“Why can’t I cast this Clouser?”- is a question I often get. “I am using the #8 rod and #8 line, and I have no control over it.” The misbehaving Clouser usually has big lead eyes and is very heavy. We all have experienced this problem at varying stages of our development.
The way to analyze the situation is first to –
Consider the equipment
The line weight must match the fly’s mass. So, it follows that the line could simply be too light (Occam‘s razor). The shape of the fly line especially the front taper. The key point is that any fly that resists moving because it is either heavy and/or very wind resistant requires a significant “pull“. The best way to achieve that is with a heavy line. The front taper must be powerful (short and/or heavy tip) to maintain as much energy as possible to have the necessary oomph to turn over a heavy fly.
The leader‘s butt end needs to be thick enough (more mass). The length of the leader could be too long and often is. The leader needs to be massive and short enough to turn over a heavy fly. If the leader is too long there is insufficient energy left in the leader to turn over that fly. So, a shorter leader is better suited to turn over a heavy fly.
Because of its mass, the heavy fly’s residual momentum will be substantial when cast with the standard technique. So, it will kick with a hard stop. Its momentum causes it to bounce, and now it becomes very difficult to impossible to fashion a straight backcast. Thus, slack is introduced and control over the line is lost, and it becomes very difficult to cast a line with a lot of slack in it. The rod doesn’t load properly, the line doesn’t accelerate because it isn’t straight. When there is a heavy fly at the end of the leader all problems multiply. When a casting stroke starts the line/leader must be as straight as possible.
By avoiding the stop we can prevent the kick. We do this by using an oval path for the fly on the backcast and maintaining constant tension on the fly. Now, we swing the fly back horizontally and instead of casting straight back, we bring the rod tip up, thus swinging the fly upwards, and then commence the forward cast. This cast is called the Belgian cast.
https://everyjonahhasawhale.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/focus.jpg00Jonas Magnussonhttps://everyjonahhasawhale.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/FFI_9846_Logo®_Casting_Instructor_CMYK-600x476.jpgJonas Magnusson2022-08-18 12:45:552023-02-28 12:00:18CASTING A HEAVY FLY
I was recently fishing the flats of South Andros. Megan Nellen, an angler in our group, was relatively new to the sport, and she was asking all the right questions. We fished together for a day. As she took the bow of our boat, I noticed her ready position was suboptimal but still had a lot of positives.
I gave her some pointers that seemed to work well for her.
This got me thinking – what is the ready position in essence? I like to deconstruct problems into their constituent parts, i.e. simplify them. After some rumination, I like to present this as ….
The length of the fly line outside the tiptop needs to be enough to load the rod quickly, but not so much that it gets into the motor or poling staff or under the boat if dragged boat side. The iron rule is – if it can snag it will. The angler wants as much line out of the rod as safely possible, which reduces the time to the first delivery.
The fly must be controlled by holding it by the bend of the hook (or by the leader just proximal to it).
The line must be controlled by the line hand.
Any method that satisfies these 3 points will work. The fly can of course be held by either hand. There are several methods described on the web – I like some and others not so much.
The one that works best for me and is simplest, I think, is – about 15’ of the line outside tiptop – holding the fly by hook bend in rod hand (thumb – index) – line hand holds line ca 2’ from the stripping guide. Sweep the rod away from the fish and let go of the fly. For casts with fish inside 35,’ I have enough to get there without slipping or shooting line. Then if more line needs to be aerialized I can make one forward and one back cast slipping both ways and then shoot more line.
The line stacks. Between the rod hand and the reel, there needs to be a line in the cockpit that is stacked correctly – so the line close to the line hand is on top of the pile.
Pull off the reel, the length of line that you can cast, and place it in the cockpit of the boat. The line you can’t cast only increases the risk of tangles, so it stays on the reel. Now the line stack has the line shooting first on the bottom, a surefire recipe for tangles and grief. Cast that line out and retrieve, now your line is stacked correctly and is ready.
Starting fly casters are taught to false cast on grass and the casts will be parallel to the ground. But casting parallel to the ground when fishing is an unforced error. When casting straight, the line and the leader will turn over several feet above the surface. It will take the fly time to drop to the water giving the wind time to mess with the presentation.
I noticed at a club meeting when we were doing accuracy that the back casts usually weren‘t high enough.
When you aim at a spot on the water’s surface the trajectory will become downward towards that spot. Because the back cast needs to be 180 degrees opposite to the forward cast for an efficient straight cast it follows that the back cast must be upwards.
Therefore the whole trajectory must be straight (180-degree rule obeyed). So, now the cast must look like this.
So, pick a spot on the water where you intend to place your fly. Now, drive the fly line straight to that point and try to straighten your fly line and leader just inches above that point. Now, the wind has much less room to screw up your cast.
At the Suncoast Club’s casting clinic there was a caster (right-handed) who asked – “Why does my fly line hook to the left at the end of my casts, instead of laying out straight?” A kindred southpaw will hook right of course.
This one is a recurrent error. I have suffered from the same malaise. But this one is also rather easy to cure. For any successful cure though the diagnosis must be spot on.
Why? This error happens if the tracking isn’t straight.
How? On the backcast – the caster doesn’t throw the line straight behind, but well to the left of the caster, as you can see in the diagram.
That happens when the caster opens the wrist way too much in the horizontal plane and sends the line in a great big curve back, thus violating the 180-degree rule. On the forward cast even if the line is reasonably straight it will hook to the left.
The cure – pick your target on the backcast. Aim for something (a tree – an island – anything) that is behind you and cast straight back. One way to practice this is to lay out a rope (any line will do) on the ground in the position of the A-B line on the drawing. Deliver some backcasts and see where the line lands. If left off the line – adjustment is needed. In the picture, A-B is the straight track casting line, so never let your line cross that line. On the forward cast, you don’t cross the A-B line, if you do the line will hook left. On the back-cast look at your reel, if the side plates aren’t vertical, you are not tracking straight. So, the cure is – to pick your targets and be sure that the rod tip is traveling straight. When you do – voila – the line lays out straight.
If I can only give one piece of advice – here goes – WATCH YOUR BACKCASTS. If I go Yogi Berra on you – “You can learn a lot by just watching.”
However, there are situations when you want the line to curve at presentation. And you are right – those are the curve casts!”
The wind is light and the sun is shining and I am floating across a gorgeous flat in South Andros. I am in the ready position on the bow of the skiff and the guide spots a big bonefish. It always is a big fish but this one was huge – when it tailed we thought it was a sailboat. The sun was right – the wind was right – what could go wrong? My cast was perfect – I led the fish correctly (got the fly across the fish’s projected path) and bumped it into his field of vision when the guide said “strip it once” and the fish took the fly immediately and instantly bolted. I cleared the line and raised the rod tip a tad to cushion the line/leader when the line was pulled tight. You know where this is going eh? Yes, you do ……. the leader to tippet knot snapped instantly with a bang. This is a moment when adult diapers could be useful but I managed not to disgrace myself. Would you believe me if I told you that this happened twice the same morning?
Tackle failure; In both instances, it was the leader-to-tippet connection that failed. This has not happened to me before so I tied some more leader tippet connections and Capt. Baz snapped them easily. This will happen when the knots aren‘t pulled tight and I mean tight. As we glide down the razor blade of life our muscle strength diminishes. Years back I broke my right underarm (so-called Galeazzi fracture). It got fixed with a plate and screws but after that, I had a bit less sensation in the pad of my right thumb. Then onto the arthritis of the base joint of the same finger that led to an operation where the joint and the trapezium bone is just removed plus some fancy tendon plastic. All this wear and tear has left me with a weakened thumb. Now I must wrap the leader and tippet around my hands to be able to pull those knots tight enough. When I redid my knots this way the connection held. Capt. Baz helped me with this diagnostic work and remedy and even donated leather gloves to the cause of protecting my hands. After discovering this issue I did not have any breakage. Needless to say that the fish snapping the leader to tippet connection was much bigger than the eight-pounder I finally caught.
It is easy to get to Mars Bay and we left from Ft. Lauderdale flying straight to Congo Town on South Andros.
There it is – the landing strip of the Congo Town airport. At last, we were able to make this long-awaited trip to Andros. This trip was slated for the year 2020 but understandably got moved to 2021. There were some basic requirements – you must be vaccinated – you must provide a negative Covid test – and before departure home, you must have a negative Covid test. All reasonable and easy to comply with.
We touched down in Congo Town uneventfully but as we taxied to the terminal I spotted this plane. Looks to be a rough landing right there but one you can walk away from – the basic requirement in my book. So, no biggie.
After clearing customs and a half-hour taxi ride south on The King’s Highway from Congo Town we arrived at Mars Bay Bonefish Lodge run by Bill Howard.
The two stories house is being finished and the pink one is the kitchen and dining area plus three bedrooms. There is another guest house similar to this one on the premises. The accommodation was great. Rooms and beds were spotless and the food was excellent and interactions with staff were outstanding. Now, I must point out that it must be a challenge to run an operation like this where everything must be imported. However, the schedule ran without a hitch and there were no hiccups along the way. One day we got blown off the water by thunderstorms and wind but the weather is not under anyone’s control and we expected one storm day frankly.
The sunrise was spectacular from the porch while enjoying your morning coffee.
Breakfast was at 7 am and then guides picked us up at 7.30 am and we fished until 4 pm. This is hard work and lunch was packed and needed. After toiling on the flats an afternoon beer or wine is just what the doctor ordered and provided. Dinner is served at 7 pm and then you pretty much are out.
For me, the excitement is the speed of those fish. There are a lot of moving parts to bone-fishing which I have covered in a previous blog.
The single most important determinant of your success is your cast. You must be able to double haul and get the line out to more than 50-60’. Sure fish are caught closer to the boat but to be able to cast 40’ in a moving boat with the wind in your face requires that minimal skill set. You can buy a rod and a reel but you can’t buy a cast. Don’t go bonefishing until you have learned to cast properly is my advice.
All the anglers in our group caught fish and a lot of them – big and small. Simply put the fishing was outrageous.
Captain Baz with a big one (he always catches a big one but not necessarily the biggest one).
That distinction goes to Hutch. This one is estimated at 11 pounds.
I find the mangroves fascinating. The fish swim into those thickets on the high tide to forage. If you hook one and it decides to go there you are simply toasted. So, man up – max drag and apply maximal pressure. That can break off a fish, but you have a chance, but none if it gets in there. The big ones get big because they do just that. This was a recurrent scream “Fish on – oh f… heading for the mangroves!”…………
Then there is that – the fly line eating mangrove. It is a law of nature that a mangrove anywhere in the vicinity of your cast will catch your fly line. We were on a big flat with one tiny mangrove – point proven. Note the numbers on the gunwale. The number twelve is straight ahead and then – one – two – three on the starboard side. The guides give the caster instructions by saying “nine o’clock 60 feet” etc. Or “point one o’clock come right – see the fish?” and when you do spot the fish you cast. It does not work well for me to cast without having seen the fish. The guides are higher up on their poling platform and can spot the fish better (and they do this day in day out) and become so attuned that they can spot them one hundred or more feet out (sometimes even before they materialize).
But Greg redeemed himself repeatedly later that day.
A lone bonefish can be maddeningly difficult to spot but sometimes you find these big schools of fish and suddenly you can see them clearly. At the outset, I caught some fish from a school like that but after a while it got old. It is much more rewarding to me to find lone fish that are usually bigger but it is also a lot harder.
The flats we fished seemed to be endless and there were mangrove mazes you could pole into like this one. It took us two hours to thread ourselves through that particular maze.
It is a good strategy to be on the flats adjacent to the mangroves and especially if there is a bit deeper channel into the mangroves. The bonefish will usually return to and from the flat through these deeper channels. You need to be observant because we can be talking about very subtle depth differences. The bonefish in the video below was caught applying that strategy. You position yourself for an ambush and then you wait. The bonefish go into the mangroves on the high tide and must leave when the tide falls. I like better to catch a few big fish than a lot of small ones.
In the video Capt. Baz unhooks the fish without touching its body. The bonefish have this mucus around them that can be scraped off leaving them vulnerable to the sharks and there is a lot of sharks around. Notice that after the fish is freed it swims close to the boat for a while before departing.
On the flight home from Andros, the line “I would trade all of my tomorrows for a single yesterday” of bonefishing like that got some serious rumination. I decided against it – I will just go there again and again.
https://everyjonahhasawhale.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/6F7DC789-6228-4CEA-8F10-E20E37617FED_1_105_c.jpeg7681024Jonas Magnussonhttps://everyjonahhasawhale.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/FFI_9846_Logo®_Casting_Instructor_CMYK-600x476.jpgJonas Magnusson2021-11-30 12:00:182023-02-21 12:10:36Bonefishing from the Mars Bay Lodge – south Andros
In a previous post I covered this river – see below. The current post deals exclusively with the two uppermost fishing spots – i.e. the Réttarfoss pool and the Réttarstrengur run.
The crew for this trip was my fishing partner and friend Sibbi – https://everyjonahhasawhale.com/?p=1783 – and Hilmar Konráðsson, with whom I had not fished before – but I will gladly fish with again. Then there was my American friend and traveling companion Odell Mullis in the role of photographer. His job was the hardest – fingers freezing – electronics sluggish, and rain constantly splattering the lens.
The salmon in Hrútafjarðará can get up to Réttarfoss, but can’t jump that waterfall. Therefore, the pool below the waterfall invariably holds numerous fish at the tail end of the season. However, it is awkward to fish, and casting in the canyon can be problematic. The position taken by most anglers is close to the middle of the outflow from the pool. That is not an ideal position. You get too close to the fish to my liking, and you are practically on top of some of them. This violates two of my fly fishing tenets: no unnecessary wading and don’t get too close to the fish.
We were fishing there in late August ’19, and the conditions were challenging. Just a few degrees above freezing, and wind was barreling up the canyons from the north, and the blessed rain was there too, and there was a lot of both. The amount of water flowing was quite a bit over the average. No fun wading in those conditions.
By tiptoeing close to the black basaltic rocks to the position you see on the photograph above, we were in a relatively concealed position to cast over the outflow tract of the pool. However, the fly was not going to move across the water in a way we like it to do. After some rumination Sibbi says “let’s try a hitching tube here, and just strip it across the outflow.” This is why I love this guy – he is always ready to try something unconventional. The salmon loved this, too, and we had great fun for a while with multiple salmon striking the flies, and there were some takes and then some salmon landed. (It is called hitching when the fly is riding the surface and a V shaped disturbance on the surface forms – see video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0TYgn_oO2Q )
The current is usually sufficient to make this happen, but by stripping the fly we made it go faster than the current, thus making the V on the surface. This strategy saved the day for us and will certainly be tried again. This is a very good reminder not to get stuck in some routine. If your approach does not work, try something else. It really does not matter how you don’t catch fish – does it?
After leaving the Réttarfoss pool the river flows over some rocks, and is shallow and spread out with no channel. At the rock formation – seen clearly in the third picture below – the river forms a channel, Réttarstrengur, that is pushed up against the west canyon wall. The salmon will be there from the run’s beginning, and can be found for 100 meters (more or less depending on the amount of water). There are always salmon there – you may not catch them, but they are there. We take great care not to get too close (no wading there), instead we use longer casts, and the fly must be delivered on the opposite side of the current for best results. Then you pull it into the current and now you mend. Small flies are our choice there. Take care to cast with quite a sharp angle not more than 45 degrees to insure the fly swings first over the fish – not the line then the fly. To do that you need longer casts as you do not want to wade or get close to the channel. Make an effort to keep the line and leader straight, that way the fly is fishing from the get-go. For the Icelandic crowd – see the excellent book Af Flugum, Löxum og Mönnum by Sigurður Héðinn a.k.a. Haugurinn page 72 on Smáflugur. Réttarstrengur is without doubt one of the premium runs in Icelandic salmon rivers.
You really should practice before your fishing trips, preferably with a casting instructor. I have witnessed multiple times anglers in expensive rivers with no cast at all. It is a mystery to me why anyone buys those costly permits, and shows up with no cast. Most anglers I come across in salmon rivers would do well to take some lessons. When you are riverside it is too late to learn how to cast.
This is how far away from the river’s edge we like to be. There is no sense in getting closer if we can cast over the run with a sharp angle from where we are at. By and large anglers wade too close and also too deep. If you get too close – the fish see you, and it is game over. If you wade too deep you lose height and your cast suffers.
Sibbi keeps his distance and is rewarded with a beautiful salmon.
Subsequently released into the river.
Odell and Hilmar seeking shelter from the wind, cold and rain.
https://everyjonahhasawhale.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/IceFishFalls-Jonas-1-scaled.jpg15622560Jonas Magnussonhttps://everyjonahhasawhale.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/FFI_9846_Logo®_Casting_Instructor_CMYK-600x476.jpgJonas Magnusson2020-01-16 15:46:582023-02-21 12:14:39Réttarfoss and Réttarstrengur in Hrútafjarðará
I moved to the Florida Panhandle ten years ago, and when it was time to go fishing I found Baz’s website, and off we went. I was into fish on my second cast, so all the jitters were settled quickly. After the trip I paid my bill, but I was unaware of the tipping culture. Sorry Baz, you are never getting that money. Baz and I were on insulting terms from the get-go and have since made countless fishing trips together and have since become friends. Baz has a keen sense of humor which is required when dealing with me.
I had learned a little bit about fishing in the salt living in Corpus Christi for two years. Since I moved here, Baz has taught me all I know about fly fishing the salt. Which rod to use – fly lines – leaders – knots – flies – the whole shebang. And how to catch the different species of fish found here, etc. The tidal movement is an issue too. It has been a tremendously rewarding apprenticeship for which I am grateful. I can now do most of what is required, except I don’t see the fish in the water as well as he does. Sometimes he sees fish that don’t know they are there. He is like a pointer, I swear, but curiously sticks his rear end out a bit when he spots a fish. When beginners look for fish in the water, they have a mental image of a fish and expect to see something like that in the water. Forget that and look for a dark moving spot, sometimes you only see the shadow of the fish. Dark spots that do not move alas will be stones or vegetation.
I can emphatically say that Baz is my saltwater muse. At first I was not able to deal with the conditions here casting wise. The wind was an issue and the boat movement was troublesome when casting. So, I had to go and learn how to cast properly. That done, Baz was pleased with the outcome and now prodded me to become a casting instructor – so I did. I have derived a great deal of pleasure from teaching fly casting. There is some truth in “if you want to learn something – teach it.”
We have fished from boats out in the Gulf and in Pensacola Bay. We have fished the flats from the boat where poling is required. Baz has even started teaching me how to pole a skiff. That is not a task to be undertaken lightly. On top of that he has introduced me to bonefish in the Bahamas. I am not sure I should thank him for that because it is going to be a seriously costly addiction for sure.
Our latest endeavor is to wade the flats around here and then cast to the fish we spot. We go minimalistic – light tackle – couple of flies – skinny wading (water still is 75-80F). Most commonly we are after redfish and to have a chance of catching them you must move very slowly. Just creep along the flat and be on the lookout for dark spots that move. Baz has taught me to pay attention to the position of the sun. Mostly have it behind you – sometimes it works sideways but never into the sun. The glare from the surface just makes it impossible to spot fish.
10/21/19 we went wadefishing for a couple of hours. When we had covered some 200 yards of flat and seen some reds, but mostly too late, they were already wise to our presence. Having gotten a few hits but no serious takes and we called it a day. I was ready to go but Baz was in the process of winding up his line when we see a black drum come cruising in 2′ of water about 3′ from the water’s edge. Even I saw it clearly. The fish was just in front of us, and Baz lobs out the small Clouser just for fun. The drum just ate the fly and off it went. Black Drum are very difficult to catch on the fly. The fly needs to be put just in front of their noses, and then they might take it, but mostly don’t. They are bottom feeders.
https://everyjonahhasawhale.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/F6190B91-5373-4609-8394-F56C7A849004_1_105_c.jpeg7671024Jonas Magnussonhttps://everyjonahhasawhale.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/FFI_9846_Logo®_Casting_Instructor_CMYK-600x476.jpgJonas Magnusson2019-10-24 07:18:522023-02-21 12:11:20Capt. Baz does it again!
Hrútafjarðará (á – river/stream) is a two hour drive north from Reykjavík. The lodge there is one of the nicest in Iceland with self catering. The river is fished by 3 rods and is fly only. Most of the pools are easily accessible by any car. For the upper parts of the river some walking down into the gullies is required, but nothing too strenuous. For over 20 years the river was leased by R.N. Stewart, author of Salmon Rivers of Iceland.
Réttarfoss – Salmon cannot navigate this one
His description is spot on – “The Hrútafjarðará from the Réttarfoss north, is a delightful mixture of rocky gorges, open flat pools, swirly pools, fast runs, still pools and then opening out for the last two miles into a flat plain of gravel and pastures with several excellent pools until it reaches the long narrow fiord leading to the Arctic Ocean.” The catchment area for the river and its tributary Síká is 367 km². This river system is fed by a myriad of rivulets coming together (a spate river), and as such the water levels will fall and rise in harmony with the local rains. Each river has a waterfall in its course stopping the salmon’s ascent. Hrútafjarðará has 9 km of bank length and Síká 3 km. The rivers have 42 named pools and between 200 to 700 salmon per year are caught there.
Síká fishing map
Fishing map III. Highest part of river
Fishing map II. Middle part
Fishing map I. Lowest part
From Réttarfoss (foss – waterfall) the river flows straight north through rocky gorges. The pools and holding places do not change in this part but the water level does. The salmon will concentrate in the deeper pools during a drought, and spread out when there is more water. The pools between the old main road bridge and the ocean course through gravel beds, and here the channels and holding places are at the whim of the water and the flow.
Trophy arctic char – from the lower part
The gravelly river part also holds some trophy sized sea-run char. The lowest part is tidal, and during high tide that is the place to be. I love catching the arctic char whenever I can find them. The trophy char are every bit as strong as the salmon and fight hard. Síká is similar to the main river but smaller, with the stream coursing through a rocky gorge for most of its length. Síká joins the main river about 1 km from the sea. On this trip we did not fish the Síká because of low water.
#14 – #16 Salmon flies that work
Now for the fishing – it was just phenomenal! The river is gin-clear and is just perfect for the tiny flies that we like to use. When you swing those, the takes are exciting (beginners will experience rectal spasms). In addition to those we mostly used small unweighted black tubes. There were salmon in all parts of the river, and they were duly caught. There are maybe 1-2 pools where something heavy is useful.
Gosi with his first salmon
In Iceland we call the first salmon a person catches his/her “María salmon,” and that salmon will stay with you forever. One such salmon was caught by master Gosi (his nickname – Pinocchio!). His father calls him that, and everybody falls in line (Johny Cash´s “A boy named Sue” comes to mind?), his real name is forgotten even by his kin, but his smile is infectious and well earned……..
Gosi with his first salmon
…. before he realized that tradition dictates that he eats its adipose fin. This is an ironclad rule in Icelandic angling circles.
Réttarstrengur – upper part
The pool Réttarstrengur is a long chute, and the salmon are stacked up under the hill in a long line. If they just stay put it is very hard to spot them, but they are there. Then they give the game away by jumping, and we duly note that.
Salmon – upper part
This one moved in the current at the top of the pool, giving his position away, and Sibbi caught him.
From the middle part
From the middle part
From the middle part
Fish on – from the middle part (broke off)
Salmon – from the middle part
Fish on – from the middle part
The middle part pools are just incredible – the scenery – the solitude and the clear water makes for an unforgettable experience.
Sibbi fishing the Sírus pool
The pool Sírus is magnificent but did not produce this time. Note how Sibbi is using the rock to be invisible to the fish.
The flat gravelly part from the lodge
Fish on – lower part
Salmon – lower part
Lowest part – gravel bed
In the valley bottom the river courses through gravel, and the pools are constantly changing. Here in addition to the salmon you can find the arctic char. In the open you will have to contend with the wind, but in the gorges the wind is not a problem.
This river is just a wonderful place place, and I will always welcome the opportunity to return.
is a long glacial river running north that has been dammed for hydroelectric power. That turned the river into a major salmon river. The resident salmon is very compact, and has a big tail. I like to smoke the few salmon I harvest. The gentleman running the smoking business can easily peg the salmon from Blanda because of those characteristics. The dam was constructed, and the river was directed into a new channel to the intake of the power plant. This picture explains it neatly.
Blanda IV and how it became gin clear
The dam was built in a good area for a reservoir. The Blanda Reservoir has a live storage capacity of 412 Gl and is the third-largest lake in Iceland. The water is diverted through diversion canals and lakes on a 25 km long route to the station’s intake reservoir. From the intake reservoir, water runs through a 1300 m long canal to the station’s intake, where it is diverted to the turbines in the powerhouse. The drop to the turbines from the harnessed head is 287 m. From the turbines, the water is lead through a 1700 m tailrace tunnel back into the river channel.
Where the glacial and clear water meet
During summer, when water is stored in the reservoir (the silt accumulates there), the glacial part of Blanda became much clearer and fishable, and thus becomes a major addition to our to our salmon river menu. Blanda IV now is a clear water river that forms as rivulet fed stream. The surrounding landscape is igneous rock and volcanic soil. Water just disappears into the ground when it rains, and reappears as rivulets that that little by little form the river, which is clear as gin. I think this type of a river in Scotland is called a spate river, which has no fixed flow. Rain will make it grow, and then the surface falls again. And during long periods of drought the surface is very low. Now you will have big deep pools here and there, and the water just trickles between them. If you see the river like that it is hard to understand how the big fish got into the pools. However, when the water fills the reservoir, glacial water will make fishing impossible in all the Blanda beats.
Blanda IV fishing map
Just a glance of the map will tell you that this is going to be a river in a deep V valley. This cannot be a river in an U-shaped valley. The giveaway is its relative straight course, where it has cut a gorge into the rock formations.
Blanda IV gorge
A lady at the center of previous picture. She is trying to spot salmon in the pool below.
These two pictures give a good idea how steep and deep the gorge is. These next pictures tell the story.
To get to the truck you cross a river
On my way
No son, you go down there
However, this is a very majestic place. The pools are exquisite in the rugged barren landscape.
The pool Krókur high on the mountain
The pool Breiðan
The lowest pools are easily accessible but for the rest of the river one needs to be in shape. Probably the best/most enjoyable way to fish this river is to drop the angler/anglers at the very top pool Rugludalshylur. From the road to this pool there is a half an hour walk. Then it is possible to hike down river and fish the various pools en route to civilization.
My friends Skúli and Rossi enjoying a break
Skúli and Rossi opted for the lowest pools only and enjoyed their time with the beer. The cars you need are definitely of the SUV persuasion.
A glorified tackle box
This one is great for the job. It is built like a tank and can get you anywhere. The only thing that does not currently work is the air conditioning. Do not worry the country is air conditioned. Notice how we transport the rods. Suction cups fasten the rod holders securely to the car.
Now for the fishing – it was great. The pools are small, and the river is clear. Stay away from the water´s edge and lengthen your cast instead. We like to stay 15-20 feet from the pool edges. Of course our lines will sometimes be on the ground, but we counteract that by using a bit longer rods. Sibbi was using a ten footer #7, and I was using a eleven footer #5 that can double as a two handed rod. Anything big has no place in this part of Blanda. We start by using the small flies and
#14 – #16 Salmon flies that work
if that does not elicit a response we might try small light tubes. When all else fails, out comes the Sunray Shadow tube, and as a rule it will get the salmon moving. Only once did I throw a slightly weighted tube. Be advised – the rocks in this river are treacherously slippery. I had my wading boots fitted out with metal studs and I slipped at least 3 times. I have no idea why the stones are so damn slippery but trust me they are. For the usual fishing porn – see below.
Went fishing with my friend Baz who is a fly fishing guide (http://www.gulfbreezeguideservice.com) in late September. No clouds and a light northerly wind. This always makes a trip to the Gulf enticing. We went out through the Pensacola Pass and turned west. The Gulf can be flat in such a wind and it was. Close to the beach there tend to be deeper pockets of water with a channel to its southwest. These pockets can be around football field size. We were using Baz’s flats skiff and just beached the boat.
On first sandbar casting into the first trough
Just jumped in and waded barefooted in the warm water. Then we saw that each of those pockets held a school of Bluefish. They tend to be cooperative, so we opted for a small white popper because surface takes are spectacular. We had 5 rods strung up and ready but as it turned out we only used one rod and only the one popper (we have hundreds of flies) and took turns casting. We use a short multi-strand wire because of the Blue’s sharp teeth.
Bluefish on beach ready to be released
We caught the Blues by sharp short strips and then we paused for a moment to give them a chance to grab the fly. They attacked it from the side and half out of the water they turned down and tore into it. I strip strike meaning I keep the rod down and give a sharp pull with the line hand then I raise the rod. It was just wonderful to be out there witnessing these takes. After a while we had a snack and as we were relaxing a Bald Eagle circle above us and higher up another one. It was just a perfect end to a great morning of fishing.