Located in the far north of Finland above the Arctic Circle and the 3rd largest lake in Finland at over 1000 square kilometers, Inarijärvi is a wild, remote and enchanting body of water.
The lake is a vast sprawling span of water dotted with islands, peninsulas and bays that provide hot-spots for the predator hunter. The water is in places crystal clear due to it's remote location. It's possible to stay days at Inarijärvi and not see another human being. Spectacular views, utter silence and 24 hour daylight give it an eerie presence in the small hour of the morning. Sitting outside at 02:00, looking at the sun and watching reindeer swim across a bay to an island is not something you see everyday in most parts of the world.
The lake has an average depth or 14 meters dropping to approx 90 meters in the deepest areas. Trolling lures with a down-rigger set between 5-15 meters will provide good Brown Trout, Lake Salmon & Char. On a warm summer evening trolling with lures set 1-2 meters below the surface can provide fast action as the predators feed on the shoals of small prey fish up high in the water.
Inarijärvi has a good population of wild Brown Trout, Arctic Char & landlocked Salmon with many fish falling to trolled lures being in the range of 2 kilos. Larger Brown Trout and Salmon (10 kg +) will also fall to the lure occasionally. The lake also holds Grayling, Whitefish and Pike. Local knowledge of where to stay and fish is essential. In practice the fish can be found throughout the entire lake but a couple of hours spent doing some research and chatting to the local fishermen either at the boat harbor or local restaurant will be time well spent.
Inarijärvi has many islands which can be easily reached with a boat. It is possible to pitch a tent and fish from the shore with fly-fishing or spinning providing some excellent sport.
The traveling angler may not have a boat but Finnish people are by nature friendly and will happily drop you off and return at a later date to pick you up (a case of beer in return will ensure this). Note : Being stranded on an island in Northern parts of Inarijärvi requires some outdoor skills. Be sure that whoever dropped you off will return as agreed to pick you up as it could be days before someone else comes by.
Log cabins can be rented with some also being in very remote places. The home comforts provided within the cabins vary and whilst it's sometimes nice to have hot running water and electricity, the Inarijärvi experience is made even better when you have to chop the wood, fetch the water from the lake and cook the fish over an open fire.
The lake is usually ice free between May-November. A trip in July or August should ensure at least some decent weather with the chance to catch some memorable fish. Ice-fishing is a popular past-time in Finland and whilst I have never done this at Inarijärvi myself, it can be very productive. Due to the depths in some parts heavily weighted lures may be needed to get down to the fish.
The southern parts of inarijärvi are easiest reached and more inhabited. The first time visitor might want to take advantage of this as it will provide the chance to be out in the wild but not too far from civilization if needed. Going further north will increase the isolation and ultimately provide a more solitude experience, but be warned as this can come with it's perils also. The weather can turn from calm sunshine to a blowy bitterly cold day at the drop of a hat. Being caught out in the middle of the lake in a small boat when this happens can be quite interesting to say the least.
In the summer months the midges and mosquitoes are rife. For those that have not experienced this before and are thinking that a few mozzies can't be that bad; think of it as a constant solid black cloud whereby there are so many that you are literally breathing them in. Of course it is not always like this and this chapter is not aimed to put anyone off but being prepared will ensure the trip is not spoiled. Most of the Finnish food shops sell mosquito repellent and whilst it may look daft at first, a hat with built-in mosquito net is a worthy investment.
I once spent a week on Inarijärvi in a remote log cabin that was only reachable by boat (nearest road was 15 KM away). During the week apart from the times I went for supplies (beer, petrol & food) I only saw one other person during the whole time. The fishing wasn't easy but a steady flow of Trout and Char combined with the majestic environment made it a week that I will fondly remember forever.