"We ended up in situation where Pete was hanging in the tree with one hand and the other hand holding the rod. And in addition to that there was quite huge drop on that cliff so Jave was holding Pete from his hoodie."
Choices We Make series continue with a deep dive to baltic salmon fly fishing scene. We sat down with two real salmonjunkies from Finland who has dedicated their lives to chasing big baltic silver. Petteri Lax and Jari Oksanen run a collective called 'Kalatarinoita Suomi' that is all about Baltic salmon fly fishing. Let's hear straight from the guys themselves.
So great to talk with you boys, could you give us a brief introduction of both of you, who are you and what actually is Kalatarinoita Suomi project (Fishing stories from Finland in English)?
Hey all, I’m Petteri Lax 37 years. Many angler always ask if my real surname is Lax and I can confirm that yes the name name is written on my passport so I guess that I really am “Pete the Salmon” as Lax means salmon in Swedish. I’m ex-professional athlete on athletics (long jump) and nowadays I finance my salmon fishing addiction as sport masseur. I’ve been fishing with a fly since age of 14 and salmon fishing became a lifestyle for me 15 years ago.
I’m Jari Oksanen, 40 years old lifestyle hippie and salmon junkie. I’ve been playing music as a DJ last 20 years and fly fishing started at age of 12 with trout fishing. Last 12 years I’ve been an absolute salmonholic.
We met each other around a decade ago at salmon river bank in Sweden. We Fished few days together and realized that both of us were equally addicted to salmon fly fishing. Since those days we’ve fished together pretty much all the time. Kalatarinoita Suomi started around 2 years ago when we fed up waiting that someone did videos about Baltic salmon fly fishing. Since we were spending anyway all of our Summers in the salmon rivers and we found a friend, Ilmari Heinäjärvi, who happened to be professional photographer and cinematographer every piece kind of came together and this project started.
Through Kalatarinoita we aim to spread the passion of salmon fly fishing and share the knowledge that we have been looking for many many years so younger generations could get into this sport. We do videos and social media like Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Moreover we stream our fly fishing on live streams on YouTube and Instagram every now and then.
Chasing that Baltic express. Photo: Ilmari Heinäjärvi
What kind of techniques and styles you prefer for salmon fly fishing?
Early season Baltic chromers is our biggest passion. We fish mainly large rivers like Tornio river, Kalix and Byske in Finland and Sweden. We love to fish cold and high water and heavy current. We are kind of extreme type of guys who like to concentrate on challenging spots like neck pools of hard rapids and pocket style pools between heavy current sections. This means that we fish usually with very heavily sinking lines and big flies.
Pete with fresh Baltic silver. Photo: Ilmari Heinäjärvi
Share us your top three fly patterns for Baltic salmon!
This is easy one: Phatakorva, Den Vanliga and Mikkeli Blue!
Baltic salmon has almost mystical reputation for growing big and being like a express train when fighting the fish. What's your most unforgettable moment with Baltic salmon?
Craziest shared moment happened in Kalix where we fought with a insanely big fish and followed it to downstream. The bank was very challenging to follow and there were three of us changing the rod to each one of us when climbing rocks and avoiding trees. We ended up in situation where Pete was hanging in the tree with one hand and the other hand holding the rod. And in addition to that there was quite huge drop on that cliff so Jave was holding Pete from his hoodie. Well as you can guess we lost the fish in the end and that chain of events was so dangerous that on that moment we decided that we do not follow those huge fish on downstream and we need to be able to stop them with the strong rods, reels and leaders.
Even the big fish is possible to stop with heavy gear like Raiwo Spey 16'6'' #11 and Merisuola reels.
Hah. Sounds fascinating but dangerous… So any comments on gear section before I let you go back to the river bank?
Well as we said, we prefer to hold fish on pools, not let them to go to the rapids too much. It means that we use gear that can handle both absolute pressure and heavy lines. We use Custom DH Raiwo 16’6’’ #11 rod, XO / Merisuola / Predator 1012 reels, thick leaders… And FIRM boots like Musta and Nahka Michelin. You really need to have boots that have that grip because believe or not the fish is sometimes stronger than almost 2 meter tall ex-professional long jumper. If you don't believe, watch the video below. ;)
Thank you lads, it was a pleasure. <3
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Photo: Ilmari Heinäjärvi