Swimming with the salmon in a temperate rainforest stream is unforgettable. Recording the moment with a good photograph is the highest accolade for that memory. I struggle with several major challenges each time I go. First is getting close enough to my subject. I have to get very close in order for the wide-angle effect to become dramatic. If the Dolly Varden are not trying to bite my nose or camera dome port, I’m nowhere near close enough. Next is perspective. My view of things can be ordinary but easily changed to extraordinary by a slight shift in my angle of view.
And then there is the light; the single most important element in a really great image. It is what keeps me going back, day after day, because no moment is the same. The fish may be there for weeks but how their world is lit can vary between seconds. For example, the shot of the Coho school was taken during a week of non-stop rain. I swam alongside a pod of fish, ready to shoot if something interesting happened. Well nothing happened for hours and then, suddenly, the dusty beams of light appeared. My heart almost stopped.
These pictures are all taken during a few summer weeks in the central part of Sweden, not far from the Norwegian border, in a region called Jämtland. Located 6 and 10 hours north of the southern Sweden cities of Stockholm and Gothenburg, this area is locked in snow and winter for much of the year. When summer comes, it comes in force. In about four months, from June to September, the fish work to put on weight for spawning and the soon-to-return winter.
The limestone waters of the Enan and other rivers of the region are rich in bugs and the fish grow large and strong. The average weight is between 2 and 3 pounds and many of the Brown Trout and Arctic Char go past 24 inches in length with weights of 6 or 7 pounds.
Sea run cutthroat are a native species of trout and are one of the few game fish labeled anadromous as they travel between fresh and saltwater. While your average size SRC will go 12-14 inches, one of the most exciting aspect to wetting lines in the Sound is you never know what you will get. 12 inches this time, the next might be 22 inches, you just never know.
In this day and age, more and more people seem to be finding their way into fly fishing and, in many ways, this is a good thing. As these people explore the world of angling, the internet is littered with ideas and opinions on what fish to pursue, where, when, and why, conservation messages and so on. This abundance of data has motivated some to find new fisheries that break the mainstream mold in one way or another, whether that be in remoteness, species or tactics. This, too, is a good thing ... enter Puget Sound.
Looking back on the year, most of the shots worth saving are planned for a feature or article to come. Some shots won't ever have a particular purpose, not being strong enough to stand as part of a collection, or simply not having a story that goes along with them that's interesting enough to tell.
So, I decided I'd throw a few together here rather than let them go to waste. It's the sort of thing I'll be likely to do again.