Words & images by Emil Westrin, Guideline Power Team Sweden.
Drone & additional images by Helge Dahlen & Pasi Visakivi.
Finland and big trout is not the words you expect in the same sentence. Before this May my thoughts about fly fishing in Finland was more and less grayling and pike. This would turn out to be a big mistake. But we take it from the beginning.
Helge Dahlen, fellow Power Team member from Norway, texted me some pictures in spring 2018. Huge trouts shows up on the screen in front of me and my mind immediately says “Kola trouts”, but when he told me that this was from southeast Finland my chin dropped to my knees! I got the question to follow for the 2019 trip and I wasn’t late to accept the invitation. We put together a team consisting of Helge, Leif Stävmo, Sanna Koljonen, Nils-Arild Lundberg, Svein Olav Sund and me for the trip in May 2019.
Leif picked me up in Umeå at the evening 24 of May and we headed for the ferry who took us to Vasa on the east side of the Baltic sea. One night in Vasa and we start our journey, 350 km through the Finnish countryside. Arriving in the afternoon the big bosses of Läsäkoski, Matti Huitila and Markku Kemppainen greeted us up with a stunning dinner and some history about the area.
These guys have only one focus in their work: everything for the trouts. And the trouts are protected here since 1999. The river is 100% catch and release, only barbless single hooks with a max gap of 11mm is allowed and in the spring some areas are no-wading-zones, to save the newly hatched trout frys from being crushed under wading boots.
The whole area is affected by the old mill that was built in the 1800s but from 2004 the restauration of the stretch started. Dams were opened, spawning grounds were constructed and rocks and stones were put back in the water. This is an on-going project and locals have some days every year to help the river back to the original shape. And the result speaks for itself. Each year trouts between 75-80 cm are caught here and the amount of trout in the river is getting higher every year.
How about the fishing then? We arrived in a low pressure with heavy rain, cold weather and high water in the river… So dry fly fishing wasn’t something to think of. But we had our streamer boxes ready and Niko (the local guide) showed us how to do it. First of all, our streamers were way to light. Niko picked up some of his own and showed us what we needed to use, heavy like a 14g Toby lure. The technique is to cast upstream with a 1m 0,45mm leader, heavy flies and strip the fly through the white water. The trout hunts the streamer downstream and smashed it harder than you can imagine. It’s not the regular technique that we were used to, but fun and challenging!
If you are going to visit the guys, I can give you an advice for your setup. You don’t need to cast longer than 10 meters and if you don’t like to have your rod tip twisted around leaf and bushes – use short rods! Maximum 9’ (if you have shorter it’s good too) 7-8 weight. Lines – short belly WF lines does the job. You can use the ULS lines, but I would prefer the Bullet line. Due to the short casts and a lot of stripping the joint between your shooting line and shooting head can be annoying.
What about the results of our trip? Because of the weather and water situation it was a slow start, but we manage to catch some 60 cm healthy brown trouts after all. Mostly on dries in the daytime when the temperature rose over 10 degrees C but the last two nights, we had contact with big browns feeding on small baitfish.
Words & images by Emil Westrin, Guideline Power Team Sweden
Full gallery below – click/tap first image to watch in full screen mode.