Having spent nearly a month in the wilds of Finland, it is something of a reality check to return to the UK. Returning to what exactly? So many cars, so few trees. So many roads, so few lakes!
Still, Finland has been an idyllic escape.
Pike fishing may not be at its prime come June and July in this land of a thousand lakes, but little beats a perfectly lazy afternoon, float tubing around the reedy corners of an immense lake and tangling with scores of lean and angry pike. Throwing plugs, softbaits, Kuusamo spoons and flies on a light outfit is a trigger happy way to ensure plenty of action. In the somewhat coloured water of summer here, bright and especially red offerings seemed the most effective. Slightly further out into deeper water offers the chance of somewhat bigger samples, albeit slower sport. I have to confess, most of the time though, it was the draw of classic pikey haunts and regular rod pulverising takes in the edges that had me hooked. Tons of pike then, nothing huge- but lots of beautifully marked predators to 8lbs.
This years adventure also saw new tricks. Lasakoski rapids are home to some cracking trout. Sadly our visit saw boiling hot weather and the best chance in the cool of the midnight sun- it never gets truly dark here in mid summer. Insect life wasn't at it's most active however. These trout are tough, supremely educated customers at the best of times and on the recommendation of Finnish sedge expert and all round bloody nice bloke Juha Vainio, we resorted to wind up tactics with streamers in the end. Just one sizable trout took a violent swipe at a big streamer- but missed and we had to be content with just a few smaller samples- gorgeous creatures all the same to one pound.
In fact the real highlight of the trip was the unexpected target of other species. Ide are fantastic predatory fish on a fly rod- attractive, broad sided beasts that proved obliging. We also caught roach, bleak, perch, pike and even bream in the slower water, all on flies! The ballistic, head shaking antics of an insanely fit seven pound pike provided further thrills.
The ide was a welcome new species for me then, but another must catch was a Finnish Zander. In spite of local advise that a boat was essential, I finally managed to take two from a float tube on a cloudy evening. Spinners tipped with worms seemed to get plenty of curious taps, before finally the ultra light rod hooped round and I landed a splendid looking 20" zander.
Of course, nothing beats local knowledge for these late feeders, especially given my limited understanding of the species. I tracked down two local anglers Juha and Kalle for an evening of trolling- less fun than casting perhaps, but highly effective. As well as sharing some beer and getting some expert lessons in Finnish swear words, we also took some lovely "Kuha", all to locally made plugs, topped by a superb 3.4KG specimen. Although I'm usually entirely catch and release I did also sample some Finnish fish- zander are absolutely delicious, although I'm certainly not advocating a fry up straight from the Gloucester canal.
It is the quality of life in summer that really appeals in Finland above all though. Late mornings, lazy afternoons and scorching hot saunas; beer, rice pies and sitting on the porch of our summer haunt taking potshots at the empties with an air rifle. Chopping wood with a fiendishly sharp axe. Spotting weasels, woodpeckers, hares and even a badger on the way to or from yet another unique, lost lake. In summer here, the living is certainly easy. The days are long, the woods and the waters are endless and the world seems as young and pure as you dreamed it could be.