Bornholm 2006

Published May 20th 2006

Ah, the annual trip to Bornholm! A highlight in the fishing calendar and always a great trip no matter how lousy the fishing is.


Happy? Happy! - Look at the angle of that line. There\'s a bit of distance out to that fish.
Happy? Happy!
Grande kelt - It may very well be skinny, and it may also be unenergetic, but trust me, it does put a bend in a 6 weight rod!
Grande kelt
GFF partner with a bent rod - Another one has fallen for the Strange Christmas Fly in the fog.
GFF partner with a bent rod
Misty morning - The beauty of the spring mist can be breathtaking.
Misty morning
This annually recurring trip will celebrate its 10th anniversary next year, and has been a longstanding tradition amongst the crowd of merry pranksters that I usually go fishing with. The team has varied a bit over the years, but the core group of people has remained the same. Some of them will be well known faces to the regulars on GFF, often appearing in my images and stories, while others are less publicly exposed and have only been on a trip or two to that rocky island in the Baltic.

Earlier reports can be seen in
Rock Island
Bornholm 2002

I'm not going to make this a diary accounting for every day of our trip. As usual this won't be a kiss'n'tell story either, revealing all our "secret spots" on the island—as if we had any. For the most I will just let the pictures talk for themselves, and maybe intertwine the imagery with some small bits of text on more specific subjects.

Almost back in shape - This kelt is close to being reconstituted, but still has the hallmarks of the kelt: darker color and skinnier belly.
Almost back in shape
Almost tropical - This is not a sandy Caribbean beach, but a cold day in March on the windy Danish seashore.
Almost tropical
Break for thoughts - After fishing a good looking stretch of coast, there\'s time for a small break where new tactics are discussed.
Break for thoughts
Gear talk - While the anglers gather on the beach for coffee and a chat, the gear has its own summit in the background, discussing the angler\'s casting faults and complaining about the aching ferrules. Notice how the spinning rod is not a part of the \
Gear talk
Fir plantation - The sandy soil leads to forrests like this one: low fir trees in a very light but yet with an ambience of adventure.
Fir plantation
Jens searching the edges - Jens had just landed a kelt here, and kept searching for another one... in vain.
Jens searching the edges
Kasper and Ken planning - The coast of Bornholm is quite rocky and boulders like this can make wading a risky endeavour i some places. Remember, the bottom is the same as the shore... pretty bumpy.
Kasper and Ken planning
Line tray - Jens is the only one of the gang who uses a line tray, here portraied a bit larger-than-life due to the fish-eye lens on the camera.
Line tray
Probing the surf - Kasper is probing the edge of a long reef where the surf breaks in a frothy turmoil. Right on the outside of this edge there\'s a steep dropoff and fish have been known to cruise along this ridge.
Probing the surf

The boots-just-barely-visible state
Most people who fish the ocean know that wind can be a real crucial factor to success. The wind can be troublesome in several respects, but waves and dirty water are the two main causes of grievance with head winds and the resulting casting trouble as a close number three.
Heavy winds will raise the ocean creating waves and stirring the water. That again will bring dirt, silt, seaweed and other stuff up into the water and make every cast a battle for not snagging on something in the water. While the fish probably couldn't care less (or maybe even prefer dirty water), we coastal anglers are quite distraught by the dirt.
On the other hand, when it settles and the murkiness of the water reaches a certain low level, we celebrate, because it's a well-known fact that the boots-just-barely-visible state of the water will create close to perfect conditions for sea trout fishing. The fish will be hunting ferociously in the shelter of the dirt and aggressively attack most things that move—including our flies... hopefully.
So provided that the wind isn't too rough and the waves aren't too high, we look for water with some "color" caused by the stirred-up bottom sediment. That is typically found on the shore where the wind was head on the day before.

In the sun - Yours truly in a beautiful spot on Bornholm. Not that I caught anything, but the conditions were perfect.
In the sun
Mirror-calm - This is not what we like: surface like a mirror and water as clear as gin. Some wave action and some dirt will give better results during the day. This scenere calls for some early dawn fishing - from before sunup.
Spring runoff - The small streams were running high with the last melting water. This small stream is a typical example of the spawning streams on Bornholm. In spite of their small size, they are very productive.
Spring runoff
Waves over sand - This is more human: a sandy beach with gently rolling waves. Easier to wade and potentially holding fish.
Waves over sand

Blood nosed - The natural colors accented by some bright material is a popular combination on the sea trout flies for colder water.
Blood nosed
Nice box, Jens! - A very well organized flybox with a very typical assortment of flies for Danish sea trout: natural colored palmer-hackled flies and zonkers sprinkled with some color.
Nice box, Jens!
The advantage of being on an island
Being on an island gives certain advantages when the fishing is sensitive to wind: there is always a calm side and always a windy side and logically also two sides with something in between.
So ideally the wind changes around, constantly creating shores where the wind was on the day before, or you wish for days with light winds on or along your favorite spots, rendering them with perfect small waves or ripples and some water movement.
Of course things are rarely perfect, and this year we basically had two choices: either we had to find small coves with shelter from the strong western and south-western wind or we had to go to the off wind side and fish water, which was still and clear as gin. Either situation is far from optimal. But at least we had the option.

What fly? - The boys comparing fly boxes and discussing fly choices.
What fly?
Resting - Spring did show it\'s mild face a couple of days and made a rest in the sun a pleasant experience
Snake! - Probably the skinniest kelt of the week, caught by Lars - the only spin fisherman in the group. Imagine this fish in full fighting condition!
Spinning - Lars had as much luck (or skill) with the spinning rod as the rest of us had with our fly rods. He fishes very light gear most of the time, and prefers small wobblers and lures in the very light end.
The large number of fish
The surprisingly large number of sea trout on Bornholm is caused by several factors. The single most important one is the presence of many spawning streams. The small island has a couple of dozens of streams, where sea trout spawn, and that draws a lot of fish close to the shores during the winter. The strategy of these fish even enhances the chances of catching them on the coast. Because of the small size of the streams and the fact that they are all spate streams with very fickle and unstable water levels, the fish have to engage in a hit-and-run spawning strategy, entering the streams as soon as the water is there and exiting the stream again within a few days before the levels drop.

On this particular island the fish even have spread out their spawning over several months, meaning that some will spawn already in October while others will wait until early spring. All this to ensure the propagation of the species.
This means that most spawning fish will spend a long time in the ocean rather than in the stream and also means that they will be available to us as quarries.

Kelts - a blessing and a curse
After spawning the sea trout return to the ocean to feed and regain strength and weight. In this stage they are referred to as kelt, and are a different breed indeed compared to the silver bullet sea trout that we admire so much.
The kelt is typically slim, it's tail and fins are worn and the fish is deplete of energy from overcoming the hazards of the spawning run. Some are even attacked by different fungi and fin-rot. Many of them are barely recognizable as sea trout, but look like a different species.
Because of this they are often far from beautiful and actually quite bad fighters too. But they are often caught in large sizes since they are typically older fish.
The fish regain their strength and former beauty before autumn, and become the fish we connect with sea run sea trout: the silver bullet of the ocean - a beautiful chrome fish in prime condition.

Hand landing - When the fish is tired - which can be rather quickly with kelts - it tips over like most trout, and can be landed and released in situ with no use of nets or other aides.
Hand landing
Ken with a kelt - This is a very typical fish for Bornholm. Beautiful enough, but not very strong and a far cry from the chomed delights of a real non-spawning winter fish.
Ken with a kelt
Not always easy - Hand landing these large fish is sometimes a job. Slimy and limp as they are, it\'s not easy to grab them.
Not always easy

Butterfish - Look at the color of this fish. This could very well be a fish that hasn\'t spawned yet, but judging from the way Kasper hides the tail, it might also be worn down - the telltale of a kelt. Kasper does say the the fins and tail were perfect. though. Notice the perfect conditions in the water behind Kasper.
Nice kelt - This one fell for the Strange Christmas Tree mentioned in an other article on this site. It looks fat and healthy from this angle, but is quite skinny and not at all shiny
Nice kelt

Chrome! - The prize of them all: a silver bullet with bright sides and loose scales. This is quite a difference from a kelt. A fish like this will give you a fair fight and maybe a few leaps.
Small beauty - This is a very typical small silvery fish. Bright, strong, beautiful.
Small beauty
Cast after cast after cast... - The story of sea trout fishing. Searching the water is tactic number one.
Cast after cast after cast...
Weighty catch - The bend tells a story of a fish burried deep between the rocks.
Weighty catch
The seven dwarfs - Seven anglers in a cabin means fourteen wading boots. This is just a small selection.
The seven dwarfs
View over the coast - Bornholm has a beautiful coastline.
View over the coast
The prize: a chrome fish
The fish we all hunt when we go fishing for sea trout in the ocean in the cold season is the perfect-bodied shiny fish in perfect condition. In the winter and early spring these are the ones that have skipped spawning and remained in the ocean during the winter to feed.
Fish like that fall in two groups: fish that haven't spawned and fish, which have been up into a stream to spawn one or several earlier years, but decided to skip this particular year.

The result is a fish, which has had more than one season to overcome the spawning perils and grow, and the end result of that is an extraordinarily strong and well-conditioned fish.

The smaller ones are pre-spawn fish, which have only spent a year or two in the ocean, but haven't spawned yet. These are equally beautiful, but just not as large as the first group.

Both are a great catch and will fight well, look very beautiful and even taste very well if you decide to keep one for the pan.

Gear parade - Very typical gear for sea trout: 5-6-7 weights loaded with sensible reels and shooting heads.
Gear parade
Gear! - As always there\'s a lot of expensive gear to look at on such trips.
On a row - There were seven of them on a row, all firmly parked on a reef sticking out a couple of hundred yards. Anglers sure have a tendency to aggregate in certain areas, which are considered better than others. Actually I caught plenty fish right behind them, closer to the shore.
On a row
Rock and roll! - They are the rocks and you do the roll when you wade on them. Remember that it looks the same underwater - just with the added bonus of a green, soapy layer of algea on the rocks...
Rock and roll!
Rocks - Some parts of the Bornholm coast is pure rocks such as here. Not easy to wade and only rarely very productive.
Stream - A small stream is both backdrop and foreground for a nice gear picture.

Rod bender - The kelt will not fight with leaps and runs, but rather go deep and give your rod a good bend. All kelts are released to live and regain strength - for another fight or another spawning run.
Rod bender
Skinny - This is the skinny type of fish you will see quite a lot. Also notice the worn tail and the lead color. Hook this fish again after it\'s had a couple of months or three in the ocean, and you will probably see your backing!
Small chromed fish - These are quite common: small, chromed beauties not yet old enough to spawn. We caught and released a lot of these this year.
Small chromed fish
The crucial moment - This is one of the moments where it can go wrong. A single roll or toss on the short line and the fly can very well loose it\'s grip.
The crucial moment

One for the pan - Treat yourself to the taste of a sea trout, but let it be a silver bright one in good condition and not a kelt, which is far from as delicious and deserves to get a chance to regain its strength after its spawning journey.
One for the pan

User comments
From: Marco Mularo · Frank254·at·  Link
Submitted December 15th 2006

Wonderfull Place , and Trout!!!!
Is good the and of April?

From: Massimo Strumia · massimo.strumia·at·  Link
Submitted July 8th 2006

Beatiful report!
I'm very interested to this spot; can you tell me something about the best period of the year?
Where were you located?
Can you suggest to me a B&B, lodge, ecc... near this wonderful sea?
Thank you and... I'm sorry for my English!



From: CD · cdelplato·at·  Link
Submitted May 24th 2006

Super! Looks like you really captured the essence of the trip! Wish I was there!!!

GFF staff comment
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted May 20th 2006


The pictures are now available as a slideshow. Thanks for reminding me.

And sure it would be great with some more personal narrative for the trip. But it takes a lot of time to do these thorough articles, and accounting for seven and a half days of fishing amongst a group of seven guys is just beyond what I could muster the time for.

Next time maybe...


From: biocronicle · Fredrik_odelberg·at·  Link
Submitted May 20th 2006

You really should make this article into a slideshow!
Nice pics but it would be fun with a more personal text.
kudos anyways!

GFF staff comment
Comment to an image
From: Martin Joergensen · martin·at·  Link
Submitted August 5th 2010


The fly is a Blood Nosed Frede, and it's basically the same as The Grey Fred with the added benefit of a red front hackle or -- as here -- red dubbing over the eyes in stead of the grey marabou used for the regular pattern. Sometimes the marabou body dubbing is also mixed with or replaced with something brighter like synthetic Ice Dubbing.


Comment to an image
From: Ron Myers · ron0·at·  Link
Submitted August 5th 2010

Like the looks of this fly. Would like know more about it and how to dress it.

Comment to an image
From: Stella · missgenevra·at·  Link
Submitted April 28th 2009

What a lovely post.

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