Equipment advice for salmon fishermen.
A long winter is over for this time, and we salmon fishers finally begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel again. This long and dull wait is really quite horrible given that the fishing season is so short in Norway, but I believe this makes us more patient fishermen during those days when the fishing is not as good. And this is a very good skill for a salmon fisherman.
We spend the time waiting with fly tying, casting practice, we watch fishing movies, and gather friends for social gatherings to reminisce the good times at the river and not least to create expectations for the coming summer’s fishing. When spring is finally arriving it is time to look over the fishing gear to make sure everything is in order. We read the new catalogues from the fishing equipment suppliers to stay updated on the latest and greatest of the year, perhaps something new has arrived to help land that dream salmon. This is actually a great time of the year, with the days becoming longer and increasing expectations with regards to good days of fishing on the river, which again turns into living memories to be talked about during next winter’s party with the buddies.
You check the fly lines, grease up the fly reel. Check if you’ve got everything you need, do I have to buy anything for the first trip? This is quite a pleasant activity during the last few days before the season starts. However, there is one item which most salmon fishermen will not find in their fishing bag, and that is a small tool which is very important these days with regards to the new quota regulations in rivers all around the country. The reason as to why most salmon fishermen do not carry this tool is that in Norway there has not been a tradition to release caught salmon back into the river. Trout fishermen do have this tool among their standard equipment. The tool of which I am talking is of course a forceps, i.e. a small item costing between NOK 100 and 200. If you plan to fish rivers operating with daily, weekly and/or seasonal quotas, you simply have to bring such a forceps with you. In my opinion this should be mandatory.
To release a salmon with the hook in its jaw without a forceps is not an enjoyable task for the salmon fisher. And for the salmon it is simply a matter of life or death in terms of how much more time it takes to unhook a fish using your fingers when compared to how much easier it is using the forceps.
I will urge everyone to get such a forceps, hang it in a pin-on-reel in your fishing jacket. If you have this tool available at all times you will do a much better job, and not least it will be less painful for the salmon. I know that many people release the salmon with the hook still in its jaw because they could not unhook it quickly enough, I have had to do this myself once, and let me tell you: it did not feel right.
This article is not meant as a part of the catch and release debate! People must feel free to do as they please. However, I experience that many people find it much better to release a salmon than they though it would be, and that it actually was an even better experience than what they normally had when all salmon were killed. It gives an extra kick to see the salmon swimming back to its holding spot, strong and ready for its actual task after its spawning run from the ocean. I talk to hundreds of salmon fishermen every year and I feel that the old attitude of killing all salmon is experiencing a great shift among many salmon fishermen, and I regard that as something positive. Just to be clear; I do keep a few salmon for myself as well, it is part of the experience to be able to have salmon you fished yourself for dinner. But I always stick to the rules of the rivers in which I fish. If there at some stage should be 100% catch and release in “my” rivers I will promise you that I would still go fishing in order to experience Norwegian nature at its best and all the enjoyable things that goes along with such a trip, the camp fire and the coffee, selecting the fly, salmon jumping in the current and not least that calm feeling you get just by sitting by a Norwegian salmon river and experience the summer night.