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Langinkoski, Finland

Early season destination for sea run brown trout in Kotka, Southern Finland

Langinkoski rapids on the mouth of the river Kymi is perhaps one of the best fly fishing only river destinations for sea run brown trout remaining in Southern Finland.

Situated only just over an hour's drive from Helsinki and with it's long history of sport fishing makes 'Lankkari' a popular venue

among anglers looking to hook that early season sea trout or even the occasional salmon.

The fishing season on the river begins as soon as the ice cover has melted and is at it's best in May when the bait fish such as the smelt and the common bleak rise to the river -luring in the trout behind them.

In a nutshell

Langinkoski is a fly fishing only fishing area with an 8 rod limit per day. It consist of around 500m of pools and rapids fishable from both the East and West bank with the side streams being off limits. No fishing permits are issued between 1.10 - 15.11 and all adipose finned trout and salmon are to be released immediately.

The history of sports fishing in Langinkoski extends at least to the late 1880s, when Alexander III, Emperor of Russia, took a liking to the salmon fishing there and had his Imperial Fishing Lodge built by the rapids.

Today after many phases in it's history, Langinkoski and it's surroundings are a nature conservation area managed by the governmental Metsähallitus and Villi Pohjola. Partly due to it's status as a conservation area and one of the last rivers where sea trout still rise, Langinkoski has separate, tighter rules and regulations to the other rapids in the river.

You can find out more about the history, rules and regulations here and here (Finnish)

It's a spring thing

The ice cover on the river finally melting and temperatures slightly on the plus side of the scale in April mark the beginning of a new season. With the chance of hooking an early season bright silver sea trout or even the odd salmon that have wintered in the lower pools, Lankkari has over the years become our favourite season start destination.

With no apparent local population these days, the trout found in Langinkoski seem to move between the river, estuary and the coastal waters throughout the year following the movement of their prey.

The Smelt (Osmerus eperlanus) rising to the river starts the game in late April with the first trout following close behind. However, the season truly kicks off in our opinion with the arrival of perhaps the most important prey on the trout's diet, the Common Bleak (Alburnus alburnus) in May. This 5-20 cm coarse fish rising to the river in large quantities for spawning give the trout an abundance of easy-to-catch food.

Predatory trout are usually most active during the early hours of the day and just before dusk. However, with the abundance of prey and the water temperature still relatively low in May, the trout seem to be less wary and can be found to be active the whole day - Much increasing the chances of hooking one.

Early season fishing is often hampered by weather and high water conditions. It does seem though, that the trout as well as the bait fishes follow the same routes and the same general seasonal timings to the river year after year (depending mostly on the ice situation and water flow). Although, often difficult, early season is in our opinion the most rewarding time to visit.

The Langinkoski Fishing Area

And in our opinion some of the best spots to try for fish while there

The rest spot

The most popular spot on Langinkoski with anglers taking turns to fish a deep pool on the main current seam from the mouth of the Eastern side stream down to the 'emperor's rock' about 50m further down. The 'emperor's rock' is a flat rock by the main seam of the current and visible in low water. Most fish on the rapids are probably caught within this hotspot area (partly due to the amount of anglers fishing it). We only fish this area when it has been left alone for a while -much increasing the chances of connecting with a fish.

The bridge

The water around the bridge on the Eastern side is generally overlooked for some reason. It's prime close quarter fishing water. We've had fish on under the bridge in an area measuring less than 10 by 10 meters. The trick is to carefully wade in under the bridge to cast your fly at a big visible rock upstream just in front of the pillar and try to get your fly to skirt around it for a while before letting it swim under the bridge. Sometimes, with luck the trout will strike the streamer straight away, or even follow the fly under the bridge before striking.

The sea Pool

Probably our favourite spot on the rapids. The lowest part of the fishing area starts with a riffle before deepening to a pool and finally the estuary itself. The fish ( from the trout to the occasional Asp) can usually be found on the seam of the main current or in the slower running waters further down the pool. However, the rocky area should be fished closely first before wading out to fish the main seam. Fish can sometimes be very close to the shore.

The riffle

Above the bridge on the western side is a large rocky riffle clearly visible when the water is running low (and almost impossible to fish when running high). It has some good hiding spots for trout and a cast across the current with erratic retrieval can sometimes trigger an aggressive take here. The best way to fish this spot is from the small island just above it, when accessible.

The main cascade

In the middle of the main cascade is a large rock that forms a nice fishable pool behind it. The trick is to cast over the faster water, mend upstream and try to get the fly to swim around the pool freely for as long as possible before the main current pulls it out. Any trout there usually strike within the first few casts. Like couple of years back, Jussi who after a whole day full of nothing, landed 3 beautiful bright silver trout within 30 minutes of each other. In this one spot.

Western side stream

Although the side stream itself is out of bounds, the outside bend in the river forms a nice slow water pool just above it. it's worth fishing thoroughly as it seems to offer trout a place they seem to like. If the timing is right, there's a fish here almost always. We've certainly had many leader cutters here. Big trout or even salmon - who knows.

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Tackle for Langinkoski

Langinkoski is a wide part of the river (around 100m at best) with a serious water flow during the early part of the season. Depending on both the amount and the speed of the snow melt as well as the dam upstream regulating it.

Due to it's size and the possibility of hooking a big sea trout or even a salmon, heavy double hand rods with variable shooting heads are popular there. While they certainly give some advantages with their ease of casting a large tube fly or a streamer, we have come to prefer 9-10ft single hand rods in weights 6-8.

In our experience the single hand rod gives more versatility to the fishing here. It's specially so around the bridge with it's relatively small area fit for casting and the West side of the river where the ability to cast upstream and mend casts greatly broadens the possibilities.

Well, each to their own, as they say. We usually use 6-8 wt medium fast rods with WF lines to cast streamers (4-8 cm long) on 0X to 2X leaders. If the water is high and running fast you can compensate by using sinking leaders or extra lead weights (although casting a sinking leader we feel, is way more comfortable than lead weights due to in part the extra weight being distributed evenly reducing the awful pendulum effect).

We've also found that the distances required for effective fishing aren't really that huge and not limited by single hand rods,and rods today have plenty power enough to cast a streamer, even with a sinking leader.

3 early season streamers

While there are probably as many preferences for flies and techniques as there are anglers. For us the early season is based on streamers.

To get you started, here are our favourite three fished almost always. Google around for more effective patterns popular on these waters.

White Leech

The workhorse of our fly box. This particular colour variation imitates an injured or a stunned bait fish. It's fished deep with a bouncing retrieve that fish from perch to trout and chub to pike find irresistible in most conditions. Few turns of lead wire can be added behind the tungsten bead to give the fly an even more steep rate of descent and erratic movement.

Hook

# 10 Nymph / Wet

Thread

White 8 / 0

Tail

White Marabou & 2 Crystal Flash strands

Body

White Marabou fibres

Rib

Thin oval gold

Hackle

Orange

Collar

Chinese red

Head

4 mm Tungsten bead

Lankkari variation

This variation of the Lankkari is tied to imitate the Common Bleak and other small bait fish found in rivers & rapids from May onwards. Unlike the original, this fly has no body. Rather achieving it's fish-like shape from 4-7 bunches of Craft Fur stacked in front of each other both over and under the hook. Few strands of Pearl Blue Angel Hair are added to keep the fly's translucent like look.

Hook

# 2-4 Streamer

Thread

White 8 / 0

Wing

White Craft Fur & Pearl Blue Angel Hair

Back

Black Arctic Fox

Belly

White Craft Fur

Head

Red

Tinsel

A flashy all-round bait fish imitator that works all year round in most waters we have fished. Cast up or across stream and retrieve with erratic pulls for best effect. The fly is tied from 5-8 bunches of Silver and Pearl Blue Angel Hair doubled over. Gradually increasing the amount of material towards the front of the fly forms the essential teardrop shape.

Hook

# 4 Short Shank Streamer

Thread

White & Black 8 / 0

Wing & Belly

Silver & Pearl Blue Angel Hair

Back

Black Arctic Fox

Throat

Red hackle barbs

Head

Black

The future?

The Baltic run brown trout, as well as the salmon are in a bad way. There's no getting around it. Overfishing, pollution etc. have all taken their toll on the natural stocks. This is plain to see in places like Langinkoski with fewer and fewer fishes caught by recreational anglers each year. We've been coming to Langinkoski on and off for the better part of ten years and have to say that it's lost a lot of it's previous allure.

When we started coming to Langinkoski it was quite usual to have trout or two nibble our fly, hell even the odd grayling could be seen here and there. These days you are more likely to catch a chub or a perch than a trout. If you catch anything at all. The hard fact is that you are more likely to spend your day there without any sign of fish (trout) than not.

Fly fishing for us is not about catching and bagging as many fish as we can in the shortest possible time. Ofcourse not. It's probably not like that for any fly fisher these days. It can however be dishartening to go any water with the nagging knowledge that you probably won't connect with a fish at all. Or that the fish simply don't exist there.

In 2012 Metsähallitus imposed tighter rules for fishing in Langinkoski and recommendations for the rest of river Kymi. These mainly concern the immediate release of all wild salmon and trout (adipose fin intact). Now, we're all for sustainable fishing and in our experience most fly fishermen coming to Langinkoski have been practicing voluntary catch & release for years anyway. The main fishing pressure is however not in the river by recreational anglers. Limiting that, although a sensible thing, is only a small part of the puzzle. Hopefully tighter restrictions on netting in the estuary and commercial fishing in the coastal areas is something that will happen too. Because without tighter restrictions for those the fish will be gone forever.

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