Or „Today is he Day“
(Mel Fisher, adventurer and discoverer of the “Atocha” Spanish Galion)
No wonder that through the stress of everyday business we all strive to get back to the childhood “Indiana Jones” status. Since I cannot dug for treasures in hidden temples in the jungle, I turned my need for adventure for years towards fly fishing, and as the most exciting part of it, fly fishing for salmon.
Yes, as a salmon fly fishermen you bear a stigmata, you must have something utterly deranged to travel to the ends of the world, suffer first class in cold, rain or scorching sun and fish sometimes 16 hours a day or more to get the glimpse of a silver bar. That you release in most of cases. Salmon fly fishing has something masochistic about it. So yes,”50 shades of Gray” that made so many women happy nowadays can translate what “salmon fly fishing” truly means for a fly fisherman J
I wanted to share with you the experiences that I had this summer on one of the most prolific bodies of water in Sweden, the Byske. Many of you know it, many don`t, but google in YouTube: “against all odds” and be sure to be sitting while you watch this.
Byske is something special, like every other salmon river, it has its secrets, and you have to be very determined to catch a Baltic salmon. They are extremely strong because of the configuration of the river and rapids they have to go through. And the river is very tuff to fish.
My trip begins under the cloudy skies above Lake Zürich, where I tie my last flies from the trip.
Of course we intoxicated ourselves with salmon fishing porn over the last months, red tons of articles, watched a lot of movies about it and still, as usual, I always end up tying my flies just couple of days before departure. It seems I always work better under pressure. Don`t worry, I am a surgeon, hahaha!
Since I am blessed with an amazing kid and a lovely wife, I got to share time at the tying bench and so my flies look extremely nice and colorful and take almost double the time to complete :)
I blanked out twice on Gaula because of summer conditions (Gaulfossen running lower than 20 m3/s and 28°C in the air) and lack of experience in very low water, so I was determined not to make the same mistake again. Although everybody told me to tie huge flies and use 850 Grain Sink Lines, I decided that I wanted this time to learn from my previous experience and tie some smaller flies than usual, and just in case, some Sunray Shadows large enough to be spotted from the plane.
Here you have to the collection of flies I took with me:
Now that you know the background, let me introduce you the team: Thorsten, working as a test driver, Vlad, working as a physician specialized in Orthopedics, Silviu, managing logistics, and me, urologist. All of us plagued by the same thought: “50 shades of silver”.
Me and Thorsten got planes for the 8th of June, prepared to stay until 17. Vlad and Silviu will join us on 11 and stay until 19. We had some nice adventures before us.
I got my stuff packed and as always, I hit the magic number of 23 kg after so many years of travel without having to use a scale.
I struggle in the morning with the huge body bag towards the train station and wait for the train. It`s raining slowly, rising my hopes for good water in Sweden too.
At the airport, my bag weights 22.7 :)
Time is running fast and I enjoy my breakfast in the airport, preparing for the first leg of the journey that takes me from Zürich to Stockholm. There I should meet Thorsten.
The first leg of the trip runs unspectacular, but in Stockholm I find out that I need to get the next plane from a different terminal. Meaning I need to go out and through security check again. Luckily, with enough time, I can even enjoy a burger. To my disbelief, Thorsten landed, flying in from Stuttgart, but he needs to pick up his luggage and check it in again. The queues in Stockholm are horrendous and I really doubt that he will make the flight to Skelleftea.
I try to direct him as good as I can over Whatsapp messages, and with the last drop of breath he reaches the gate to embark for Skelleftea just 2 minutes after the embarking started. This is the moment when Thorsten lost the first 200 g of his body weight :). More about that to follow.
We reach Skelleftea after a pleasant flight, and the near missed flight in Stockholm gets compensated with a beer. Fortunately, after the adventure with Thorsten having to check in again his bag, all our luggage rolls slowly from the carrier in Skelleftea. Yeey.
In order to pick up our rental car, we find out that we have to do it through an automat that lets the car keys out after scanning your driver license. Funny enough, the Swiss driving license has no expiry date. That stalled the whole process until I entered manually as expiry date some random numbers. And lord and behold, we got handed the key from our travel companion for the next 10 days.
We booked a Volvo V70 (station wagon), in order to be able to get our fly rods over the macadam roads of Sweden safe and sound.
Once we get in the parking we start searching for the car, and OMG we got instead an upgrade to a S90 luxury limousine!
Confortably seated in the luxury leather seats we let our new Swedish friend with all the automatic gadgets on board to cruise us towards Skelleftea City. We have to stop shortly to buy food and make the compulsory visit to the local fly shop (http://www.cykelochfiskecenter.se/store.html). Here we manage to spend in a relatively short amount of time a relatively high amount of money, so we crawl to the car with the stuff we knew we will definitely need (like a hammock, tons of fly tying stuff, rod rack and so on) and also a lot of stuff we will definitely not need. Sounds familiar?
We also managed to get the first parking ticket, not seeing that in front of Lidl you actually needed to pay for the parking. Sweden: 1, Thorsten/Liviu: 0.
A little less enthusiastic we pack the car full and drive at the outskirts of Skelleftea to buy alcoholic beverages (in Sweden and Norway you can only buy normal beer and strong alcohol in special shops). The place for that is here: https://www.systembolaget.se/butiker-ombud/butik/vasterbottens-lan/skelleftea/varugatan-22-2403 . We were amazed by the mass of people in the shop until we realized it is the Football World Championship. Meaning more people in front of TV, less on the pools fishing. Wish Sweden make it to the finals :)
Now with the car really stuffed, we hit the road towards the village of Byske. The driving time is about 45 min from Skelleftea. Speed limit on most roads in Sweden is 80 km/h. Do no hurry or it can be expensive. Enjoy the scenery and relax.
Cruising the old familiar scenery of Swedish forest, memories of my tour in Lapland for 4 years come alive. Entering Byske, the famous salmon sculpture rises our spirit and give us hopes for the days to come.
Silviu rented a house for us with relative basic rooms and fairly raw conditions. After driving past the old shed a couple of times, we decided that the huge building on the right must be the place, and tried and tried opening the door with the left key – in vain.
After calling the owners and not getting any answer, Thorsten pushes the door down firmly and voila, we are entering our new castle for the next 10 days.
Kind of hardcore salmon fishing sleeping place, very basic to say the least. Thorsten almost cries when he sees the toilets outside, and I am happy to have bought a hammock :) I had worse, so I try to enjoy the big empty house with a rather eerie atmosphere. Are there any ghosts of former salmon fly fishermen hiding behind the walls?
We are dead tired but still find the time to drive to Byske and take a glimpse at the famous bridges, part of zone 1, where already couple of spin and fly fisherman are getting ready for the salmon runs.
Being tired as hell, we drive home and eat fast the frozen pizzas we bought as “fast-food” and hit the bed.
We want to start exploring the surroundings in the morning. When we planned the trip, like always before fishing a new river, I spent hours and hours studying runs and pools in Google Maps using satellite view. I marked some interesting spots on the maps, so the next day we want to hit the river and see them with our own eyes. There is no atomic science in finding a good pool in Google Maps, but to be able to read the river properly and get a fine tuning of the best places, we needed a guide.
Beforehand I managed to get in contact with one if the loveliest characters in Byske, one of the people that saw almost all the changes that this rive has been through over the years, and who will happily guide us for a half day on Wednesday, when Vlad and Silviu arrive. I am talking about Stig Lundgren, from Byske Fishing Guides (http://byskeskomakeri.se/bfg/?lang=en). A lot of you heard about the Byske vest, made by his friend Roger. If not, but you have seen the copies made by Simms like the bra type vest – well, here it has originated. Roger is a shoemaker that works the leather with love and passion and makes beautiful vests, rod tubes, reel bags and so on. If you pass Byske, a trip to Rogers shop is almost as compulsory as going to church. (http://byskeskomakeri.se/flugfiske/?lang=en)
I will tell you more about Stig and our guiding experience later.
It is now Saturday morning, 9th of June, and we crawl from bed and start to gear up slowly. (…)
Follow-up coming soon! ;)