Grayling, Ice Cream, and Sleep Deprivation.

Photographer and writer Jess McGlothlin finds the good life – and a few mosquitoes – under the Swedish Lapland summer sun.

“I would drop some bodies for an ice cream.”

The accented words pull me from my hazy doze in the back of the Volvo wagon. Lifting my head from its rest on a pile of duffle bags and rod tubes, I squint forward at Ted. He’s fiddling with the music again, searching for a song on his phone that might help combat the exhaustion we’re all feeling. From the driver’s seat, Håkan eyes an upcoming road sign advertising a petrol station.

Ice cream ahoy. Potentially with no bodies dropped.

Swedish Lapland vista.

We’re winding through the dense woods of Swedish Lapland, where traffic is more likely to take the form of leisurely trotting reindeer than another vehicle. Over the past few hours we’ve descended from boggy tundra into true taiga – a swampy, coniferous forest that only seems to intensify the oppressive heat of a Swedish summer heat wave.

Temperatures have been nudging into the mid-90s every day and for Swedes Ted and Håkan, it’s downright oppressive.

Locals Hanna and Viljami Huhtala.

Lapland fly fishing
Main sail of a Swedish grayling.

Hot? Or tired?

A solid angler and bold drone pilot, Ted sports a scruffy look that makes one think he’d be equally at home at a rock concert as he is in a fishing camp. Håkan, a legend in the Nordic fly fishing community, is as delightfully Swedish as they come: cheerful, kind, and with a wicked sense of humour that tends to come out around 2am on the water. 

Both are quite keen on coffee and ice cream.

The heat is one factor; our collective lack of sleep might be another reason for the hankering for cold, frosty treats.

Lapland fly fishing
The grayling’s realm.

Lapland fly fishing
Viljami with a lengthy pike.

We’ve spent the last week fishing at Tjuonajokk, a tundra fishing camp run by the Fish Your Dream team that proved to be home to hands-down the best grayling fishing I’d ever experienced. Stupidly good. The Kaitum River flows right by camp; it’s the sort of fishery where one can go forth into battle against the mosquitoes to log a few casts, quite likely bringing to hand a grayling topping 50cm before the camp stove coffee even has time to boil.

Read the rest of Lapland in issue 41. It’s free!

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