As our group arrived at Erfalik for the final week of the season, the previous group of German and American guests were leaving. One of the guests pulled me aside to reveal pictures of two big and fully dressed chars, caught in back-to-back casts the day prior. When we waved goodbye to the last group, full of smiles and satisfaction with their week, the energy and anticipation that had been building for our week was immense. We were finally able to relax knowing that we had made it to Erfalik and the conditions were promising!
This year we were fortunate to have our camp manager, Aurélien Perez, for the full season at Erfalik. Having Aurélien here every week helped us greatly shape our understanding of the changes and conditions that can be expected throughout the summer in Greenland. When the guests were settled in, I found some time to sit down with Aurélien to talk about how the season transpired.
This winter southwestern Greenland experienced an unusual volume of snow, resulting in cold and high water during our first week of the season. While these conditions can be expected in the Arctic Circle, we were a bit fearful for the season opener. However, the high water conditions assisted in moving a massive early run of very fresh char. Fresh sea-run arctic chars are like silver bullets coming straight from the salt and are extremely strong and aggressive. In the opening week, our guests often found themselves deep in their backing while trying to slow these fish down.
The first initial push of char was not followed in the second week as the water returned to its typical levels. The fish from the first week had reached the upper stretches of the river, leaving the main stretch unusually quiet. Thankfully, due to Aurélien’s knowledge of the fishery, our guests adapted to the circumstances and still found great fishing in the lake and upper river.
Some larger fish were caught around the lakes when rain moved into the camp during the third week of the season. While the water was not noticeably higher, the rain brought more fish into the system, activated the char, and provided us with some very productive days. It is also notable that some of the char began to put on their spawning suits this week and we began to catch the first brightly colored char of the year.
Throughout the 16 years of operating our camps, Fishing for sea-run arctic char has always held a tactical middle ground between swinging streamers for salmon and dead drifting flies for trout. While a plethora of tactics and methods have been used over the years, this year we had a breakthrough in trout tactics. In the past, swinging a bright, intrusive streamer was always the most effective technique. In week four, our guests found that not only was changing to smaller streamers and nymphs effective for catching fish that require a more technical approach, but it is also fun and rewarding!
During week five, our guests witnessed an odd occurrence, which was later coined “the invisible hatch.” After some light rain, the chars began showing their noses above the surface of the river! Our anglers were able to take advantage of the peculiar circumstances and were rewarded with a couple of hours a day of dry fly fishing on classic patterns such as the parachute Adams. While it was never clear what the chars were taking, with no distinct hatches, it was an extraordinary situation. This exciting period of fishing was remarkable because we never considered drifting dry flies as a very effective tactic at Erfalik.
Chef Baptiste and Aurélien, who are both well-versed in tenkara fishing in their home waters of France and Spain, decided to bring this interesting method to Erfalik. This made for some very exciting fishing in week six. While typical tenkara nymphing worked well, they also found success with swinging foam flies. Baptiste even shot a short video of Aurelien being pulled up and down the river during some epic battles. It’s greatly encouraged to try unique ways of fishing in Greenland, whether it be tenkara, trout spey, or something else, the variety of fishing methods can enhance your Greenland experience!
We started our final week of the season, week seven, with another great group of people. During this week we had guests that liked fishing the lake and lower river, other guests that preferred the mid sections of the system, and a few expeditionists that trekked all over. We made multiple excursions back to Paradise Valley and even fished our way back down a gorge of fast water, a section we previously overlooked but this time found some fun fishing in the pocket water. We also had incredible fishing when we went to a small river between the second and third lakes. The char would normally be held in the river or the third lake but with the water in this river low, they were schooled up at the river’s outlet into the second lake. This made for very visually exciting fishing, as we could watch their fins peaking and swirling through the surface.
A favorite tactic this week was to fish a foam fly, with three feet of tippet trailing to a nymph dropper. Sometimes the char would smash the foam fly, but otherwise, it was used as a great attractor to get the char’s attention, then they would take the nymph below.
With the big variety of waters to choose from, how do you pick a favorite? Well, it’s not so simple. It is the variety of waters that makes the fishing so exciting. If you make the effort to go to the upper reaches of the system, it can feel like you’re the only fisherman in Greenland. Or if you would rather stay closer to the lodge there are great fishing opportunities around the main river. Whether you prefer fishing in the lakes, small creeks, or larger rivers, there is some kind of water for everyone. The option to fish wherever and whatever kind of water you want on any given day is part of what makes this place so special.
Greenland is known for its volatile weather conditions and on one of the last days of the season, a significant storm rolled into camp. The benefits and comforts of our wilderness lodge really shone this day. The weather came at a point in our week when our fishing expectations had far been surpassed, and we were more than happy to watch the storm unravel from the comfort of the fireplace while we enjoyed some warm drinks. In classic Greenland fashion, the weather passed just as quickly as it arrived, providing us with a final day of great conditions to finish out the season.
In closing, this was another fantastic season at Erfalik lodge with weeks full of special conditions, new tactics, and of course, happy fishermen. Just as we thought the tour had concluded, we saw something spectacular on the boat ride back to Sisimiut. The storm we had witnessed just days earlier had dislodged a couple of icebergs from a glacier in the North, some roughly 20 meters high! This left us in awe at the grand spectacle of the force of nature. It was a truly unique experience as we made our way back to civilization.
Getaway Fly Fishing, Denmark
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