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On the Akonkoski rapid

"You, the Trout or Grayling, living in a Kainuu river. Are you ready? The Eco Angler is coming to release you."

The above paragraph summarises the idea behind eco fishing, introduced more than ten years ago. Today, the public at large is more familiar with the eco-rapids principle. Since 2012, new fishing regulations apply on the Akonkoski Rapid in Kuhmo. The statutory minimum sizes for trout and grayling are high, 60 and 45cm respectively. The bag limit only includes one fish, but often fly fishers will not even take that. Thus fish survive in the rapid, effectively forming a reserve stock that acts like a bank for the fish populations in the nearby Pajakkakoski and Saarikoski rapids. And what kind of fish are we talking about here? Grayling tend to be large; over 40cm is not uncommon. And as for trout, these swim as if powered by rocket engines. It is amazing how a single stretch of a river only a hundred metres in length, and more like a swift run rather than churning white-water, can be teeming with fish.

To our disappointment, we find that water levels are lower than normal. The best fishing spots are almost dry land now. Our guest, a certain Seppo from Helsinki, wades into the head of the Akonkoski Rapid. His casting is truly effortless. It’s easy to see this guy has fished all his life. He can’t have cast more than five times before there’s a tell-tale splash and he’s on to a fish. A trout! But he loses it almost immediately. Seppo hooks several after that, but loses every one. After the seventh self-released fish, I politely suggest that he check the tip of the hook. The tip is indeed broken.

Exactly the same thing happened to me some time ago on the Kynäkoski Rapid in Hyrynsalmi. I lost three monsters on the trot. That’s how I learnt that even metal gets tired if you remove it often enough from the jaws of fish. Aronen: “And the rest of us will remember that it DOES pay to keep the hook sharpened, to prevent fish from only tasting the fly and spitting it out straight away.”

The dusk settles, and the moon rises. A single otter makes an appearance at the pool, clearly intent on some fishing. We leave the pool to the otter, and head for the footpath. Once in the woods, we are escorted to our car by a bat.

Antti Vanninen