Words & images by Emil Westrin
I’ve fished a new system this season, far away from roads, helicopters and people. A lonely ranger mission, to avoid all types of leaks about this river. No one knows where I am. Not even my closes friends or my family. Jumped in my car, my cellphone on flight mode and to the mountains I go! But how do I know were to go? Hers the first tips. Research! I see to many questions on social media “I’m at this place right now, anyone who have some tips where I can fish?” That’s a question that you should ask before you go anywhere.
FOCUS ON // AREAS
Look at different waters in different areas. Be friend with the locals. You can get hints from them if it’s big fish in the area. And study maps, very carefully and in depth. This is maybe the most important tips I will give to you. Big trouts need big lakes and a lot of food. Find lakes who holds, of course trouts but also some kind of baitfish, whitefish, arctic char or something else that the trouts like and that helps them to grow. Rivers in connection to these lakes is often great spawning areas and the areas were these migration trouts will hang out from the end of July to the spawning beguines.
FOCUS ON // CONDITIONS
Don’t stare you blind that you should fish a location, beat or a river on a specific time or week. The conditions can be horrible, and you end up with no fish at all. Follow the weather forecast carefully, and if you have access to hydrological apps or websites – study them. The best time is after a period of high water and when is going down to normal again. I have a feeling that the high water “push & draw” fish into the stretches of running water and you get the fish to move and find new places to stay. Where these parameters are right, that’s the place I will go to.
FOCUS ON // GEAR
Of course, you should choose rods and reels depending on the size of the water you fish. Here you also have your personal opinion to take into account. I usually fish rivers around 10-40 cubic meter per second and always carrying two rods with me. In heavy sun and mid-day fishing you need to search the fish in/under/around heavy white water where it can have “protection” from exposure. For this type of fishing you need heavier lines, but I usually sleep this time to be able to fish the dark hours.
SETUP #1 – LIGHT DOUBLEHAND
When fishing for big brown trout in this type of waters my number one rod is the 12,9 #7/8 NT8. It´s light, fast and have excellent fighting capacity with the deep action. It´s a six-part rod, so easy to carry on you backpack. For the reel I have the #7/9 Vosso real. But use a reel you like. The most important is that you have enough backing and a smooth and solid break. When it comes to lines there is a jungle. Lots of personal opinions and preferences and I don’t judge anyone. I just give you my personal opinion and what works for me. I use a 20g/308grain floating Guideline 4D belly with tips. And I would say that 90% of my migration trout fishing is done with two different tips. 15´ 9g/139grain hover/intermediate and S1/S3. That’s it. For the double hand setup, I use a 12´tapered leader(0,36mm) and extends it with 1m 0,33 tippet materials.
SETUP #2 – SINGLE HAND
Single hand setup: NT8 10’ #7, a #6/8 Vosso reel and the ULS 3D+ lines. Like the double hand setup, I use low density lines here to; Float/hover/intermediate and float/hover/S3 is the lines that I use most of the time. For the single hand setup, I use a 9-10’ tapered leader (0,36mm) and extends it with 1 meter of 0,33 tippet materials.
THE PERFECT BEAT – DAY 1
Back to my trip and to the river. I don’t have too much time to spend in the area, so I need to be effective and to find out if this system holds big fish or not, I go for the hottest pool that I scouted on the satellite map. The pool is pretty tight, fast and deep with a long tail that ends up with a long white water rapid. A rapid that you don’t want to have a fight with a big trout in. An excellent holding spot for trouts to stay a while after climbing a tough stretch of the river and I decides that this will be my “test pool”. First night and I should fish the pool as planned. The sun has gone down under the horizon, and the darkness is slowly entering the valley. I rigged my double hand setup, the 12,9 NT8 and tied on a natural/grey swing fly intruder. The pool is pretty long with heavy water in the middle and calmer water of the sides. In this type of water, the fish usually finds a spot just in the edge between the fast and the calm water. So I started in the inlet of the pool. Casting in a 45 degree angle downstream and mend up once to slow down the fly a little bit and to avoid the heavier water to catch my line and create a C and set the fly to ultra-speed.
Fished my way downstream and just in front of a stone, 20m upstream the tail a big fish hit my fly. But just seconds later, it all ended up in a big whirl. As always after losing a big fish, I lay down at the bank in disappointment and humble something that my mum wouldn’t be proud of. But just some minutes, the pool still has some meters that I must fish. Swinging out my fly again and just 5-7 meters downstream where I lost my first fish a huge trout strikes! A take that feels in your spine and I couldn’t even rise my rod. But like the first fish, same thing happened here and my fly and the fly line came back from the water like a bullet and ended up in the forest. I was close to tears and it felt like the pool was haunted. I therefore named it “the haunted pool”, set up my tent and drank half of whisky I brought. I couldn’t sleep in my tent that night. My thoughts were gnawing in my head. Wrong hook setup? Wrong fly? Too much speed, not too much speed, etc, etc… No matter what, I have lost two really big trouts. I doesn’t know when, but I fall asleep in the early morning that night.
THE PERFECT BEAT – DAY 2
Chilling in camp the next day. Waiting for the right time to try it again. And the right time comes. I take the hike to the haunted pool and the sun has started to go down, but still many hours left until it’s dark. The line of trees along the water shadows the pool pretty well, so I couldn’t hold myself back. The force in the takes from last night is to strong. Tackling my setup and choosing another fly than yesterday. A fly that I tied up with this water in mind, a natural grey Muddler Zonker. A completely different fly from yesterday how it moves and a significantly larger silhouette. But the fly has caught many trouts before and is a safe card. Now it’s time for payback.
Starting the pool with a little bit higher pulse than usual. Right speed of the fly and slowly working my way down to the tail and where I lost my trouts yesterday. Close to the first take yesterday – bam! A trout attacked the fly but didn’t stuck. My pulse is now above 200 and I’m thinking of two strategies. Sit down, wait and let the pool rest or try to trigger the trout with higher speed. I’m choosing the latter option. Same cast and mending down and hope for the best. The fly landed, the speed increase and the trout are coming back for a new attack! With a huge amount of power, the trout takes the fly and now it’s properly hooked. Totally furious and super mad the fish runs downstream. My line just pumping out from the reel and close to the rapids I have to choose – follow the fish down and run 1km on the bank or lock the real. I locked the real and pray for the best. And the fish stops.
Slowly I started to walk the fish upstream to have a little more space to fight on, and that was needed. When I have the shooting head just outside the tip of the rod it was time for a second run. Like a train it went back to the tail again and the same procedure as last time. Locking the real and pray for the best. The result was similar. The fish stops and I walk it upstream again. The hook has a secure grip but I don’t know the condition of it after two rock hard braking’s but it’s time to figure out how I should land it. Next problem. I’m all by myself and I can’t find any “safe landing areas”. Luckily, I found a flat stone under the surface and I managed to get the fish up on that and tail it. It’s now over! Totally happy and mentally exhausted I measured this female trout to 72cm and then I let her swim back. Picked up my map and can now change the name of the pool.
The new name – No longer haunted pool.
Words & images by Emil Westrin