We had proven ourselves that we could survive two weeks in the wilderness on our previous Kaitum Trip. But having the luxury of a raft carrying our supplies made it quite easy and relatively comfortable to cover the distance between our drop off point and civilisation.
Could we carry all our flyfishing gear, tents and food and other equipment for almost three weeks on our bags? And would we be able to hike so many miles through remote lappland to find those fishing spots very few people had seen? This was how our Rostu Trip was born.
As usually it all started with Clemens doing extensive research trying to find insider tips from swedish locals which they treat highly confidential.
Even if we could find those secret spots on the internet, probably everyone could. It’s not like swedish lappland is anywhere near to be crowded, but if you spent days on the road and stumble miles through bushes, rocks and mosquitos, the last thing you want is to share your river beat with a group of drunken germans.
After finding some promising stories about an area called sandaslandet near the big rostu lake and a few emails with the local helicopter company arctic heli later, our destination was set.
Instead of getting by car to Kiruna, we decided to give the train a chance and bought ourselves inter rail passes to Sweden. on the fairy we quickly found our favourite bedroom under a flight of stairs and double pint can of carlsberg helped us to sleep very quickly.
The train journey from stockholm to Kiruna was as picturesque as promised and I can only recommend to book a cabin with beds, which we of course didn’t.
Arriving in a state between being totally knackered and exctited events untill we sat in the helicopter drove by very quickly, I do remember vaguely that we went out for some midsummersun-night trout fishing with two of the guides Charly and Berlusconi. After a night in the tent we started our fishing adventurer the next day when the sun was shining and the helicopter was taking us over treeless tundra. We landed near Harjeplocka, a small stream and pond system.
It soon became clear that we had found a true gem of grayling fishery. The stream was packed with heavy graylings in every beat that would willingly take nymphs and dries. What a joy it was to spend the late afternoons and evening sight fishing with a 3 weight on serious sized graylings. But Mikko from Arctic Heli knew we didn’t come all the long way just for grayling.
Knowing the area better than the pockets of his fjällräven trousers, he had pointed us to a lake enclosed and hidden by karg gentle hills.
But after days of traveling, we decided to spent the first few days in our luxurious base camp next to the winding stream an the weird hill chain that darted out of the landscape like a shark fin, which gave an ideal hang-out spot in the evenings as the wind on top would ease the constant mosquito pressure.
Yes, no trip to swedish lappland without mosquitos, mosquitos, small biting blackflies and bremsen. Creatures of the devil, made for no other purpose than to preserve the pristine nature from to many visitors. Other countries charge a month’s wage for a week license to keep the fish pressure at an controllable level, lappland has its mosquitos.
Soon it was time to leave the graylings to rest and start our mission to find and fish the Omatjokka River that would lead in the Rostu Lake and on the way, hopefully catch our first real arctic char.
Moving about in an area like the sandaslandet looks far easier on the map than in reality. Although we found a fairly comfortable reindeer path on top of the odd fin like hill that we could follow for the first few miles, our hike soon turned into a serious work-out. Fighting through sharp, man-high thorn-bushes and wading through swamps of a ground-structure we used to call “swim-floor”, which felt like walking over a giant fragile trapaulin spread over a pool of unknown depth. Fellow Tobi made a very true point later, that it felt like the path to Mordor (from the lord of the rings saga).
Finally arriving at the char-lake after a good days hike and a quick freeze-dried meal, we couldn’t resist but started fishing. The water was fairly deep and crystal clear, without much visible structure. We concentrated our affords on a small peninsula that was surrounded by a step fall-off and that allowed us to cover a good area of water to both sides. The latter was essential as the wind was randomly blowing from changing directions which forced us to either change sides or to side down and take a break. As usual the awaited arctic char didn’t show up, although Clemens only slightly missed a hit by a huge, red belly.
Towards the eking the wind got stronger and forced us behind a massive boulder on the lee side of our little peninsula for dinner. The night was fairly stormy and to my big surprise I found my tentpole consisting of three more pieces than usual. You can’t imagine how promising that feels, having the brand new, mountain-grade tent kaput after the first two stormy nights and almost two weeks without a chance for replacement ahead.
Anyways, fishing was more important, so we continued forcing heavy streamers through the wind but found us soon to be hiding in shelter and eating instant vanilla pudding with dried raspberries. The day went by, no char just wind and rain but the mood was still positive although Tobi already expressed his everlasting dislike for the difficulties of char-fishing, but Clemens patently pursued him to give it another day. The third day at the char like was far more promising with periods of no wind and sunshine, yes actual sunshine. It were exactly those moments, when the surface turned completely flat, when the chars began to rise and to hunt, of course always out of casting range. But many casts and failed strikes later, Tobi (who else) managed to hook the first serious char and landed it after a breathtaking fight. Although we usually release our catch, we planned to celebrate the first arctic char by making sashimi of it, and yes we brought sushi rice, wasabi and soy sauce all the way up that lake only for this moment. Luckily, after several missed attacks and snapped leaders, Clemens also successfully wrestled a char into his net and let it go after a proud quick photo. Both fishing comrades absolutely overwhelmed but the excitement of the moment and the beauty of the char decided to call it a day and to begin preparing the sashimi. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation we tricked the chars with rapidly stripped medium sized muddlers as they came to hunt below the surface. We also tried heavier flies and sinking lines but reaching the bottom or finding the exact right layer seemed impossible.
The next day we packed our bags and continued the hike towards the big rostu lake. Soaked in heavy rain we arrived in a little comfy tiny valley? that offered some protection from the wind and had a freshwater source near by. As it was still pouring we quickly constructed a sauna or hot-box from Tobis outer tent and heated it quickly up to a cosy temperature that kept the mosquitos out. Continuing our journey the following day we passed by a pair of larger lakes which offered a sandy beach and a moment of warming sun (this is a lie, it was horribly cold and stormy) allowed us to take a quick, and necessary bath.
Later that day we arrived at the omatjokka river, which we planend to fish for at least two or three days. Although we could catch stunningly beautiful brown trout and good sized graylings, the water level was just too low for serious flyfishing.
Still having a heavy breeze, Clemens’ tent pole now more only consisted of tape and all the replacemets we had. Hoping for little friendlier weather and knowing about the good fishery at our drop off spot we decided to get on the way back the next morning. The try of lighting a bonfire from the few pieces stranded wood we found at a riverbank didn’t help much to find comfort in the wind.
We made it back to the area where the helicopter would (hopefully) pick us up again within two days of wandering through storm and rain.
On the descent into the shallower land where Harjeplocka calmly flows through the remote tundra, we made a stop at a small pond-sized like lake which was full of hungry grayling at decent sizes and it was a welcomed stop for our lunch-break. The last days went by very calm and sunny. We fished the little stream and went on a day trip up to the char lake with only fly rods and some food. Where, obviously only Tobi caught another char. During our days in the sandaslandet, we discovered the delights of smoked and dried beef filet which a serbian friend of Clemens supplied us with. The helicopter arrived well on time and took both slightly exhausted but deeply happy fisherman back into the civilisation where the guides took us for a midnight sun burger in Kiruna, which can be quite vibrant during summer nights.
As we had planned to extend our stay in Kiruna for 3 more nights to explore the surrounding fishing opportunities, one of the guides drove us out to a small stream, called the “Shit-stream” due to an savage leakage accident, years ago. Still remaining was a good amount of nutrials and well-fed brown trouts. As we cleverly left our flyrod-transport tube in the van, we practised our survival skills on a makeshift branch-flyrod and Clemens caught his first trout with a stick of birch wood to which a Hardy Reel was attached. Thanks to our brilliant guides who found the rod-case and brought it after the same night, we were able to enjoy fishing the lovely little shit-stream before we hitch-hiked back to the arctic heli lodge and got on the train back home.