Sören and Sara
A meeting between a novice and a highly skilled pike fisher and his Sara
For a long time I had kept an eye on Sören Essebo's website about pike fishing in brackish water in southern Sweden. A very nice and informative site, where Sören for years has written about a great many things - tied together by the fishing (the site is in Swedish only, but an english version is coming up soon).
He is fishing many days a year and writes quite a bit from each trip - or should we say a lot from each trip.
Because there were updates 2-4 times a week and that the reports not was perused in seconds made me come back again and again.
Reading the articles gave the me impression that Sören had to be very extrovert, so I e-mailed him, and asked if he wanted to go fishing. He gave a polite, but flat refusal.
A year passed by.
I wrote him another e-mail. Maybe he had forgotten that I had e-mailed him months ago? Maybe he had forgotten what he answered? Maybe he was in a better mood and had more positive thoughts about the danes? Maybe the timing was just better? I do not know, but the result was that in late October, we met at the water to talk, take pictures and fish a bit.
The air was mild - 15 degrees Centigrade - and 9 in the water. Still Mr. Frost was not yet sending his cold greetings even though we expected him to do so at this time of year. Sören arrived half an hour before I did He gave me a call just to say he would start fishing. What kind of host! I found him behind a point and worked my way out to him in the knee deep water.
We shook hands and gave each other a judging look. As Sören has been fishing by himself for many, many years and has not been hiding the fact that he prefers it that way I decided not to push my luck. So we talked shortly about the fishing and why he had not seen any thing yet. We both gave it a theoretic shot, when Sören with self-assurance pointed at some rocks, which stood out from the leopard bottom. It was placed 100 meters from where we were, so I took it as a sign of we now should fish and size each other.
"Normally we should find a pike there", He said and used his rod tip as a pointer. "Well, it is hard to guarantee anything in life, but anyway…"
Fishing Before Noon
I fished to the left on the innerside of the big rocks and Sören fished to the right on the long out side
I had not been fishing for long. I yelled and made Sören understand that I just ha a follower. "Good!" - he replied. "Then they are still here." and repaid by lifting his rod and and a small pike rolled in the surface. I grabbed my camera.
Headed for the hot spot and edged my way through the water to take some photos and maybe even talk a bit more. While Sören ended the fighting he told me, that the pikes often get curious about the trouble spot. So you should give it another chance after landing the first one. So he did after we have ended the hooking-fighting-landing-photographing sequence. The second cast gave yet another one, approximately same size. "That is number two in an endless row" he said in such a way that he emphasized that he knew that Nemesis would resent it.
I stayed a bit more, but as nothing more happened (how far can pike feel the noise from panicking pike anyway, and such small pikes?), I started to the walk back to the left side of the Point of Guarantees.
I was not sure how reserved the man was, and how much we could or would talk, as he had not even been sure whether he liked the idea of fishing with another fisherman. But as time passed by we fished our way around the rocks and through the gaps, we both thawed and discussed a lot of different subjects.
A big whirl came out of nothing as my line landed. The dorsal fin and tail appeared. It was a big fish. After 10 minutes, it was ready. Sören took pictures. So did I. Nice and fat pike.
"It's my biggest pike ever!" - I said so it was clear for every one that I was delighted and proud. Sören looked at me with surprise and wonder in his eyes. Made a controlled grunt and a smirk.
White belly, metallic painted bright green sides with big oval yellow spots. Strong, compact and well fed. After the pike and I had given each other the toothpaste-smile (one of us doing better than the other), it was released and Sören and I fished our back to the packed lunch.
Sören was not to slow eat. So there I sat with the oral cavity filled with rye and tried to ask him a few relevant questions about his website and how it all started.
He had been fishing for many years. More years than I have had birthdays. He started fishing together with his father, from a boat in the creeks and inlets around Sölvesborg.
The White Pike Sara is Sören's creation. A pike fly made from a few straws of flash, white ostrich herl and red tying thread. It seems like Sören uses this fly 90% of the time he fishes for pike.
You can see it on Sörens own site here.
They fished for sea trout and pike using ordinary lures. Later he got interested in fly fishing and fished for stocked as well as escaped rainbows. Different kind of flies originated from the vice and later tested at the hunting fields.
When using a streamer he sometimes felt a that he for a second lost contact with the fly or that the line lost weight. Then, the tippet came up with out a fly at the end.
That was the starting signal for a more and more targeted fly fishing for the pike living in brackish water.
Not far from where he lived, there was an ostrich farm. The owner was a kind man and gave Sören lots of white ostrich feathers so everything in the beginning made it to a higher level.
It turned out that the area was habitat for an enormous stock of saltwater pike. So enormous, in fact, that the fishing from time to time was not challenging but close to boring. It did not matter though. Fishing is not only about the catch.
It is maybe even more important to get out there. The hunt for sensing nature, the air, the plants, birds, animals, observe other human beings and catch a pike, made Sören weave in a lot of fishing days in his calendar.
In his professional career, he is used to document many data in a controlled and standardised way. That discipline is copied to his fishing reports, which now spans many years. Using work sheets and databases he logged his data on a computer and when the Internet was a reality, Sören saw his chance to distribute some of his knowledge in cyberspace.
Earlier he had written fictional short stories and other small works. They have never been published, but the Internet gave him the option to be he his own editor-in-chief and publisher. A systematic and continuing reporting on the site has led to what is now an almost countless number of reports. But not reports containing only the facts. The reports contain much more. Actually they are based on his thoughts about life, the people he meets, restrictions, statements and the entertaining "conversations" with the imaginary Internet-watchdog. It is obvious to the the reader that he is a skilled writer who writes amusing and gives unexpected and subtle life to the text. Take your time. It takes time get through the stories.
"I get quite a lot enquiries on the site", he told me. "Normally it is Scandinavians, but also from Eastern Europe an United States. Many people ask for help or wants to discuss a theory or want to know my secret places. Some of them even want to pay me for guiding them" - He laughed. He has until now refused all such arrangements. The few people he has been fishing with have been novices who wanted to get their first pike and did not know how to get started.
I was about to have finished lunch and chewed the last mouthful, when I asked him what makes us get out here time after time... after time.
He looked at me. Smiled broadly. Rubbed his chin. It is as if most of us find that hard to explain. I think we both understood and in the very same second the last coffee disappeared down the throat, Sören packed up. "We can not sit here and talk all day. We are here to fish!".
He wanted me to catch some more, now he was somehow the tour-guide and I was the "jounalist" or his guest, at least.
Ending the Day
We moved across a stretch of meadow land and out between the small rocks. He pointed: "I had good fishing over there a couple of years ago. You can start there and then we fish towards each other." I went to the corner I was assigned. I got several fish quickly after each other.
Sören smiled an gratulated.
He was relieved that I had such good fishing the last hour. There is always some kind of pressure on the guide, who has—as you might know—the absolute responsibility for the novice's success or lack of same.
We continued fishing over some huge speckeld areas—flats. Open sandy areas, short sea weed and bladder wrack here and there. This was where the pike of the savannah lived.
That was what he called them. Pike which hunt in the open areas. It did not take lot of imagination to get a picture of a savannah where the lion had been substituted with the toothy, lurking pike.
Sören mas getting the feeling that the whole thing was getting more and more embarrasing as we only had pictures with him in small pike company.
I reeled in the line and put the rod behind my ear. Took out the camera and trotted in the old mentor's foot steps.
A small trough contained fish.
Here Sören discovered that he was what women defines as "a real man". He was unable to talk and fish at the same time, as he missed a few when setting the hook.
In complete silence the fly was sent over the dark area over the sea weed. Could there be another one? The Fly was stopped. The light 5-weight rod bent as newly boiled spaghetti. A pike weighing 4.5 kilo was fought with great rutine. Pose, picture, release. He got one more just before we re-entered meadow land.
It had been a very nice day. Why? I had excellent fishing, took lots of photos and last but not least because Sören invited me to come inside his fishing-patio and we both had good company.
Even though I did not want to admit it, I turned out to be a little impressed by Sörens ability to read the water and select the surefire pike-places. The Point of Guarantees, The Basin, The Creek-corner. Every time he said that a certain place should hold fish a pike showed itself within minutes. That was certainly local knowledge per excellence and helped me to get a much better understanding of pike fishing in saltwater.