Camp North Season Report 2022 – Part 1

Much like the opening week at Erfalik, Camp North also experienced higher water than we have ever seen at our camps in Greenland due to the large volume of snow during the winter. While these unfamiliar conditions brought some worry as to how the fishing would be in the first week, our guests were still able to have excellent fishing by using slightly heavier rigs to cut through the river depths.

The main river was extremely productive in this first week, making it difficult to explore the various waters Camp North can offer.  An old fisherman’s saying, “you shouldn’t leave fish to find fish” held true this week as most of the guests focused on fishing this main, very prolific, stretch of river.

Mathias and Max, the camp hosts, put together a short movie highlighting their experience throughout the opening week!

Towards the end of the first week, the water conditions stabilized and our guests in week two arrived to more typical conditions. During the second week we had consistent fishing that continuously improved as multiple big pushes of fish arrived daily. Contrary to the first week, we fished all over the system. We made a few upper river expeditions, where we swung small streamers and foam flies to great success. But the best fishing this week came from the small tributary. Our favorite days consisted of hiking up the terrain next to the creek, and fishing our way down. To our surprise, the biggest fish this week were caught on small nymphs in the tributary.

The third week’s group took advantage of the full terrain by splitting into smaller groups that rotated through the different waters for the first half of the week. After getting a feel for everyone’s preferred stretch, they spent the second half of the week enjoying all of their favorite waters.

During this week Simon and Karl, the camp helpers, decided to try their luck chasing char straight from the salty fjord into which the river pours. In coordination with the tides, they hiked out to small peninsulas and fished the rising water in hopes of catching incoming schools of char. It started slow, without a fish in sight for the first thirty minutes of casting. Then like clockwork, char began to arrive with the rising tide and were eager to take anything from baitfish and shrimp patterns to foam flies.

According to Simon, “It was crazy good fishing.” When the fishing is this hot it’s useless trying to keep count, but they estimated catching 80-100 fish in just a couple of hours.

They were fortunate enough to hit the fjord on just the right day, as a couple other groups gave it a shot in prior and future weeks without much success. The fjord can offer incredible fishing, similar to European coastal sea trout, with a lot more action. But these incredible days seem to be limited and require a bit of knowledge of the fishery, as well as some luck to really be successful.

A part of what makes Camp North so special is the amount of big char found throughout the season. These arctic char have broad shoulders and generally weigh more than other char in any Greenland fishery we have seen. While the potential for a massive arctic char is bigger in Camp North, they will generally remain in their silver suit longer after reentering the river, and it is more rare to find the classic orange and red colored char in this watershed. Because Camp North is situated at the top of a massive fjord, it is speculated that the char feed in the fjord longer as opposed to the open ocean. Their diet, as it primarily consists of the plentiful baitfish living in the fjord, can be attributed to the light color of the char as well as the size and predatory instinct they possess in this fishery.

While there are always big fish in the system at Camp North, there’s always uncertainty of when the biggest runs of these heavy char will occur. Towards the end of week three, these big runs could be observed as the pools in the main river were filled-in with wave after wave of big, fresh char, leaving us in great anticipation for the coming weeks.

Camp North Season Report 2022 – Part 2

The feeling of arriving at Camp North was surreal. With months (and for some, even years) of anticipation, the energy on the final boat ride into camp was electric. When we landed, we were happily greeted by the previous week’s group as they were preparing for their departure. They explained that the fishing had progressively gotten better throughout the week, leaving us optimistic, and a bit relieved, that our timing was just right.

It didn’t take long before our expectations were completely exceeded. We knew heading in that Greenland was a special place, and this river system is among the few places in the world that remains undisturbed from its natural state. However, what we experienced was outside of our imagination. The sheer volume of fish in the river was incredible. With new waves of fresh fish arriving during every high tide, the pools seemed to always be fresh and buzzing with char.

While our first group was full of outdoorsmen from northern Norway, half of them had no experience fly-fishing before. Within a few hours of fishing, we went from going through the basics of fly casting to landing fish after fish! It is safe to say Camp North is a dangerous place to start your fly fishing journey because of just how high the bar is set.

The wildlife was incredible. As I said my sorrowful farewells to my new friends from week four, and welcomed the next group of guests into camp, I heard someone shout “Musk-ox!!” To our surprise, a large musk-ox was spotted wandering just about 100 meters away on the other side of the river. Some of the group rushed in for a closer look, alerting the musk-ox of our presence,  and sending it into a frenzy. The musk-ox promptly stomped into the middle of the river, and let out a loud and bone-chilling roar.  That was enough for us to realize that this Greenlandic beast was better left in peace.

Our musk ox friend set the tone for how wild and unpredictable the Greenland wilderness can be. In the following week, our good weather fortune had expired, and we were hit with constant rain and chilled temperatures. While a week of rain might spoil a wilderness camp trip, that wasn’t the case for us, because we had one thing we could rely on to keep our morale high — the fishing. There was no use in counting the number of fish we caught this week, But we did count the number of trophy fish above 4 kilos, and this week stood out with 16 fish caught in the group above 4 kilos.

There were no signs of the fishery subsiding, even during the final week of the season. Our guests caught fish using a plethora of different flies and techniques and we even witnessed the creation of “The Austrian Terminator” fly — a sparsely tied pink streamer with a cone head, which seemed to possess just the right weight, profile, and color to trick many of the large char.

The highlight of this week came towards the end. After a few days, when enough char had been caught to fulfill everyone’s desires, we decided to spice things up. For the remainder of the week, some guests chose to fish using only surface flies. Some guests opted for a classic pattern like a streaking caddis, while others went with a now modern classic Greenland pattern; the foam fly.

Our final days were filled with long upper-river expeditions, with guests learning to skate the fly to effectively fish on the water’s surface. While fishing surface flies won’t consistently catch the biggest fish in the river, we were fortunate enough to shake hands with quite a few 70+ centimeter chars that were fooled by the foam. The wake of a big arctic char chasing a foam fly is one of the most visually exciting things I have experienced in fishing. It can start slow; the char recognizes an intruder is near and goes to investigate. As the char chases the fly, a large and menacing wake forms before the char either turns off or completely smashes the fly. To the angler watching it all happen, it can be an internal battle to stay calm and keep the fly moving at a steady pace.

Overall it was a great season at Camp North. With many guests’ first time in Greenland, as well as mine, it was a pleasure to share the experience with so many friendly faces.

I observed two juxtapositions that resonated with me in Greenland: The first was that we came to Camp North to take a break from our daily routine, to be in a special and remote place, away from society. But the mini-society we form in camp becomes closer than ever. You can often hear grand stories and booming laughter coming from the communal tent after dinner, and you can also witness great companionship and friendships made along the river.

The second juxtaposition I observed was that we all came to Greenland so that for a brief time, we can live simpler, without the stress of daily life as well as the modern conveniences we are accustomed to. But damn, after a few days of hiking, the heated camp shower is exceptional!

The peaceful and free feeling of Camp North can be felt all the way from the wild and beautiful upper river valley to the massive walls surrounding the salty fjord into which the river pours. It is a place to let go of past stress and future worry, to be entirely present among the nature, wildlife, and fellow fisherman.