Finnmark 2017 – Part 2 – The hatching begins

I was still in the mood for some good old dry fly fishing for trout after my winter holiday on the Kola peninsula. The conditions up north had to improve sooner or later and I wanted to be there when it happened. So, I stuck around up in northern Norway, visiting several interesting locations on the tundra. Before I left for Kola I had been fishing this same large area known as Lappland, or Sàpmi in the local language. The area covers 400.000 km2 and stretches through both Norway, Finland, Sweden and Russia. The conditions were challenging because of high and cold water, but me and my buddy Monrad had found some decent fish using streamers. Now the conditions had gotten considerably better. Both caddis and mayflies were hatching in ever greater numbers and the fish started to move from lakes and deep pools onto the rivers to feed. As the hatches grew in intensity larger and larger fish occupied the best places and started to rise. The weather was still kind of crappy with wind and spells of heavy rain. It appeared as though things would be put on hold again, but mother nature decided against it and I experienced some of the best dry fly fishing I have ever had.

I started off with a small stream I had found earlier this year after a night of heavy satellite imagery research.  It did not seem to hold a lot of fish, but I had caught a nice one weighing 1,5 kg using a self-tied rabbit strip streamer. As I eagerly approached the small pool I almost immediately saw a fish rise to a mayfly. It was about the same size as the one I had caught some weeks before and I could not believe my luck. The trout was rising near the very top of the pool, steadily and with intent. I tied on a trusty old CDC Comparadun in #16, matching the baetis variant that were hatching at the moment. On the second cast, the fish took my fly and a great fight ensued. The water temperature was only 9 degrees and the fish had enough oxygen to put up a real fight. 5 minutes later it was in the net and weighed in at 1,6 kg on my new digital scale. After the recent experience on the Kola peninsula, it felt very good to catch this fish again on a dry fly. Only minutes after the release I spotted two fishermen equipped with spin and bait rods walking up the river towards me. They were Finnish and told me they were here to catch some dinner. They asked me if there was any fish here, but I said “No, I don’t think so and I am leaving now”. Hopefully I just saved the life of the trout, now hiding out in the pool with a slightly sore lip.

I continued my journey westwards and drove for some hours and walked for one hour to another promising spot I had found some weeks earlier. Then nothing was happening there, but now I first saw some whitefish rising in the slow water next to the bank. I decided to hang out a bit to see if I could spot some trout instead. The whitefish has a different kind of rise, slower and more delicate. Soon after I saw a different kind of rise, a much more aggressive one. And the water it moved left no question, it surely had to be a trout. The vegetation was pretty dense so I decided on drifting a mayfly down towards it from about 15 meters upstream where I had some room for casting. I mended heavily as the fly edged closer towards the fish, and then it took the fly with a big splash! I set the hook and immediately noticed a very bright red color. I thought it might be a char, although unusual in these waters it was not impossible. Finally, I saw it was a beautiful trout dressed in a very dark red camouflage and it weighed in at 1,5 kg.

It was time to make camp and I decided on a new spot not far from the main road going through the tundra. There was a big lake nearby and a small stream with some pools flowed into it. Before tucking in I decided to investigate further and then I saw a small rise. The fish took something under the surface and it was impossible to see how big it was. One cast later the fish was on and it weighed in at 1,4 kg. This is when I started to realize that I might have some really good days of dry fly fishing ahead of me.

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