Catching grayling in Lapland

Grayling

Catching grayling in Lapland is an unforgettable experience. Grayling is common in most rivers and many lakes in Lapland, northern Finland. The best places to catch the grayling are located in the remote wilderness areas. There you can find the biggest fish, even up to 2 kgs.

When I was young we used to spend a lot of time at Lake Inarinjärvi, and there I learned to value this beatiful silver fish with a high dorsal fin. Local people’s diet consisted mainly of what the forests, lakes and rivers had to offer: reindeer and game, arctic berries, root vegetables, and fish. Grayling, salmon, arctic char, white fish, vendace, and trout are among the most valued fish in this region.

Table of contents
Inarinjärvi is the third largest lake in Finland
Fishing permits in Finland
Where else to catch grayling in Lapland?
Enjoying the valuable catch

Inarinjärvi is the third largest lake in Finland

Beloved lake has many names. Inarijärvi is also known as Inari and Aanaarjävri, Anárjávri, or Aanarjäu in Samí. It covers an area of 1084 km² and it has 3308 kilometers of shoreline and 3318 islands. The lake surface is normally approximately 117-119 meters above sea level but that is being influenced by a Russian powerplant in Paatsjoki river.

We always used to depart from Veskoniemi harbor by boat and head to over Moossinanselkä open water to an island where my relatives used to have a cottage. Close to the cottage is Korkia Maura island, which was one of my favourite sites to visit as it had a cave with eternal ice inside. Ice wasn’t melting even in summer, and you could visit the cave and walk over ice in July. At the old days the cave was used as a fish cellar. According to some sources this ice had remained unmelted for over 500 years. Until the first summer came in 2013 when the ice melted and the cave had to be closed from public for the summer. The effects of global warming to arctic regions are severe.

On the lake

Grayling is common and spread across the entire Lake Inarinjärvi, and can therefore be caught sustainably here. The best grayling spots are the rocky shallows near the shores as grayling prefers shallow waters. Arctic char can also be caught in the Inarinjärvi, but it prefers deep waters.

Fishing permits in Finland

Foreign citizens have the same fishing opportunities and obligations as Finns. Angling with a hook and line, ice-fishing and Baltic herring fishing are allowed without any permits by the Fishing Act, except in rapids or some lakes reserved for angling rainbow trout.

For other types of fishing people aged 18–64 need to pay the national fisheries management fee and obtain location specific fishing permits from Metsähallitus. In 2020 the fisheries management fees are as follows:
1 day / 6€
7 days / 15€
1 year / 45€

State-owned fishing areas where fishing permits are required on top of the fisheries management fee consist of river- and lake-specific angling destinations and larger waterways. By purchasing the permits you are supporting the maintenance and care of the fishing areas and nature conservation. Permits can be purchased online for example from Eräluvat website. For angling in Inarinjärvi you need a permit Lake Inarijärvi 1580.

The minimum catch size in Lapland, above 67th parallel north, for grayling is 30 cm and in the south below the 67th parallel it is 35 cm. For trout it is 50 cm or 45 cm in streams or ponds with no migratory connection from the sea or a lake. The mimimum size for the arctic char is 45 cm in Lake Inarinjärvi.

You should note that grayling is protected in late spring from April to May below the 67th parallel north. So if you are at least 50 kilometers north of Arctic circle, then you can catch grayling all year round in lakes. On the sea grayling is protected all year round. Trout is protected from September to November similarly to salmon and white fish.

Where else to catch grayling in Lapland?

I had some friends from the US visiting me last year and as they were really into fishing, I took them to a river. I heard their fishing stories and saw some pictures of sharks and other huge fish, so I was afraid that our potential catch would be underwhelming. Little did I know that the arctic char would have been a very exotic catch for them, and even grayling was something new.

Few examples of rivers where you could get grayling are listed below:

Ounasjoki river

Ounasjoki river is known for arctic grayling and trout. Ounasjoki is shallow and therefore perfect for fly fishing. Torajaisenniva and Riikonkoski are famous fishing locations near Levi, Kittilä. Molkoköngäs rapids are located between Rovaniemi and Kittilä in close proximity to the road. For angling in Ounasjoki you should select a permit called Ounasjoki-Käkkälöjoki-Pöyrisjoki.

Käkkälöjoki river

Käkkälöjoki river, included in the Ounasjoki permit, is also popular for canoeing and angling as the river has grayling, whitefish, trout and pike. Kalma’s lean-to shelter and Kalmankaltio wilderness hut are located along Käkkälöjoki, providing excellent temporary shelters for fishermen.

River in Lapland

Tornionjoki river

Tornionjoki river is a major stream flowing almost in its natural state on the border of Finland and Sweden. The river is most famous for being the largest free-flowing salmon, whitefish and grayling river in Europe. Kukkolankoski rapids are some of the rivers good fishing sites. For Tornionjoki you should select angling permit called Tornionjoki-Muonionjoki-Könkämäeno.

You can also catch grayling by ice-fishing in winter. Late spring is especially good time to go ice-fishing for grayling.

Enjoying the valuable catch

Graylings should be descaled unless you will cook them in a smoker. They are versatile and can basically be cooked in any way, smoked, grilled, fried, cooked in the oven or in soups. Some even cure them in salt.

Grayling descaling

We barbequed our graylings in a large pan in open fire, and to my embarrassment nearly managed to overcook them with the intense heat. But they were delicious nevertheless.

Grayling on bbq

Comments

  1. Hannah says:

    Wow, I’m not actually a fish eater but fishing in Lapland looks like an amazing experience! It might just tempt me to give it a taste! I’ve never been fishing before but my brother loves it, Lapland looks like a great place to enjoy it!

    1. Jenni says:

      Lapland has the cleanest waters in the world! Give your brother a little tip!

  2. Karen says:

    I love fishing on a wilderness trip where I’m likely to catch dinner. I’ve never had grayling but would love to fish for them and eat them. The scenery looks wonderful too.

    1. Jenni says:

      Nothing better than catching your own food! Graylings are white and subtle in flavor, and therefore very versatile. It’s a highly valued fish in Finland.

  3. Krista says:

    I’ve never gone fishing before but this looks like the perfect are to do it!

    1. Jenni says:

      Perks of having the cleanest nature in the world is also that the fishing is great. 🙂

  4. Michele says:

    My husband would be in heaven here. He loves going on fishing excursions. I have always wanted to visit Finland myself. Thanks!

    1. Jenni says:

      You should plan a trip to Finland then! We are happy to provide some tips if you ever decide to do that.

  5. I LOVE eating fish! It’s so cool that you guys cooked what you caught. I’ve never been able to catch anything tasty enough to cook up!

    1. Jenni says:

      It so fulfilling to be able to catch your own food. When you have to catch (and kill) your food, it makes you respect nature even more.

  6. Demi says:

    Never gone fishing. But this seems to be fun.

  7. Shafinah says:

    my brother is such an avid fisher – he’d love this!

    1. Jenni says:

      Give him a little tip so he can start planning the ultimate fishing vacay in Finland! 😉

  8. I would love to give this a go sometimes in Finland.

  9. Francesca says:

    This looks like a cool fishing trip. I would also love to just visit Lapland in general.

    1. Jenni says:

      Lapland is amazing. Cleanest air in the world, nature, and quietness.

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