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  • Manfred Raguse, Norwegian Flyfishers Club
    Norway, Near town of Storen
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  • Highlights of the Trip:
    The Gaula flows through a beautiful Norwegian valley of farmland. The river holds big salmon & big salmon as evidenced by the mandatory daily local fishing records and one of the local coolers, filled with four or five 20-30 lb salmon caught the week I was visiting. Because of the great help from the NFC, this is a fantastic place for a novice salmon fisherman to break into the sport and still have a real chance to catch a salmon of a lifetime. This is also a great place for an expert to cast for monsters during the month of June, as evidenced by the annually returning list of who's who in salmon fishing from Europe and Japan.

    The NFC holds prime leases on the Gaula. The local guides recommended by the NFC know the salmon fishing business and they teach a great mixture of traditional and new techniques. Traditional technique is taught in learning how to fish the beats. Two fishermen are assigned four six-hour beats for a twenty-four hour period. The beats are about 300 yards long on average. Fishing is done from one side of the beat, with both fishermen alternating through the beat using the cast, then step downstream approach. The guides are careful to point out appropriate proximities and wading areas so as not to ruin the experience for the other angler on the beat. The beats are so sought after by many of the fishermen, that it's quite normal to see anglers sleeping streamside or fishing almost 24 hours a day to experience the most from their beats.

    New technique is taught via the extensive use and focus on underhand casting. Make no mistake, these guides want to catch you fish and they re not afraid to use the newest principles. This attitude and the presence of many novice salmon anglers (that you meet at dinner and breakfast) take away any pretense of the "snobby club-boys" feel which can stereotypically be associated with the world of salmon fishing. This is simply a great experience for the beginning salmon fisherman.

    Regarding the guides, the evening I arrived my guide drove to the hotel to meet me at 11:30 pm to brief me on the next day's fishing. The next day he met me at 7:30 a.m. and fished with me until 11:30 p.m. He would have fished all night; compare that to the last guide you hired in the Keys. Cost per day for the guide = 135 Euros (about $175 USD) before tip. Also, it isn't mandatory that you use a guide, but I would highly recommend using a guide for the first few days of any trip to the Gaula to get situated. My particular guide knew that delicate balance between effectively teaching and effectively wrecking a fishing experience, so he was greatly appreciated by a guy who knew nothing about casting with a two-handed rod.

    After a little more than a day of fishing I caught my first true Atlantic salmon on a large rod, it was about 7.5 lbs. While it was small when compared to others in the Gaula, I felt tremendously proud and would compare that feeling of accomplishment to the first time I caught a cruising bonefish on a fly rod.

    I talked with several anglers and guides during my very brief stay, and generally I formed a picture based on their description. If you want lots of salmon, nothing seems to surpass the Ponoi River in Russia. If you want shots at big salmon, with decent catch rates (e.g. one fish per two days), the Gaula appears to be at the top of the list.
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