Mörtsjön is a lake in the middle of Sweden that is about three kilometres long and close to one and a half kilometres wide with a great many shallow bays and islands. The nearest town, Ryggesbo, is situated some three hours driving from Stockholm. The shoreline is full of water-plants and reeds, but as the water is mostly just two to four meters deep, one can come across water vegetation just about everywhere.
Text and pictures Rudy van Duijnhoven
There are thousands of lakes like this, some smaller and a lot of them bigger, in the middle of Sweden, there is even another Mörtsjön in the south of Sweden, but this one looked like an excellent venue to fly-fish for pike from a belly boat. Stefan Barenfeld made the necessary arrangements through Cordes Travel and together with Leon Godijk, a fellow fly-casting instructor and fishing buddy from the Netherlands, I left the Netherlands with my car on the morning of the 9th of June. We arrived in Kiel nicely in time and we were on the ferry to Göteborg within the hour.
After getting of the ferry in Göteborg close to 10.00 hours the following morning, it was still another eight hours of easy driving to the Jössebo Vildmarkscamp in Edsbyn, where we were staying for the week. Upon arrival we received a warm welcome from the owners, Christer Harmsund and Magnus Hedin, and Stefan Barenfeld, they gave us a quick tour of the complex which also includes a small sauna building next to a small river on the terrain.
Stefan gave us some more information on fishing the area, introduced us to our guides for the week, Anders Persson and Benny Backeby, and after a nice dinner we went looking for our beds even if it was still light outside. The Vildmarkscamp is regularly frequented by wildlife, it is good to keep alert about this; in the week before our stay a young bear and some moose were seen here, just a stones throw away from our cabins. Apparently there are some wolves living in the area too.
Back in time
Jössebo Vildmarkscamp has a long history. The building that is on the site dates back to around 1700 (!), but it was moved to the present location at a later date. For many years the camp served as a wildlife camp where people came to watch animals in a wilderness setting, but there were a great many other activities at this location as well. There were dance evenings for hundreds of people, the large dancing hall is still there and will be put back in use by the present owners who took over Jössebo Vildmarkscamp a few years ago.
In order to make it possible for more people to stay and sleep at the camp, a number of cabins have been build close to the main building. They were in fact ready just fifteen minutes before our arrival! The showers and toilets are to be found in the main building. According to the owners, it will take another two years before the camp is completely running as they intend it to be, but if you want to fish this area, this is a good place to stay already.
Fishing on film
The next morning we met Tobias Ekvall on the shores of Mörtsjön, the camera man for Kanalgratis.se who was supposed to follow us with his equipment for a couple of days, he had also arrived after a long drive from the south of the country. The film he has made about fishing in the middle of Sweden this year, will be published on the YouTube channel of Kanalgratis.se in September or October.
Benny Backeby inflated his small pontoon boat, Leon and myself did the same with our belly boats; Anders would take Stefan and Tobias in his boat. While being filmed we discussed our plan for the day and what areas we would concentrate our efforts on. Jössebo Vildmarkscamp had prepared our lunches, coffee and drinks, so we were soon ready to go.
Lake Mörtsjön is about as large as you want a lake for fishing with a belly boat to be, it takes quite some time to peddle to some of the bays and back again. The water turned out to be rather warm, around 20 degrees or even somewhat more, and this influenced our chances of hooking into some of the bigger pike. With temperatures like that, there is less oxygen in the water and the larger fish are not nearly as active.
A great many pike
Both Leon and myself fished hard for the next couple of days and we got awarded with a good many pike, but most of them were small, around or below 50 cm in length. We hooked some bigger pike on our streamers as well, but the largest one we managed to land in front of the camera was around 85 cm in size, I think. Benny hooked and landed one on a streamer which was around 90 cm probably. Both Leon and Benny hooked a meter plus pike on the fly, but both fish quickly got rid of the streamer-hook. We probably would have done better searching the often large areas of slightly brownish coloured water with a spinning rod and a wobbler or so, but we kept using our fly-rods.
Most of the time we used WF9 streamer fly-lines with an intermediate tip to be able to present our streamers at depths up to two metres. Right along the shoreline we would switch to a full floater to present our streamers and poppers in the shallow water there. In some of the deeper areas of the lake we fished with D3 and D5 sinktip streamer lines as well, but we picked up more mud than pike takes here with these lines. Leaders were short, around one and a half metre with a 35/00 tippet. My pike traces, short jerkbait traces which I use most of the time, worked well here too; except for one moment when a pike engulfed streamer and trace completely and bit through the nylon tippet with its sharp teeth. Oh well… Leon also lost one pike when his wire trace or leader gave way.
Large streamers with more flash seemed to perform well in the brownish water, still I did well most of the days with a longer version of my Vitesse pike-streamer in white, yellow and black. The only addition to the original pattern was a long yellow tail of soft, natural hair. After a few days the streamer was largely destroyed and I threw it in the dustbin, Leon picked it out of there and still caught some more pike on it…
Due to the size of the lake, it is good to use fins of a proper size with your belly boat, not the small ones that are sometimes available for free when you buy a new belly boat. The water was now warm enough to wear breathable waders, but I still preferred to use my neoprene waders in the belly boat as these do not get worn out as quickly when using the fins.
Down by the river
Hoping to find some cooler water, we went to a section of a river in the area on one of the last days. But the water in this quiet part of the river had much the same water-temperature as the lake and the pike showed the same level of activity. Only the somewhat faster and deeper flowing parts of the river seemed to be a bit cooler and Leon managed to hook into a nice pike here close to a big school of baitfish which were visible on his depth-finder. The FIMS fishing guides Anders Persson and Benny Backeby will check a lot more lakes and river sections in the area this Summer, they will put down the depths of the waters on maps and will probably find waters that will produce better sport in warm Summer conditions.
The first evening the owners of Jössebo Vildmarkscamp invited us in the evening for a boat trip on the lake with a six by ten metres pontoon boat which had seats, a table and a barbecue aboard. A tasty and enjoyable way to spend the evening on the water! On one of the other days, Anders prepared a nice evening dinner for us on a campfire right next to the waterside. The second day a mother moose and her calf appeared on the shore of Mörtsjön, which was a pretty sight. Tobias and Stefan were able to get quite close with the camera, there were actually two calves, they said.
We enjoyed mostly warm and calm weather during the week, just once we had to come ashore for a heavy hailstorm which lasted for twenty minutes. All in one a nice package for a weeks fishing in the middle of Sweden!
The return trip took a bit longer than expected, unfortunately. Normally the trip from Kiel to the centre of the Netherlands takes about five hours, this time it took us nine and a half hours due to road works, diverted traffic etc.… Still we would not have wanted to miss this adventure for the world.
Fishing in the Middle of Sweden
FIMS (Fishing in the middle of Sweden) is the collective name for a number of quality fishing destinations all of which are geographically situated in central Sweden, only 2,5 – 4 hours north of Stockholm Arlanda Airport!
– Christer Harmsund, Magnus Hedin
828 91 Edsbyn