To achieve a good result in harling fishing it’s important to have a good boatman. He should know the current and the bottom of the beat, and the salmon’s lies- and taking places with different water levels. He is supposed to advise the angler what kind of lure or fly the fish might prefer with changing weather, water levels and water temperature. When the autumn- or spring floods have changed the rivers topography, even the most skilled boatmen start the season with some blank sheets. Besides, it’s another generation of salmon that swims upstream than last year, and they often want a quite different menu than last year’s favourites.
Today you’ll never se a riverboat with two boatmen on the Namsen, but before the days of the outboard motor, extra muscular power was needed in the rapids. One didn’t want to miss lunch….
From Mr. Bilton’s days and until just after the Second World War, it was usual with 2 boatmen. On Moum/Heggum one rowed every day, and he was the boss. When it was Moum’s fishing day they had to provide a second boatman, and when it was Heggum’s day they had the same obligation. In busy summer months farmhands were sometimes sent out as the second boatman. Some of them had maybe never even seen a pair of oars, and had no interest in salmon fishing, so the result might be doubtful.
The Namsen has throughout the years had several skilled boatmen. At Moum/Heggum Svein Moum towers above everybody else. Salmon fishing became his great hobby, and his skills gave many anglers great experiences. He was the boss in the boat, but when the angler had shown his own skills the result was an equal and successful partnership. No one knows the total amount of salmon Svein had caught as a boatman when he quit in 1966. He only entered those of 40lbs or more in his diary.
In 1971 Bent Lind Jacobsen published the book “Et liv med laksen”(A life with the salmon) where Svein tells us about his big salmons, and other experiences with fish and fishermen on the Namsen. Let’s see what happened on Sunday the 2. of July 1922 when Svein and his 3 year elder brother Erik rowed for Mr. Oldfield:
“By Groenengkaren the first one took, when we had just got the first line out. The salmon’s weight was 17 1/2lbs. The next time we also had just time to get one line out, before the salmon took again,- this one was better, a nice, big salmon of 44lbs. Mr. Oldfield pulled for the third time out the first line, and he didn’t even have the time to touch the other two before a fish took again. It ran far out, but came in again so I had the chance to gaff it. As I did that, the gaff got torn off the handle, and the salmon went far out again. Mr. Oldfield was furious and accused me of having hit a stone instead of the salmon. Erik was immediately set ashore and he ran up to the farm to get another gaff. When we got the new one, I gaffed the fish, and then we saw that a piece of the broken gaff luckily still was in the fish. Mr. Oldfield saw it, but didn’t say anything. The salmon weighed 24 1/4lbs and it was actually a sensation, even in those days, to get three salmon that nice before you even had the chance to pull out all three lines”.