Næsta sagan í Veiðisögukeppninni sem við birtum kemur frá Antoine Moenaert.
Wednesday the 3rd of June, 2020.
One of my daily routine in the evening is to check „veidileyfi til sölu/óskast“, in search of a lucky spot for a good fishing day. After seeing a post about a rod in Hliðarvatn í Selvogi starting the same evening, I contact Benni (the seller) to ask him about the details. He sends me the exact location of the lodge on the map, along with few marks of where he caught fish today. 15 chars, not bad at all! After checking with my girlfriend, who luckily understand my passion, I called my boss to take a day off, who luckily also understand my passion. I then transfer the money to Benni and start packing my stuff. He also gives me two crucial tips: small nymphs and long leader. It is my first time there, so I really appreciate.
I am all setup, packed everything in the car, got a lucky kiss and ready to go fishing!
I arrive at the lodge and meet Róbert. Benni told me he was ready to sleep, so I don’t want to bother him.
I am going to bed. Róbert as well (eventually). We just spent the last three hours talking about fishing, Iceland, trout, salmon, char. And life. He had so many great stories, it feels like reading a living book. I try to remember as much as I can, because I know that he is sharing invaluable knowledge. He even advises me to count 15 seconds after every cast, to make sure the nymphs have enough time to reach the bottom of the lake. Really? Hum… Let’s sleep over it and be ready to fish in the morning.
I did not sleep much I think, but I feel ready. I don’t know why, but I always feel excited before going fishing. Róbert made a great coffee, and I am ready to start. On his advice, Kaldós should be good. So there I go. I set up my rig, put a leader 1,5 time the rod length, down to 9lbs fluoro for the first nymph, and down to 6lbs for the bottom one. I will use #14 peacock and pheasant tail.
First cast. Second cast. Third cast, and I remember what Róbert said about counting. So I decide to wait for 20 seconds, and start retrieving slowly. After few strips, first char of the day! He took the bottom pheasant tail. I stay in the same area for 3h, and catch 11 chars. And these fish have teeth, they destroyed 5 flies already! But the east wind picks up, and I decide to go to Hjalltangi, to have the wind in the back and it was one spot that Benni recommended me.
After few casts, I got a small char, but decided to keep trying. So, I cast again and start counting again. One, two, three… I am rather an impatient person, but at least this method keeps me calm and focus. Fourteen, fifteen, sixteen… And I start retrieving slowly, 5cm at a time…Until I hook the bottom. But the bottom start moving fast and taking line! I tighten the drag, but I don’t control anything! I am now on the baking and this fish is heading straight into the middle of the lake. He eventually slows down, 60 or 70 meters out. I reel back and managed to be on the flyline again. I can almost see the leader, but this animal decides to turn around and run back to the lake again. My reel screams, and my heart too. I see the line going out, and now the backing again. I try to keep some tension, but I am really scared to snap the line. I don’t know how far he is, but I still feel him. I finally can reel back a bit. Step by step to see if he is giving up. I am standing on my rock, between excitement and panic, trying to keep myself together. He is getting closer to me, but still feels like infinity. He passes in front of me few times, and I can see the shiny white stripes on his fins.
I go down in the water, just few meters left… I put the rod high and backward… and he’s in the net! I’m shaking. After a primal scream of relief, I just notice how small my net suddenly became. But it is actually this char which is…humongous. I keep the net in the water, and stare at him for few minutes, trying to understand what just happened, and thanking every gods for it. This is the biggest char I have ever seen. I remember the one put as trophy in Ármenn. 67cm for 7lbs. But this one looks bigger. And after measuring, it was. 68cm and 8lbs. The first picture I send is to benni. His answer: “Dude! Stop torturing me! But well-done bro, congratulations! It’s insane!”. I then call Róbert and he comes straight away to film the release. I have the feeling he is as happy as I am. He hasn’t see so big char in Hliðarvatn for a long time. So at least, we do know they are still there. When Róbert ask me what he took, I look at my line. A small bead-head pheasant tail, barbless. Yes, I completely forgot during the fight… But that was the last one I had! The others were in pretty bad shape, and I didn’t want to use them. “barbless pheasant tail on a 6lbs tippet” I answer. He smiles at me, with the kind of smile that says “haha, you did play with fire, but didn’t got burnt”. We have a saying in french for that. “la chance sourit aux audacieux” which kinda translates by “fortune favours the bold“.
So to whoever reads this story, be bold and take opportunities when they come to you. Fortune might reward you or not, but the only way to know is to try. And most important, meet, talk, laugh and share with others. The greatest knowledge is sometimes in the person next to you. Thank you again Benni and Róbert, you have made a fishing day I will always remember. And may I see this beast again…