Do you have to fly for ever, seemingly, to find waters unexploited? Do you have to pump yourself full of injections and malaria tablets before you can travel to a country that gives you a marvellous sense of freedom and space? Of course not. In fact, for £80 or so and slightly more minutes you can hop on a plane and find yourself in Denmark.
My own roots with Denmark go back about twelve years when I first made the acquaintance of that famous, nomadic Danish angler Johnny Jensen. I quickly fell under his spell and found myself travelling more and more frequently to his delightful home in Copenhagen, a house that proved to be a magnet for similarly minded Danish anglers. Johnny is at the centre of a hub of guys that fish all over the world – Klaus, Jens, Fleming, Kenth, Morten…Hi to all of you!
So, okay, all these guys spend their lives with their passports in their back pockets but that doesn’t mean to say for a moment that they overlook what they’ve got on their own doorsteps and this, believe me, is considerable.
You’ve only got to look at a map of Denmark to see that it has a vast and indented coastline – excellent sea fishing and coastal opportunities for salmon and sea trout. Look more closely and you’ll also see that the country itself is absolutely pitted with lakes and rivers – nearly all set in beautiful, unspoilt, pastoral surroundings. This is one of the great beauties of fishing in Denmark: the waters really are lovely and, with a population of only four million or so, of whom a tiny percentage are anglers, you’ll hardly ever find anyone else on any water you might choose to fish. In this respect, Denmark is almost like fishing in Ireland – people simply look at you in amazement when you stop and get out a fishing rod.
There are other similarities with Ireland as well: the Danes, like the Irish, I have found to be supremely welcoming. They seem to be flattered that you’re taking an interest in their country and they will go out of their way to help you as much as they possibly can. Like Ireland, too, the countryside is immensely appealing, open, green and rolling. You’ll find the driving pretty much the same too – very leisured with empty roads opening out in front of you.
It’s the fishing, though, that for me beats Ireland hands down in many respects. You don’t have the tremendous wealth of trout fishing that Ireland can offer but you do have grayling in many of the rivers and streams of the west. You don’t perhaps get the salmon runs that Ireland still enjoys but the streams of Jutland still get good runs at certain periods of the year. Denmark probably doesn’t offer the monster pike that Ireland has on tap but there are certainly many places where twenty pounders are common.
And now for areas where Denmark really comes into its own. The roach and bream fishing, for example, is absolutely world class in most areas of the country. The perch fishing is quite staggering – even in the centre of Copenhagen itself. Danish waters also offer some of the best zander fishing in the whole of Europe…and the Danes really, really know how to catch these pernickety predators. Rudd fishing can be second to none and tench are one of the big growth species.
The Danes, also, are really into carp and there are many lakes where fish of thirty pounds plus are caught on a regular basis. One of the Danish specialities, however, is the crucian. Denmark really offers crucian carp fishing second to none. Even close to Copenhagen itself there are innumerable lakes that offer crucians to four pounds plus. There are also one or two lakes, that hold one of the most exotic of all species – the golden crucian. I’ve only seen a couple of these myself but imagine a crucian that’s painted the most fiery shade of sunset red imaginable and you’re getting close!
The Danes don’t really limit themselves to just coarse or game or sea fishing and tend to overlap all the time. This means that most of them are quite up for making the most of what the shoreline has to offer…and that’s a lot. The Danes I know are more than happy to set out with a spinning rod and pick up anything from sea trout to bass to a wandering, sea-going perch from any one of thousands of marks around the coast. Indeed, you can find some marvellous fishing within sight and sound of Copenhagen airport itself.
And I haven’t even mentioned the burbot yet! Of course, we had burbot in this country too half a century or so ago but now they’re lost to us. Not to the Danes and they really appreciate the sport that these fascinating creatures can offer. Very often the best of it is in the cold of winter, in some of the deeper lakes. These members of the freshwater cod family fight well but can offer a real challenge. Fish for them with worms or small dead baits.
There’s no closed season in Denmark so you needn’t worry about that at all. You’ll need a national rod licence but that costs next to nothing. Like this country, however, you’ve got to check with riparian owners before starting to fish…but permission is generally easily accessible.
With the appearance of Buzz and Easy Jet it’s now so easy to pop over to Copenhagen. The flight is not much more than an hour or so and car hire is easy. Driving on the unpressured roads is easier still…not even Copenhagen offers much of a challenge.
Even though Denmark does have a distinctly Scandinavian feel about it, you’ll be struggling to find anyone under the age of seventy that doesn’t speak English. And generally, the English of the Danes is at least as good as the English of the English!
Don’t be put off by rumours of high Scandinavian prices: in general terms, you’ll find that prices in Denmark are pretty much the same as we face over here: not cheap but you won’t be in for any horrible surprises.
Where do you head for…? Well, as I’ve said, Denmark is a land of almost total opportunity but a couple of my favourite waters are situated over in Zeeland. To the north is the huge Esrum Lake – a stunningly beautiful water with some magnificent perch, bream and pike fishing. In mid Zeeland lies Fureso Lake – a real haven for pike, zander, burbot, bream and roach.
I have a real feel for Jutland as well – the streams and rivers that run through it are quite, quite glorious and hold magnificent stocks of trout and grayling.
But if it’s an all-round exotic holiday you’re looking for then you don’t really need to look that much further than Copenhagen itself. The capital is a beautiful, friendly, exotic place that offers a whole spectrum of entertainment and some superb shopping. You also have the thrilling Tivoli Gardens. Fun writ large for all the family. So, if it’s a family jaunt you are looking for, then get your rods over to Copenhagen…
I’d advise Lyngby Lake which is just twenty or so kilometres from the centre itself – though you’d never know it. It’s a stunningly beautiful water with zander, pike and some very large carp indeed. Even closer to the centre of Copenhagen itself is St. Vegle’s stream. I’ve fished here myself on many occasions and enjoyed some of my best perch fishing. My best was just over four pounds but I’m told reliably that there are some much bigger fish present. Don’t be too surprised if you catch something over five, I guess. Also, if you are using worms, dead bait or spinners you might well pick up some very decent sea trout.
Wherever you’re fishing in Denmark, you really ought to get hands-on advice at one or both of the excellent tackle shops in central Copenhagen. Hunter’s House (35366666) and Jagt and Fiskerimagasinet (33337777) are both owned by my great pal Morten. He offers excellent value and is full of information and tips, so phone the shops before a visit to see if he is around. He’ll fill you in with all the gear you need and the best places to use it.
DOS AND DON’TS