It must’ve been close to midnight, though I couldn’t be sure. We had been fishing all day and I hadn’t checked the time once. The sun won’t set and there was nothing to stop us from fishing. There’s no care for what time it is when it’s summer time in the arctic.It was just us, the river and the forest for as long as we liked. No phone reception. No distractions. But always mosquitos. It’s not fishing without some pain.
We walked along the river bank and got lost in swaths of riverside flowers. They were tall and at times we couldn’t see each other, only the fly line as it flew above the flower tops. One of us spotted a trout, another makes a cast and we all watched as time stood still. A surface boil and a fight, silver in hand and then fish slime remains.
By the river we spoke in hushed voices of fishy rumours about a lake brimming with big pike. Exaggerative hand gestures were used and eyes bulged. Under the midnight sun, stories take on a life of their own. To find the place required taking a few risks. We might get lost on the way, or stuck, or both. The rumours proved too irresistible. We piled into the car and hit the road, rods balanced delicately from the front dash to the back seat. We drove down bumpy roads and gave way to herds of reindeers.
From the road we spot the lake, its shimmering surface catching our eye through the tree gaps. We park the car and make our way down to the water through thick stands of Norwegian spruce and spongey moss laden ground. A fog had crept in and a chill in the night whispered of arctic winters, reminding us that summer is brief, just like life and that we should make the most of it. It was silent on the water and the only sounds were the gurgle of our frog patterns and the occasional eruption of a Swedish pike. The water wolf. A predator crafted over millions of years to do one thing and do it good. We found them and our encounters were brief and explosive, they glided like silk from hands back into the water. They weren’t the monsters we had hoped for, but that’s just the way it is sometimes.
There was more water than we could fish for the night, though we tried our best. Tiredness eventually wins and we retreat to a wooden cabin nestled in the forest not far from a tumbling stream. Wet boots and leaky waders hung by the door. Inside we talk and recount the days moments, good and bad, but not for long as tired bodies need rest. When we wake there will be coffee and a fire to warm us out of our slumber to do it all again.
Words and Photographs: Jono Winnel