Utsjoki – The outer edge of the EU

July 5, 2018

Utsjoki is the most northern municipality in Finland, making it the absolute outer edge of the European Union. The mighty Tana, a 250 mile long river that snakes through both Finland and Norway emptying (eventually) into the Barents Sea, forms the backbone of this tiny village.

We’re in salmon country here. It’s an internationally renowned location for some of the best salmon fishing in the world; the Tana holds the world record for the largest Atlantic salmon ever caught (36 kilos in 1929).

It seems like everyone fishes. Boats of all shapes and sizes, both powered and not, adorn the banks of the river. Rods and nets lie in piles absolutely everywhere. The local supermarket sells bait, knives, stools and waders.

I’m here for the photography, not the fish. The golden ‘hour’ is an incredible 4 hours from around 10pm until 2am, and I set the alarm for a midnight saunter by the water. It’s dead quiet. The only sound is the chirrup of the birds, who never seem to sleep, and the soft gurgle of the river. 

Archie cocks his head. Is it a Reindeer? A bear? Then I hear it. A high-pitched whine like a mosquito, faint at first, then louder. A boat rounds the bend of the river with a sole man aboard. He ferries past, eyes locked upstream, and then he’s gone. It’s 1am. In salmon country, the midnight sun means twenty four hour fishing. You make the most of it because winter nights are are long and dark.