Journal of Dan T. Cook - Fly Fishing the Globe
Traveling 75,000 miles around the world in search of fish and friendship.
September 4, 2007: Dinslaken, Germany
Coordinates: N51 33 59 E006 43 03
Since the last update I have had some extraordinary fishing and traveling experiences. Here is a recap!
Before departing Umea I had the pleasure to spend an evening with Fredrik Sandstrom and his family at their house just outside of town. It seems that every Swede owns a beautiful house overlooking a lake and Fredrik is no exception. While Leif slaved in the kitchen, I enjoyed playing with Fredrik's children; Elena, Noah and Wilma. I was introduced to 'kubb,' a less deadly version of lawn darts whereby the goal of the game is to successfully knock over an opponents' row of wood bricks with wooden sticks. Of course, my team won because I am apparently a natural at kubb. A big thanks to Fredrik and his family for their hospitality and kindness during my stay in Umea!
Leif Milling described his hometown (more like a village) in such a way that I couldn't refuse his offer to take me there. He told me that the village, which recently celebrated its 250th anniversary, had not changed much since the days of his youth. The population of 60 had seen people come and go, the younger generations moved to the cities and how some returned in their later years. Despite the fact that he had moved away for a few years, Leif was still regarded as of the most popular sons of Gimdalen. He had always kept his roots there and had always returned to visit and recuperate from his busy life in the big city.
After meeting his son Mats and his family, we hiked 700 meters into the idyllic lakeside cabin which serves as his residence in Gimdalen. It was perfect….. the only structure on a long sandy beach. The lack of electricity was more than compensated by the fact that the only lights visible at night were those of the stars. I quickly dispatched my gear and settled into a lounge chair overlooking the pristine lake with a tasty, albeit slightly warm Carlsberg beer.
Over the next 5 days we established a pattern of rising early, drinking some coffee, then heading out onto the lake for some fishing. In the afternoon we'd head back to the cabin for lunch, then hike back out to the road and run errands, gather up more food and beer and mingle with the citizens of the village. It was a perfect way to experience the way life should be.
We dined with Mats and his family one night at the cabin. After dinner I gave Mats' son Johan a casting lesson. While showing him what the rod looks like when it is 'loaded,' the tip snapped off in my fingers. There was an moment of silence that seemed to last for minutes. Fortunately it wasn't my rod, rather one from a company that sponsors Leif. Another night we dined with Lars Olsson and his wife Jennifer. Lars, aside from being the other 'favorite son' of Gimdalen, is a well-known fly fishing author and the local river-keeper and guide. Jennifer is originally from Montana and has written a number of books on fly fishing herself. Funnily, during our lengthy dinner together I don't think the topic of fishing came up once.
Being a professional photographer, during our fishing forays Leif primarily took pictures and piloted the boat around the lake. The accompanying photos are all property of Leif Milling Productions. I'd like to thank Leif for his company, laughter and hospitality. Over the two weeks I spent with Leif we grew to be steadfast friends and we'll be meeting up a couple of more times during my travels. Thank you Leif!
Upon approaching Stockholm I phoned Leif's old friend and sometimes work colleague Lena Lindstrom-Reportage. Lena immediately arranged for some parking for the rig and invited me over for dinner. During dinner I learned that Lena had traveled throughout the world on various vacations and work duties. Travelers are like kindred spirits and she immediately invited me to hit the town with her and her friend Henrik. We headed to an open-air bar with a live band. The place was packed with people from all age groups. At some point I entered the dance floor with a pint of Carlsberg and, during a strenuous and tricky dance move, slammed my pint glass into my front tooth, causing a nice crack and chip. Or at least that is what I think happened. I don't actually remember the event, I just woke up in the morning with a mysterious snag on my tooth. Remind me to not to drink and dance! Later, Lena and I walked at least 12 kilometers as she gave me the walking tour of Stockholm. It is an elegant and beautiful city and I entertained thoughts of moving there someday.
After posing knee-deep in the most famous fountain in Stockholm pretending to fly fish at the request of Lena's friend and professional photographer Bo Bergman, I bid everyone (a crowd had gathered near the LandCruiser) goodbye and drove out of the city. I promised to return during Christmas time some year when the city becomes a spectacle of red, green and decorative lights.
I drove to Dinsaken to meet up with my friend Wolfhard Schulz. I had never met Wolfhard before, but as happens in the brotherhood of fly fisherman, we became friends over the internet 2.5 years ago after I sold him a Vom Hofe-style reel on Ebay. Wolfhard and his wife Barabra immediately invited him into their home as if I was a close family relative. Wolfhard is a teacher by profession and a cane rod and vintage reel builder by hobby. He is the type of person that, upon deciding to take up a new hobby, completely immerses himself in it so that within a short period of time becomes an authority on the subject. His rods are intricate and beautiful with workmanship that rivals the masters of the bygone era. His reels are meticulous and his work impressed a renown builder enough to agree to tutor Wolfhard in more advanced projects. Wolfhard's enthusiasm and skills result in unparalleled workmanship.
Wolfhard took me fishing at his secret spot the other day. It has to remain a secret because it is a true anomaly. Imagine a stream that holds a healthy, self-sustaining population of Rainbow and Brown trout located in the middle of one of the most industrialized areas of Germany. It is really ridiculous.......located less than 10 kms away is a Thyssen steel mill that covers 10 square miles with grotesque black factories, rail yards and enormous smokestacks. I'm surprised humans agree to live nearby, never mind trout! It was a nice day, I caught a couple of fat Rainbows. These fish must have ample food sources because they really should be put on a weight-loss program.
I would sincerely like to thank Wolfhard and Barabra for their tremendous generosity and hospitality. I'd also like to thank the office of Stephan Schmitz dentistry for expertly fixing my tooth and making my smile all purdy again!
Tomorrow morning I will leave on a train bound for Rzeszow, Poland to fish the nearby rivers. After that, I'll move onto the Salzberg, Austria area. For these next 3 weeks I will eschew the LandCruiser and trailer and travel backpacker-style. It should be a pleasant change and I'm looking forward to exploring the little-known fisheries in Poland. Even the local German fly fishermen don't know anything about it. Should be interesting.
Thank you to all the people that have helped me along the way. A big 'hello' to everyone back home. Thank you for all your support!