The camp was taken down and the morning coffee drunk. We packed our backpacks into the raft and started drifting downstream. Kape and his son decided to walk down the river towards the place of our new camp. In front of us was an exceptional shallow river, just enough water that we could move on with the raft. The Lappish summer presented itself in the best light. Nature at the short summer´s most hectic time. Almost ashamed being a guest in this wonderful silence that was only accompanied by nature’s very own voices…. Here and there fish were shimmering in the water, mostly small ones, sometimes replaced by a bigger fish causing a ring feeding on the surface. I sat in the boat and let the current drag me down without touching the ores. Every now and then the boat stopped on a stone or a shallow spot and I had time to take a look around for promising rings on the surface within casting distance.
Almost at every stop was one fish in the class “worth trying”. If it didn´t show interest in the fly after some presentations I moved on as there were just so many all along the stream. In the best spots it nearly looked like raindrops hitting the surface… but it was rising fish….everywhere… We had a deal that we only take one fish for dinner per man but if it happened to get record ones we could take them up. Here one doesn´t have to be satisfied with a fish less than 1 kilo; that we figured out already after the first day. The boat was floating down the stream and again got caught by a rock just above the neck of another good looking rapid. I took a quick look for some good rings as I soon recognized that a bigger fish was feeding just in casting distance.
I tied on a leech modification made by Esa Lajala that showed the day before its attractive powers especially to big grayling. The fish was feeding about five meters away so it was easy to present the fly on its dining table. And it got the fish´s attraction. After a short fight I recognized that the fish was a whitefish. As the fish was in a very good condition I decided to take it up for dinner even though it was slightly less than one kilo, thinking of our one sided grayling diet… The fish kept on rising and I stayed a while just watching their play. But then it was time to continue because one place looked better than the other to me. The boat drifted silently along the river. The nature was in full action and it looked like I was the only one not being in a hurry. I came to one of the little lakes that are in the river every few hundred meters. The little lake was home to a swan family with 3 little chicks. I went on while humming “it is so calm on the shores”, and in my mind I was apologizing to the swans that I disturbed their peace. The next rapid was stronger and deeper than the others. I landed on the shore and looked at the river which almost was one big rapid. The beauty of the place caught the fisherman´s eye. It was deep enough and perfect for any size of a fish. There were no rings visible like on the calmer patches of the river, and so I started to fish the place following my logical view starting just from the shore. Suddenly the rod bend and I immediately felt that this was a bigger one. I drilled the fish that was just staying on the river´s bottom making no effort to flee or fight. Was that a trout? But then an amazing sail fin jumped. I just estimated it on about 1,5 kilo as the rod feeder back. There it went! All kinds of swearwords left my mouth and I sat down desperately thinking what I did wrong. The fish though was on for some minutes but maybe the line was not tight enough, or maybe I even held it too tight in the strong current. Well, it went how it went, but the river would reward me in the end if I just keep on trying, right?
I left from the place and decided to come back in the evening as the camp site came closer and closer; only about a kilometer away. the next rapid was some hundred meters downstream and looked just as promising. No it was at least clear that the leech was the right choice to lure out the big fish, so no more wondering which fly would do the job best. Second cast and again the rod bent! Learned from my mistake I loosened the brake a few clicks because the current was still really strong. A few meters of line went and the fish hid in a deep hole. I reeled it back in and the fish stared running again. That went on, and on, and on, until I saw the fish the first time. A sail fin at least as big as the one I lost before. I carefully pulled the fish on the dry where I could take a guess on its weight. The scale made it a sure thing: 1625 g! What a nice fish, my biggest for the trip and the second biggest overall.
I sat on the riverbank and kept on thinking that this is one magic river as it year after year gives these over 1,5 kg grayling and furthermore not just one of them each trip. Though the river lies so high and the summer here is short, it still can take such good care of its children. I guess I had sat quite a while daydreaming when I realized that the Siberian jays came so close that I could almost touch them. I woke up from my dream and started looking if Kape and the boys would soon show up on the shore. They had walked around the willow growth because it was almost impossible to walk along the shore.
I didn´t see them yet so I decided to give it another go checking out if there were some more inhabitants in the stream. I could have tried another fly but this one was working too well to change. I waded very close to place where I just before got the fish. The first was a short cast and I led the fly in the current stripping the line from time to time to give it more speed. And again the rod bent! Not fast… In a soft, slow manner the tip of rod bent towards the surface. And again I couldn´t see the fish that after and after pulled out the line when I just reeled it in. The minutes went by and then I saw the fish. And what a fish!!! A huge fin cuts through the surface, so huge, I have never ever seen one like before. I was saying to myself over and over again, the troubled one is on the other end of the line, as I was in a very nervous state of mind. When the fish wanted more line I didn´t to any effort to hold it close, I just gave it the line it wanted. It hadn´t jumped one time yet and if I could make it tiered with keeping it from doing so the fish would be mine! Finally the fish showed its side and I was pulling it closer towards me but again it dove in the strong current with its last powers. I reeled it in one more time , one more try to get it closer, and this time I succeeded. I carried the fish to the shore holding on to it with both hands and a heartbeat of about 200 beats per minute. “That one is a lot bigger that the one before”, I thought. I finally caught the 2 kilo grayling I had been dreaming of for more than 20 years!!! The fin is bigger than my palm and the length is 61,2 cm. I am almost shaking of excitement as I weigh the fish. And the scale shows: 2100 g !!!!!!!!!!!!! I look at the river, then at the fish….thinking “Is this real, or is that a dream?” I weigh the fish again, same result.
Sitting on a rock I let my view glide over the river and think how I could ever show my regards to this magic river for those unforgettable moments it gave us year after year. Aroused from my mind I see Kape and Samu coming along the river: I realize that I have caught almost 5 kilos of fish. For the first time ever on our trips I hope that Kape didn´t catch a fish because we have enough fish to eat for the next couple of days. One more time we weigh the fish together to make sure that it is over 2 kilos. Kape congratulates me without any sign of this so well known fisherman´s jealousy.
Original text: Ari Savikko Translation: Timo Kanamüller