Fly Fishing Jämtland (Part 1): Skit Fiske Hårkan River

posted in: Europe, Fishing, Fly Fishing, Sweden, Travel | 3

In June, it was finally time for some exploration of new waters abroad: Jan and I decided to go fly fishing Jämtland, Sweden. However, it did not start that well…

The Journey begins…

We arrived in Stockholm by flight on Saturday, 24. June in the morning with Swiss International Airlines. With surprise, I recognised an article in their on board magazine about fly fishing. Even though it was about Ireland and not Switzerland, I liked the fact that fly fishing has kind of become a trend sport.

We started our journey up north by rental car. Given that there are no trout in the waters around Stockholm, we drove deep into the province of Jämtland. To be precise, our first destination was Östersund. On the way there, we stopped by an old school American looking restaurant called Pink Ladies. We would have eaten there, if we had not had lunch before.


In Östersund, Jan and I realised the first time how far north we had travelled. The evenings stayed bright till midnight. We had dinner at the Italian restaurant called Vezza. Shortly after, we found ourselves back in the hotel room, where we prepared our fishing equipment for the following day. However, if we had known already at this stage that one is allowed to fish the lake Storsjön without a license, we probably would have fished.

As dark as it gets in Östersund on the Midsummer weekend
As dark as it gets in Östersund on the Midsummer weekend

Getting the License

The following day, we unsuccessfully visited two nearby fishing stores, which were closed due to midsummer. Therefore, our next stop was the tourist office, where we got some information about the waters around Östersund. Moreover, due to airline regulations I was not able to take gas bottles for my stove with me. Hence, we searched for them in almost every shop we came by. Although we needed the more common screw on gas bottle, there were either not sold or out of stock. It was in the Intersport store where we finally managed to find some bottles and relieve.

Having decided on fishing the famous Harkan river first, we drove to the gasoline station in Lit. The tourist bureau in Östersund had sent us there because the license was sold at the lowest price. Why the license is not sold at the same price everywhere is a mystery. While driving through Lit we came by the camping and the owner informed us about the river and that they offer Kayak trips down the Harkan river. Given that the weather forecast did not suit a kayak trip and we did not know about the fishing in the Harkan river, we skipped this opportunity.

Fly Fishing Jämtland

Finally, we had everything in place to go fishing. The license was bought, gas bottles were found and our gear was ready. We stopped at several places along the Harkan river and observed it. At one stage, we met a few Swedish lads who camped at the Harkan every year for several days. The said that the river usually fishes very well, yet at the moment it runs at 170 cubic meters which is twice as much as normal. However, they had caught several grayling as well as trout.

Down by the Harkan river, we saw several rising fish. Owing to the fact that there were small dark caddis hatching all over the place, I assumed that the grayling must been feeding on them. Two other fishermen caught now and then a fish so that our spirits were high.

While overlooking the happening from the little hut next to the river, an older fisherman we had met before came by. Despite the age, his eyes underlined his likeable character. As soon as he recognised some fish starting  to rise again close to the banks, he uttered with a strong Swedish accent:

“Now is the time for fishing.”

Skit Fiske

A few hours later, Jan and I realised that although we are in Sweden where there is heaps of fish, this must not mean they are easy to catch. At least not all the time. Neither of us had caught anything. However, other fishermen next to us had more luck. Even at the same place I had fished a few minutes before. This was in way embarrassing and either due to the wrong fly – or worse – my presentation.

The small caddis that were hatching all over the Hårkan river while fly fishing Jämtland
The small caddis that were hatching all over the Hårkan river while fly fishing Jämtland

It took a while until I observed the happening a bit longer. The fish rose to large mayflies instead of the small caddis that were hatching all over the place. Thus, I change to a huge yellow may fly imitation.

It was not long until I messed up the first bite. Another half an hour later I hooked the first fish of the trip. I shouted to Jan that he should come over to help me because the fish fought pretty hard. While Jan was figuring out how to detach my net from the ring on my back, I did not focus on the fish for a second and it was gone. The disappointment was huge. “Aah that’s how you unpin the net”, Jan said, which did not calm me down.

“Aah that’s how you unpin the net”, Jan said, which did not calm me down.

A Second Chance

It was not before 8 o’clock and two lost flies that I hooked another fish with the last large yellow dry fly I had. This time, I tried to fight and land the fish by myself and do without Jan. Yet, I struggled fighting the fish properly because of the missing brake in the Swedish Danielsson Fly Reel. The downside of trying to brake with the palm of my hand was that you have only one hand to hold the rod. Subsequently, I struggled a lot to fight the fish properly. The fish pulled downstream and at some point I had to ask Jan for help to net it due to the long leader I did not want to pull into the rings of the rod. In contrast to the first fish, Jan knew now how to release the net from the holder. Together we managed to catch the first fish of the trip

It was a beautiful brown trout but owing to the fact it was dinner time we prepared the fish which measured stunning 45 cm.

The stunning brown trout caught in the Hårkan river while fly fishing in Jämtland
The stunning brown trout caught in the Hårkan river while fly fishing in Jämtland

While cooking, another Swedish dude named Richard from Krokom visited. We had some nice talks about how different the river can be and even took a picture like real tourists. We chatted about the fishing and that it is unusual to be like this in June. The weather was much to cold and wet.

Outdoor kitchen while fly fishing in Jämtland
The kitchen.
Fly fishing Jämtland: the Hårkan river
Richard in the middle and the Polish guys just arriving in the background
Richard in the middle and the Polish guys just arriving in the background

Stories around the Fire Pit

Later on that evening, the Swedish lads we met first came over to the place where we stayed and had funny talks around the fire pit. Felt like in a movie of Rolf Nylinder. It was a great atmosphere among fishermen and anyone was keen to share information on fisheries – I wish it could be like that in Switzerland.

Lovely hut at the Hårkan river to get warm again
Lovely hut at the Hårkan river to get warm again

Jan and I joined the Swedish fishing group at their camp, where we put our tent up at half past 1 in the morning while it was still bright enough to see everything without a torch.

We slept well and woke up at 9 o’clock to windy conditions.

Our license was valid until 3 o’clock in the afternoon and we made excessively use of this opportunity. It was at this point that Jan caught his first fish – a grayling. Additionally, to the Swedish group some Polish lads joined at the Harkan river. They fished very well and sold some flies they brought from home. Furthermore, they told us about the Longan river which we planned to visit next.

Other Parts about fly fishing in Jämtland, Sweden

Part 2: Långan at Risk

Part 3: Fjäll around Åre


3 Responses

  1. First Fish 2020 - ExpediTom

    […] couple unsuccessful fishing trips later, I met Jan with whom I was in Sweden a couple of years ago. We decided to have a quick look at the nearby river. Usually our trips are […]

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