Cod.. These are the fish at the forefront of the UK sea anglers mind. Once upon a time anglers fishing Great Britains coastlines had the chance of catching these amazing fish to sizes that are now unheard of. The Cod numbers have dwindled due to many reasons and the fishing is not what it was so anglers now have to head to foreign waters to find the sport that they crave so badly. This is why we arrange hosted holidays to Norway so these anglers can try and catch the cod of their dreams.
I arrived at Gatwick airport early to meet the customers that were travelling with us to the destination of Mefjord Brygge in Northern Norway, this was an all-out Skrei Cod trip with the anglers heading out with me all looking to smash their personal bests and bag upon Cod. After an uneventful flight and transfer, we arrived at the cabins and after having some food we all got our heads down ready for the adventure that awaited us. Waking up on the first day we were soon aboard our boats and heading out onto the open sea after the big piggys that were visiting these vast foreign seas. On my boat, I had 3 customers and Paul Stevens had 2 on his, some of these customers have been here before doing this type of fishing and for some it was completely new. We arrived at the marks and were soon catching fish nothing massive to start but after a day at sea everybody returned to the cabins very happy with what had been ensnared, the filleting room was busy on the first night as the customers worked away trimming off prime cod loins from their captures to take home. The next day we awoke to strong winds and an angry looking sea that was making fishing difficult so we headed down one of the nearby fjords. With the water temperature being low still there was not much about at all in the way of fish with just a few pockets showing on the sounder, we made our way back through a very lumpy sea with lots of snow falling as well.
The next few days were pretty much the same story with us working our fishing time around weather windows, getting out when we could and trying to find the big cod that we knew were here with the customers finding fish up to 52lb’s it was a good week but with the next weeks weather looking to be clearing up after a big blow I was hopeful that a lager stamp of fish was going to move into the area. With the first group of customers leaving on the Wednesday morning I was left waiting the arrival of the next group that evening and when they turned up they were certainly keen to get out and stuck into the fishing. The first day was a very blowy one and we managed to get out for 4 hours before we called it a day, big swells and wind were making the fishing very uncomfortable but we still managed to find some fish with Cod up to 25lb’s coming out which put smiles on their faces. The next 3 days were bad weather so we spent the days trying for Halibut again in the fjord without any success, we did however manage some beautiful kelp Cod with bright red colourings. Day 5 we knew the winds were dropping off during the day but we also knew that the swell left from the last few days of stormy weather was going to be big, the decision was made to go out and try our luck anyways and see what was out there.
The swell was lumpy with an average size of over 2 metres but this was fishable, we set up our drifts and were into fish straight away, the sport was definitely there with bigger fish mixed in as well we had some high 30’s and 40’s to the boat when I received a call from Mark who was in charge of the other boat of customers saying that he had caught a 47 and a 59 in the same drift but the sport was dying off at these marks and a joint decision was made to head North and see if the fish had been pushed further up by the strong South Westerlies we had been getting. Setting up the boat on a shallow drop off at first there was nothing on the sounder but slowly it came to life with some great fish being caught including a 54lb to customer Andrew. We all went back with smiles on our faces and we knew that the next day would be a lot calmer and the wind was almost vanishing.
The last day we set out in glorious weather and made our way back to where we finished off the day before getting into fish instantly, these were a mixture of sizes ranging from low doubles to 40lb’s so definitely not to be sniffed at. For the last part of the day the decision was made to head south again just to see if we could find a biggie there. On the way over there we could see the unmistakable shapes of Humpback whales breaking the surface, we slowed down and these inquisitive beasts fed and played around the boat for a while. It really was an experience none of us will ever forget, they popped right up in front of the boat poking their heads slowly out keeping an eye on these excited anglers who had invaded their space. With these whales was a big shoal of baitfish called Capelin which they were feeding on, now where there is baitfish there is nearly always predatory fish around them.
With this shoal dropping down to 20 metres from the surface the customers all dropped shads and pirks down below this level, hopefully where the fish would be feeding. Andrew suddenly exclaimed he had caught the bottom with me replying that he can’t have hit the bottom at 30 metres, he was 25 metres above it. The snag then started to pull back and it was fish on straight away we could tell it was going to be a half decent fish, after a great fight a huge female cod appeared down deep and after letting her decompress and blow her bubbles she was ready to be landed. Once aboard she was quickly weighed, photographed and returned swimming away strongly to spawn another time going 57.1lb’s on the scales this was another truly amazing creature that we had been lucky enough to catch.
With a few more fish caught it was soon time to head back to the camp to clean the boats and pack our bags ready for the next days long journey home. Despite the weather trying to interfere in our plans we did very well indeed with some truly spectacular fish being caught by the customers who all enjoyed themselves immensely. I’m sitting here writing this report in the departures lounge of Oslo airport and already I am missing the Skrei fishing, it really is something else and knowing that the next drop could well produce a 70lber really keeps the excitement flowing. Hopefully, it won’t be too long until I am back fishing for these amazing beasts again in the icy cold Arctic Circle.
For more information on our Hosted Skrei fishing holidays contact our sea fishing team in the office on 01603 407596