC at least 14 times and has a good knowledge of the rivers on the the Island and some of the more remote places to fish. Our party for this trip will be myself, Phil and Ian who are travelling from Manchester, Geoff who is flying from Heathrow and Graham who is flying from Newcastle. We will be joined at sometime by Graham and his wife Eileen from Aberdeen. We have all fished on the Island before apart from Geoff who is on his first trip.
This week I have been sorting out the rod tube and travel case and going through my list of tackle that will be packed into the the tube. This took most of the day but at the end the tube was packed with all the fishing equipment and weighed in at 10.5kg.
The list consisted of : 9ft 9# and 9ft 10# single hand rods. 11ft 8# and 10ft 9″ 10# Switch rods and a 8ft Spinning rod. 2 Lamson Konic 4″, 1 Danielsson Control 7twelve, 1 Lamson Guru and a Spinning reel. A selection of lines for the single handed rods with 22ft sink tips ranging from 300 to 500 grain. A selection of Skagit heads with T11 to T20 tips in lengths of 5/10/15ft to suite. A Rio SSVT 8# with tips and a selection of tippet from 15lb to 25lb. A selection of flies and fly tying material with VERY STRONG hooks in sizes 2/4/6 singles (debarbed). Home made Mepps type spinners. Wading Staff. Socks to pack out the spaces and various bits and bobs.
Next week I will sort out the case for all the personal clothing and fishing gear. I will be washing my waders and light weight wading jacket and reproofing with Nikwax products.
Roll on the 25th.
I thought I would keep this bit short due to the lack of salmon and sea trout running the river. It would seem that this season the fish had entered the system earlier than normal and very few fish were caught the week we where there. The water level was perfect but apart from a couple of pulls and a lost fish for me and similar results for the other guys only one small sea trout was landed by Anders.
On the late afternoon of the Tuesday 1st August we where having a few beers and snacks at the cabin and I felt a pain in the top joint of my right hand middle finger. By 21.00 pm I was feeling very chilly and retired early to bed. By the morning my finger had swelled dramatically and the fever was very unpleasant. Hakan took me to the local hospital on the Wednesday evening and the doctor took blood samples and informed me that I had a infection and he prescribed a 7 day course of antibiotics. He also said that this kind of infection can be deep in the tissue and that if it was not improved by the end of the antibiotics I should seek further treatment.
On my return to the UK I made an appointment with my doctor and she referred me to the hospital. I was admitted and spent the next 5 days having intravenous antibiotics 4 times a day and I left hospital on the Saturday, 12th August with a further 4 days supply of oral antibiotics. I have an appointment on the 21st August at the hospital hand clinic for rehabilitation exercises to get the full movement back in my finger. Bit of a warning to you fellow anglers, Don’t leave small cuts untreated.
The Laerdal is a great river to fish and is set in the most stunning of scenery and apart from the lack of salmon the fishing and the company was fantastic. Thanks to Anders, Goran, Claes and Hakan for your friendship and look forward to meeting again.
Hakan on the upper beat of the Laerdal.
The rod rack outside the cabin. The bridge and tunnel at the river mouth. Tunnel 6.6 km long.
The Laerdal entering the fjord.
The oldest part of Laerdal.
The accommodation on the beat is in two log cabins on the far side of the river from where the vehicles are parked and is reached by a cable chair that crosses the river via a wire cable and has a powered winching system to achieve the crossing.
The cabins are to sleep up to eight people; the larger of the two has a kitchen with a large table and 6 chairs and a large bedroom to sleep four. There is an open roofed area with a further large table and lots of room to for waders and boots. The second cabin has two bedrooms a shower room and the toilet and can sleep four.
Thursday 27th July 2017
I left home on Wednesday 26th July and caught a flight from Manchester Airport to Gothenburg, Sweden, via Copenhagen and arrived at 15.15, local time, and was met by my friend Anders. We drove to his home south of Gothenburg calling in at the alcohol supermarket and the food supermarket to purchase supplies for our week in Norway fishing the River Laerdal. Anders partner, Anna, had ordered pizza and we picked three up on the last leg of the trip and devoured them washed down by a few glasses of red wine.
We rose at 4.00 am for breakfast and to load Anders car with all the fishing equipment and supplies and left at 4.50 am for a long drive to Laerdal. We stopped a couple of times on the way for coffee and a sandwich and rang Goran to find out if he was close to us on his journey and it turned out he was 1k behind us so we met up and had coffee together before continuing on our journey. We arrived in Laerdal at 12.50 pm and decided to unload all our gear at the accommodation and then meet up will Mattias, Claes and Hakan to have our waders and boots disinfected, which is compulsory and a certificate is issued as proof. We returned to the accommodation (more about this later) and unloaded the rest of the supplies and fishing gear.
We tackled up and fished some of the pools near to the cabin (more about this later) until about 20.00 pm and then gather for a tactical meeting to discuss the program for Friday. A few beers, whiskeys and nibbles later we retired to our beds.
My third and last day of salmon fishing in the Far North of Scotland started with a good breakfast of all the usual delicacy’s of Bacon, Egg all ways, Sausages, Mushrooms, Tomato’s. Phil and I where fishing the upper beat of the river which entailed a two mile hike to the first pool. We decided to trim down the weight we had to carry and we both took a 8# Switch rod and sorted a selection of flies into a couple of fly boxes. I had my Danielsson 7twelve Control reel with a Rio SSVT fitted with the floating tip and 9ft, 15lb tapered leader. We both took rucksacks to carry a waterproof jacket, camera, fishing odds and ends and food and drink for the day. My rucksack has a webbing on the front which was ideal for carrying the landing net that would be needed if we needed to land a fish as the banks are very rugged and in places well above the water.
The walk was very tiring as we had to contend with a head wind gusting at up to 35 mph and after a couple of rests we reached the top pool. I managed to land a nice brown trout before we moved on down the river. The water was at a good height and all looked to be for a good days fishing. As it turned out only one salmon was landed by Phil and we both lost a number of fish that we had on from a few second before coming off. We did see a very large salmon in one of the pools and three casts later a fish took my fly and came towards me. I stripped the line in to get contact with the fish only for it to let go just as I lifted into it. Was it the large salmon we had just seen? We will never know.
We arrived back a the car park at 7.15 pm and tackled down and made a dash back to the pub where we had arranged to meet the others for dinner and last orders was 8.00 pm. When we got back to the b and b we had a nice few whiskies and Jim arrived about 9.30 pm to take over from me for the Thurs/Fri/ Sat.
Thursday morning we met up for breakfast and after I said my farewells and left for the long journey home.
All though I only landed a couple of salmon the three days had been very enjoyable and I look forward to returning next year.
Next Wednesday 26th July I fly out to Sweden to meet up with my friend Anders and on Thursday we will drive to Norway for a week fishing on the river Laerdal with Goran, Claes, Hakan and Mattias making up the team. Report to follow.
After a hearty breakfast of bacon, egg, mushrooms, tomato and haggis Phil and I set off for our second day on a different beat which we had fished on previous visits and where confident of a bit of action. We arrived at 9.10 am and tackled up in the parking area, Phil setting up his home built 13 ft 7# which loads with a 7# double taper line, and I set up my 11 ft 8# Switch rod again. We set off for a walk to two pools on the lower half of the river that had produced fish in the past. The weather was not in our favour again with a strong breeze and bright sunshine, the bonus being no midges.
I waded up to the very top of the pool I was fishing to be able to get the fly into the fast running water which looked very fishy. By wading out into the rocky stream it allowed me to put the fly into the far side run and control the line much better. I worked down the pool and into the slower water toward the tail but with no luck. I changed flies ( I was fishing a dropper ) and put a size 16 shrimp pattern on the dropper and a small Willie gun tube fly on the point and worked down the pool again. I had no contact with the elusive salmon so decided to change pool just as Phil came up from one of the lower pools. He had lost a fish after a very short contact and so we decided to swap pools and I went to fish the lower pool.
This pool has a small island splitting the current with the main flow on the far side. I waded across to the island and as far up into the head of the pool as I could so as to be able to again control the flies through the run. All was quiet for about 5 minutes and then I felt a small tug on the line and then a fish made off with my fly. This was a good size fish and felt very powerful but as if the gods where listening to my thoughts the fish came off and I was left a bit deflated. I sat down on the island and decided to change the double hook on the point fly to a new size 12 as I was blaming the lose on a blunt hook and nothing to do with my angling skills which of cause are excellent. No laughing.
I waded back up to the top of the run and started to work the far side again and after a few casts the line pulled very gently two or three time and then a bit more positive so I lifted into a fish. After a few minutes I managed to land a nice grilse of about 3.5lb and after unhooking I released it to fight another day. The fish had taken the Shrimp dropper fly.
I met up with Phil and we went up river to fish a couple of pools before lunch and in one of the pools Phil had a fish on for a short time before it threw the hook again. I suppose that’s what we say is SALMON FISHING.
We met up with Dave and Chris in the car park and Ian turned up as the tide was out so he couldn’t launch his sea kayak. We had a very leisurely lunch on a bench table under the trees and in the shade as the sun was now high and very warm.
Over lunch we had decided to try the lower pools again and after no luck we returned to the b and b for a rest before having a early dinner and then returning to the fishing at about 20.00 pm. We fished the lower pools again until 23.00 pm and all that showed was a nice brown trout that took Phil’s large point fly after he had made a rubbish cast and was about to retrieve the line to recast. Lets hope for better luck tomorrow as this is my last day on the river before the long drive home on Thursday.
Its a long drive from to the far north of Scotland and after 9 hours and a couple of stops I arrived at the b and b at 5.00 pm yesterday. Dave was already at the accommodation and Phil and Chris arrived shortly after. We went to a local pub for something to eat and then a few drams back at the b and b and discussed tactics for the next days fishing. Phil and I would be fishing together and we had the services of a gillie our very own Ian. He is fishing Thursday/Friday/ Saturday but had decided to come up early and had brought his fishing kayaks to do a bit of spinning in the estuaries. The morning was blowing a gale and the sea very choppy so he had volunteered to carry the net for the day.
The morning session proved to be productive for Phil and I and we both landed a salmon and I lost two more and Phil lost three will one being a sizable fish that decided it wanted to return to the sea. The fish I caught was released in the water with a Ketchum quick release tool as I had no way of landing the fish on the bank. People who fish some of the far north spate rivers will understand and I had to lie on the rocks above the river and reach down with the release tool to unhook the fish. That will teach me to carry my net in future. Never a gillie on hand when you need one. We retired to the fishing hut at 13.00 am and had a nice lunch of cheese and ham toasties made over the gas stove flame and using a nifty piece of kit that Ian had discovered on the internet previously and had been purchased by a few of our group.
The afternoon session proved a bit of a chore as the temperature had risen and the overcast sky had been replaced by a cloudless sky with bright sunshine. After a long afternoon with temperatures in the low 20 deg. c we called it a day at 19.00 pm and retired to the pub for a meal and a much appreciated beer.
We met Chris and Dave at the pub and Chris informed us that he had landed two salmon but Dave had had a blank.
I had used my 8# Switch rod with a Danielsson CONTROL Reel loaded with a Rio SSVT line and using the floating tip. I think I will try using the rod with a Rio AFS 8/9 floating shooting head in the morning as this line has better presentation due to the more tapered front end.