Alpine skiers sometimes talk about serving your turns. That feeling you get when you go up with skins instead of using a ski lift or helicopter. I get that same feeling when the 4.8″ big fat bike tires roll out on the forest trails. There’s something about using your own power that gives energy, and how there’s always something new to experience around each bend. The views. The wildlife. And the inner journey.
The bike is heavily packed with enough equipment and food to last for a week. I’m off.
For the fly fisher – and the fat biker
The barren and vast mountain landscape in the far north is popularly called Sandåslandet – the land of the sand ridges. Among devoted fly fishers, a romantic feeling comes to mind just hearing the name — a yearning for lukewarm summer nights under the midnight sun. Fantasies of beautiful streams, slowly flowing towards the mighty Torne- and Kalix rivers. Discrete trouts that rise for newly hatched insects in a small stream and Arctic chars in crystal clear mountain lakes that dances around in shoals. Yes, Sandåslandet is definitely for fly fishers. It’s also a mountain region that more than many others are passable for a fat bike. And to explore the area by bike gives a beautiful appetite for discovery and a great feeling of adventure.
The Arctic char’s sixth sense
Sandåslandet is a mountain area with low, rounded mountains and lots of crystal clear lakes and small streams. It’s an Eldorado for fishing for grayling – and you’ll also have high chances to catch prominent Arctic char on a dry fly.
The Arctic char is an odd fish though. Sometimes you might think it has a sixth sense in the way it almost certainly knows your fly fishing abilities and in a mocking way circulates just meters away from your fly presentations. Someone once wrote: “There´s a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore like an idiot.” That feeling is often present when you fly fish for Arctic char.
One of the best ways to spot the beautiful red fish – sometimes called “the Greta Garbo of the mountains” – with its white fin markings is to sit down and sort out some mess up of your fly line, tie in a new fly or to take a cup of coffee. Then there’s a possibility that you can experience Arctic char just some meters out. But it only applies just as long as you’re not standing on the shore with the rod in your hand, ready to fish.
Also read10 fish to catch in Swedish Lapland
Fat bike along unknown paths
I began my fat bike trip in Keinovuopio, close to the Finnish border and took the old gravel road north to Kummavuopio, once the most northern inhabitant place in Sweden. The area is also traditional land for the most northern Sámi village in Sweden – Könkämä. From Kummavuopio I started to climb up on the table-land that is a characteristic of the most northern part of Swedish Lapland. The Sámi reindeer herders use the narrow four-wheel road, and the culture is always present. I see lots of reindeer along the way.
After a couple of hours, the landscape opens up even more. To the north, the specially shaped mountain Pältsan rises – from this angle it almost looks like a huge tent. The road is now just a narrow path, and due to the densely-packed bike, I must lead the bike along the track now and then.
A sense of adventure
Travelling for your own machinery creates a wonderful sense of adventure. There is always something new to experience around the next bend. Sometimes it’s demanding though – you need to be prepared and requires you have some outdoor skills – and fitness. It’s also an inner journey. After some hours I feel calm, and the most significant challenges are how to steer the bike, push the pedals and keep orientation.
I keep moving until its quite late. It never gets dark at this time of year. I put up my small tent a few meters from a mirrored lake on the same shore I visited when I was a young ranger from the Lapland ranger regiment at the beginning of the 90ths. It looks the same, but I can´t stop thinking of how much water has passed both in the lake in front of me and my own life. My thoughts are interrupted abruptly though when I spot the unmistakable sign of an Arctic char wakes fifteen meters out. It’s time to unpack the fly fishing rod.
Also readMidnight salmon
Fly fishing in the land of the midnight sun
Sandåslandet is the dream for a fly fisher. There’s plenty of lakes and small streams, and the water is crystal clear. There’s a great chance to catch your dream grayling or Arctic char.
It’s quite easy to hike around on the plateau, and you never know if the next small lake or stream holds your dream catch. But the fishing is just one side of the coin. In early July, this is also the land of the midnight sun. It never gets dark, and to stand with your fly rod on the shoreline with sunglasses looking for wakes in the middle of the night is a quite an experience, and hard to compare with anything else.
As you move around you are constantly reminded that this is also traditional land for the Sámi villages of Könkämä and Lainiovuoma, as reindeer move around on their pastures. As they have done for centuries. The combination of excellent fly fishing opportunities, midnight sun, and the beautiful nature this is as well as the influences from the Sámi culture, make this place unique. To experience it by fat bike allows you to an even more exciting experience that really highlights the adventure.