Brought up in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales in the North of England, I am a country boy at heart, but have been living and working in Russia on and off since 2007. Whilst the big city has plenty to offer my daughter, who was born in Moscow in 2012, I am keen that she has exposure to the great outdoors and, with luck, develops and interest in nature (and maybe even fishing).
With these thoughts in mind, I could not help but notice the adverts for Rock and Lake that kept appearing on my Facebook feed. Pictures of beautiful lakes, cosy log cabins and smiling anglers with catches of perch, pike and zander. I asked my wonderful wife if we could holiday at one of these places one day and thankfully she agreed.
A couple of emails later and we were booked in at Eemilin Huvila cottage for the first week of July. We would have a week of clean air, barbecues, swimming and relaxation. My daughter would get a taste of country living and cast her first line, my wife and I would get some alone time together in the evenings, and hopefully I would be able to sneak in a bit of ‘proper’ fishing too.
That was February, which meant five months to wait and get excited. For me, that meant getting my fishing gear ready and restocking my lure collection for the predators that were said to abound in the lakes. For us anglers, getting ready for our trips can be nearly as much fun as the fishing itself. We imagine how the lake or river will look and think about what tackle or techniques may be required – this is all part of the adventure.
We arrived in Finland on a beautiful day at the beginning of July. Our cabin was about four hours’ drive north from Helsinki-Vantaa airport, but the highway was clear and smooth and the time flew by. The city soon gave way to meadows and villages, and then birch forests and lakes (all of which looked very fishy indeed). Arriving in the late afternoon, we called in at the farm house to pick up our keys. The husband and wife owners, Tuomo and Taina, were charming and even gave us some fresh potatoes and strawberries as a welcome present.
Our house was fantastic, even better than it looked on the website. Perched on a granite outcrop at the end of a peninsula, it had commanding views over Lake Puula. Inside it was spacious with all mod cons, but without detriment to its traditional Finnish design. A steep path from the veranda took you down to the lake via a smokehouse where you could barbecue under cover. On the lakeside there was a small summer house with two rooms. The first room contained a wood-fired traditional Finnish sauna. The second room had a table and chairs and a small wood burner, and was a perfect place for storing and setting up your fishing gear. Finally, we had our own jetty to which a sturdy rowing boat was moored.
That first evening we made the most of the good weather as it was not forecasted to last. We swam in the lake and ate our dinner on the veranda of the summer house. After my daughter had gone to bed, I had a first few casts with a small Mepps spinner just to see if anything was around. It did not take me long to get off the mark with some small perch. I also heard a few pike crashing about in the weed beds, which was encouraging for the week ahead.
The next day was overcast, but fair. We had some great fun fishing off the end of the jetty. Using sweetcorn for bait under a small float, my daughter caught her first fish and many more after that – bleak, rudd, roach and bream. It was idyllic, sitting with our feet dangling in the water, sharing the excitement of watching the red tip of the float bob then disappear and learning the names of the different types of fish as they were dropped into our bucket. Later on when another roach was snatched by a jack pike as we brought it in, a couple of quick casts with the lure rod quickly resulted in a beautiful little pike gracing our net too.
Sadly, the fine weather did not last and the rest of the week was largely cold, windy and rainy. Nevertheless, we still had a great time. The house was always warm and cosy when we returned from our walks around the lake or forages for berries in the forests. The helpful staff of Rock and Lake arranged for some horse riding lessons for us and pointed us in the direction of a childrens’ theme park when the little one got a bit of cabin fever.
The sun finally returned on our last day and we enjoyed a blissful afternoon splashing in the lake. In the evening, as my wife and I sat on the end of the jetty, a couple of rods in the lake and drinks in hand, we marvelled at the stillness and silence and toasted a fantastic week. We had truly loved our first trip to Finland and vowed to return.