Well a lot’s happened since that fateful day with Phill and the lost monster from the deep, but one thing has remained constant over all this time. I’ve had a distinct lean towards the deeper marks and the fish they hold.Every time I head out to Norway I seek out an opportunity to slap a big pit reel loaded with plenty of line on to a monster rod and have a cast out into the abyss.
John Strange has always been a good fishing buddy of mine since the early days of visiting Norway and it’s fair to say he has heard the story which I told in part one more than a few times. So when we started exploring the fishing around Saltstrouman a few years back, he knew I would be itching to find a few fishable deep spots to take guests to.
So what is a “Deep” mark. We tend to call anything over 100 meters a deep mark. When you consider the depth of the majority of shore fishing marks around the UK, fishing into 100 meters (330 feet) from the shore is pretty alien to most of us. The marks we have found so far start at around a 100 meters and the deepest somewhere in the region of 250 meters or 820 feet !! This equates to an 8oz lead with bait taking about 6 minutes to hit bottom from a 100 yard cast. I for one find that outrageous ! When a fish of any reasonable size takes it is gonna give you a very good workout to get it up again, so much so that John has named one of our marks The Gymnasium. This being the result of bringing up 16lb lumb, 18lb Ling and 22lb cod from 180 meters in the first three casts on our first trial session at “The Gym”.
A few things to remember if you want to join us and try your hand in the deep stuff.
Firstly, the fish you catch are coming from a long way down and will more often than not blow their swim bladder up in the final 40 meters or so. This can make it difficult to return some fish. For this reason we make sure we are willing and able to take our fish home and cut our sessions short if we have landed enough. Quite a few will go back though and it’s worth reviving the fish in the water to see a double swimming back down to the depths.
Secondly, to fish them well we advise the use of some specialist gear. We have honed the type of rods and reels/lines we use and the rig design and terminal tackle has been designed to minimise tackle losses and maximise fish hook-ups. Not all anglers are set up for this type of fishing and do not want to spend out a couple of hundred pounds just to fish one particular type of mark. For this reason Guided Fishing Norway has this specialist tackle available for hire.
Finally, if you have never done it, we recommend some practice on getting fish past ledges and popping your gear out of possible snags. We will help with this, we won’t throw you in at the deep-end so to speak. These deep marks are like fishing from the top of an underwater cliff face. It’s pretty much straight down ! This means that there is often a lot of cover for that 20 pounder to hide in and try and throw your hook on the way up. But, if you can master this, the rewards can be bountiful.
I recall one visit to a particular new mark John and I were looking at. it was a hell of a drive around some very steep and dodgy unmade roads covered in snow and ice with steep drop off into the sea on the bends… “If this gets any worse I’m turning round” John was muttering, the 4×4 churning through ice and snow and sliding sideways towards the drop off … We was heading for a deep underwater cliff mark into over 200 meters of water, it was the second to last day of our holiday and I had not had my deep water fix yet. “Keep going forward John, it gets flatter and easier the further on we go,” I was reading the map,, I knew dam well it didn’t get any easier, but it was an unfished mark that John had flagged up about a month before we left the UK and I’d been wanting to fish it ever since. (I still had ghosts to put to sleep !) John and the big ol Toyota Hilux done well and we arrived safely at the mark through the snow and ice.
A short walk, several moves and casts later we found the sweet spot. Pressing the timer button on his phone as my bait splashed down a hundred yards out we timed 5 minutes 25 seconds before it hit bottom. A gentle tighten up to our leads and within minutes it was nodding rods and clicking ratchets ! Brilliant ! Cod, Lumb and a small Ling for us both in what was a relitivly short trial session.
The next day was our last day of this holiday and John was feeling kind, “Come on Badge, let’s go back to that new deep mark and try to find that big Ling you lost”.. I was like a kid in a sweet shop. I grabbed some special bait I had been saving for the occasion and we were off to the as yet un-named mark. (The first person to catch a specimen fish from a new mark gets to name it.) We set about fishing, with John and Lee Hover straight into good fish. I was relaxed and determined but knew that this was another “last chance” to catch a big Ling from the shore. I had managed Ling up to about 7lb by midday while John and Lee had pulled out several double figured Ling, Lumb and Cod.
I stayed calm, and hen the tide eased off toward slack water I got the rig out I had made especially for the occasion. I elasticated my bait on, leaving the hooks nice and proud. A few embelishments to help the fish find it and I calmly banged if out.
Then, it all happened again, just as Phill Dale had described many years before, but this time it was me talking it through, knowing exactly what was happening and would happen next…
Lee, who was fishing next to me had just returned with John from Johns rocky mark with a 12lb Haddock he had just asked John to photograph.
I got a small tentative nod on the rod tip, then another with a solitary click from my Bait Runner. Gentle and slow clicking continued for a few seconds before coming to a stop…. ‘Wait Phill. Wait’…
Lee walked over to find me grinning like a fool and watching my rod tip intently.. “Watch” I said. Sure enough it headed off with the bait for a few yards causing the bait runner to liven up a bit. Spot on ! On seeing me leave it be, John wandered back over to his rock and Lee went about having a rest before his next cast. Then the longest pause ever known to mankind occurred waiting for it to feel the hook and run with the bait. Waiting , waiting, waiting,,,, Click,, click,,,click clickclickclikkkkkkkkkkk of she went, the bait runner wearing down its ratchet. I tightened up just enough and leaned into the fish, dam, it didn’t notice, just kept swimming. I tightened the drag some more, it just gently swam along as though I wasn’t there. Ok, tighten the drag up and hang on, she knew she was hooked now and headed off out into the deeper water, not fast, just slow strong steady pace. I braced myself and settled in for the long haul and we started the merry dance of give and take line. This was brilliant, but at the same time I couldn’t shake the thought of the ledge that awaited me further up the cliff and a replay of my first experience.
The Shimano 14,000 reel was groaning hard and the braid grinding through the rings put a hefty bend in my Zziplex bullet. John walked back over to see what I was making such a fuss about, plenty of micky taking later and he turned away saying he would let me get on with it. I think he knew I was into something special and concentraiting like mad. The fish was on the way up now and moving nicely when I felt her rubbing line against the cliff and ducking her head under cover. No, not this time. I eased off the tention and let her go. She held station for a minute or so then swam herself out of the snag, dragging my line over rocks all the way. My god this was nerve racking and brilliant at the same time. Once free I got her moving up under steady pressure and she dived for cover a few more times. The line coming onto my reel was frayed from the rocks adding to the tension. Then I felt it happen, the line went slack and for a moment I dreaded the worst and thought she’d gotten off. But no, John said excitedly “your line Badge, it’s going up, it’s bladder’s gone! Wind in!!” I quickly took the line onto the reel with now minimal pressure as the fish climbed high in the water. Suddenly a HUGE fish surfaced about 40 yards out with a massive woosh of water and air. Lee and John let out a stream of excited expletives and ran to help land the fish. She was now floating on the water, the tide was very gently starting to pull her along. I stayed calm and kept an even pressure on the line. As it came close to where John and Lee were waiting they landed her together pulling her up onto the platform which I was fishing.
WOW, what an amazing fish and the end of an amazing journey to finally land a massive Ling from the shore. I felt totally relieved, pleased and gratful. Apsolutlly buzzing !
She weighed in at just shy of 60lb and is now an official European shore caught Record Ling.
That same day we had double figured Cod, Lumb, Ling and Haddock between the three of us. Great memories between great buddies without whom it would never have happened. Here’s a photo of that Ling laid alongside a 14lb Lumb and a 12lb Cod.
Phill Dale helped start my big Ling hunt, John Strange helped fulfil it. Thank you both gentlemen.
One last note to those of you who want to join us at Guided Fishing Norway fishing some deep marks – we have lost bigger fish that we couldn’t stop !
Tight lines and thank you for reading