My mate Wayne wanted me to write some words about my fishing experiences here in northern Sweden. From exotic pictures he has sent me I understand there are major differences, but also many things are the same. What I believe is the great leap forward in these times is the possibility to communicate with people who share your passion from all over the world. You understand that you have more in common with a person from UK, Germany, Australia or Indonesia, than you have with your next door neighbor. Such possibilities!
I´ve been an avid fisherman since the age of seven or eight, following my parents to lakes, rivers and streams. Fishing then was the standard weekend and holiday occupation, not only for the fun, but also to put food on the table. ABU was the brand of choice, Abumatics for me and my Mum, and Cardinals for my Dad, older brother and sister. The warm feeling of family togetherness at the lakeside, combined with the moments of heart pounding action from jumping Rainbow Trout, I cherish as my best memories from childhood. Now, let´s go forward in time and let me tell you a more recent story:
Even at 10 in the evening it´s broad daylight outside. Early summer in the north. The nature has, together with regular folks, endured the cold and dark break from all normal activity. It´s fascinating how fast everything changes here. A couple of weeks separates snow on the ground and solid ice on the water from sprouting green leaves and glittering waves. A friend from Argentina, living in Sweden, was amazed:
Erik, It´s like if nature has been waiting, longing for the earliest possible moment to return and just explodes in a very special green color, you don´t see in my country.
Diego was up to something. Traditionally in Nordic countries, winter has been a time when farmers prepared all equipment needed for the summer’s short and hectic work. Your life depended on it. The axe was sharpened and the fishing nets were repaired. As soon as the weather allowed, all your longing and lust for action was let loose. Today we live in a different society, but still winter is a time of dreaming of those precious moments and to make sure you have the stuff you need to enjoy it, in a working order. Not to survive, but to gain the cozy memories to hold on to when the weather, or your life, turns to the worse.
I´m the first to admit to this escapism. Join me. The pile of old “Tight Lines” next to a comfy reading chair. Add 10 or so different reels in several states of ongoing renovation. The mixtures of lubrication oils and grease to get the perfect light, but silent whizz from your Ambassadeur. A glass of the drink of your choice, just enough to set fire to your imagination.
Don´t forget that you catch the most fish during winter. Indoor in your couch, at work, standing in line or in your car going to the supermarket. Go to a tackle shop in the cold season. Look at the face of an angler brother or sister flexing an agile carbon fibre rod in the hand. The eyes are far off in the distant. Some can almost feel the power from the untamed Salmon, Pike, or Cod on the other side. Others, rod in hand, just forget the everyday stress. They travel in the mind. Standing next to their childhoods little stream, remembering the feeling of exploration, adventure and the summers that felt like forever.
Of course, you can fish during winter. You sit on the ice, drill a hole through, let your bait sink and wait. Freezing cold, but exiting. You sit or lie right on top of the fish, sometime in as shallow water under the ice as 1 foot. The ice around your hole, looking down, is the frame of the world’s most exiting TV-set. You see the fish enter from the side, look at your bait, stop an inch away, trying to decide if to bite or not. Meantime you feverishly manoeuver your bait to be as attractive as possible while trying to keep your breathing as silent as your adrenaline lets you. You shake a little too much and the “ dinner for the whole family-Arctic Char” darts off away from your TV. Don´t try to adjust the picture. It´s gone.
A mean story tells about a big city dweller from the south of Sweden trying ice fishing for the first time. His question:
How far down in the ice do I have to drill before I can start fishing?
I sincerely hope it isnt a true story.
Most frustrating is the time when the ice turns too thin to stand on, but too thick to permit regular rod and reel fishing. By then you´ve already serviced your reels for the third time and organized and reorganized your lure boxes from make to size to shape to color and back again. A Swedish comic writer has a great analogy, however a bit cheeky:
It was the boring summer when he was too old to steal the neighbor’s apples, but too young to sleep with his wife…
Frustration has been my closest friend for the last weeks. Ice melted away, but because of extreme amounts of snow fall this winter there was a near catastrophic flood this year. At the nearby Umeå River, the rocks from which my wife to be caught her first Sea Trout last summer, were covered with a couple of meters of brown swirling frothing water. Don´t misunderstand me; I´m passionate about fishing, but that water could kill you!
So I waited and waited, and yesterday I went on a recon trip and found that the water levels had stabilized. Hooray! The celebration was to line up the Ambassadeur reels, different boxes of lures and rods and to be the judge of which to be accomplices on this epic first hunt for Trout. I decided on a Ambassadeur 5600C from 1977 with a 9ft Berkley Lightning Rod. In my view the perfect combo for a fast second cast if you see the contour of a trailing fish behind your lure. Also you have the retrieve speed to cast upstream behind those interesting big rocks with calm inviting water behind them.
There were windy, overcast conditions, about seven degrees centigrade. Perfect, I thought. On the ride to the rapids I was thinking about which places to fish and who to give the eventual catch to. The little old lady in her 80s across the street loves to eat fish, and I try to spoil her as often as possible. The heartwarming mental images of the smiling lady, recieving a newly caught six pound Trout, made me almost forgot about one of those roadside automatic police cameras. This could have been an expensive trip for me.
Skipping rocks, careful mostly about the equipment, since skin heals an Ambassadeur reel doesn´t, at last I stood at the fast flowing water. There is a rock… Let´s see… The water flows… Here goes… The high pitch sound from a baitcaster has always intrigued me. Off to the left, but nice range.
Have you just arrived?
Turned around to be greeted by a young man about 17 years of age. Slender build, friendly smile, with an honest curiosity about him. Yeah, been longing for this day, I replied.
I think you´re a bit too late. The water may be too warm now. I love to fish Salmon. My family owns land downstream near the best areas so I´m allowed to fish there .The biggest I caught was over 30lb.
Here´s a young kid, that passionate about fishing, knowing his statistics that early. I was impressed. Wow, I said. Haven´t even seen such big fish on TV. Nice job!
Saw the pride grow in his eyes.
Well, I said. Mostly here to try my old Ambassadeur reels. Been renovating old reels during the winter. Check this out. An old High Speed 6600C from 1977.
Ambassadeurs are the best. I only use those. But nothing smaller than 7000 for Salmon. Ok then, a 6000 also works.
After a nice conversation we wished each other “Skitfiske” and he jogged off like some Mountain Goat. Somewhere near my hometown there is a Mom and a Dad that should be proud about doing a great job. I salute them. There is a lot of negativity in today’s society that brings you down, but this young guy saved my day.
His wise words about water temperature, being too high, was a thorn in my side. My fishing involuntarily became less and less serious. I started playing with the mechanical break and made those “near line chaos” long casts. Aiming for rocks protruding from the water. Shooting that lure over the whole river trying to almost touch the other shore. Smiling. Laughing.
Oooooh… Too close. Poor lure… Oh, let´s try for that… Oooops! Oh. Sorry Mr. Duck! Didn´t mean to scare you.
I made one last desperate long range cast downstream. A semitransparent green/black plastic lure with metal core, a modern version of the ABU Shiner, flew about 70 meters and splashed down. Started a slow retrieve and watched the lure emerge to the surface a couple of times in the fast water.
Jolt in the hand. Big whirl in the water. Trout!
The rod snapped back. Nothing. Heart pounding. Continued reeling in. 30 meters away I see the lure breaking surface again, now with a plough of water behind, closing slowly like Jaws in the famous movie.
Feels heavy for a couple of seconds, but the fish missed the hook again.
Cast after cast followed. More and more serious. Behind those rocks. 4 inches next to that gold spot. Just by that fallen tree. For no result.
Home now. In that comfy chair. A nice drink. Reels next to me, but no fish. Still happy and content though. The reel I´d serviced did a world class ABU job making me feel proud. But most important, I have one more memory of an unforgettable fishing experience to keep my spirits high the next winter.
Thankyou Erik for penning this story. We are all the richer for me, especially us remote ABU fans who dream of using our ABU in Sweden.
Looking forward to your next contribution.
If you are a person that has significantly had an effect on design/development/testing of ABU equipment over the years please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish your contribution documented for posterity and the immediate interest of the ABU fans worldwide!