Base camp on Joholen beat on the River Orkla.
I left Manchester on Friday 6th at 10.20am on route to Gothenburg Airport with a change of flight in Copenhagen. The plane arrived on time and I was met at the airport by Anders my Swedish friend. We had arranged a fishing trip to the River Orkla in Norway with three other friends, Goran (Joran), Hakan (Hawkan) and Claes and would be driving up to the lodge early Sunday morning. Before that there was a little matter of a football game on Saturday between my host’s team, Sweden, and England. Goran came in time to watch the game so I was outnumbered by my two fishing pals and Anders partner Anna. The result was a win for England 2-0 and a very subdued Swedish support.
We left Anders home at 03.00am on Sunday morning for a 9 hour drive through some spectacular countryside and reach our destination at Joholen fishing beat at about 13.30pm after taking a couple of rest stops on the way. The rules of the river are that waders and boots, rods and reels have to be disinfected and a certificate purchased to this effect. My fishing licence had been purchased on line before leaving the UK.
The accommodation at the beat was in two log cabins with one of the cabins having cooking and dining facilities and a lounge with easy chairs and a TV. A separate cabin housed a shower room and a toilet. By the river there was a hut with a large table and bench seating and a open fire grate with a wire tray for cooking on. We BBQ some sausage in the evening and they tasted wonderful after our long journey. Hakan had decided to fish and came back with a picture of a nice sea trout and later Anders caught the first salmon of the trip a nice fresh fish of about 3 kg.
Hakan’s Sea Trout.
We had all retired to bed by 12.00 midnight for a well-deserved rest after a few beers and a couple of celebratory shots of single malt Scotch whisky.
On Monday morning we gathered in the main cabin for breakfast and to discuss plans for the days fishing. It had rained in the night, the first rain for weeks, but this had made little difference to the water level. The temperature was a lot cooler that the Sunday and made the fishing a lot more of a pleasure than the 25deg C and higher of the previous weeks. We had seen a lot of fish on the Sunday and held high hopes for the day ahead and this seemed to be proved when Hakan returned with a broken hook lost in a fish. My first run down had produced no takes but I had seen five salmon running through the pools. I took a rest then fished down a nice fast run with a nice pool at the end which looked very fishy. As I was nearing the bottom an angler from the beat below appeared so I left the water to have a chat. His name was Jan and he too was from Sweden and was fishing with his father for the week and would then be joined by his wife and children for a further week on the river. He had fished the river for a number of years previous and told me of the best fly patterns that worked and some of the better pools on the beat. We said our farewells and I continued to fish the pool while mulling over the advice he had given. I decided to change fly to one I had tied on a salmon single hook before coming on the trip. I fished a short line at first to get the fly to swing across the bottom of the pool just down from the fast water. I lengthened the line after each cast and on the sixth cast I had a very strong pull and the fish was on. Jan had seen that I had a fish on and came back up and after a short fight I landed my first Orkla salmon, a fish of 3kg in weight.
My first Orkla Salmon
In the afternoon the river had started to fall and by the evening had gone down by 25cm and was now very low and fish we had spotted running earlier on Sunday and Monday morning now appeared to have stopped. Goran and Anders prepared the evening meal on the BBQ and we ate at the cover table area by the river. Very pleasant.
TUESDAY 10th July.
With the river very low and the high temperature from a cloudless sky the prospects for the day did not seen too good for salmon fishing. Early morning proved fruitless and most of the late morning and early afternoon was spent lazing around and setting up rods with floating lines and a variety of flies to see if any fish could be tempted.
Goran prepared a BBQ meal by the river of Pork belly and Burgers and Anders assisted and prepared sautéed new potatoes with sliced mushrooms. This was washed down with a couple of glasses of a nice Italian Red wine. We all then retired to the main cabin to watch the first of the World Cup football semi-finals between France and Belgium with France taking the honours 1-0 and progressing to the final to be played on Sunday.
Late fishing seemed like a good idea due to the present conditions and Anders was rewarded in the early hour with a Salmon of 4kg and a small Sea Trout. Hakan also had a small Sea Trout.
Anders Second Salmon
WEDNESDAY 11th July
The river had dropped again overnight and the temperature was climbing and by 11.00am was at 26deg C and not the best of conditions for fishing. I’d got up early and decided to try a pool in the middle of the beat which had a good flow of water and a nice depth even with the low water level. After a couple of hours and the sun hitting the water I decided to return to the cabin for breakfast and met up with Anders, Goran and Hakan who had all had the same idea as me. Claes had rowed across the river and was fishing at the top of the beat and didn’t return till later in the morning. No fish had been caught or seen and this was the same in the afternoon and by 16 .00 pm we had all returned to the cabin apart from Anders who we thought had gone to sleep on the bank.
Cooking on the real BBQ.
The Motley Crew
It was my turn to cook the meal and so I set to work preparing the meat which I covered with a marinade and left in the refrigerator till later when it would be cooked on the BBQ. I was serving the steak with a shredded cabbage, carrots, new potatoes and a sauce. I had asked Goran to assist by cooking the meat as he seems to be a bit of an expert going by the two previous meals he had BBQ’d and I prepared the rest and set the table outside. We ate at 18.45 pm and the meal was delicious, if I say so myself, and was accompanied by a nice red wine. As it was my meal I was responsible for the washing up and finished just in time to watch the Croatia verses England World Cup semi-final. After a good start England took the lead from a free kick and they held this score till half time. The longer the game went on the Croatian team began to control the game and scored an equalizing goal and after 90 minutes the game had to go into extra time. Croatia scored in the second half of extra time and held this lead till the final whistle and would now progress to the final against France on Sunday. England would play Belgium on Saturday for the 3rd and 4th placing.
Around 23.30 pm we had decided to try a different approach to the fishing and work into the early hours. I returned first to the cabin at 02.30 am and the rest over the next couple of hours with Hakan getting back at 04.30 am. No salmon or sea trout showed and our plan had proved fruitless.
THURSDAY 12th July.
I got up at 06.00 am and visited one of the pools to see if any salmon had moved into the swim in the early morning but still no show or takes. The marker we had put in the river was showing a rise in the level of 5cm to 6cm which I hoped was a good sign that the hydro system was letting in a bit more water. It turned out that the extra water was from a downpour higher up the river and by 13.00 the water had taken on a bit of colour. The level was slowly dropping back but hopes were high for some fish as Anders friend who was fishing lower down the river had seen a lot of salmon running the river.
The colour in the water increased in the afternoon and the prospects of a salmon decreased and no fish showed in any of the pools. Anders and I decided to try the lower pool and at the top in the rough water the wind took my hat and it disappeared into the murky depths never to be see again. I was very fond of that hat.
It was Claes turn to cook and he had brought a Beef Bougineon from home which was served with mash potato and a Carbonate Sauvignon red wine. It went down very well and all the meal and wine disappeared into a group of very ravenous fishermen. We spent the rest of the evening chatting and the partaking of a few beers and a shot of single malt. I retired at 23.30 pm and woke at 8.00 am on the following morning. Not sure if I was tired or maybe something else.
FRIDAY 13th July.
Claes and Hakan had gone out in the early hours of the morning and had managed to make contact with some Sea Trout, the biggest at 1.5kg. They reported that the water had cleared overnight but the water was still very low. I went with Hakan to the top of the beat and I was fishing with a full floating Short Head Spey line with a sparsely dressed hairwing fly I had tied on a size 4 single salmon hook. The rod was A Guideline 13ft 9” 9/10 LXi 6 piece and the reel an LTS Precision. We both managed to hook and land small Sea Trout but no salmon. We returned to the cabin and Hakan began preparing the meal he was to serve early at 16.00 pm so we could fish early evening to correspond with the high tide and hoping this may see some fresh salmon in the system. I change my reel and line for a Danielsson H5D and a Rio AFS with a 2.6 ips 10 ft. versaleader on the end and another hairwing fly I had tied on a size 2 salmon single hook. I fished through the evening and met with Goran at the bottom of the beat and we decided to light a fire in the stone fire grate by the river. A wooden table and chairs had been put there by the owner for the anglers use and we brought some bread and sausages and BBQ’d them over the open fire. Hakan joined us and more sausages were consumed. We returned to the cabin around 01.30 am and retired to bed for a well earned rest.
SATURDAY 14TH July.
I got up at 08.00 am and had breakfast with Anders and Hakan. Claes and Goran had gone out fishing early and returned at around 10.00 am but no salmon contacted. Anders went to fish the top of the beat and I fished the bottom pools. In the fast water at the top of the pool I made contact with a fish but after a very short period it was off the hook. No other contact was made and after reaching the bottom of the pool I returned to the cabin for a meet up with the others. Anders had made contact with a salmon but lost it as he went to tail it. Frustration.
As this was our last day we had to clean the cabins as part of the hire contract and also to start to gather our kit together ready for an early start on Sunday morning. Anders had the honour of preparing the last supper and set to work with the assistance of Goran to prepare a BBQ’D ROAST BEEF a la RIVER ORKLA served with a Red Wine Sauce, Potatoes, carrots and Red and Green Peppers.
The meal will be served between 15.00 and 16.00 pm so we can watch the England verses Belgium game to decide the 3rd and 4th places in the World Cup and with a bit of good driving we should be back at Anders home on Sunday to watch the final between France and Croatia.
The older of the cabins.
All in all a great trip with good company and with better water levels I’m sure the fishing would have been better.
Anders took me to the airport on Monday for my return flight to Manchester via Copenhagen and that is where the trip took a bit of a downturn. The departure information showed that the flight to Manchester had been cancelled but not where to go to find out why. A SAS official directed me to the Transfer Department were after a bit of a wait a rep informed us that we had been transferred onto a flight to Heathrow leaving at 18.30 pm and it was now 17.45pm and I needed to get to the far end of the terminal. The flight left late at 19.00 pm due to a baggage problem. On arrival at Heathrow I was given a £6 meal ticket at told to be at a coach station for a trip up to Manchester. Next problem , collect luggage, nowhere to be found. A trip to the baggage handling department to register missing bag and I was not alone as other passengers on the same flight to Manchester had the same problem. After getting the necessary paperwork the time had move on a a coach had to be found just giving time to get a meal deal from Smiths.
The coach arrived at Manchester Airport at 01.05 am and after a very kind offer of a lift I arrived home at 02.00 am on Tuesday morning and went I straight to bed. After a few phone calls my baggage finally arrived at 11.45 am on Wednesday too late for me to organize my gear for the trip up to the Highlands and so I would lose a days fishing and travel up on Thursday. News from my fishing friends who had been in the Highlands since Monday was not favourable and the rivers were very very low and so I am packing my trout gear for some good fishing on the lochs.
More to follow.
THURSDAY 19th July. The Highlands.
I left at 11.00 am and the SatNav gave me an arrival time at the accommodation of 7.30pm. About 20 miles from Ullapool the road had been closed by the police as there had been a fatal accident and the road would not be opened until at least Midnight. After checking my paper map and checking distance and time I decided to head back toward Inverness and take the eastern route through Dingwall. The diversion was 88 miles and I arrived at 9.00pm and found the house in darkness and thought that the others had gone to the pub. The door was open and my shout received a reply and it turned out that the area had a power cut just as the meal was being prepared and so we settled down to ham and cheese sandwiches washed down with red wine. I was tired after my 10 hour journey and retired at 11.00 pm to a very cosy bed. Breakfast was prepared by Dave and consisted of the usual delicacies of bacon, egg, sausage beans will toast and a mug of tea.
FRIDAY 20th July.
As I mentioned earlier the river level was very low and after Phil and I checked for any improvement we decided to get a boat on a local loch. There are a great many lochs in the area and tickets can be obtained from local outlets and information is available online. We parked the car and walked the 1.5 miles to the loch and loaded the boat with our tackle and got the oars from the boathouse. The fishing was on Loch nah-Innse Fraoich which is the further of two lochs and is part of the All Abilities walk developed by the Culag Community Woodland Trust (CCWT) with toilet facilities at each loch and easily accessed. We rowed from the mooring to the end of the loch and started a drift after deploying the drogue and the wind had made a nice wave on the water. We had both tackled up 3# 10ft fly rods with floating DT lines and a leader of 3 flies. I had a floating fly on the top dropper and alternated the middle and point flies and we had success drawing the top dropper across the top on the retrieve. The majority of the trout were in the 4 to 6 ounce range but on the last drift Phil had a beautifully marked brown trout of 1.5ld. We rowed back to the mooring and pulled the boat up the slip and returned the oars to the boathouse and fitted the padlocks. On returning to the cottage I started to prepare the evening meal of steak with Jersey Royal Potatoes and a vegetable medley of carrot, cauliflower and broccoli. This went down well and was accompanied by a bottle of Rioja and a few beers later in the lounge.
SATURDAY 20th July
Phil and I had the bottom two beats on the river to go at on our last day and we started on the top beat. There are a few deep runs that still had a good flow and we tried these to see if we could tempt a salmon. I was fishing with my 11 ft. 8# Switch Rod and a floating line with a short 3 ft tapered leader to protect the fly line loop and 5 ft of 15 ld tippet. This was to give more control of the fly in the faster water and this would work very well in the afternoon on the lower beat. The fly was one of a few I had tied up before going to Norway and they had been tied on size 2 and 4 salmon single hooks. Hiking up river I had spotted fish in a large deep pool and decided to fish the fast water running into the pool. After a number on runs down and guiding the fly into the more fishy looking water I had a very soft pull then a hard run but the fish did not stick and that was the only action of the morning. I met up with Phil in the hut and over a sandwich and a drink we talked over our plans for our afternoon session on the lower river. The lower pool is very close to the bottom of the river and so we checked the tide times and found that high tide was 3.00 pm and Phil thought that there maybe fresh fish coming into the river on the tide. We made our way down river checking all the pools and making a mental note of the likely spots that the fish would hold in. On reaching the bottom pool it was just coming up to 3.00 pm and we spent some time looking into the pool from our vantage point above the river. And as if the salmon had read our thoughts fish started to hold in the pool and we spotted at least 10 fish so Phil made his way down to a vantage point and started the fish off a short line at first and lengthening after each cast. By using the rod and the current Phil was able to cover most of the pool and from the vantage point above the river I could see his fly and the reaction of the salmon. He had four fish follow his fly and one had a nip at the tail but none took the fly fully. I had a few casts with a different fly but still no takes. We moved up to the next pool we thought would hold fish and on the first cast Phil had a Grilse of about 6ld on for a few seconds then all went slack and the fish was gone. We had two more pulls from this pool then moved on up river but no more salmon came to the fly and so we decided to call it a day and head back to the cars.
We are back up on this river at the end of August for a week and on the Spey for three days the week before so we are hoping that weather has changed and the rivers are carrying more water. Fingers crossed and more to follow.