Journal of Dan T. Cook - Fly Fishing the Globe
Traveling 75,000 miles around the world in search of fish and friendship.
August 15, 2007 - Location: Taftea, Sweden
GPS: N63 44 06, E020 32 12
Greetings from Taftea, a small suburb of Umea. I've been doing a bit of traveling recently. I drove along the north coast road from Alta to Narvik, then south to Kiruna and Skelleftea. Norway is a land of exposed rocks..... all vegetation having been worn away by the elements. Sweden is much more treed and nearly all the water is tannic, although they say you can still drink it right out of the rivers.
Here are some of the highlights:
As I mentioned previously, Norway is rather expensive....... especially so if one is coming from Russia and Mongolia. Check these prices out:
Gallon of diesel: $7.20
You get the point. There is even a spot below a waterfall near Alta that costs $425 for 15 minutes of fishing! I'm not joking....... I saw the place. Apparently you are nearly guaranteed (not in writing, of course) of catching a great fish or two before your time is up.
I floated Zone 2 of the Borselv River after the last update. The crystal-clear Borselv flows through a beautiful valley and then squeezes through a gorge before emptying into the Barents Sea. Although no locals had heard of anyone floating down the river before, it seemed like the logical method to cover the most water. My trusty Norwegian guide and back country transporter Leif dropped me off at the start of the float and I agreed to see him back at his families' lodge in a couple of days.
It was a perfect day, the sun was shining and there was only a hint of breeze. As there still isn't any real "night" in this part of Norway in August, I wasn't in a hurry to go anywhere. Funnily, I met a couple of fishermen who said they were going to wait until the evening to begin fishing. I guess the fish wear watches because noon, 8pm and 4am all looked the same to me. Anyway, I found a perfect campsite along the river and settled in for a dinner of the Norwegian-version of Dinty-Moore beef stew.
The next day around 2pm I portaged the first section of the river gorge. I met a nice kid from Finland who was up fishing with his buddies. He kindly shared his chocolate cookies and I bid him farewell as I prepared for the last few kilometers. I immediately rounded the next corner and saw a set of nasty Category 3 rapids. Everyone I asked said there wasn't anything major remaining! I dug the paddle in to get to the safer right side but got caught on a rock and spun around. Now I was heading into the 5-6 drop-off going backwards. This was definitely not the preferred method. Then miraculously a submerged rock spun me around again and I was then heading forward. I braced for the drop, hit it perfectly and then..... BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM! Next thing I knew I'm swimming in the swift tail-out. Apparently the boat exploded upon impact with a jagged rock. I reached for the Mosquito, which was kept afloat by the secondary air chamber, and quickly grabbed one of the rods that was sliding out of the resulting mess of gear. I had the boat and rod in one hand, the paddle in the other and was kicking away trying to get to the right bank. Meanwhile my waders were filling up. After pulling everything onto the bank and investigating the 4 foot hole in my 8-foot boat I started laughing. It was rather humorous in an "I-can't-believe-I-didn't-die"-type of way.
A couple of nice fellas from Finland came up to check my status. As they were heading back to town to purchase new fishing licenses, they offered to lead me out of the canyon. So I fashioned a backpack by cramming everything in the big dry-bag and tying everything else to it. It weighed 80 lbs. at least! The trail out was 300 meters up to the road at about a 45% angle. Near the top my legs were shaking with fatigue and each baby-step I took was assisted by leaning on the paddle. What an ordeal!
For my next trick I drove an unimaginably rocky road into the headwaters of a small river near Lakselv. This "road" hadn't seen a full-size vehicle since the advent of the ATV. Then I hiked and fished downriver 7 hours. Hiking in this neck of the woods is excruciatingly difficult. The tundra is often soggy and rocky with undulating mounds of grass and dirt. It's a killer on the feet and shins. I found that the best thing to do is follow the reindeer paths. I caught about 100 fish.... all 6-8 inch Char and Brown trout that had never seen an artificial fly before. I reckon even Susan Rose back in Durango would have had a field day!
I'd like to thank Leif and his family in Borselv. They operate the uber-friendly Bungalaven Lodge (www.bungalaaven.com). Although I missed most of it, the Borselv is famous for its Atlantic salmon run, which occurs in late-June till late-July. Leif can point out all the great fishing spots and even transport you there on his ATV (vehicles aren't allowed in the back country). His Mom Venke cooks up incredible food and each evening is like a family get-together. It's a great place to meet other fisher-people too.
In Narvik, I found a nice pub and parked/camped on the street nearby. I met a dock worker who spoke pretty decent English despite having lost most of his teeth over the course of his 50 years. He was a huge Johnny Cash fan.....even admitted to crying like a baby when the "man in black" died. We talked about music, Elvis and just about every other tavern topic. It was a pleasant evening despite the $10 tap beers.
I arrived in Umea and was sitting in the town parking lot accessing a wireless network when a nice gent came up and said he was also a fly fisherman. We exchanged a few stories and thus I had a new friend. Leif Milling (www.leifmilling.se) is a professional photographer and fly fisherman of considerable renown. Leif has traveled throughout the world in pursuit of fish. He kindly pointed out some local places to fish for sea trout and sea pike. The next day I followed his directions and landed 3 nice pike.
Umea is a pleasant city with a small town feel to it. There are many sidewalk cafes, restaurants and live music flows from every direction in the evening. There are streets solely dedicated to bike and foot travel. I even attended a Toto concert last night! After the first 30 minutes I was surprised to learn the band spoke Swedish and the music sucked. Then someone informed me that it was just a local band opening for Toto. Hmmm....... seems like I need to get out more often. Toto was great, by the way. Remember "Rosanna," "Love isn't always on time" and "(the rains of) Africa?" Those were the days......... No, actually. THESE are the days! Can't really beat traveling the world, fly fishing and meeting great new people.
Hope everyone is enjoying their August. A big "hello" to Terry and Gayle Collier up in Dutch John, UT. Hope you are having a great season.