In the land of Grayling 


by Aki Huhtanen  

E.F.A.:During our last trip to Finland we met Aki Huhtanen, a professional guide specialized in extreme grayling fishing and wilderness tours in the finnish mountain and tundra. Aki when did you started fly fishing ?
AKI: I start flyfishing in year 1995,.. I mean active fly fishing. By now I fish 100-120days with fly rod, every year ,that is as much as I can, because here in north Lapland we have long winter, 7 months long we have snow and frozen waters.

E.F.A.: What is a fish that you caught that you still remember
AKI: Many years ago I had heard from the old Sámi people that there is a "Forgotten lake" in Tundra, where the graylings eat gold and grow really large, even 3000grams! I thought that everything is just a story, ... ... But I did not get the story out of my mind. I had dreams many time about the lake,...

AKI: 8 September 2010. I was in "Forgotten lake". The evening was fine. Warm weather +15C. The most beautiful Autumn colors were shining,... sun was setting behind the hills and sedges were hatching, ... Then I noticed that really huge grayling rising to the surface, right in front of the bank. That was the moment for the gray Europa 12 dryfly! On the leader and out! ....wait...wait.. and PAM!!!

AKI: My dream came true! Really really FAT Grayling 2120grams and 58cm it was in my hands! The period of the year was perfect for great Northern Lights that came out in the sky after the sun had set! I cried, I was so happy! Forgotten lake is true!

E.F.A.: As guide you cover a remarkable wide area, large and small rivers mountain lakes, pure nature and far from civilitation. Do you take some time to explore new areas ?
AKI: I started my own flyfishing guiding company in year 2005, two to three guides work regularly with Graylingland. We do mixed offroad jeep or ATV / river boat trips, reaching nice fishwaters by jeep and after we go upstream by boat. We always try to find 1-2 weeks time every summer for flyfishing and reach new places.
E.F.A.: What about the char fishing, what is the best period for fishing it with the fly rod ?

AKI: Good char waters are from 700metres-1000metres high from the sea level. Good char waters are located too high for graylings. The best char flyfishing is at end of June until middle of August. One can find char in rivers and lakes, but usually in the lakes there are bigger char.
E.F.A.: What techniques do you use or recommend
AKI: if there is no any hatching and char don't rise, I prefer to use olive or red woollybuggers with heavy head.

E.F.A.: And in rivers and lakes it is possible to fish other species too.
AKI: Our best grayling waters including very big whitefish(*), even 3.5kilos. Whitefish is the most difficult and challenging fish caught on dry. One has to use #14-20 hook dryfly and very long leader, with tippet 0.15mm. There is also pike in the water, average size is approx 3.5kilos, but we are caught over 8 kilo pike also(on fly).
(*) Family: salmonidae, Coregonus sp.

E.F.A.: There are salmon runs in the Muonio, how does the situation with salmon fishing look like in the area you cover ?
AKI: This summer seems best salmon summer ever in the muonio river. A lot salmons came up from ocean.
E.F.A.: Is there any official statistic this year for the salmon in Muonio ?
AKI: The official statistic for this year is not published yet, but at the end of july 2012 there were over 55.000 salmon that run to Tornio-Muonio river from the sea and here in Enontekiö, we have best areas for spawning, like the river Lätäseno (same river system than torni-muonio river)

E.F.A.: Thank you Aki for your time, it was a pleasure to meet you in Finland and I hope to get to see you soon.
Aki is all year round fish guiding, ice fishing during winter as well. He can be contacted on his web site