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- Getaway Fly Fishing
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Camp North, Greenland
For a journey back in time to a land unspoiled by man etched by rivers containing hordes of wild eager fish, look no farther than the west coast of Greenland. Getaway Flyfishing operates three camps in Greenland, each with its distinctive features, targeting sea run Arctic Char.
I went on a journey to Camp North in the latter half of July to fish the Greenlandic river that translates to “Big Char river”. Since arriving a day early in Copenhagen, I took in the sights of this quintessential Northern European city with a bike tour and water tour of the canals. I highly recommend this option, time-permitting, if you’re not already familiar with this city.
I met the remainder of our group the next day at Copenhagen (CPH), which was a very international collection of Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, French, Scottish, and Austrian anglers, including one 12-year old Viennese boy accompanying his father on this angling adventure. I was the only North American angler in the group. A word about travel at this point, check Visa requirements and airline policies regarding fishing equipment. I was warned by the SAS ticket agent in Chicago that passports need to be valid for at least 6 months and that travel visas may be necessary to Denmark starting in 2021 - my passport was set to expire in 4 months. Needless to say and very fortunately, my travel was nevertheless permitted. The passport control agent on my arrival to CPH also pointed out the “6-month rule” and had to check with her supervisor to make sure my proposed travel to Greenland was permitted. Furthermore, I was more than a bit concerned when the Air Greenland agent at CPH looked at my 4-piece rod tubes strapped to my day-pack and informed me that they will need to be checked in separately. Fortunately, they arrived after the 4 1/2 hour flight to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland intact. Ironically, there was no passport check at all in Kangerlussuaq.
The stopover in Kangerlussuaq was quite brief, and we boarded a twin prop to the Greenlandic fishing village of Sisimiut very soon thereafter. After a brief 1 hour flight, we arrived, collected our luggage, and set off as a group to our hotel for the night. The next morning we boarded a 20’ chartered boat and set out north along in the Davis Strait about and hour and a half to a beautiful fjord, Nordre Isortoq, where we anchored and then loaded supplies into an inflatable raft for a short journey to the mouth of the river. We disembarked, and then hiked for a few minutes to our camp for the next week.
After a brief orientation, we were set loose on the river. The daily schedule consisted of breakfast at 8am, where we pack sandwiches for lunch, unguided fishing along about a mile of the main river, fishing along a main tributary, or fishing the upper river above about a 2-mile lake, followed by dinner back at camp around 8pm each evening. Daily meals were prepared by a Swedish chef, who was an avid angler, and they were spectacular! Main courses varied from musk oxen steaks to cold smoked fresh Arctic char, and often concluded with tasty desserts. Beverages were basic, but a fresh pot of coffee was ready for the start of each day. Accommodations consisted very simply of a tent with meals served out of a rigid structure within 20 yards containing a couple of tables and our “kitchen”.
The fishing was simply, ... spectacular! The most difficult part of each day was the 1-hour 4-mile hike to the fishing section of the rivers each day. Greenland experienced an earlier and warmer Spring than usual this year, so the water level was significantly lower than anticipated by the repeat guests at Camp North. The weather was accordingly much milder than expected, as exemplified by a daytime high one day of 20C (68F ). Somewhat surprisingly, given our latitude of 68N, we had only one day of overcast and damp conditions.
Given the warm conditions, several anglers in our group chose to fish through the night and sleep during the daytime. There were approximately 8 hours of twilight conditions daily, and the fishing especially for skated dry flies during these periods was pretty good. Personally, I used a combination of nymphing techniques with the swung wet fly over the broader faster runs of the river to target these beautiful anadromous fish. I kept a daily log of my catch, and I released 96 char over 6 days. The average char weighed over 2.5kg and the largest one 4kg. One evening I lost 3 fish that easily weighed over 5kg that I simply could not turn with my 6wt Sage XP. I would definitely recommend a 7 or 8 weight rod for these fish. The water conditions definitely demanded flexibility, as some days some pools were stacked full of fish, while at other times, they contained staging fish willing to take a well presented fly. The patterns I used were small bright colored streamers, mostly pink and purple, along with some smaller darker steelhead standards.
There was plenty of conversation in camp regarding the use of foam flies. These patterns are skated through riffles similar to the use of dry flies for steelhead or Atlantic salmon. Our Danish tour guide, Peter, had significant success with this method, but I could not unlock its secrets.