European Travels & Fishing

by | Jan 26, 2015 | What's Happening

We’re back in New Zealand after having spent a year traveling in Europe. Naturally, a lot of that time was spent with family in my birth country Norway and also some in my later adopted country of Sweden. The picture on the right was taken by my wife Hayley, in the mountain area near my parents’ place. What has hit me more and more as I’ve gotten older is the incredibly rich history of the place. Adding to the stunning nature, plain for all to see, North Norway really is a magical place at any time of the year! I can with accuracy trace my ancestors in the area at least back to the 1500s, possibly even further. They lived off the sea and the rocky mountain slopes, with small scale farming and an nearly unimaginable tough life as fishermen. Many traveled to the Lofoten Islands for the codfishing, which provided the dried and salted stockfish which was traded out of the Hanseatic town of Bergen to southern Europe. The Portuguese and the Spanish call it bacalhau or bacalao, meaning the salted, dried cod. If they talk about fresh cod they would call it fresh bacalhau. Many are of the belief that it only refers to one particular dish. It’s not, far from it – in fact, the Portuguese claim to have a bacalhau dish for every day of the year. I tried a few during a couple of months in Portugal and of course some made in our traditional ways back home in Norway. “Lutefisk” is a very special dish, eaten with ceremony in Norway. At the end of the year I had it both at my parents’ place and at my mate Geir’s place. Naturally, it has to be accompanied by some aquavit and plenty of bird dog talk into the small hours.

Aidan Luca with Barentsviddas Wind Cries Mary (left) and her mother Barentsviddas Mafia (above).

I’ve always liked Barentsviddas Mafia, from the first litter Geir had on his Italian import Giga. If he ever gets pups from her daughter (with Italian star Titan) Barentsviddas Wind Cries Mary, I would be very interested in one! “Vinnie” is the unpolished diamond in a kennel which has produced good looking, strong hunters in every litter.

Speaking of pointers, there was some interesting news from Denmark in the autumn. My old mentor Jørgen Andersen has done a come back in trials, now with a young bitch called Agertoften Laura who got her 1st in the Novice class. In my blog post Breeding pointers in October 2009 I mentioned some pups he had acquired from the combination INTCh Hjalleses Glenn (Altegeinos Garm – Mølvads Cleo) x Bendt’s A Ditte (ÖBs XL – Jantors Rikke) to possibly breed into his lines. This is what he has done, as Agertoften Laura is by Bendt’s Erek (of above combo) and Agertoften Mary (Agertoften Falco – Lyngborgs I Gaia). Mary is tightly line bred on the Agertoften and Norwegian Bjørklund lines.

Back to the fishing, I think Aidan Luca got some good experiences to take back home to New Zealand. He got to try some ocean fishing in Portugal, fishing the Guadiana river between Portugal and Spain, fishing in rivers and waterways in France, lake fishing in Sweden where he caught his first few perch, ice fishing in Norway where he caught his first few Arctic char, plus more trout fishing in the mountains and ocean fishing which he also has experienced previously in Norway. One day we had the opportunity to go out fishing with my Uncle Jack’s commercial fishing mate Stig Nilsen. When he heard that I was home he was determined to get me out and look for halibut. I had some great hunting experiences with Stig many years ago so it was great to catch up with him again. Aidan and I met him and Jack in Harstad early one morning. On the way we saw a fox coming up from the sea shore, crossing the road into the forest. It was carrying a newly caught flounder in its mouth, probably having caught it in the shallows at low tide.

As seen in the pic to the right, Stig kept his promise and found me a halibut, which weighed in at 15 kg. He is not joking either when he kisses the fish, as he’s got a bit of a love relationship going with them. These days he is thinking about retiring and very often brings his boat to fishing competitions, taking sports fishermen out to find any species but halibut in particular. More often than not his boat Simen H wins the prize for best boat, as he had just done at the Harstad Sea Fishing Festival. A few days after we went fishing he was heading to the festival at Andenes. Jack caught quite a few fish and so did Aidan, like one of the cods he’s pictured with above. Stig has always been mad keen on sportsfishing, so much so that he studied marine biology and also went on to fish for a living. The next picture on the right is one of Jack and Stig on a mountain top where we had a very memorable hunting trip for ptarmigan, one weekend in the late 1980s.

The day after fishing onboard Simen H we jumped in the car to drive up to the far north of Norway. Hayley, Aidan, Finn and I went to visit my brother Knut who works as a teacher in Hammerfest. That would also be synonymous with more fishing, as that’s also Knut’s greatest hobby. He has also got his partner Nancy and kids hooked, so in a few days there we squeezed in one ocean fishing and two trips to lakes for trout. It was my first trip to the Finnmark district, which is a bit surprising considering its proximity to where I grew up. But I’ve mainly sought south…

Every time I’m back it’s confirmed to me that I’m still Scandinavian at heart, however long I’ve spent my life abroad. Appreciating history, including ones own keeps us grounded. As the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard said; Life should be understood backwards but lived forwards. I’m sure this is also an important component in my interest in dog breeding, to try to get some grasp of the past.

Aidan and I spent a night with Jack at my late grandparents’ place waiting for the fox, another tradition in the family started by my grandfather and continued on these days by Jack and his son Øyvind. Unfortunately, there are not many people these days who put an effort into controlling the fox population while Jack and Øyvind often shoot several during a night’s hunting. In many places there is a bounty for each fox you shoot. Jack has also participated in research, taking genetic samples of foxes he has shot. On our night in December only one fox turned up and we did not get a chance to shoot at it.

Keep an eye on this page: There has been expressed interest in some of the old articles I have written about bird dogs over the years. So in the near future I’ll upload some of them and translate some into English, to share them with other enthusiasts out there in the wide world web.