European Youth Fishing Camp in Lapland

To the joy of youth from seven countries it turned out, that this event has become a great fishing celebration.
Crowded airport terminal. Above people's heads, the ends of two long rod transport tubes are visible – Andreas and Carlsten just arrived from Dusseldorf. Is 23 July, Hamburg airport is the point of contact. -Come on guys, we'll have a cola first! After the first sip, Carsten starts talking about the Rhine zander, Andreas remembers his most interesting adventure with barbel. You know – anglers met. Lucas from Bad Bramstedt soon joins us. The discussion seems to be endless. An hour later we meet three Bavarians – Thomas, Jan and Florian. The German group is complete, we can fly to Helsinki! The boys have from 13 into 16 years and are completely devoted to fishing. They joke all the way, they laugh, they tell their adventures, They even brag a little. This journey is an award in the Blinker Spring Contest. EFTTA took over the organization of the entire fishing youth camp.

Fishing until it's dark

After landing in Helsinki, we fly to Ivalo, the biggest city (5 thousand inhabitants) in the north of Lapland. We are around 300 km north of the Arctic Circle. After an hour's coach ride through the wild nature of Lapland, we finally reach the Riutula youth center near Inari. Wild fuss in front of reception, take all fishing equipment and luggage out of the bus. 37 young fishing enthusiasts from England, France, Italian, the Netherlands, Norway, Finland and Germany finally settle in their rooms. Midnight. A meal is waiting for us in the kitchen. -I think I'll go fishing right now – Florian wonders aloud, mouth full. – We too! There was general excitement. A few minutes later we are standing with the spinning rods over the water. The fishing week has started until it is dark, although there is no night at all in Lapland at this time of the year. It is bright enough even at midnight, to be able to fish with a rod without any problems. At first, a few Italians look at us with some disbelief, in the end, however, they too appear on the water with fishing equipment. The first arctic graylings throw greedily at the tiny spinners, while the tiny hairs ruthlessly attack us. However, we are well prepared to fight swarms of bloodthirsty insects – mosquito nets and protective agents in cream and spray allow us to concentrate on fishing.

Cat on a fly rod

Five hours later we met for breakfast. Everyone has already caught the fever of fishing! After the official welcome, the program of the meeting was immediately implemented. The best Finnish fly fishermen demonstrated throwing techniques, they showed off their favorite knots and lures, answered the questions asked.

After less than an hour of training, Thomas and Jan look at my flyline with pity. I was throwing the Irish 'kick and rush' technique”, The Finns used a much more subtle technique. Florian showed us his amazing throwing skills. At the time, when I took a cigarette break, a cat appeared in our training field.
– Now watch out, I'll catch him with a fly. So it happened. Florian confidently gripped the fly-tying set (obviously without the leader and the bait with a hook) and put an orange rope in the meadow right in front of the surprised cat's nose. With the third slight pull on the line, the cat nimbly attacked the intriguingly moving end of the line. Florian was proud.
For the next few days, the boys went fishing in four groups of different nationalities. They exchanged lures, they gesticulated a lot, they laughed often. They helped each other in assembling sets and picking up fish. They improved their English during conversations. On the last day of their stay, they all exchanged addresses – fishing brings people together, regardless of nationality.

The beauty of Finnish fish

Of course, a lot of fish were also caught – mostly graylings (into 45 Cm), some nice trout (up to one and a half kilograms) and one beautiful whitefish. Everyone has caught at least a few fish. These were not, of course, any specimens, There weren't that many of them either. Wild Finnish salmonids and graylings, however, are so beautiful, that catching even one such fish is an unforgettable experience. Scandinavians still have a very natural approach to the fish they catch. So they demonstrated to the invited youth, how to handle fish correctly and how you can, for example, bake them in a fire. Several of the fish were smoked, a few of them found their way into the hands of our excellent camp cook.

To ensure a continuous "delivery” fresh fish for the kitchen, Finnish experts demonstrated the most effective fishing techniques to young people, how: fishing with a set without a reel, spinning, trolling with a downrigger from a motorboat, artificial fly and tying flies. Young people were eager to learn all these disciplines, it deepened too, under the watchful eye of Scandinavian instructors, previously acquired skills.

A convincing teacher

The float method for white and red worms turned out to be the most effective. Modern trolling and fly fishing, however, were much more popular. Enthusiasm and ambition accompanied Erkki Norell's fly tying demonstrations. A more convincing teacher is hard to imagine. We didn't have to wait long for the effects, because while still at the camp many boys caught their first grayling on self-tied flies.

The only representative of the fair sex, 13—Year-old Lauren from England, received the award for the best fly tying on the last day of her stay. It was visible, that many boys envied her this skill. The German group also did not come home empty-handed. Andreas received an award for trolling fishing, while Jan was recognized by Scandinavian instructors as the winner of the competition for the best fly fisherman. But not because of that, that they caught more fish than others. The "teachers" were persuaded to make such a verdict by the exemplary and very ethical behavior of both young men by the water. Carsten received a consolation prize for unintentionally swimming in the river. At one point a stone fell from under his feet, on which he stood and fell into the water. After the evening sauna, he quickly forgot about his adventure.

The first fly caught by Thomas was also awarded. It was a beautiful whitefish, and defeating it on delicate equipment was for experts the best proof of the boy's great fishing skills. Florian lost a fish while hauling, which probably could have been the largest fish caught by the camp participants. Judging by that, what the fish did after jam, it was the great-grandfather of all grayling in the river! Lucas received an award for exceptional sporting achievement. After finishing trolling, he sat down on the oars and sailed our boat to the camp marina. He did not knowingly start the engine, and by the way he became the greatest "prankster" of the competition. Hosts seeing, that we are sailing on oars, they came out to meet us and b.y possibly help, because they were careful, that our engine broke down.

On the other hand, I was awarded for the most unconventional boat steering. When I was swimming with Mikko and Tapio from Finnish TV, I was so excited about the camera's work and my important function, that I ran the boat aground. Fortunately, nothing serious happened to anyone.

8 days of great party

There was also a farewell gift from all of us for our Finnish carers – Erkki'ego in Mia. This nice married couple took on most of the responsibilities related to the organization of the camp. I must admit, that she did the job perfectly.
A whole year of preparation, looking for sponsors, Overcoming bureaucratic barriers resulted in the exemplary preparation of the entire event.
The program on the last day of the camp was very attractive and varied. We visited Inari, open-air museum, we also paid a visit to a reindeer farm, where, among other things, we learned to throw a lasso. Our Finnish guide and fishing teachers also turned out to be professionals. They looked after the guests all the time and did everything, to make our stay pleasant. Thanks to this, there was a great atmosphere at the camp. There was not a single conflict situation or understatement.

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