Total number: 100 salmon
Average weight: 6,3 kg
Water conditions were excellent with decent water levels and temperatures throughout the season with the exception of a short period in June when temperatures soared and at one stage we had over 18 degrees in the water. By late June the temperature was in that wonderful low to mid-teens band that produces good fishing.
Ryan McShane with a beautiful early season fish, caught in week 26
Week 24 produced 5 fish, all of which were caught on the Malum Winsnes end of the fishery. In most seasons, the fish arrive between the middle of week 24 and the end of week 25. However, an early start often contains a sting in the tail. In order to enjoy good early season fishing, we need low water and a strong start is always tempered with concern that a low water year is on the cards.
Not so in 2023. Early June gave way to a couple of weeks of warm, sunny weather and the river was buoyed by a beautiful trickle melt of icy water.
The author with the first fish of the season, caught in week 24 from the tail of Kjellfloa.
Week 25 produced 19 fish to 6 rods including a Norway first for Bill Francis and a second at 7.6 kilos! Meanwhile, four fish for salmon fishing maestro, Ed Brown with a further fish snuck out in week 26 before he headed for home! Ole Kristian Bjølstad caught the biggest salmon of the week – a fine 100cm, 9.8 kilo fis.
Conditions were perfect with superb water levels and the river carrying a beautiful bottle green tinge. In all, a cracking week with superb weather!
Bill Francis with one of a brace of salmon he caught on his first visit to Gaula in week 25.
Swedish duo Hasse (pictured) and his fishing partner Per, both landed twenty pound plus Gaula salmon in their first visit to the lodge in week 25.
The brilliant Ed Brown who I swear could catch salmon in a bucket with one of several fish he caught during his stay in week 25…
Week 26 produced 21 fish to 8 rods, a decent performance tough hardly surprising wen you consider that all of the rods are experienced Gaula anglers. Danny Steele and Ryan Mcshane managed to average a fish.a day, Steve Atkins caught a beauty of 9 kilos along with a 5 kilo fish. Meanwhile the dynamic duo of Anders Dahl Eriksen and Glenn Hole added five fish between them. The week concluded very nicely with a fabulous salmon of 9.5 kilos for Ryan Mcshane. Another notable fish, caught by AmundTørum measured 96cm and weighed around 10kg. A fine fish and it was a mark of the progress that Amund is making in his salmon fishing.
Danny Steele with one of his fish caught in week 26. Along with fishing partner, Ryan McShane, Danny is one of our experienced veterans nowadays.
Week 26 saw the arrival of Andy Dahl Eriksen, Glenn Hole and the infamous trolley. A mobile tackle wagon, complete with rod holders, it also sports a wine and beer chiller along with ample storage!
The season produced some glorious evenings when the sun set for just a few minutes before climbing back into the sky.
Ryan Mcshane displays a stunning week 26 Twenty-pounder.
Week 27 was shared by six rods. We enjoyed decent water levels with a mixture of low and medium height water. The week was hosted by Aardvark Mcleod and had the added spice of several of the guests being new to salmon fishing. In all cases, some rigorous casting instruction was undertaken and it was with some satisfaction that our team of fishing guides observed the team improving on a daily basis. In total we caught 9 fish for the week, losing several more and everyone agreed that it had been a fantastic week. Compared to previous seasons, this was a low tally and we would usually expect between 18 and 40 fish in week 27. The subdued results were due in part to the lack of experience of the group but also the fishing was hard. Despite the time of the season, we found ourselves using tiny low water flies of the type that we would use in late August. I have not known the river fish quite so badly in week 27 in all the time that I have been here and I suspect that a team of eight experienced anglers would not have caught many more fish. This should prove to be a blip since week 27 is normally so productive and we look forward to welcoming Aardvark McLeod back to the lodge in 2024. If you are interested in fishing in week 27, enquire with Aardvark McLeod.
Matt prepares some Kebabs for the guests. The week was hosted by Aardvark Mcleod and despite the slow fishing, we triumphed in the end and the social sessions by the river were enjoyed by both guests and team Winsnes alike.
Ezra with his first Atlantic salmon caught on the fly. The pool is bottle pool and the salmon took a sparsely dressed double hook fly that was cast with a single hand rod. A fine achievement!
Everyone enjoyed meeting our icelandic horses this year. This is Alice riding Eilin (who gave birth to her second foal during the ’23 season). The horses will be back next season…
The bankside catering was a big hiy in week 27. The food of the gods is burgers and hotdogs cooked over a fire near to the water’s Edge!
Week 28 reinforced the brutal nature of the fishing. The week was hosted by Petter and Anna Geelmyeden with 8 Gaula regulars making up the fishing team. Once again the fishing was very hard and tactical approaches to the fishing were becoming important just to get a bite. Tiny flies, riffle hitches and late season tactics were once again the order of the day. By now it was obvious that we were experiencing a much lower run of fish than usual and moreover, that the fish were suffering from fly fatigue. The huge increase in the popularity of fly fishing on the river is bound to have an effect and this year, with low numbers of fish, we experienced the negative effects. Thankfully, the experience of the group got some fish caught! Gary Maidment had a beautiful salmon of 8.5 kilos and it was hard and well-earned indeed. Gaula veteran Morten Jensen managed several fish including a birthday special on his 50th which was celebrated with a Bankside barbecue! Anna Geelmyeden got one over her better half with a lovely salmon of around 7.5 kilos from Kjellfloa. The end of week tally was 17 fish – a decent performance given the conditions!
It was a hard-earned tally by a talented group of fishers and it marked the transition from difficult to super-difficult fishing!
Gary Maidment with one of his fish from week 28. Gary was part of a team of experienced Gaula fishers with Petter and Anna Geelmyeden acting as hosts. Petter’s knowledge and technical approach to fishing was very useful in a tricky week with difficult water conditions.
Morten Jensen along with Steve Atkins is our most loyal and long-serving guest. Morten knows how to fish the river after so many years of experience on the river. Here he is with one of three fish that he caught in week 28 to celebrate his 50th!
We enjoyed good water levels throughout the season. This shot shows Lillestrøm looking from the island side, under the wires. Note the stream flowing in from the island – always a good sign.
Anna Geelmyeden with a fine salmon of over 7 kilos from her favourite pool, Kjellfloa. Anna is a regular here and a formidable fly fisher!
We enjoyed good flows throughoutnthe season and the banks remained green throughout. The bankside walk for the lower fishery stretches from Kroken to Kjellfloa and is a delight.
Week 29 was hosted byJohn Olav Olderen on behalf of Go Fishing Worldwide. The early part of the week was a washout with three days of fishing lost to high water levels. As the river began to settle, the team began to contact the fish and they finished the week with 8 fish to 8 rods. For a more detailed report, take a look at John’s fishery by visiting www.tingvollsalmon.com
By this stage, Gaula was fishing generally badly with no signs of new fish to top up the early season run. Eight fish for the week is well below our average but in the conditions it was a decent performance by the anglers involved and I know that several big fish were hooked and lost. We look forward to seeing Go Fishing Worldwide back at Winsnes in 2024. If you are interested in fishing this week, you can enquire via Go Fishing Worldwide
The banks looked very bonny this year with plenty of rain to keep everything green and fresh…
Week 30 was very quiet for the lodge. A booking cancellation left us with just two rods, Andrew and Morten, sharing the water. By this stage, Gaula was fishing very badly indeed and the enthusiasm of the fish to flies indifferent at best. Thank god that Andrew Beattie, a regular here, caught the only fish of the week from the top of the bottle pool. When the fish weighs over 30 pounds, little else matters and Andrew’s fish comfortably passed the 30 lb mark. It measured 112 cm and was estimated at 14. 3 kilos!
Andrew Beattie with his 32 pounds plus salmon caught from the head of the Bottle Pool. This was our biggest fish of the season and it was caught in an otherwise dour week. Many congrats to Andrew on his achievement. Andrew along with his fishing partner Morten was on his third visit to the lodge.
Week 31 – the poor state of the fishing meant that in week 31 we had just two guests sharing the water. Among them, Matti Viitanen from Finland who put in a truly superb fishing performance by catching five fish in truly dire conditions. The best fish of his week weighed 8.1 kilos, a very fine fish to cap a memorable week for the Finn. The total number of fish caught for the week by 2 rods was 6.
Coloured water was a regular feature this season and late August brought a big flood which had the effect of re-shaping parts of some of the pools…
This shot looking down the last field at Kjellfloa will give you an idea og how high the water got during the August flood.
Very few fish were caught during the last few weeks of the season and fishing pressure was light. August generally was a poor time for us with the usual late bookings not forthcoming this season because of the poor returns from Gaula generally in the latter part of the season.
There were a few highlights, including the Ambassador from the USA to Norway, Marc Nathanson catching fish very first Atlantic Salmon with us on the Old Bridge pool and his son, Adam catching his first Atlantic Salmon on the fly.
Our good friend Patrick Ekblom did very well in week 34 with a super salmon of 10.5 kilos caught from the top of the bottle pool.
The last week of the season, week 35, was busy and we were delighted to welcome old friend Vegard Heggem and his group to the lodge. Once again fishing was subdued but a couple of fish were caught and the water conditions were very nice, making the fishing a joy.
The author celebrates with the U S Ambassador to Norway, Marc B Nathanson and his first Atlantic Salmon caught from the Old bridge Pool.
A good start followed by a poor finish
As I mentioned at the beginning, a good start to the season can be followed by diminishing results from mid-season onwards and this season that was certainly the case. Not a disaster by any means but a sign that Norwegian rivers generally are absorbing a lot of angling pressure and when the run of fish is weak, the fishing breaks down very quickly.
I can report that there are decent numbers of fish in many of the pools now that the season is coming to an end, evidence that the weaker-than-usual run met heavy angling pressure and the result was salmon with lockjaw during the latter weeks of the season.