As the Norwegians say: Det kjem inkte steikte fuglar flugjande i mun. - Birds fly not into our mouths ready-roasted.
The Gaula River is the perfect example to prove this proverb. You don’t go in the first week or two of June expecting to catch many fish, but instead to pay homage to fly fishing history, socialize, enjoy the epic scenery, and with a lot of effort, hopefully catch a beast.
The Gaula River cuts through central Norway amid fertile cereal fields and wooded hills. Long regarded as a top sport fishing river in Europe, it is a destination steeped in fly fishing history. The lodge I stayed at, The Norwegian Fly Fishing Club, sits on the original lease given to a group of Englishmen in the 1830s. The lodge in its current incarnation has been open for 25 years and holds the rights to 7 miles of river and 25 pools. Wherever you choose to go, definitely choose a lodge that holds plenty of private water beats. The beats are stretches of river leased from local farmers. Because of the near continual daylight that blesses the Norwegian summer, fishing is allowed 24 hours a day. Each beat is split into 6 hour blocks, 2 anglers each. Having a variety of beats to rotate though means you’ll find amenable water somewhere, whatever the conditions.
Conditions, especially early season, can be unpredictable, but the payoffs immense when everything falls into place. The feature that looms largest on the Gaula is a long narrow gorge called the Gaulfossen. The 800m long rapid results from the wide deep river above, funneling into this bottleneck, speeding the water up dramatically. Due to the difficulty of traversing this passage, only the biggest and strongest fish attempt it. That’s what you came here for, right?
Conditions like these call for 14’ or longer rods, full-sinking Scandi lines from I/3/5, 2/4/6 and 3/5/8s. While some people use Skagit lines, they don’t go as deep, and anyway, when in Rome! Opt for fly sizes from 3-5” (sometimes strung together) heavily weighted and short stout leaders - sound like winter Steelheading? That’s because it’s really quite similar: long arduous days of casting and, you know, counting birds in the trees or whatever you’re Zen-self dictates. Be the fly: are you deep enough? Are you cute enough, are your JC eyes on straight? The only thing you truly must not do is crack a beer. There is absolutely no tolerance for any blood alcohol content whilst driving in Norway. Save it for when you’re sure you’re done for the day or night, the Englishmen or Germans who are sure to be there will happily join you!
I said this last year, explaining it with some Russian proverb probably, but I truly can’t say it enough: get yourself a 5-piece rod if you’ve booked the trip of a lifetime like this, as it will probably entail three plane changes including a micro, budget airline that is trying to pay their staff solely with baggage fees. My desert-island choice: the Burkheimer 10148-5, it’ll stand by you even when the weather is surt (literally, sour). It does everything you need it to, floating lines to mega depth charges with three Willie Gunns strung together.
Did I have a great time? Absolutely. Was it easy? It never is. Will I go back? Well, that’s in litigation with my better half. In all seriousness, NFC runs a fantastic program and it’s worth it. If you’re looking for quality over quantity, in the first weeks of June, with a legitimate shot of the fish of a lifetime, it’s absolutely worth it.