An African Summer in Norway
Every July we head to Norway, Mavungana Flyfishing is very privileged to have exclusive ownership of a couple of weeks at the most beautiful Atlantic Salmon fishing lodge on the planet – Osen Gard. So how did we come to have our bum in the butter to this degree, Mark Taylor who worked for me in the formative years of Mavungana Flyfishing in Dullstroom in the very late 90’s left to pursue a career in International guiding. Ultimately managing a top lodge in Argentina and then doing the same in the Northern Hemisphere summer in Norway, everything was uncomplicated until the Norwegian lodge owner’s beautiful daughter returned from university and they fell in love. The rest, as they say, is history, they are married and Mark runs the show, speaks fluent Norwegian and we a very lucky to host groups of our clients to the lodge every year.
After 17 years of dedicated service and friendship, I took John Thoabala, manager of the Dullstroom store with me. Mark’s messages leading up to our departure were ominous “driest summer in 119 years – pray for rain Buddy” were making me pretty twitchy. The picturesque drive to the lodge after being collected from the airport took us around the edge of Svadal lake, this is where the river starts and all there was a pitiful trickle down dry brown rocks. Everyone in minibus drew a collective breath, salmon need a good flow of fresh water to run up and spawn and unless they were getting a lift up to their spawning grounds in an air-conditioned truck, the salmon weren’t going anywhere!
I was gutted, was John going to catch his salmon? On the third evening not a fish had been touched and some cloud cover came over. Upon going to bed I looked out to see some fine drizzle. Up the next morning I shoved my head out of the window and the gentle rain was still falling, everyone was excited, we bolted breakfast and threw on waders and jackets, stopping at the water marker the level had come up 4 cm – game on. John’s fish took as any classic salmon does, John played out of his boots, not lifting the rod and setting the hook perfectly like a veteran Scottish Ghillie. The fight was a blur of heated advice and instruction and long solid runs. The cumulative whooping and high fiving as the net was slipped under his fish echoed throughout the valley, John walked back to the lodge to ring the ceremonial bell and an emotional tear trickled down my cheek, fortunately, hidden by Smiths polaroids and my hooded rain jacket…