Friday, 29 July 2016

Wilderness Grayling...an Adventure! Part 1

The 9 months since I contacted Aki at Graylingland had flown in and as time to fly got nearer I grew more and more excited, The thought of chasing Arctic Grayling had always been on my to do list and before I kick the bucket I had to experience it if only the once, after a few broken promises by fishing acquaintances in the UK to join me Aki introduced me to two Austrian Anglers who were looking for another member to make the trip and keep the costings down so the bucket list trip was organised.

It was an early rise but the drive to Manchester Airport soon sped by and before I knew it I had handed my car keys to meet & greet and was soon in the departure lounge surrounded by the displays of duty free.

On boarding the flight I sat and watched the departure time come & go and still no movement of the aircraft and it was like that for the next 45 minutes before finally almost an hour late we departed, funny how there is always engine problems once everyone is aboard! 

Bang goes my connection flight from Oslo to Tromso as an hour stop over I thought was enough but alas it was not to be so after having a quiet word with the hostess found I had been booked onto a later flight to Tromso....and relax time for a free beer.

Clearing customs in Oslo was a free for all but thankfully came out the other end unscathed and made a quick call to my fishing partners who were travelling from Austria and would be wondering where I was, no answer! they must be flying so a quick text with my new flight details hoping they would receive them and wait for me at Tromso. 

Thankfully the rest of the journey went without a hitch and I was soon touching down in Tromso, probably one of the nicest scenery landings I've had in a long time, with the high peaks still covered in snow and the road bridge spanning the sea to the airport which is situated on an island.

As I cleared the arrivals lounge the first face I saw was Aki's, great they had got my text. After a quick handshake I was introduced to Felix & Manfred from Austria, my fishing partners for the duration, nice to finally put a face to the names and the 3 hour car journey east to Kilpisjarvi in Finland started.

Arriving in Kilpisjarvi the first port of call was our overnight cabin to drop the bags and then find somewhere to eat which I have to say luckily wasnt too far and my first reindeer burger was soon devoured with a few large beers. we stepped out the restaurant at 11pm into bright sunshine....what the hell I wont be needing that head torch I brought then....24 hours of daylight, it doesn't get dark at this time of year.

10am flight time in the morning on the helipad ready to head out to the Tundra for 8 days of no phones, no computers,  infact nothing at all apart from fishing......heavenly!

After loading up the skid cages and  putting everything that we were going to be needing in the helicopter for the next 8 days we were soon lifting off and heading out onto the Tundra of Finnish Lapland.

It really was a wild and desolate place but somewhat beautiful too and the flight was soon leaving the high peaks behind and moving towards the vast open valleys where we were to be staying

Our first site of magic river as it had become known to us from Aki, we all just hoped it would live up to that reputation as we had heard that the previous trip had spent 3 days stuck in tents due to bad weather, here's hoping it would be a bit more magical for us.

We were soon on the ground and everything unloaded with the helicopter preparing to leave.

and moments later he was gone.......

Time to set up home for the next 8 days, there wasnt to be any hotels, guesthouses or B&B's it was all do it yourself, and rain was looming so best get a shift on.

Finally set up just as the rain started. 

To minimize weight and allow for some essential crates of Beverages I had pre arranged to forfeit an individual tent and share with Emilia our guide for the week and her loyal companion Aija the dog, something I later was very thankful of as I could stand up in our Lavvu tent, not the same could be said for Felix or Manfred.

The rain soon stopped and the view from the front door of the tent wasnt too shabby, I could definitely get used to it, time now to sort out the fishing gear and get the waders out.

A short time later I headed through the tundra birch which took a bit of getting used to as it could be thick in places and was soon peering into the crystal clear water of magic river....it was certainly looking good even though it was carrying an extra 50cm or so of water it was still crystal clear and more like an aquarium, some stealth was called for I think or some long casting.

I promised myself that I wouldn't open the bottle of whisky I had took with me until I had caught my very first Arctic Grayling.

It didn't take long and the first pool I came to after the 4th or 5th cast all I saw was a fish attack the fly in the crystal clear water and it was hooked and then the fight really began in the fast water.

These Arctic Grayling are like European Grayling only that they are on steroids and fight twice as hard, I was astonished at the power of them compared to the power of the Grayling back home in UK, If your a serious Grayling angler then you need to experience the fight of an Arctic Grayling just once before you hit the big river in the sky.

As the rain started to fall again my net slipped under the fish I had dreams of catching and a 40cm Arctic Grayling peered back at me from inside the net, I had achieved my ambition.

What beauty nature provides my wishes had been answered.

Due to having so much to write about and pictures to post, I've decided to split the adventure into size-able chunks so please if your interested be patient.....to be continued

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