For the first few posts on this blog I’m going to dig into my iPhoto library and dig out a few snaps of previous fishing trips. To kick things off, I’m starting with perhaps my best ever bagging session in Sweden (actually, anywhere, to be honest).
For my first multi-day fishing trip since moving to Stockholm at the beginning of the year I took a long drive down to Gnösjö in Småland. You may well ask, “Why the hell would you do that?”
This is a bit of a long story, as it dates back to Christmas 1987 when I got the Angler’s Mail Annual from my parents as a present.
On pages 24-5, after an article by the great John Wilson (my angling hero number one) was an article that I couldn’t stop reading about Bream Fishing in Sweden.
The article wasn’t exactly long, but it really got to me, I guess, because most fish I’d ever caught was about 30 pounds of mainly skimmers from my local club lake.
I was still in college at the time, and with next to no money and a clapped out 1974 Mini Clubman that would not have survived the drive, fishing in Sweden was just a dream, but one that kept coming back to taunt me.
In the Angler’s World Holidays (Martin Founds, the bloke behind AWH, was the organiser of the Angler’s Mail trip those years before) 1990 brochure, the bream in Sweden were again to keep me awake at night. Kevin Ashurst and Bob Nudd (my angling hero number two) were featured pole fishing the same water.
I never did make it to Gnösjö… until September 2006. After unpacking my worldly possessions back in January, I again dug out the old annual and brochure, and the dream was rekindled.
It had been almost a decade since those guys fished in Gnösjö, surely the fishing has changed? On top of that, I didn’t know exactly where in Gnösjö the guys fished. The pictures could have been taken pretty much anywhere in the lower half of Sweden.
I took a punt and loaded up the car with all the tackle I possessed and enough bait to sink two battle ships and off I went for 4 days to track down the exact spot where Colin Mitchell, Don Bridgewood, Kevin and Bob had fished and to repeat their mega-catches.
I phoned ahead and in a very broken English/Swedish conversation with the owner, I booked into Välornas Camping. As luck would have it, the campsite was bang on the same lake, Svanhalsen, the upper part of Hären as in the pictures! The fishing spots were even sign-posted from the road with the picture of a bream!
I baited up the first afternoon with about 20 balls of brown crumb and Van Den Eynde Gold Pro Bream packed with Sweetcorn and stewed wheat, and flavoured with VDE Liquid Molasses. The following morning could not come soon enough, and I was on the bank setup by 8.
I caught a skimmer of about a pound and a half first cast and ended that first day with about 60 pounds. I had mixed feelings, I was pleased but also a little miffed that I’d not made the “magic ton” (100 pounds).
I fished the first day without a keepnet as I’d heard it’s better to do that if you’re going to fish the same swim again the next day. I pre-baited again, throwing in another load of groundbait with as much feed in it as I could squeeze without the balls breaking up in flight.
The next day, as I hoped, got better. My prayers had been answered and the magic ton was smashed with about 80 fish for 154 pounds (72 kilos).
As I was making my last few casts, I was surrounded by locals fishing a competition with whips. All the fish they caught were small bits, roach and perch mainly. When I pulled in my two keepnets there were a few surprised faces!