24 juli, 2011

A week fishing in Lyngseidet, Norway

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For all our international (fishing) friends and most of all our host Stein-Erik, we wrote an English summary of our week fishing in Lyngseidet. It is a summary of the articles published over the last week in Dutch. Enjoy!

 

Day 1

My son Bram shares my passion for fishing. The last years a group of friends went for a week fishing in spring in (a.o.) Texas, Gambia en Norway. As present for finishing his secondary school well, we took him fishing “with the man”. We went 17-24 June 2011 to Sørheim Brygge in Lyngseidet, near Tromsø in Norway, well above the Arctic circle with a party of 4: Bram, Ben, Max and Roel.

From Amsterdam to Tromsø is a flight of two times two hours, with a step-over in Oslo. SAS airlines allows for 1 piece of 23kg luggage, which requires careful planning and packing of clothes and tackle. An extra piece costs 30€/piece one way. Max and Roel have fished before at Sørheim Brygge in 2009. The combination of good lodging and boats, variety of fish and the chance to catch “big-ones” made the choice easy for Bram.

In Tromsø, Stein-Erik is waiting when we arrive, a ride of 90 minutes and a ferry-crossing of one fjord gets us to Lyngseidet. We are about 5 weeks later in the season then two years ago, the snow has melted away at the lower altitudes, the sun is shining abundantly and we have 24 hours of light per day in June.

We swiftly get our rods ready and go for the first groceries. We are reminded living in nature up here, as we see a moose grazing next to the supermarket, before turning into the woods as it sees us. Ben is a professional master-chef. His first decent size cod, he caught in front of the house, turns into a very fresh evening meal. At 10 in the evening we decide for a first short session under the midnight sun.

 

For all international readers I made a table with fish names later referred to with their English name:

 

Norwegian

English

Dutch

Systematic name Latin

Steinbite

(atlantic) Wolffish

Zeewolf

Anarhichas lupus

Uer

Redfish

Roodbaars

Sebastes marinus

Sei

Coalfish

Koolvis

Pollachius virens

Torsk

Cod

Kabeljauw

Gadus morhua

Kveite

Halibut

Heilbot

Hippoglossus hippoglossus

Brosme

Cusk

Lom

Brosme brosme

Hyse

Haddock

Schelvis

Melanogrammus aeglefinus

Lange

Ling

Leng

Molva molva

 

 

According to Stein-Erik the week before a group had a nice catch of wolffish, as they caught 40 in a week. We decided to cross the fjord to a 35 meter deep spot, where we caught wolffish two years ago. We have a perfect control of the drift of the boat (1-2 km/h), back trolling at 700 rpm using a drift anchor at the front to control speed. We go for jigging on the bottom, using 15 to 25 cm long shads in either black-white or blue-white colors on 70 to 180 gram jig heads, mounted with a 1/0 stinger treble at the back of the shad. Pretty quickly the first fish see the inside of the boat: small redfish, coalfish and cod. Than follows a firm bite of a wolffish, followed by a characteristic fight. The first few meters the fish furiously tries to reach the bottom, after that it’s a steady lift & wind upwards. After the first fish we get going, due to the controlled fishing we feel the first “taps” before the bite. A couple of times we are busy with a double-hook-up wolffish. In between other fish, Ben hooks the largest fish: an 98cm-wolffish. The midnight sun has dazzled our sense of time, its 4 a.m., we have been up for 23 hours, the wolffish counters stops at 17, and we decide to go for a short 6 hours sleep.

 

Day 2

When we wake up is it gloriously sunny weather. The northerly wind brings polar wind, due to which it is 12 degrees, but it feels great and I put on my shorts. The morning session of day 2 we start at the spot we stopped a couple of hours before, but activity is merely gone, Max lands one wolffish. We decide to go south, deeper into the fjord to a place Stein-Erik indicated.

The place is a “shallow” ridge of 70-90 meters deep, running across the fjord. Roel sends a pilker to the bottom and hooks up to a nice fish. Then Ben hooks a small cod at the bottom and while reeling in, the cod is about 20 meters below the surface, Ben speaks the memorable words “hé, this feels like a different fish” when his rod tips starts to bend deep and meters line are being dragged from the reel. A big-mamma cod grabbed the small fish on its way up. The first 1 meter+ cod sees the inside of the boat. We quickly see what the situation is in the water: in the upper layer of the water big schools of small herring dwell, below which at 10 – 20 meters depth big cod hunt for them. The black & white shads are sometimes already grabbed on the way down. Usually we reel them up at constant speed, after which they quite often get grabbed violently. This is the beginning of a fishing “party”. At a certain moment we have a triple hook-up 1 meter+ cod, something that later would happen again. Bram first time on the rod results in a violent bite, he has to hold the rod with both hands. After his biggest fight every a 121 cm cod surfaces an improvement of 80cm of his personal best.

 

 

Things happen so quickly that we sometimes forget to take a picture of what otherwise would be a trophy fish. As a matter of principle we fish catch & release. Max looses a big 120 cm + cod in the surface a somewhat later Ben lands the biggest of the session: a sturdy 132 cm cod. After recovery from his fight with the 121 cm cod, Bram tries his luck again and immediately hooks up to a 109 cm cod. At the same moment Ben catches another big one, so we shoot a picture of them together. We all have lost track of time. It is around 6 p.m. in the mean time and we are hungry! What a session, all 4 have caught a new personal best for cod, with 34 fish in the boat of which half passed the 1 meter mark.

 

 

Day 3

When we arrived in Lyngseidet Stein-Erik gave us a long-term weather forecast: two days of good weather, followed by over skied, rainy days. I can turn a long story short, the weather is extremely variable, the long term forecast not very reliable, but the web site www.yr.no provides hourly forecasts that are very valuable for planning your fishing and resting. Due to the forecast we decide to take a short rest of 4 hours to maximally enjoy the good weather, when waking up at 4 we feel like vampires, as the sun is brilliantly shining.

We pick up the fishing where we left it the night before. Whilst Max and Roel are preparing their rods, Ben already sends his shad down, which immediately gets arrested by a formidable opponent. Time after time line “screams” from his reel, a while later we see the culprit: a 110 cm coalfish.

 

 

After a quick start the morning passes by at a slower pace, a near meter and a 118 cm cod are the most memorable catches. For lunch we eat cod filet, when eating it this fresh, it tastes completely different and non-fishy as we normally eat at home.

We want to use the sunny afternoon for a new target: halibut. We go for a drift over a 20 to 30 meter deep sandy shallow, hoping we encounter a sunbathing halibut. One of the rods is rigged with live bait, using a small coalfish hooked between the dorsal and tail fin. The other fish reeling up shads at a swift pace. Ten minutes in the drift we see a meter of line being pulled of the reel with the live bait. Roel feels the line, but only the bait is gone. We end the session on the cod-spot where we caught another 8 “just under a meter” cods before turning home. We feel that we only slept 6 hours in the last two days. We turn in for a nice nap, as wind and rain are forecasted for the coming hours.

 

 

Day 4&5

The alarm clock sounds at 9 the following morning, the rain has refreshed the air, the water is like a mirror. We decide for a long 45 mins run north towards the island Uloya. A while ago we heard from fishing friend they caught some nice halibut at that place. The boats at Sørheim Brygge are 19ft aluminum boats equipped with 50 hp Yamaha outboards, which run at 45 km/h under these conditions. We quickly spot the place, also a local fisherman’s favorite, who has placed a net at the 20 meter depth line. We start making drifts from 65 up the slope to 25 meters depth. We find most fish at 35 meter, in five drifts we catch two dozen cod of around 50 to 70 cm and some small coalfish. In the mean time the wind picks up, and we decide to start moving half-way back. This is a place similar to the “cod-spot” with a shallow ridge running across the fjord. Due to the hard wind and waves we all go pilking and catch half a dozen of haddock at exactly the same spot as two years ago. It will be the only haddock we catch this week. As wind is further picking up we go to a lee spot on the corner of Lyngen and Kaa fjord. This is pleasant about Lyngenfjord, irrespective of direction; one can always find a fishable spot. Quickly Roel hook up to a couple of wolffish, number two poses in the very clear water:

 

 

Meanwhile it has turned 6 p.m., dinnertime, we reel in our lures. Max’ shad is being grabbed on the way up after which the fish decides to go for the bottom. The ugly stick rod and the Speros 6000 reel can only protest loudly. It is around 35 meters deep at the spot and on the second time up, at around 10 meters depth the fish decides to go for the bottom again. Max is meanwhile at 110% concentration, it would be,…. But in the surface we see the fish. YES !! A halibut, Max’ first one ever. What an end to this session.

 

Back in Lyngseidet, Ben serves coalfish steak, enrobed with bacon, fiercely seared then simmered till ready. The sauce is made of bacon fat, sour cream, mustard and shallots, all washed away with a Mack-beer from the world most Northerly brewery (so-much for the Jamie-Oliver contribution) we can recommend everybody to go fishing with a chef.

 

We only allow ourselves two hours of rest, as the weather is forecasted to be very bad from 5 a.m. We pick up the fishing again at the corner of Kaa fjord, we have a nice catch, Roel another two wolffish, Bram a nice cod, Max catches his 3rd ling and Ben a cusk. This night the place however is mosquito invested, time for another spot. At our cod-place (Svarthaug) Ben lives up to his new name “mister-first-in-last-out”, whilst Max and Roel are figuring out how to control the drift of the boat this time, Ben is already hooked up to a sizable opponent, making his reel scream. Time after time, line disappears into the depth, we suspect a big coalfish again, but it turns out to be a thick 110cm cod that pulls 17 kg’s from the unster-scale.

 

 

The meter-cod re-appears. Max and Roel catch one each before having an entangled double-hook-up meter cod. Apart from a gaff-piercing for Roel, this causes no difficulties. As Ben applies the band aid with Roel, Max, within 10 seconds has his rod fully bent. It takes him a good 10 minutes before we see a formidable 121 cm coalfish appearing in the surface, such violence!

Now max had stated before the trip that his goal was a relaxing week of fishing, with possibly as “cherry-on-the-pie” either a halibut or a large coalfish. He realizes both “cherries” within a time frame of 8 hours! At 5 a.m. everybody feels pretty tired, we have been fishing for 16 of the last 18 hours, wind is picking-up, time to go home. When half an hour later we have sorted the boats and gear and having a night cap, the big rains starts, spot-on planned! The weather forecast for the coming 24 hours doesn’t predict much good, well that’s all in the game. Several holidays in Norway have learned me that in a week, there is always a days like this. We use it for a nice long sleep, a good meal and getting our fishing gear back into order.

The big cod have the habit of rolling in the surface. The one meter, 65lbs fluorocarbon leader hold well, but the 150 lbs cross-locks have a tendency to break open, as they are not designed for horizontal force, due to the rolling, instead of vertical

With our gear in order, a game, a light meal, we take another nap and set the alarms for 4 a.m. as the weather will be good again.

 

 

Day 6

We start at the corner of Kaafjord again, yielding some nice cod, ling and coalfish. Our desire for a tough cod makes us move to the cod-place again. And yes ! They are still there, Max hooks up to a nice one, as the first rays of sun start breaking through the clouds.

 

 

 

Soon there after the sandeel of Roel get grabbed by a meter cod, next throw after the picture deliver directly a next meter cod, what a feast!

 

 

Bram noted on the way from our house that near a little island in the fjord, schools of fish were visible on the fish finder at a depth of around 25 meters of water. We decide to have a look at the place. Huge “clouds “of small coalfish dwell at the bottom, being hunted down by mid-size cod. Pretty quickly we have the first 60-80 cm cod in the boat. After lunch we pick-up the fishing at the same spot. Over lunch we phoned with John, who told us that at Soroya people go trolling with cut-bait shads over 20-30 meter sandy spots for halibut, a plan worthwhile trying. We prepare the heavy gear. A 30 lbs rod with a 321 Penn reel and 50 lbs tracer braid, you never know if a “big-one” strikes. Whilst Bram gets the boat to trolling speed of 4-5 km/h, I see after 10 second a couple of profound “taps” on the tip of the rod. I reel in to inspect,  undoubtedly fish, a while later we see the culprit, as a small halibut grabbed the cut-bait.

 

 

Strengthened by this result we continue and catch a few 70 cm cod in this way. Further fishing around the island yields some cod, coalfish and wolffish, never knew that the latter also dwells on sandy spots.

 

Day 7, the final day

It’s Thursday, our last fishing day of the trip, we pick up the fishing where we left it yesterday, near the island. The large schools small coalfish are still at that spot; Bram snags one with a pilker that on the way op results in an over-bite by a cod. As it is the last day I decide to experiment a bit, remove the shad from the jig head and hook a small coalfish on the treble stinger hook. The little one has only spend 10 second at the bottom when an 80 cm cods arrest the little, unaware of the treble in its back. The trolling and live baiting show that there is plenty of scope to experiment with the cod fishing. At the top of the slope at 20 meters depth Bram hooks-up to a so-called kelp-cod. Living between the seaweed, the diet of shrimp results in a red-orange color. Beautiful.

 

 

We decide to go trolling once more, rod ready, boat at speed, it’s around 25 meters deep and I decide to give 30 meters of line. Now that is easy with tracer braid with alternating flame and moss green pieces each 75 cm. I count till 20 as the pieces of flame green come by, 18, 19, 20, I lift the lever on the reel, wham! What a take, guys, put the boat in neutral, we have fish on (within 10 seconds) A drill of exactly 30 meters shows that a massive 116cm cod took the cut-bait shad.

 

 

We continue trolling on another sandy spot that yielded a halibut two years ago as Ben catches a 70 cm cod on a 400 gram cut bait shad. It is almost like pike fishing, where the bait hardly can be big enough.

For the very last time we move to the Kaafjord corner, trying to help Bram to a bigger wolffish than he caught so-far. Ben, mister “in-first-out-last” throws in his bait, before we even have a steady drift. Whilst he thinks he is stuck to the bottom, it shows that the fixed point starts moving. How lucky can you be when a formidable 118cm cod appears at the surface. We have a varied catch, unfortunately not a big wolffish for Bram, as we go for our last supper to our house. We urge Ben (mister-last-out) to reel in as two second after he jokingly said “and now the big “wack” comes”, bang! A fish that immediately heads for the bottom grabbed his bait, yes indeed a halibut. We are convinced now that Ben has used all his fishing-luck in one week, no more meter-pike for him back home this year, Ben couldn’t care less.

 

We won’t cook our last supper ourselves and in the Lyngseidet metropolitan area that means the choice between a sausage at the petrol station and a hamburger-fries at the local supermarket, we decide for the latter, guess what, it tasted great. Back in the house, we pack everything that is not needed for the trip back and the very last fishing session, which is dedicated to getting Bram a big wolffish. We choose the 35 meter depth line at the opposite side of the fjord. We are hopeful for Bram, who is pumping a sizable fish to the surface, would it be? No it’s a big cusk that had us hope for a while. In a very pleasant evening, we have a very nice catch of wolffish. Near the island, which we visit for the very last time, I catch two very nice cod, but start to be unsure whether I enjoy the catch or regret the muscle that I really start to feel now. It’s after midnight, where Max shows to be the oldest and wisest: ‘Guys we reel in now, it has been enough’. Back home we take care of the last bits of Beerenburg and whisky and turn-in, the alarms are set for 5.30h. After cleaning the house and the final packing, Stein-Erik brings us to Tromsø. The whether is beautiful, as I stand on the bridge, looking back, the sad feeling of good-bye, but with the first spark of a new plan for the next timing lightening up.

 

 

 

Gr Roel, Bram, Ben & Max

 

 

 

 

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