may 20th -17; Rambling around
I have had so much fun up in the Lousy Creek system all late winter and spring, only the strongest wanderlust could make me go elsewhere.
And like always, it did.
First to the southernmost part of the area, where the landscape is more flat and as you would expect, so are the rivers. Rivers are slower, fish bigger and the forest is less dense, farmers and houses are more common. But diversity and contrasts are nice, and the abundance of different waters -all reachable by bike, is quite amazing.
Fish in the south are bigger of course and I caught some pretty nice fish, the surroundings however is a little of putting, at least in the places I have visited so far. It does not lack in the barbed wire department and even though we have the 'freedom to roam-act' you sometimes feel like your trespassing. Also, I never really trust cows.
No matter how nice contrasts are, I feel more at home where I do not have to worry about barbed wire and cousins with the same mother. So about a week ago I went to one of "blue lines on the map" and I was not disappointed.
It is a beautiful little streams coming down the mountainside and it holds brown trout as gorgeous as they make them. It is your typical plunge pool stream, and so far -no brookies. As much as I do love brookies, they ARE invasive. For a stream of this size, the average brown is surprisingly big, with 10'' fish quite common. It flows from a lake that used to be stocked with brook trout, but they never spread downstream it seems (I expect to find brookies in the tiny creeks flowing in to said lake), they seldom do. And this adds to my theory that where trout habitat is good, brookies have less chances of pushing brown trout away.
It is always very pleasing to catch a fish in the first spot you try, in a stream where you do not know what to expect. With some winter-time research on the internet I knew it had trout, at least ten years ago it did. But to see the line tighten on one of the first casts and bringing a nice brown to the net really warmed me, on an otherwise cold and rainy day.
I would say that, after having fly fished with western equipment and traditions, one of the hardest aspects of tenkara was coming to terms with the philosophy surrounding the flies.
It took some time to really get a grip of the minimalism of fly choice and design. What it really took was time on the water to understand that the minimalist practices of tenkara also works in the fly department. All of a sudden I was catching selective fish on size twelve purple kebari. It needs being repeated that tenkara evolved in high-gradient mountain streams where fish generally don't have the luxury of being picky. Yet, tenkara continues to evolve even in our time (with high angling pressure in many places) but the philosophy regarding flies remains the same with focus being on technique and presentation.
And here's where fly design comes in to play. Rather than me telling you, get out and experience the difference between manipulating a sekasa kebari (reversed hackle fly) compared to a "normally" hackled fly. The difference is more obvious in reality than in theory. That reversed hackle really serves as a anchor, and it helps sink the fly should you want it to, which is nice since I don't weight my flies or let anything else than the movement of the currents take my fly down.
I fish the sekasa kebari a lot, maybe half of my time on the water is spent with a sekasa. My other favorite is a style that has a lot in common with Stewarts spider patterns, where I use thick sewing thread in different colors wound through the hackle. This of course makes it very durable, a good thing since I rarely change flies when fishing, - a snagged tree or a bush usually sorts that out for me anyway.
The main philosophy, as in all other aspects of tenkara, is simplicity. What can you leave out next time?
Another thing I like doing is not bringing any flies at all. Only thread, hook and feather and tie streamside, ideally with feathers I find on my way to the water. But that's a different story.
Loving an Outlaw
Brook Trout in Sweden is quite an unwanted, and in many cases despised fish.
For good reasons, I hate to say. They're invasive and are occupying brown trout habitat (altough my personal studies actually balances that image a bit, but that's another story).
I got a call from a good friend, a river protector and conservationist, some weeks ago and he asked me what I doing. Told him I was up in Lousy Creek catching brookies.
"- What do you do with those? You throw them up into the woods?", he asked.
To people living where brook trout are a native species, that question hopefully sounds very alien.
But to a swede it is a reasonable way to handle brook trout.
"-No I put them back.", I simply answered, knowing it was wrong and not even trying to explain.
And here's where I become a big hypocrite, whilst I do keep the odd brookie for eating, I put the vast majority back. There's nothing justifiying that, nor do I seek understanding from anyone about my behaviour.
If our grayling is 'the lady of the stream', brookies are 'the outlaws'. In some places pushing browns away and in other places living in habitats no other salmonidae would.
I love chasing them in tiny little creeks where no one else goes, in some ways that makes me feel a bit linked to them. And what sort of a fishing hike would it be if I kept piling dead fish along the shores? Not a very nice one.
They have given me so much joy and it wouldn't be very nice to return that favour with a massacre.
So I allow myself the hypocrisy, justifying it to no one else but me. No excuses.
april 3rd 2017: Spring is here..
..and it's time to get this blog section started.
I have spent the first few days of the season chasing brookies in upper Lousy Creek. Conditions have been, as you can expect of march in northern Scandinavia, cold and a bit schizo -with snow and sun. T-shirt mode and insulated jackets -all in the same day.
A nice number of brook trout have been caught and all is good. All times of the year has it's own benefits but catching the first few of the season, knowing everything is ahead of you, is very hard to beat.
Seeing nature as it's waking up is truly a privilege.