Hi, my name is Emilie Björkman and I am an educated fishing guide by the Academy of Sportfishing – Yes, such an academy actually exists in Sweden – A chef, and now a student in boreal forestry. But most of all, I’m a fly fisher.
The best thing about fly fishing is that the fish doesn’t really care if you’re a well-educated scientist or a hamburger joint employee. The only thing that matters is your ability to present the right fly to the right fish. I do this fly fishing thing a lot and I can’t really think of anything better than to spend every second possible by a river. I love the fact that there’s always something new to learn or to see.
You know how it works. Prior to each season, you picture yourself catching enormous amounts of large fish and you travel to the most epic places on earth. However, in reality, you look back at a few small fish, bad weather, and canceled travels. Here’s when the stress kicks in. All you want is one epic fish… Is that too much to ask for?
Last season was just like this. I had so many hours by the rivers and somehow managed to either lose or spook every big fish. I had one last travel left and I was about to catch the trout of my dreams… Or else I would once again be standing there like a fool wondering what the sweet mother of earth I was doing with my life.
The last chance
We trekked way up the headwaters of an arctic stream in Swedish Lapland. We had six days at our disposal.
I mean, six days of fishing should at least give me one a fair chance at a big fish, right?
Day one, two, three and four passed without any luck whatsoever. The weather was way too stable confusing the insects who weren’t hatching as they were supposed to. The water became clearer and clearer, which made the trout even more spooky. With this irregular eating pattern, we would see one fish rise and then not see another for ten to thirty minutes. For a dry fly fisher like myself, this can be very frustrating.
Day five. We had trekked for about three hours downstream to set a new camp. A beautiful spot by a long glide with a small tributary confluence. What I’ve learned through the years is that an area where a tributary runs into the main river almost always is a good spot for trout. The tributary brings more food and it can also bring cold fresh water that may be important for the trout if the main river is too warm.
I had a careful look at the confluence to see if my theory was correct. Indeed it was. The surface was broken by the fast water running in from the tributary but beneath it I saw a big dark shadow moving and feeding on nymphs. My heart started pounding and my hands were shivering. This was my chance.
Even though the fish was feeding on nymphs in shallow water, it was perfect for a small dry fly. I’ve also learned that active feeding trout in shallow water seldom refuse a well presented dry fly. I carefully snuck up behind it and came to a good casting position holding my head low. One cast later the fish spots my tiny dry fly and slowly rises towards it. Then it appeared. Just a big head. Just like the New Zealand trout takes the fly. The size of head even looked like the giant trout that inhabit New Zealand! I took a gasp, set the hook and the fight was on.
You could say I was excited…
And so I finally caught the trout I was searching for and it also happened to be the largest one for me yet on a dry fly in Sweden. The rest of the season continued as it started. I lost some big ones and the weather made new missions tough. So yes, it was the trout and I’m happy with it. But don’t get me wrong. Fly fishing isn’t just about catching large fish – it’s about everything else. The learning, the travels, the struggle, the anticipation and so on. We always dream of the big ones but when it all comes down, it doesn’t really matter if we catch them or not. Next season we’ll be standing there like fools by the rivers again wondering…
Photos provided by Stefan Agren, find him on Instagram @steagr_photography