The Norway Chronicles: Chapter Four - Fast strips, hard strikes

When it comes right down to the question which kind of fishing I liked the most during our trip to Norway, I will answer one thing without hesitation: the salt. 

Quite a lot of fishing fanatics see the Norwegian coast as some kind of fishing Mekka. Every year thousands of fishermen enjoy the great scenery whilst pulling up big cod, coalfish or halibut from the deep towards their boat, using heavy spin- and baitfishing gear.


But only few people know that it´s also possible to have even more fun (at least in our opinion) with a flyrod from shore. Yes, that is right. You definitely aren´t depending on a boat in order to have success. The fjords up there are very deep and steep drop offs can be found nearly everywhere.  

Equipped with a rod, a flybox and some solid boots you are ready to go - this simplicity is one point why I came to love this kind of fishery. The other point is the fish you are targeting: pollock, mackerel, cod and coalfish are the most common gamefish for the shorebased flyangler. They pull hard and taste delicious.


The fishing tactic is more or less easy: 


Scenario one - no surface activity

You´re looking for a place where you can get your fly down pretty fast without getting tangled in the countless seaweed, make a cast and wait for the sinking line to do its job. Then you´ll start with a slow retrieve of your fly - mostly a white or white/chartreuse Clouser Minnow or some kind of baitfish polar fibre imitation. Please do not start to make fuzz about the flies, they are really not very important. If a pollock likes your offer, he´ll quite likely nibble a little at the tail of the fly before inhaling it. You will usually feel some trembling in your line before a hard "tock". Cod and especially coalfish tend to hit the fly , but also fight, harder. 


Scenario two - surface activity

When the tides change, especially on the outgoing tide (and with a little luck), you might be able to recognize splashes on the water surface. This usually means that small baitfish try to flee from bigger fish that are trying to eat them. This is hands down the most amazing and visual kind of fishing you can find at the Norwegian shores. The fish, mostly mackerel and coalfish, push the baitfish to the surface and then smash into them.

This means all but a lazy retrieve - instead, you cast as far into the feeding frenzy as you can get and immediately start a fast retrieve. If you are lucky and positioned high enough, say on a landing stage for example, you might even be able to see your fly all the way to your feet. In this situation you can expect a strike every single cast. If you see your streamer disappear and feel a strong pull in your linehand, then do yourself a favour and make a strip-strike, which means you´re hooking the fish with the line, not by raising your rod. If you've troutfished for a long time it can take quite a while to overcome this long trained reflex, but you´ll hook and land definitely more fish.

 But there is one thing you shouldn´t forget: if you´ve been fishing deep, don´t pull the fish up too quick, otherwise it won´t be able to adapt to the changing pressure and die a painful death. 

Most of the time, heavy sinking lines are required to get down to about, say, 15 meters fast enough, so you don´t have to stand around waiting for half an hour for your fly to arrive at its destination, only for retrieving it in one minute :D

If the fish are feeding higher up in the water column, an intermediate or even floating line works fine as well.

Now balance your rod with a saltwaterproof reel, put your streamerbox in one of your pockets and you´re ready for having the fun of a lifetime!