TWO LONG RIVERS IN A WILDERNESS SETTING UNDER SUSTAINABLE FISHING RULES
The Naamankajoki and Näljänkäjoki are part of the large Korvua-Näljänkäjoki joint-licence area. This 110-kilometre-long stretch, suitable for river fishing, is located in the sparsely populated border area between Northern Ostrobothnia and Kainuu. The licence area includes more than 60 rapids with numerous smaller riffles, distributed across water areas belonging to seven different fishing associations, one private farm and the state-owned Metsähallitus. In other words, the area provides plenty of room for fishing.
The primary fish in the river is grayling, with trout occurring in some places. The fish are predominantly from natural reproduction, the rivers not having been stocked for years. To ensure the preservation of a healthy fish stock, more stringent regulations are applied here than in recreational fishing areas maintained by stocking catchable-size fish. Actually catching the fish may also present a challenge here, but skilful anglers will be rewarded by beautiful salmonoids with undamaged fins. Not easy fish to land!
Some rapids can be reached by car, while others require a hike. The majority of the rapids are located in forested country. Services in the licence area are, on the whole, fairly basic. A few wilderness huts can be found in the area, while Kinkelinkoski rapid on the Lylyjoki and Lahnasenkoski rapid on the Korvuanjoki have a lean-to/’kota’ hut and fire pit.
NAAMANKAJOKI AND NÄLJÄNKÄJOKI RIVERS
These two forest rivers, flowing close to each other, form an area providing abundant space for white-water fishing in a peaceful setting. As no roads lead down to the rivers, anglers for the most part will need to hike. This area can be reached by turning off the Suomussalmi–Joukokylä road (road 8950), around 14 kilometres from Joukokylä village on to the Luokkalantie road. This road crosses the Näljänkäjoki at the head of the Pitkäkoski rapid. From Luokkalantie, about 5.5 kilometres further along, a logging road turns off towards the stretch of country between the two rivers. A number of smaller roads lead from the logging roads down to both rivers. The Kiehtäjänkoski rapid is located a distance away from the rest of the rapids in the downstream reaches, along the Puolanka–Taivaskoski road (road 800), seven kilometres north of Joukokylä village.
The Naamankajoki, also known as the Kokkokoski rapid, is a forest river with strong currents, forming one continuous rapid for almost its entire length. Below Lake Naamankajärvi lie two stretches of river with fast currents and small lakes before Kokkokoski proper begins. The Ylä-Kokkokoski rapid is around one kilometre in length, steep and with banks of rocky outcrops. The next stretch, called Harrivirta, one kilometre long and with calmer currents, is followed by a short pool, after which the river continues as yet another stretch of rapid, known as Ala-Kokkokoski, tumbling down for a distance of one kilometre to the Näljänkäjoki. The river is around 10 metres in width, and in most places the channel can be covered from one bank. There are no official resting spots or paths along the river. The river can only be fished with a fly rod.
Lure fishing area
The stretch of the Näljänkäjoki fishable using the joint lure fishing licence is around 20 kilometres in length. The river begins in Lake Näljänkäjärvi, flowing through forest for a distance of around ten kilometres as a small stream with plentiful rapids. The Pitkäkoski rapid, located beside the road to Luokkala, is the steepest in the river’s upstream reaches and known to attract grayling in particular. Pitkäkoski is easy to reach, and probably for this reason the most popular fishing spot in the area. The rapid is nearly one kilometre in length, around ten metres wide, and drops more than eight metres along its course.
Halfway down, the river is joined by the Lylyjoki from the south and the Naamankajoki from the north, almost tripling the water volume. Here, the Näljänkäjoki flows in a calm stream, turning into stronger currents in a series of three rapids of interest to anglers. A moderate hike from the lower rapids on the Naamajoki will bring anglers to the Oravikoski and Vääräkoski rapids. Both are more than half a kilometre long and more than 20 metres wide. The largest rapid on the Näljänkäjoki is at Kiehtäjä. This swift, one-kilometre rapid of 30 metres in width passes under the Puolanka–Taivalkoski road. A few houses lie adjacent to the rapids, and a fish hatchery on the opposite bank that anglers should take account of. There are no official paths or resting spots along the river.
Fish stock and stock management
The Näljänkäjoki has a natural fish population. As the name Harrivirta suggests – literally, ‘Grayling currents’, the name of a stretch on the Naamankajoki – grayling is the characteristic fish of the area and also the most frequently caught. The Naamankajoki is traditionally regarded as a more likely place to catch grayling than the Näljänkäjoki. Apparently, this fast-flowing tributary is richer in food and consequently more attractive to fish. The Näljänkäjoki, on the other hand, has plentiful deep currents and dozens of kilometres of peaceful stretches where fish can grow. Trout is a relatively rare surprise on these rivers. Some trout, however, move from Lake Suolijärvi into the upstream reaches, with some individuals, much like grayling, spending their entire lives in these rivers. These rapids, cleared for timber floating in the past, were restored in the late 1990s by restoring boulders to the stream bed. Fishing regulations aim at restoring natural reproduction, and only fly fishing is permitted on the Naamankajoki. It is important that anglers observe the fishing regulations and minimum legal lengths and understand the role that responsible sport fishing plays in restoring natural reproduction of the fish stock.