Big Salmon on the Alta
The most amazing night of my fishing life had come on day three of the trip, however, possibly not for scenery and sheer majesty of Steinfossen and the canyon, but for a taste and extreme helping of what Alta has to offer, day 5 was to be our day.
If Carlsberg did fishing evenings, this would certainly be it!
The evening begun with Andy fishing Shortsplassen, a fantastic piece of fly water with character similar to that too the lower Spey. Not 5 minutes into the pool and the line tightened with what turned out to be an “Alta Normal”, or fish of around 26lbs!! Incredible as it sounds, this “is” Normal! A sea liced specimen made us think more would be around, and we were to be right as this fish was a bonus, we hadn’t even got to the best part of the pool. Around 15 minutes of fishing this best part ended with a strong pull followed by an incredible fight from another Alta Normal, my god, two 25pounders on the trot! Does it get any better than that? Well, a mighty yes was to to be the answer.
A great fish from Shortsplassen.
Moving down stream to Akergjerdet, we were now in Andy’s favourite pool, a place of many encounters with big fish over his 20 years of fishing Alta. The pool is a wide one with very even flow, perfect for fishing a long line which is exactly what the guides had me do. Again, 15 minutes of fishing saw a fish come right to the surface, taking my fly like a sedge from the surface, what happened next, well, I’d latched onto my heaviest fish of the trip. The sheer power of this beast was amazing, it cart-wheeled for the first time and the guide said, “bigger fish”! During the first part of the fight, this fish wanted to be out of the water more than in then came phase two, he decided to stay deep and bore, using both his incredible strength and strong current to get as much distance between him and me. However, I had changed from the hardy perfect to the Fortuna reel, something which, on one hand, because the perfect makes a really nice noise, the guides didn’t much like, whilst on the other hand, the Fortuna had a far superior drag system, I have to say, playing this big fish with the Zephrus Rod and Fortuna reel gave me perfect control and made playing this ultra-strong fish a real pleasure. Eventually after a series of wonderful runs and heart stopping moments, the fish began to tire, which was nice as I was doing the same myself. My heart raced as the fish came to the net, “take your time” I could hear both Andy and Paul saying, you have plenty time., but all I wanted was the fish in! “Time,,, you have lots of time” said Andy. In the excitement of the moment I felt like a novice, Like so many people I have advised over the years, not listening, simply trapped in the headlights of the moment. Eventually, with the fish now on its side, I could see Brynjar move toward it with purpose, it sailed into the net without issue and was mine. A personal best of 30lb. To say I was happy was an understatement as this was the most incredible fight from a fish ever and to get this in one of Andy’s favourite pools was also great as we both now have an affinity with the place.
Me with my personal best salmon of 30lbs.
Would we fish the pool or not again? Our boatman, Paul had seen a fish and thought we should, something which turned out to be a great and inspired call.
Andy Majerus with what was to turn out to be a 43 pound salmon
Five minutes after starting Andy’s line tightened and almost simultaneously, both Paul and Andy shout, Big fish, “I think we have a hold of something here”! My god, were they right or what! The fish pulled so hard on the line, initially moving upstream and jumping, “BIG FISH” exclaimed Paul. What happened next is best left to the video below but let’s just say, the most epic 50 minutes of my fishing life had begun. Cutting the long story short, after a 400meter journey downstream to the next pool, the fish, a mighty 43pounder was landed. What really opened my eyes about this event was how patient both rod and guides were, not caught up in the excitement of the moment they dealt with everything really well. From making the conscious decision to shorten the line and guiding the boat down the rapid, to hunting out exactly the right spot to tame the giant beast, everything was carried out with methodical efficiency.
Brynjar and Paul Kristian Olaussen. Great knowledge of the river and how to fish it.
I cannot tell you how excited We all were. It was massive! After the customary dram with the boatmen it was back to the top and the lodge.
One thing about hooking and playing such big fish is that during an 8 hour session you don’t have time to catch too many more, so powerful are those giant fish.
On return we found out Don had a personal best of 34 and Christer an incredible PB of 47.5lbs. I cannot tell you about the mood in the camp. Totally awesome!
Our final days fishing saw us fishing Bollo, Gonges (locally known as the bus stop) and Randihollen.
Randihollen – 20 casts, but 20 good ones.
First stop was the bus stop where I fished, hooking and losing an Alta Normal, or fish of around 25lbs which took us down though the Rapids but came off just as we came ashore to land it.
The bus stop, a nice wee cast and great resting spot for fish running upstream
Shortly after this the rain began to come down hard making for a wet evening in the boat. Next up it was Bollo, a ‘big fish’ pool, not long but an extremely inviting neck and with a very deep middle part. The tail was glassy but with a difficulty current to contend with. After Andy had fished the neck for no result I think we both knew it would be a difficult night. The rain lashed down but, as always when salmon fishing, with lunch came renews hope, it’s almost like another day. Still raining we tried hard but unfortunately to no avail, our final night on Alta, like the first, was to end fishless, proving that even on the best river in the world, salmon fishing really is about being in the right place at the right time.
Heading downstream for the final time. The morning mist is bidding us farewell
In the distance we could hear the roar of boat engines coming down with the other half of the group from the top camp signalling the end of what were 7 amazing nights on Alta, an experience never to be forgotten.
We arrived back at camp to find the others, wet, but upbeat having has some success right at the end of the evening, a few nice fish of 30lbs plus putting a smile on the face and stories to tell.All good things come to an end and my experience on the Alta ended, well, really quickly. No sooner had we arrived at the camp and it was all change, washed, packed and make ready for home.
The group and guides came together for a debrief and with Alta flowing majestically in the background, we said our farewells, after a magic week of raw excitement and almost tear jerking emotion, the week was over.
We headed back to Alta airport as a group, a group, extremely fortunate to have sampled the delights and pleasures of this wonderful place in Arctic Norway.
As the plane took off I looked back in appreciation and awe at what this river really is and its influence on the lives of those fortunate enough to share its many bounties.
There is no doubt in the the world, when it comes to salmon fishing this is the Zenith, the top of them all.