River Teno - the most prolific salmon river in Europe
Photo: Kimmo Pöri
A bright migrating salmon is a dream come true for visitors to River Teno.
River Teno, flowing on the northern edge of Finland, is the best salmon river in Europe. Many people draw a blank on a trip to River Teno, but every summer the luckiest anglers succeed in wearing down whoppers weighing more than 20 kilos.
Photo: Lentokuva Vallas
Fly-fishing enthusiasts can catch big salmon on the Alaköngäs Rapids and its downstream sand banks.
River Teno, or Tenojoki, is located in the subarctic area within a river valley surrounded by high mountains known as fjelds.
On this major stream, people fish for salmon both from the shores and on boats. Graceful Teno boats, which are easy to row in the strong current, are available for hire from local tourism operators.
The entire stretch of the river shared by Finland and Norway comprises a single licence area. You can go fly-fishing and fishing from a boat throughout the area, with the exception of the mouths of those rivers into which salmon migrate to spawn. The licence areas intended for spinning with spoons and plugs (wobblers) are located close to the Alaköngäs and Yläköngäs Rapids and upstream from the Matinköngäs Rapids in River Inarijoki.
Photo: Veli-Pekka Räty
The Kynsiniva race near Pahtavaara Hill is one of the numerous hot spots in River Teno.
Trolling for big salmon on a rowing boat
On a rowing boat, you can fish the entire width of the river. The majority of big salmon are indeed caught by trolling flies, plugs and spoons. Hot spots include pools, deeps and current spots, where salmon stop or swim upstream towards the headwaters. Trolling starts from the traditional starting places or ‘pools’ based on your order of arrival, leaving a generous gap to the boat in front.
During high water, salmon bite in weaker currents close to the banks, whereas during low water, trollers row closer to the mid-stream, swimming their lures on top of pits.
During high water early in the season, salmon are mainly pursued with plugs. Bright and pale colours work in the early season, whereas dark colours, such as black, brown and dark red, are effective late in the season.
Trolling a spoon that gets easily entangled in the bottom requires skill, but it may also yield the best bite of your life.
The fly season starts at Midsummer
The best salmon season starts after mid-June when the water level has decreased after the spring floods. Early in the season, people use larger flies; when waters are low and warm, salmon can be caught with quite small flies, equipped with size 8–10 treble hooks.
Photo: Jari Tuiskunen
A salmon is about ready to be hooked in the Sirma area in the lower reaches of River Teno.
The main stream for Atlantic salmon
Annual catches of salmon caught on River Teno vary between 70 and 250 tonnes, accounting for 15–20 % of the total salmon catch on all European rivers. The most common catch is a 1-to-2-kilo salmon that has spent one year at sea. In the best years, the majority of the catch expressed in kilos consists of ten-kilo specimens that are three sea years of age. River Teno is particularly famed for every angler’s dream catches, over 20-kilo big salmon, which are caught here in higher numbers than from all other salmon rivers combined.
The composition of the salmon stocks in River Teno and its tributaries is complex, consisting of several genetically different sub-stocks.
Photo: Matti Kettunen
Trollers start rowing from the traditional starting places based on their order of arrival.
Grayling more certain catches than salmon
River Teno is a good destination for fishing grayling, as sizeable specimens are found throughout the river. A typical catch weighs about 0.5 kilos, while the largest individual fish are 50 cm long and weigh well over a kilo.
Whitefish can be found in pools using small flies when the waters are calm. Sea trout are caught in the early season in June and right at the end of the season in August. Pink or humpback salmon are caught more rarely.
River Teno is part of the Sami people’s ancient cultural area, where fishing has been carried out as a natural source of livelihood for thousands of years. The local population still fish salmon using weirs and other traditional tackle. Visitors arriving at the river valley can sense echoes of the ancient salmon fishing culture.