Three Brits at a Polar Fly Fishing Lunch in Asker

Stewart, Roy and Nick at Leangkollen Hotel Asker
Stewart, Roy and Nick at Leangkollen Hotel Asker

Spawned by alcohol? But when the idea was hatched (note the fishy terms) about lunch in Oslo and floated at the Flyfishers' Club Annual Dinner in London on the 'Norwegian table', the immediate reaction was, "Why not?". In the making, what a prospective adventure, to be made even more romantic by the severe sub-zero temperatures (-27c) and heavy snow fall (+/- 4ft.) in Oslo.

So, hosted by Henrik, the three Brits, Roy, Stewart and Nick made plans to join The Annual Asker Fly Fishing lunch with Norwegian friends and locals Morten, Tel, Jan and Peter Gorenson, and a group of 8 others.

As always eager, Nick flew out on the Thursday and enjoyed the evening in Oslo with Morten and Kjell, his Dad, wining and dining, and on the Friday visiting the National Museum and Art Centre. Roy and Stewart flew in early on the Saturday, all as mentioned later, returning to the UK on the Sunday.

Asker is some 30 minutes by train South-west of Oslo, using the super-efficient and modern Flytoget.

Starting at noon, introductions were made in a generous 'welcoming speech' by Henrik. A quiz was scheduled for 4.00pm, and the scene was set for lunch comprising traditional and delicious fish soup, prawns and breads followed by a wide variety of meat and savoury dishes with puddings, cake and coffee. Oh, and did I forget the wine and, for me seemingly gallons of water?

I know these things 'don't just happen'. With particular attention to detail, including 'fishy' place names, huge thanks go to Henrik but also Kristin, Camilla and no doubt Kristian, who showed his driving skills later as we adjourned to Hotel Leangkollen, 'The Eagle's Nest' with its war-time interests. The three Brits and by this time Henrik, Long, Eldar and Kristian then imbibed in more drinks, a light-ish dinner, yet more drinks and then for the three Brits, overnight accommodation, and breakfast.

But back to the lunch. Conversation was invigorating and flowed well at the table with friendships renewed or made. In appreciation, Nick offered Henrik some barbless flies (produced by the UK Barbless Fly Company), red hankies (RH) to the four Norwegian friends mentioned and for Henrik's wife Kristen and Ninni Gorenson, pink hankies for the ladies. And to explain all this RH 'stuff', Nick presented a book to Henrik and the Asker Fly Fishers about the Red Hankies and their first ten years since being 'initiated' in 2012, together with a red fly, tied by John Smith and signed by all-bar-one of the then eleven RH Members and the memorial 'Paddy' Lunch menu of 24 June 2021. The concept of good fellowship and the 'gentle art' holding fast seemed to apply in Asker, too!

Time seemed to flash by: we visited Henrik's 'man cave' to see his fly-fishing books and treasures, his immaculate collection of Hardy Perfect reels, items of W D Goggeshall, G E M Skues' companion in the early 1900s and other fascinating memorabilia.

Then time for the quiz. Now it just so happened that Nick sat next to Long Nguyen, the world-famous classic salmon fly dresser, and 12 of the 15 questions related to salmon fly identification. Yes, I did look over his shoulder but didn't cheat, 'honest guv!', although having photographed the 160 salmon flies in the Flyfishers' Club's collection in London and with a fair dollop of guesswork managed 8 correct answers to the salmon flies, but only1of the three supplementaries! The winner's prize, a beautiful picture by Jonas went to, guess who, Long!

The evening at Ringvelen 8a continued in good spirit with much banter and fly-fishing tales, truths and maybe the odd exaggeration and bonding of warm fellowships. For some, the unique and charming snow-covered surroundings added a distraction and romantic touch, but not so for neighbours shovelling snow from their roofs! Yet we were snug and warmed by the log burning fire!

It was a shame, but all good things have to come to an end, with hugs and handshakes and good-byes interspersed with "have you seen my 'phone?", and "now which shoes did I wear on arrival?", even, "do I need a coat'?" before getting into vehicles and for some, ably driven by Kristian to 'Hotel Leangkollen' where, as mentioned seven of us regained our second wind!

And flights home? In a word, different. De-icing of the aircraft before take-off was, for some a new experience and with storm Isha, a windy and very bumpy landing in London – the passengers actually applauded once we hit terra ferma!

A huge, huge thank you to all concerned. Saturday 20 January in Asker was exceptional and a memorable event which will long be cherished. Thank you all again (and forgive this typed note, but it has avoided the need for interpretation of indecipherable hieroglyphics with my hand-writing).

Piscator non solum Piscatur,

Nick Gooderham, 6 February 2024 (Final).