I was off to mainland Europe after Iceland; this would offer a fresh opportunity to catch new species in new countries.
The first stop was Copenhagen, Denmark. While the city was beautiful, I had a tough time during our visit finding somewhere to fish—the canals, though plentiful, seemed mostly devoid of life. The river in front of the Royal Museum had some nice-sized carp, but the AK-47 carried on the guard shoulders radiated out an unmistakable "no fishing" sign.
The one place of note was the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, situated by the shore north of the city. After the museum visit, while the rest of my family grabbed dinner, I raced to the rocky bank to see if I couldn't catch a new species or two.
The shore was rocky and full of seaweed, but there was much life in the calm and clear water. I saw pipefish and assorted small reef fish that didn't care for my bait. Standing on rocks protruding over deeper water, however, I saw tiny gobies on the sandy parts of the bottom and they were more than happy to oblige.
A quick look online revealed these to be sand gobies, species #111 and the fish that added Denmark to my list of countries I have caught a fish in. That species would conclude my short but sweet fishing in Denmark. It was off to Stockholm, Sweden, where I hoped I would have a more fruitful time chasing freshwater fishes.
The very first area we visited upon arrival in Stockholm was the Vasa Museum—a fascinating exhibit dedicated to a 17th-century warship salvaged after spending three centuries in the ocean. The boat was extremely well preserved. I managed to get some pretty cool close up shots of it.
Equally fascinating were the numerous, though small, European perch I observed swimming in the side basin next to the museum. Dropping a little feather jig was enticing enough, and species #112 was mine, Perca fluviatilis. With the yellow perch of the North America, P. flavenscens, I have caught 2/3 of the Perca genus; to complete it requires a trip to Kazakhstan.
After leaving the museum, I decided to fish around the little island a bit and caught some more European perch.
There were some cool boats around the dock; as interesting as they were, I was keen on finding fish in those waters.
The first day yielded just the perch, but there was plenty more to come.
I needed to find a spot I could walk to from where we were staying. With Google Maps, I found a set of fishy-looking docks next to some reeds by a canal a short 20 minute walk from the our place.
The second morning I woke up bright and early to get to the spot and get some fishing in before the events of the day. I was immediately excited when I spooked schools of fish hanging in the shallows. I found a good spot and waited for the fish to settle. It took a little convincing, but the first fish fell for a chunk of white bread freelined to the school.
The ide, species #113. A strong fighter and an aggressive fish, by European cyprinid standards, anyway.
The same tactic yielded a roach next, species #114, probably the most abundant fish in the canal.
There were the deeper-bodied common bream as well, the largest fish of the schools swimming by the dock, but for some reason I found them incredibly wary, contrary to what I had read online about their abundance to the point of pestilence.
With several ide and roach, I turned my attention to the smaller cyprinids hanging under the dock, which fell easily to a small piece of bread on a tiny hook. Most, it turned out, were juvenile roach, but between roach I pulled out a small, silvery bream. A lateral line scale count revealed it to be a white bream, the only white bream I would catch. Species #115.
Going to the same spot every morning, I was consistently greeted by more roach and ide.
On one of the mornings, however, I noticed schools of smaller, slender fish swimming near the surface towards the middle of the canal. They were too far to reach with my micro setup, although they seemed fairly aggressive, chasing but not committing to micro hooks placed nearer to the dock. Improvising, I tied a tanago hook to my regular rod and attached a small float above it so I could cast the setup out. For bait, I put a little piece of bacon fat on, leftovers from Iceland. Casting it out and reeling it back in so the bait moved just under the surface worked wonders, as the fish attacked the bait with vigor. It didn't take long for one to get pinned, and I had species #116, the bleak.
What remained were the common bream. I had a very close call with a very large bream, but missed the hookset, and for some reason the other bream weren't responding at all to my corn and anything else I threw at them. Perplexing indeed, but in attempting to catch bream I caught plenty more of the same species.
Every now and then, I would see perch swim by the docks, and so I decided to pitch some larger lures under the docks to see if any willing predators were around. It payed off, and I was rewarded with plenty of more respectable perch.
Live bleak and juvenile roach proved to be tempting for the perch as well.
Eventually, it came to my last morning at the docks, and by this point I was getting quite frustrated by the lack of cooperation from the bream. I decided to put all my effort towards catching them, but was still greeted with indifference.
Resorting to whatever I had in my tackle bag, I tied on a small hook with a single kernel of corn and a hot pink Gulp! maggot, and almost had a heart attack when one of them nibbled. This got me thinking. I found a school situated under the dock, and tried my best not to spook them. Directly overhead of them, I dropped a single, freelined pink maggot down, and watched carefully as one of them came up to it before turned away, and then another came and sucked it in without hesitation.
For all the trouble it gave me, it didn't really fight much and I grabbed it without difficulty. No matter, though, because I had finally caught a common bream, species #117. A success, and I could head back to the States with one less overseas grudge. A fine fishy ending to a fine summer.
All the fine natural baits I tried, and they opted to bite this pink smelly bit of rubber.