Arctic char (FIN) 


by Aki Huhtanen (  

It is first of July and summer is finally here in North Finland, Kilpisjärvi. The thermometer shows +16 C and sun is shining! I am with my client and good friend Gary and our helicopter is about to take off to the arctic char lak. Only max. 20kg luggage per person (!) are allowed. After 20 minute of helicopter trasnport we arrive at the arctic char lake in the middle of the wild tundra. We set our LAVVU tent up. it will be our living room, where we can eat, bind flies or prepare food during bad weather.

On the bank of the lake we have a breathtaking view. Just footsteps away from our base camp! The tent is designed for 6 -8 persons and it has enough space to allow some relax after a nice day fishing. It is equipped with a tent heater. There is lot of wind on the lake. Arctic char will hardly come to eat in shallow water during windy weather and it would be better to wait for the wind to fade.... but Gary does not believe it and he wants to try regardless! We keep on trying for another three hours, with heavy nymphs, woolly buggers, dry flies, no contact with the arctic char. Thus we decide to have a rest in lavvu, where we eat tasty reindeer soup with bread, and sleep a bit.

DAY 1: I wake up around 8pm, there is an amazing view on the lake: zero wind and full of rising arctic chars!!!!! I wake up Gary and after a quick coffee we are in waders! We reach a small island with my rubber boat. There are some large arctic char rising, this is the moment for the Europa 12 dry fly ! ... PAM!!! A perfect coloured, beautiful arctic char of 2.4kg! This is what we came for! The fish was hooked just in the edge of the mouth with a barbless hook of size #10!

In the evening we catch approx 30 arctic char all on dry flies, what an amazing evening!
Day 2: We wake up around 10am, have a coffee by the camp fire, eat some bacon, tomatoes, onion, bread and some more coffee. Time to start fishing! We go again to the small island, but no fish rises, so, it s time to use red woolly bugger, ....after two hours, nothing happens ,.... i start my engine and we go to look on other side of the lake, where a small river flows in to the lake. The spot is very deep, approx 4 metres ,..... firt cast , stripping-in, and a fish take my red woolly bugger , IT IS a BIG Fish!!! and it starts jumping, after three high jumps the line goes slack, I lost it, S...!!! I cast again and a second is fish on! This is a bit smaller, a very nice arctic char of about 2kg!

During the day we cacth approx 10 big arctic char and all of them with woolly buggers! In the evening we visit some minor lakes where we catch a lot of smaller chars between 200 to 500 grams. We enjoy our wilderness arctic char dinner at 01.00am :-)
Day 3: We wake up in the early morning at 5am and at between 5am and 10am we manage to catch some nice arctic char with the red woolly bugger and some smaller arctic char with dry flies. In the afternoon our helicopter takes us to the next spot... the River Lätäseno, where we will flyfish for big Graylings ! I know this river like my pocket because I fish here around 100 days a year. Time to start grayling party ! I inflate my rubber boat and we row to the neck of the river where there are always some big ones ! During that day we caught 23 graylings in size between 40-57cm !

In the evening we enjoy our dinner in campfire, when I spot some rising fish in the backwater just next to our camp... Grayling ???? No grayling, they are whitefish (lavaret), and the big ones!!! Gary, it is time to finish dinner and give a chance to your fly! I open my flybox and choose #12 brown dryfly ,.... ,go and try ! During the late evening we manage to catch some very big white fish as some very nice graylings as well! The biggest whitefish was 61cm!!

Day 4: Lot of wind and rain, the thermometer shows +3C, bad weather for fishing, so we spend the whole day in a lavvu and tye flies
Day 5: We wake up 9am, sun is shining, it is too warm, inside the tent is +35C :-) , .....the outside temperature is +20C , sun and zero wind, perfect weather ! During the day we manage to catch plenty of nice fish,

and at late afternoon our helicopter lifts us back to the Kilpisjärvi village, where we enjo a hot sauna and a nice dinner.
Aki Huhtanen is a professional guide and passionate european fly angler who resides in northern Finland.
He can be contacted at