Working hard for or buying your catch?

Working hard for or buying your catch?

Bernd Ziesche | Wednesday, 17 June 2015

23 years ago I started fly fishing for Atlantic salmon on the river Gaula in Norway. Back then I was told that catching a salmon in the most famous pool of river Gaula – the “Gaulfossen” - would not be real salmon fishing. In fact it (the catch) would not count at all!

Early in the season (June) usually the water level in the river Gaula is very high due to snow melting up in the mountains near the upper river and the water temperature is pretty low. Just above the Gaulfossen-pool is a long stretch in which the water pressures its way thru a thin rocky canyon. Often hundreds (if not thousands) of large aggressive salmon are pausing in the Gaulfossen-pool waiting for the water pressure (level) to drop and the temperature to rise. If one (or both) happens most salmon will migrate further upstream. During those few days (in some years weeks) in which the salmon can’t (or don’t want to) pass the Gaulfossen, it’s almost a guarantee to get a serious number of large salmon striking every fly to be fished in that pool. No big deal to get a hook up (or many) every single day. Of course the fishing in that pool is (what most fly fishermen would call) very expensive!

I don’t know what exactly made a lot of salmon anglers at Gaula telling me the fishing in the Gaulfossen to be for stupid anglers only and that it (the fishing) would not have anything to do with what real (Norwegian) salmon fishing (often not catching a single fish within a week) was.

During the next 20 years I was told such kind of judgments at many rivers. There were always those fishing places being very expensive and mostly offering a significant increased chance of catching fish compared to other spots. Also I often was told that catching a salmon in those Russian (Kola Peninsula) rivers like Kharlovka would be worth nothing compared to catching a salmon in Norway. Well, fair to say: Kharlovka seems to support catching larger numbers compared to most Norwegian rivers. At the same time it’s pretty expensive to fish that river.

In my point of view there are many different kinds of fishing spots on most waters. Some seem to support us catching fish, while others seem to make it very hard to catch any fish. And yes, often the different spots mean different prices for the fishing licenses. Of course comparing one fishing water with another one often makes the differences even bigger - not only in salmon fishing that is.

How about you – are you having a personal limit what to pay for your fishing or an ethical limit, which to pass would make you feel like your catch would not count anymore or maybe wouldn’t satisfy you anymore?

Personally I indeed hit my ethical limit at the Gaulfossen-pool at Gaula river. Never I did and never I will fish that pool! It wouldn’t feel fair to me to fish such a spot where salmons can’t really move on and have to stop in incredible large numbers all in the same place. At the same time I never will think a Gaulfossen-caught salmon to count less. That - I think - every angler can only decide for him/herself!? In fact I love to talk to the guides working (and fishing too) at that pool, because they have perfect conditions to test a lot of different tactics. And for sure they all made me learn a hell lot about salmon fishing!

Besides the ethical limit I also have a price limit, which to pass makes me feel to have bought the catch (if it happens). What exactly the limit is, depends on the circumstances.

Anyway I love to work hard for my catch. And it was exactly that what I did for one and a half year now in order to catch a large pike perch on fly. Last week I did it!

Same great catch to all of you!

All my best


Some pictures of last week…

pike perch on fly