Late season on Tokkeåi
Fall is just around the corner in West Telemark, and it has been a hot and dry summer. While most people love the nice weather, those of us who know better have been praying for bad weather. I routinely check yr.no every couple of hours and cross my fingers for rain with big brown trout on my mind, and know that eventually the weather gods will deliver the goods!
Tokkeåi is a classic flood river, and when the water levels go up the lake run fish move up into the river. It offers a wide variety of fishing from top to bottom. Throughout the upper section you’ll find deep pools and boulder strewn rapids which are perfect for fast sink lines and big streamers, while through the lower section you’ll find classic runs and riffles ideal for swinging flies, or fishing dries. Over the past several years of fishing Tokkeåi it has become one of my all time favorite rivers, and when the conditions are right there is nowhere else I’d rather be fishing.
With rain finally in the forecast it’s time to head to the vice and whip up a couple more streamers for the occasion. Black, white, grey, tan and olive, medium size single hook flies always seems to work best on Tokkeåi. But just like with salmon fishing, if the water levels are low you should stick to the smaller stuff, and when the river is big you can fish the bigger stuff. Big articulated flies can be effective as well, but you’ll be doing a lot of casting covering water so choose something that sheds water and is easy to cast so you won’t get worn out. And Just like with dry fly fishing, you need to match the hatch. This watershed is full of whitefish, char, common minnow, lamprey, and three-spined stickleback, which are all on the menu if you happen to be a massive brown trout.
Although the fishing here is best when the flows are between 40-80 CMS, you can still find fish in lower water, you’ll just need to switch up the tactics. Smaller streamers on a long leader, a hares ear nymph or a caddis in the evenings on the lower portion of the river is always a safe bet. If you have a belly boat or other inflatable fishing device the delta area can be very good fishing throughout the season! Fishing smaller lighter colored natural streamers through the summer months are very effective, but as the season progresses you will find more and more fish in the river.
When the water rises to the point that it gets difficult to wade, with a slight stained color and white bubbles on the surface, you really have a chance at a fish of a lifetime on Tokkeåi. It is simply about persistence and finding them when they are there. But that is exactly what makes Tokkeåi special. It isn’t easy catching monster brown trout on tokkeåi, but simply knowing they could be swimming in the pool right in front of you will make you need to come back again and again.
Tokkeåi is open until September 20th, and the best weeks are ahead of us. Just remember to pinch your barbs, and that all fish under 25 cm and over 35 cm must be released. And don’t be afraid to make sure others are following the rules, being a good steward of the river is critical to maintaining this incredible fishery!