Fly fishing whether I really want to admit it or not is embedded in my DNA. My doctor actually found it on my DNA ladder when doing a blood test on me a couple years ago, so I may as well embrace it, it isn’t going anywhere. Just so happens while I know the previous statement isn’t necessarily scientifically true, I can feel it within me and I know adventure adjoins fly fishing to make up a significant part of my soul. Watching Marlin Perkins growing up created a yearning to see far off locales and somewhere, somehow in the past 20 years I have been fortunate enough to construct a life style allowing me to combine both.
This last escapade put a check mark on a place I have wanted to see for decades if for no other reason than to see the look on peoples face when you say “Greenland.” Yes, we went to Greenland fly fishing on the southern tip for native Arctic Char and I would GLADLY share the name of the rivers with you if they only had names, they don’t. In fact when you are fishing them, it feels a bit like this is only a stream this year, next year maybe it isn’t here due to lake levels, shifting ice and general change in topography. More than likely they will be there again but when it takes what it takes to get to this place, the utter lack of human presence or evidence of such make you wonder. I believe wondering is healthy for the mind…
About 2 hours into the flight from Reykjavik the first glimpse of the big island comes into view…icebergs litter the coastal water and surrounding smaller islands. Around the entire perimeter Greenland, which I didn’t realize until taking a closer loo, are hundreds, maybe thousands of tiny islands carved by glaciers. They create a wonderful introduction to the “ice cap” we are about to fly over. Until you see this in person, nothing on television, in a movie or described in words will do it justice. Multi thousand foot tall peaks emerge from the sea of ice to show just their tip tops and this view goes on as far as you can see from 25,000 feet. How about that, at least I can say I tried…
Landing in Narsarsuaq the intimidation and wonder factor sets in. First is I can’t believe I am standing on Greenland within sight of some of the worlds largest and oldest glaciers. An unreal sensation, almost giddy for me set my mood for the rest of the week and beyond. Second is now how do we get to the lodge from here as the road ends on a dock in one direction and at the airport runway in the other, almost being able to see both ends standing in one place. Every single person at the airport is either a photographer/videographer, explorer or Inuit. Not coming here to watch television and gain weight…though more on this in a bit!
Sharing a ride to the dock with a few other anglers going to another location in the region we hop on a boat for our 3 hour plus boat ride through the fjords, dodging icebergs and leaving all signs of civilization behind. That itch I have found only one remedy for is being satiated, may the adventure begin!
I look at my watch, the sun feels as though its intensity is not quite what it was and sure enough, it is almost 11pm, sun is still up, hungry, tired, nearly two 32 gig cards filled with icebergs and one small village we turn a corner and voila, there is the lodge. Hunger helps me off the boat hoping like nothing they have something for us and OMG do they! Locally sourced carrots, potatoes and mushrooms foraged from the area, some Char sashimi and reindeer flank steak. Throw in for good measure a closely guarded recipe of sweet mustard sauce, home made full grain breads and jam with a Tuborg (Greenland beer) and it is all I can do not to pass out before my head hits the pillow, punch my card, I am out!
Cabins at the lodge are unreal considering where we are and just “wondering” what it might have taken to bring the materials necessary to this location. Water view from the porch, comfortable down comforters on each bed with down pillows, table with just enough light to make a quick journal entry and most importantly, just upwind of where the AM coffee is freshly brewed. I have to believe the 4 of us, the only 4 in camp beside the staff were put right here in these two cabins for what has to be a coincidental reason…
The sun dipped for about 3 hours or so at best, not quite ever dark but dim. Enough for the local residents to figure out new blood was in camp, on goes the mosquito repellent and off for a visit to the lieu, morning snapshot of the view and in for coffee. In my twisted mind I fall to that old joke about how the Native American kid got his name…first thing his parents saw when they stepped out of the tent after he was born…born here there would be a considerable number of people named OMG, WOW or maybe even HOLY S–T! It is just amazing and this comes from having seen a fair share of views around the world!
Freshly rested my mind slants ever so slightly towards fishing, it is what actually brought me to this incredible location. That long slender and what strong also fragile piece of graphite has once again put me in a place I am humbled to be. As hard as I try, staring at the fjord in front of the lodge, I am hoping what I see is being seen by my wife and daughter simultaneously. Nothing resembling WiFi here so it would have to be through a deeper connection, a stronger one founded on relationships as solid and soulful as possible. Before I begin to get homesick I grab rod and reel, pull out the waders and boots and assemble slowly, with deliberation what will be my secondary tool for the next week while here in Greenland fly fishing.
Bobo, our camp host and a person with more colorful stories from the region and the world says over coffee, “Let’s take it easy today, get your feet wet but not push it too hard today.” This guy is speaking my language, I just want to take it all in, not rush past anything if possible. We enjoy a very hearty breakfast of eggs, reindeer sausage and more scrumptious home made bread, look over a map of this part of Greenland and retrace our path to get here, we are really out here! As I look over a map of the region and greater Greenland, I wonder how in the world Arni made the decision to put the lodge HERE…
When I began talking about this trip, my good friend Johann who worked for Angling Club Lax-a at the time told me the fishing here would be ridiculous, almost boring if that is possible. With these comments still resting in the back of my mind, we pack our gear, get on the boat and head out to the first location to present our first flies to fish in Greenland.
After being dropped off, we hiked a scenic route to the stream and as it turns out, the sales pitch was pure, as truthful as any I have ever paid attention to. This small unnamed stream connecting a lake to the sea was so full of native Arctic Char, the bottom was black in places. This was literally like shooting fish in a barrel and we all took our shots! Quickly realizing catching wasn’t going to be an issue, I relocated to higher ground and began trying to spot larger fish to help the others target them among the masses.
The following few days we spend chasing cod in the fjords around the lodge, driving the small boat right up to the base of where the main glacier touches the sea and visiting the a small village about 45 minutes by boat from the lodge. On our way to the village, we are enjoying our ride when Bobo slows the boat a bit and THUD, we hit an iceberg!
We all freak out for a moment, wondering if the boat is going to make like the Titanic when Bobo grabs an ice pick, a glove and begins striking away at the smaller pieces of the berg surrounding the boat. We realize he is grabbing ice for the cooler and to enhance our evening libations back at the lodge after our day of fishing. OK then, iceberg “cubes” in the Gin and Tonic…it is about all I and the rest of our team can think about all day.
As Marilyn is landing a fish, she yells over to John, “Looking forward to those chunks of ice in my glass here soon!” John hooks up mid sentence with a smile and nod. We are having a fine last day in Greenland!
Back at the lodge, as we enjoy maybe the finest tenderloin of freshly grilled reindeer I have ever tasted period, Andreas and Bear start a big bonfire in the pit over looking the small bay. It is a placid evening, mosquitoes seems to be allowing us a small respite from their frequent facial visits. Sipping a little Icelandic brown water with Greenland ice, watching the sun slowing crest the horizon I still can’t believe I am sitting in Greenland…literally can’t wait to return!