River Könkämeno (Finland) 


 Photo contrib.:Paul, Salva 

If the path is the goal, since I have started admiring the vast forests, numberless rivers and lakes that lie beneath us, I feel like it is time to make it to the goal inspite of the journey. A glimpse into the eyes of my mates tells me that we are sharing the same thought.

After a smooth landing in Kittilä we load our luggage in the rental car and head to our goal. As we approach the final destination, cars become rarefied. As the asphalt unrolls through the endless forest, other inhabitants begin demanding their space. When we arrive at the agreed meeting point, under the porch an embalmed bear seems to welcome us.

At the local store we meet Aki, a professional guide who makes a living with fly fishing. After a coffee, some fishing stories, there is already a good team feeling. He shows us our cabin and tell us about the river. As dusk falls a huge midnight pasta glorifies the end of the day.

The river is characterized by hundreds-meter wide, deep, flat slowly flowing stretches that alternate with runs and rapids. These latter are the best for grayling. Despite being August it is pretty cold. There is 2 degrees Celsius when we reach the bank and start mounting the rods.

The sky has the colour of liquid lead, there is no fish activity in sight. Then something, right in the mid of the crispled, fast water, seems to break the surface. By a closer observation the first impression is confirmed, there is an emergence of sedge. Fish are rising in the mid of the strong current.

We start catching grayling almost anywhere in the currents and it is only after a few hours that we decide to stop for a first break, some warm food and coffe brewed with river water.

This year lemmings migrated in the area and they are almost anywhere in the woods, some are even swimming in the water (picture top right). Meanwhile, while Aki was reeling a 25 cm grayling, something big darted out from the depth to snatch it. After 45 minutes the fight ends with a 6 kg pike.

The next day we try a different spot. A couple of kilometers separate the river from the road and the walk across the tundra is not always easy. After a while we get to see the water course.

We are sweated for the walk in waders through the muddy tundra but the landscape that opens up in front of us is fantastic. There is noone in sight, promising rings enlarge on the surface

The first fish are caught on dry flies, in proximity of a flat current. I decide to check the fast currents downstream.

After some attempts, I spot a deeper current close to a large stone.

Here it is full of grayling. The big boys over 45 start coming out. I catch even a beautiful and very strong brown trout. Here trout are a bit the exception.

Next day, new stretch. While we walk through the woods we find so many mushroom (Leccinum aurantiacum*) that we decide to take some for the meal. We arrive at the river close to a low waterfall. There is an island in the middle, reachable by wading. (Do not eat mushrooms if you are not 100% sure they are edible.)

Here the landscape is more multifarious. We will later elect this place the most scenic of all.

It does not seem to be a good day, we catch some fish between 25 and 30 cm., but not much in comparison with the last days. There are other local fishermen camping on the banks and we have the opportunity to learn about their bizarre grayling flies made of balsa.

In the early afternoon an emergence of mayflies saturates with rings a slow flowing stretch. Fish are all rising close to the opposite bank though.We stop fishing and enjoy watching our mate catching some big ones.

Upstream there are fast currents and here they go along with good grayling, in fact we catch some more.

We decide to spend the last day in a stretch that we had already visited and that gave us more then 100 fish in few hours. In the late afternoon, the sky clears out, the rain leave us with a stunning rainbow and fish are rising.

We catch lots of wonderful grayling till the sunset and the rising mist award the last wonderful images of this fantastic river.