After four flights and twenty sleepless hours of travel time we finally arrived in Sweden at Lulea’s airport. Greeted by lost baggage and four days of rain in the forecast. We scrambled to find rain gear and waders. Our guides Ted Logardt and Calle Lundqvist gathered all the gear they had laying around in an attempt to outfit a few of us to get on the water. After settling into our camp and unloading the little baggage we had a pleasant knock on the door caught us off-guard at 2am. There lay our 6 bags filled with waders, boots, rain jackets, marino wool, and everything else you don’t want to loose on a fishing trip halfway across the world.
Our first destination was the Byske River. It was there that we realized how challenging the following days would become. Baltic Salmon had proven to be the older brother of Atlantic’s. Showing themselves in every pool, mocking us around every corner as they broke the surface rejecting our flies one after another. A bump or grab did not come easy, never mind having the chance to hold a piece of silver that belongs to the Baltic Sea.
The Byske had gotten the best of us as we left with our tails between our legs now heading in the direction of the Torne River. North of the Artic Polar Circle the difference between night and day was so minimal it allowed us to travel throughout the night. Furthermore we could fish endlessly until our bodies objected.
After arriving in Kengis and meeting with Lars Munk we headed directly to the Torne River. There was no time for sleep, for the prime time drop started at 3:30 am and we had arrived at 3:00 am.
As we stepped foot into the Torne for the first time we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. It marked the border between Finland and Sweden as one of the biggest rivers in the Lapland. With over 52,000 Salmon in the system at this point in the season, and an estimated 100,000 salmon in the system each year. We found a new confidence in a river we could hardly see across.
The rain continued and the river rose. At this point, we had decided it was best if we stayed at the run for the following 24 hours. We took turns making coffee over the fire and grilling sausages for one another.
After fishing the run for almost a full day the rain broke and finally persistence had paid off as we landed our first Baltic Salmon. Soon two more were hooked and lost as these salmon demonstrated their rigorous attitude tearing line from our spools as we ran down the river in a hopeless attempt to turn them back towards the bank.
After sleeping for what felt like the first time in a week, we returned to Kengis Bruk. For the first time the clouds had broken, the sun was shining, the water was stabilizing, and fresh fish were moving up the river at an exponential rate. We made the decision to spend one last morning fishing the Torne before heading to the Lainio River. To date, it was the best decision we have ever made. Over the course of the next eight hours, we hooked salmon after salmon. Each drop yielding another fish, we laughed as the sun warmed our soul and we screamed as the salmon tore into our flies. We had fallen into the perfect rotation: Coffee, Sausage, Salmon, Repeat. Never in our lives had we seen or experienced anything like it, as we may very well never see fishing like that again.
The sun held high overhead at noon. Memories had been made, and bags had been packed as we headed even further north to the Lainio River to explore Lars Camp Onka. We rested our heads for the night at Pinetree Lodge we headed off first thing in the morning. A short hike, followed by a quick ride in an old rowboat full of character brought us to some of the nicest water we had seen all trip. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before our host Charles was hooked up. As lines tightened hearts raced. Overwhelmed with euphoria Charles took his most beautiful salmon of the trip and we celebrated with yet another sausage by the fire, a few whiskeys and memorable stories from our past.
Loading up the van once again, we headed to Jackfall to meet with Ronny Landin where we would celebrate midsummer’s eve and take in a number of cultural events. One of which happened to be a can of surströmming: fermented herring. The only thing worse than the taste was the smell. The locals laughed as we tested our gag reflex’s in an attempt to stomach the herring.
The fun and games had come to an end and it was time to test our luck on the Kalix River. We fished with Calle, Ted, Ronny, Andreas, Jay and a few other our friends we had met along the way. Once again persistence paid off as Calle lifted one last fish before our eyes. The last pot of coffee was brewed over the fire as the midnight sun glistened overhead. It was all too good to be true. We packed up our gear and headed back to Lulea to board our flight back to Quebec City. Our trip was concluded as we headed home with nothing but surreal memories of the best fishing we had ever seen complimented by new friendships that will last a lifetime.
This story and incredible photography was brought to you by Stuart Davis @adiposefishing
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