Flood and Dry Weather  --Vol.15--

The Quiet Pool

In the afternoon the temperature further went up here around the River Gaula. So far the river had had scarce shadows of fish and the clear weather taught us there was no hope of catching fish. Mary Anne and I decided to have a nap for night fishing.

In the evening---although only the clock hands showed the evening hours---it was still as hot and humid outside as the daytime. Finishing supper, we left the hotel after 8 p.m. We were due to fish Tilseth until midnight. It was a bit too early to start fishing. But we headed for the river with some enthusiasm.
I expect something is going on in the quiet pool where a single fish, even a little one is not seen. I aim at the opposite bank where no angler gets access.

Tilseth appeared very attractive from on the embankment or any other directions. Our catches of two salmon in the previous weekend looked too small for the nice appearance of the pool. Why can't we catch more? It puzzled me but the same unsatisfactory catches in other pools convinced me that there were scarce fish in the river.

Generally speaking, we can catch a lot in the pool where a lot of fish are seen. However, it is not always true with large fish. I have long thought so from a lot of experiences of salmon fishing and other fishing in my early days.

It is quite natural that ordinary sized fish can be seen in the pool. But when an especially large fish for the river size is hiding in the pool, it is not uncommon that not only a large fish but also small ones can not be seen. That is why I expect something is going on nice-looking pool where no fish is seen.
Dark clouds passed, spraying the shower. Then a beautiful rainbow appeared.

On the contrary, in some occasions, small fish are caught in the best spot of the good pool. As for salmon fishing, for example, parr are caught in the heart of the stream. In those cases, I dare say, however nice it looks the pool is not so good or large fish are not at home.

In fact I could catch a nice sized salmon of 24lb in the morning although I did not see a single fish. Does that prove my guess is true? Or is it only due to scarce fish that I did not see any fish? Well, the latter might be more possible.
I started casting the fly under the cliff. Side cast enabled me to settle the fly in a more desirable way.

But imagine. If a strong over-averaged fish, for example, my salmon in the morning, monopolizes the pool and drives any other following fish away, only a boss fish will be able to stay there. In other words, however large pool it is, only one fish will monopolize it and fish shadows will be extremely scarce.

Whether it was the case of Vinsnes is not sure as far as I do not look into the pool. But if I can suppose that was the case, the situation might be true of our next beat, Tilseth. There might be something special for no catch in such a nice pool.

Under the Cliff

The left bank of Tilseth Pool is a large bank as far as I can see. Because the heart of the stream flows along the right bank, the left bank side has got slow stream, which is suitable for fishing. Almost all anglers try to fish from the left bank. The last week we caught two salmon from the left bank side, too. Furthermore, as I mentioned before, the right bank side has a dangerous foothold because big rocks were newly thrown into the water after it was eroded by flood. From a different point of view, however, the big rocks dotted over 50m long give fish perfect hiding places.

Although there is no room to try to fish from the cliff side in Vinsnes, we can fish from the both banks in Tilseth. I wondered from which bank to fish. I dared to choose the cliff side, considering low water made the slow stream.

Looking down from the embankment, the river under the cliff looked deeper in the shadow, which aroused expectations that something was going on inside the water. Feeling unbearable heat, I began to put on the wader when there was a big sound upstream as if a cannon was fired. I turned around when I heard the same big sound again. Somehow the sky in that direction looked dark. I looked up instinctively. Lightning was flashing very near and then a loud clap of thunder echoed around. It was a thunderbolt. It was coming near.

A long zigzag of lightning discouraged me from holding a long rod. At the same time Mary Anne and I were jumping with joy, feeling a welcome rain was coming soon. We looked up the sky upstream from the car. The rain came to our place at a surprisingly high speed but, ah, went away after only wetting the stones on the bank. Our joy was transient. What was left behind was a perfect rainbow with various colours hanging over the river in the evening sun.
Only after several castings my line was drawn into the water. Our fighting started with the rainbow in the background.

As the weather is very changeable, from fair weather to rainy, a rainbow is often seen in Gaula. But I have never seen such a beautiful rainbow. While Mary Anne was staying on the embankment for safety, I went down through the rocky embankment to the waterfront, looking at the rainbow. As the rocks were laid there so recently, even the big rocks sometimes wobbled when stepped on. I walked very carefully, choosing the stable ones.

After a Rain

I stood just upstream of the spot I had picked up before and cast the fly. My tackle was the same as in the morning. 17ft rod, Intermediate line and 1-1/4 inch Rosemary.

At first I cast the fly to the heart of the stream in front of me by Spey cast but the way of fly settling did not satisfy me. I wanted to fling the fly on the water surface like in the morning. That would make me feel that I was going to catch a fish.

Fortunately, the embankment behind me was low enough to allow me side cast. I tried side cast, which was utterly successful. The moment the fly settled on the water it turned upstream and started drifting naturally. It was never drawn downstream. It was my ideal fly drifting. After making sure that I walked 2m downstream and cast the fly to my picked-up spot.

Although my casting distance was only a bit more than 15m, the lighting hindered me from seeing how the fly settled. Only several seconds later the line started moving and was suddenly tightened straight. At the same time the rattle of the reel echoed around. The fish was nowhere to be seen but something caught my fly just under the water surface.

Isn't it too good to be true that I could hook a fish so soon and so easily? According to a Japanese saying a sudden rainfall in the sunshine means a wedding parade of a fox bride. I felt as if the fox bride passing by me had bewitched me. Then I remembered how I had caught a wonderful salmon when I felt as if the fox had bewitched me (See part IV and V). I hoped selfishly that it would happen to me again.
Fishing condition was very dangerous both on the land and in the water.

I told Mary Anne on the embankment that a fish had came to me. But she thought that she would take films of my fishing scene with the rainbow in the background and missed my voice that said a fish took my fly. I did not blame her at all. I myself could not believe my luck either, because it was only my third casting.

Waving to her, I cried, "A fish! A fish!" Finally she heard me and turned the video camera to me to take films.

I chose a stable rock to step on and tightened the line slowly. The salmon that had stayed still started swimming along the heart of the stream and stopped at 20m downstream. I raised the rod quietly again and started winding the reel slowly. The salmon came near calmly without any struggle.

I can expect that something is going on! A big fish often comes swimming to our feet just after hooking. Special attention is needed now! I could see through the inside of water underfoot clearly from on my rock. When I wound most of the fly line and the leader knot appeared on the surface, something in the water beyond the knot looked light and a whitish big lump came floating in front of me.

"A big chap."

When I knew that, the fish turned to me. I saw its face and found its jaw to be crooked. The salmon and I looked at each other.
The salmon finally realized what condition it was in. It ran 30m in a moment and jumped high.

"It's very big!" I cried instinctively.

Then the salmon headed for the opposite bank. When it stopped at the heart of the stream downstream, approximately 70m of the line had been drawn out. I wondered what to do. Have I got to fight here on the unstable rock or to go downstream to New Pool together with the fish to fight there?
We managed to lift our big salmon onto the embankment. It was a beautiful male one, worthy of the name of the River Gaula.

I asked Mary Anne on the embankment whether it was possible for me to walk downstream to New Pool along the riverside. At that time the big rocks were just laid here and there. It was from the next year that we could easily walk there. She suggested to me that I should not try it for safety.

I made up my mind to fight here. I sought a firm foothold and moved there. I pulled the salmon straight from upstream, just as in the fighting in Lower Gaula Beat in Lundamo (See part VIII). Once the salmon came near to me, it always turned around and went back downstream. Each time it ran downstream my line passed by the big rocks under water. Seeing that scene really made me in a cold sweat.

Nearly 10 minutes passed. The salmon suddenly became calm probably because the water temperature was high. But it seemed impossible for me to land it as far as I was standing on the unstable rock. I asked Mary Anne for help, who was taking films. She hesitated to leave the camera behind but walked down to the river with the net in her hand. Unstable foothold hindered her from moving on the waterfront.

We were really worried for several minutes until the salmon was landed in the net. Later we watched the video and regretted that we had stopped taking films. But at that time I was in such a dangerous situation that she was obliged to give up taking films.
Mr. Manfred Raguse and me at the Club house

Tactics for Big Salmon

As I saw it before, it was a male salmon with a crooked jaw. It weighed 32lb. This salmon monopolized the pool and drove away other fish? That was just my guess. Furthermore, only fish can answer my question; does the success of hooking depend on how the fly settles on the water? Anyway, an imaginary answer "Yes" will encourage me to develop my fishing techniques in the future.

In the end of 1997 a magazine in U.K. gave extra space to special stories on why Mary Anne and Ken Sawada could catch a huge number of big salmon and trout wherever they went. The reasons were listed as follows in order of frequency. The ability of the fly is excellent. A new tackle Flat Beam Shooting Line is used. The long special leader has got some secret power. The last reason was that we were fishing for long hours! I knew well how we were regarded.
Only two guides said so far, "The place to cast the fly and the way how it settles on the water are different from other anglers."

Thus our fishing in Norway in 1997 was over. The biggest flood they had had in 50 years, the hottest summer in 100 years and the lowest water in 60 years. Most of people might experience only one of those abnormal weathers throughout their lifetime or none at all. Those three came together. Who can imagine that situation? In the worst year, however, I could catch two big salmon of 40lb and 32lb. I was fortunate. Since then I have caught a lot of big salmon but that was the biggest.

In the end of August we stayed in Gaula again as in the previous year before we took the second fishing tour to the River Em in Sweden in September. The Gaula was too hot for the end of summer and the water level was too low to measure. There was no fish to be seen. A diver investigated in the water to find that salmon put their head into the space between big stones in the current to avoid heat.

In the evening of August 31st, the last fishing day, it finally started raining. Gradually it rained heavily. The water level was recorded as high as 2m. On the next day, September 1st, the first day of close season for fishing, a large amount of salmon and seatrout came upstream, as if they made fun of anglers.
That's salmon fishing, indeed!

-- To be continued --
2003/03/09  KEN SAWADA
Tranlated into English by Miyoko Ohtake