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Ronan's report

Sunday July 16, 2006

Anyone who thinks that all the good fishing places are being used up should visit Sweden. Believe me, we haven't even scratched the surface. We fished for a week, within no more than an hour's radius, and didn't begin to cover the water. Met some good guys too. Hooked up with Stefan (Steslik), who immediately tied Ritz leaders up for everyone, and Johan, Jonas, Andreas and Tomas. Stefan, as you know uses a mosquito as his avatar on the board. This should have served as a warning.

The Swedish attitude toward mosquitos (and midges by the way - we mustn't forget about them) is to not panic but to deal with them. They have all kinds of practical ways of dealing with the mozzies, including, say Stefan, a sort of volcano kettle/chimney thingy fashioned from a beer can, in which they burn an insecticide tablet to instantly clear a tent - the mozzie equivalent of the daisy cutter. For daily outdoor use, though, the Swedish boys have some unconventional ideas about mozzie-proofing. They wear special clothing, smoke large pipes and employ a variety of defensive tactics and repellents. The favourite slap-on is a strong, old timey concoction of coal tar and other occult ingredients that is made locally, and which you can detect for some distance downwind. This stuff not only repels mosquitos but may be why most of these guys appear to be single. The only 100% positive deterrent, of course, is DEET. And even that isn't 100%. The little bastards find their way onto any exposed patch of skin, and if you sweat at all you have to keep smearing on the DEET, which of course turns everything you own into a kind of plastic pizza.

Like Tomas says, no mosquitos - no trout, and I think he's right. The trout here are super fish. Beautiful and amazingly strong, and punch well above their weight. The mosquito diet must be packed with energy. Tomas is Sami. The Sami are closely associated with the land and know this stuff intimately, and in incredible detail. They are said, for instance, to have 400 words for reindeer (I have just as many for mosquitos, but they're all swear-words).

Apart from trout, we also hoped to catch some big char, but weather conditions seemed to conspire against us and we only got some smaller stuff to about a pound in weight. Cracking fish though. The fishing isn't easy in Swedish Lapland, but it's good wild country and there is lots of it. If you are serious about your fly fishing, want something more than the dumb stockie-bashing experience and are willing to get to grips with the realities of hunting superb wild trout in their natural habitat, Lapland is the place for it.

Speaking of being single, it's a well known fact that all Swedish women look like Britt Eckland. However, the Swedish All Blonde Wet T-Shirt Contest turned out to be a hoax, obviously just a cynical attempt to lure women (and me) into the far north. There are plenty of good looking women up there, but most of the BE types we saw tended to be headed south, toward the shopping. All the women look great over there, by the way, not just the young ones. As usual, the older ones just look more generally pissed off.


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