Pyry said it was going to be tough – a storm with cold northernly winds was raging. “I did not even bring my fly rod. It is too windy and impossible to fish”. Not exactly the best weather for pike bonanza…
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Hauki (Pike), Kuha (Zander) and Ahven (Perch) are some of the very few words I know in Finnish and that probably says many things. 1. I am a fishing nerd 2. Finnish is hard to learn 3. I focus on the important stuff… I do get to do my fair share of travelling at work and often I visit our closest neighbour in the east, Finland. In spite of all my trips, I have not yet had the opportunity to wet a line there. Last week that was about to change… I was going fishing with Pyry Granlund, the mighty Finn from the Kanalgratis competition Fly vs. Jerk.
Some facts worth noting about Finland
– The country does not have 1000 lakes. It has more that 55 000 lakes bigger than one acre!
– In general the lakes are very flat and shallow. Actually the 55 000 lakes still contains less water than Lake Vänern alone.
– There is islands more or less all along the Finnish coast line with concetrations on the south coast, Southwest corner and around Vasa. In total some 179 000 islands. The deepest/largest archipelago is from Åbo/Turku and the west towards Åland
– If you are between 18 and 65 you need a fishing license to fish in Finland. The cost where I was fishing was about 5 Euros/day. For people younger than 18 and above 65 fishing with rod and reel is free
Full with anticipation I rose from bed at my normal fly-get-up-time 5.10 and headed for the 6.50 flight from Arlanda. Normally I sleep quite well on the plane but this time I as a bit jittery and how should we say…? Tense? I had looked at the forecast and it looked attractive – 5-7 m/s and part cloudy. Sounded pikey to me… This was going to be a good trip.
When I set my feet on Finnish soil I walked over to our rende-vouz point – the ST1-station on Vantaa airport. There I was faced some serious pike-fishing porn. A 3 week old Lund 1675 pro guide tiller boat. A white beauty… And of course Pyry was there as well :-). Directly Pyry told me that it was going to be tough – a storm with cold northernly winds was raging. “I did not even bring my fly rod. It is too windy and impossible to fish”. Not in line with the forecast and not exactly the best weather for pike bonanza… This was going to be interesting .
The fishing location we choose was more than an hour away from Vantaa airport so we had a lot of time to talk about everything. We covered the current status of fishing in Finland including the fact that many especially older people in Finland have a hard time understanding the concept of C&R. We talked about the off camera experience of participating in Fly vs. Jerk. We obviously talked about our favourite baits, and we covered the big difference between guiding and fishing by yourself. That was a very interesting discussion. When guiding you need to deliver “safe catches” meaning focus on numbers rather than size. Too much guiding means you actually stop developing as a fisherman. You cannot try new spots or tactics. Guiding is much about sticking to safe bets and that is also the reason why Pyry want to keep the amount to a certain level. Good call from a dedicated fisherman!
Pyry works as a fireman which means 24h work and then 3 days off allowing a lot of fishing and he is running a guideservice on the side called PG Guide service & pro fishing. Link is here. That meant a lot of good things. I did not need bring any equipment if did not need to. I could borrow rods, reels and baits. The rods he hade was the AbuGarcia Volatile pike (both the heavy and lighter version and I fished both). Rods I have not tried before and I must honestly say I really liked them. Light, quick, comfortable grips and good for playing fish which I was about to find out. The rods were combined with Ambassadeur Jerks. Nice set-up that worked very well for the fishing we did.
I could of course left all baits at home. Obviously I could not help myself and brought a few baits anyway. Some Likaros as presents to Pyry, some to myself but also some bleak dancers because I wanted his view on the baits. They seemed to work in Finland too, but lets come back to that.
We launched quickly and hit the water. After 15 min at the first spot Pyry directly says “This is going to be tough. With the storm raging from the north… In Finland there is a saying, if the wind is blowing from the north, don’t go fishing… And the water temperature has dropped from 21 degrees to now 15,5 in just a couple of days. In any other day we would caught at least 2 pike in this spot. Now we have not even seen a fish”… Just my luck. When I finally get the opportunity to fish for Hauki, the weather god is against me… Well, as normal then… OK lean forward and start working even harder…
We tried a few other spots. Both sheltered and fully exposed to the wind. All looking very attractive with nice topography, weeds, grass and rocks but only one contact for Pyry on the Orange/Black Likaros. After a very wet drive against the wind we ended up at one of Pyry’s secret spots. We started on the wind side without success and then drifted through a small channel to the leeward side. Extremely hot place according to my pike-eyes. The fish could just sit in the weeds and pick of any baitfish that would follow down the current in the channel. I felt it was Bleak Dancer Spinner-time and Pyry felt it was lunchtime so when he was not enjoying his noodles I started hammering the spot.
I worked all directions and after maybe 15 casts at the same place next to some scattered weed i said “there MUST be some pike over there” and seconds after finishing the sentence – boom STRIKE. After very tough fight for the size of the fish (2-3 kilos) I had landed my first Finnish Hauki! Pyry looked a bit relieved but still worried. I know the feeling – when I have someone new in my boat I want them to have good fishing and now we had worked the waters hard for more than two hours with only a jack to show for our efforts… That was about to change… 🙂
I kept hammering in the same direction when Pyry was still not enjoying his noodles (he actually ended up throwing them out because they tasted so bad hahaha) and after 10 casts at exactly the same spot BOOOMM!!! On a long and tight line I get a very hard take followed by heavy headshakes. The rod was bending deeply and I could not move the fish. “This is a netter”… Pyry was getting ready with the net when I was playing the fish closer to the boat. It kept going deep… A good sign of a bigger fish… When it finally hit the surface just beside the boat Pyry yelled with excitement “It is a meter fish!!!”. We secured the fish in the net, released it from hooks and I realized I had just hooked my third meter-fish this year on my home-made bait. This time the Bleak Dancer. How cool is that? We after a few quick photos and measurement we released the beast and started hugging. SUCCESSS! 107 cm fish and an estimated weight on appr 8 kg (Pyry had lost his scale 2 weeks earlier) just shows that you should believe in what you are doing and fish without loosing faith. I you believe a spot is holding big fish – keep working it maybe changing baits, angles, speeds but keep working… You will get rewarded…
Now we both felt happy, relieved and relaxed and Pyry was done lunching. Fishing time! We kept working the spot and soon Pyry had a bend in his rod… On my Likaros… Nice fish of 4-5kg! The spot released a few more pike before we decided to change tactics. Now it was going to be fishing “Rügen-style”. A big flat bay with a nice weed-bed… Interesting… The logic for Pyry was very simple. There was a lot of fish in the bay and by drifting we would cover a lot of water. We were bound to come across som active fish.
After a few wet miles we were in the maze that led to the bay. Muddy water and 1,6m with a lot of weed.
Pyry positioned in a nice drift across the bay and we go to work as we had been doing all day. Me and Pyry all the time having different baits on until we crack the code. Me with a spinner, Pyry with a jerkbait. Me with rubber, Pyry with a crank bait. All the time actively testing to find what the fish likes.
We have a great time and we talked all them time. Pyry even started airing his lungs again, singing and doing his very own version of “den glider in i mål” :-). We were having a blast in spite of the tough conditions and number-wise slow fishing. A couple of minutes into the first drift Pyry has a strike on a very colourful Buster Jerk with FluoYellow belly and some perchie stripes. When he has the second strike on jerk I also decide to change to a vividly coloured Buster Jerk. That seemed to be a good thing… BOOM, an even more ferocious take than the big lady and I cannot move the fish. Pyry looks over at me, sees the strength in the fish and I go “I think this another netter”. A very well conditioned surprisingly short fish enter the net. COOL!!!
Now things got nasty though. Pyry volunteers to unhook the fish and then I hear “its in my thumb!!! Aoooow!!!”. The fish is moving and the hook goes deeper into to the finger. Pyry is cool though. Unfortunately he does not have a power-cutter. That was left in the old boat. How do we do this then? We end up with me lifting the fish in and we guide the hook out of the split ring… OK… Hauki and Pyry separated. Now what? To my amazement Pyry is more focused on the fish, measuring and getting it back into the water than the fact that he is having a hook with the barbs deep down in thumb. Cool as ice – this guy is seriously tough! The fish measured 91 cm and thanks to the extremely good condition we estimated to appr 6 kg.
When the fish is released we turn our attention to his thumb and Pyry concludes that the only option is to push the hook through all the way with the barb coming out the other side of the thumb and then cut it with his Leatherman. Not much to do… I use the pliers to push the hook through, we cut the hook and Pyry is free. With a big laughter Pyry just say “It was me, not the fishes fault… And this was not the first time… And probably not the last time either… hahaha”. Pyry just puts a band aid on “let’s get back to fishing” :-). Hardcore!
We keep running the same drift a couple of times more with some landed fish before it is time to head back. In the car back we concluded the trip. Yeah – the conditions were horrible but we fought through it. Two extremely stubborn fishermen refusing to give up. We worked Pyrys spots in a very structured way believing in what we did and it paid off. I think we landed just below 15 pike with 107 cm 8kg and 91 6 kg hauki as top fishes. We agreed on job well done. We also agreed (even more importantly I think) is that we really enjoyed fishing together a lot. A lot of laughter paired with hard core fishing – my kind of trip.
Fishing with Pyry was awesome. He knows his waters very well and he such a nice, super cool guy. In his boat I felt right at home. He was (as I normally also do) using 5 different rods for different techniques and baits. Like me he was addicted to baits and I think there was atleast 10 bait boxes spread around the floor (is it called floor in a boat???). He was fishing extremely actively, working the positioning of the boat all the time, using the electronics, changing baits and techniques. For the first time in ages I felt like I was the slow one and that was a great experience. Not often that it happens. Normally I am the one changing baits and rods but now I think I have found my superior:-). Fishing in Finland reallt lived up to my expectations I will for sure wet lines several more times when I can find the opportunities.
I really enjoyed the trip and had some key learning or reminders of “old truths”
- Test tactics all the time. If you are more than one – use different tactics to find out what works
- If the bite stops or you have changed location – change tactics again. What worked 5 min ago does not necessarily work now or in the new spot
- When conditions are tough – don’t go “running and gunning” – work the spots thoroughly. My big fish saw my bait pass 10 times before the fish decided to take
- Cover water – like we did with the Rügen style fishing
- … and never loose your temper. Have fun – this is fishing! A good laughter or two makes the tough fishing so much easier
- Last but not least – bring power cutters and a first aid kit. You never know when bad fortune strikes
If you want some new experience and fish other waters, why stop at Åland. Continue to Finland and dig in. The country really has a lot of fishing to offer. Maybe hook up with Pyry as an introduction? I really hope we will manage to get another trip autumn that we have already discussed. And… If you Pyryfind the time to make to Sweden… We will make a cool trip for you 😉 Welcome!
One if the most exciting things when fishing with new friends, besides fishing of course, is to look in their tackle boxes. In Pyrys boxes I founds some very cool looking baits:
And a cool model from Sakkey (Sakke Yrjölä). Very easy to fish bait
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