Gotland is the self described "Island Paradise" of Sweden's south-eastern coast. The regional capital, Visby, is perhaps one of the most beautifully preserved ancient cities of Europe. Surrounded by tall fortress walls of limestone, the inner city has a whimsical blend of castle ruins, quaint cobblestone streets and bustling cafés of various nationalities. A place where modernity and antiquity blend seamlessly in a surreal fashion to create a unique appreciation for culture both new and old. The island offerings attract a wide variety of tourists from Stockholm club-junkies to cycle tourists and wild-campers such as myself. The rich variety of nightlife and nature was perhaps the most interesting part of such a localized space. I wish I had given myself more time to cycle around the island. Two days and three nights was certainly not enough to experience all Gotland had to offer. So I decided to focus my efforts on exploring in and around the city of Visby.
The landscape of Gotland is much different from that of mainland Sweden. The tree growth is much more juvenile than the tall pine forests I had grown used to in the country's interior. This made finding a place to hang my hammock a but more difficult, but I managed to find a nice spot within audible distance of the crashing waves. The island also has much fewer lakes and rivers. Fishing opportunities generally came in the form of Sea Trout and a few other varieties of Salmon in the northern territory. Eel is also apparently a popular local catch but I was a little unclear on the regulations and techniques for such an endeavor. A guide at a local sporting store informed me that Sea Trout don't require a license and are found in several areas along the coastline of the city. Of course he wouldn't give me specifics without agreeing to pay for his guiding services but the advice was appreciated anyways. So bright and early in the morning of my second day I set out to try Tenkara on Sea Trout.
4:30 wake up calls are never fun. Especially in spitting rain. But what the hell. This was going to be an adventure. The coastal waters have a very shallow depth and require quite a bit of wading in order to cast. Being that I don't have any waders, I donned flip-flops and shorts as I walked out into the sea. The Baltic waters were calm but very cold on this particular morning. After an hour of unsuccessful fishing I was feeling a bit foolish and unprepared. So once the sun started to rise and the rain was clearing, I relocated to a pier that stretched out maybe 300 feet into the water so I could stay warm and relatively dry.
Once again, the fishing was pretty slow from this concrete. I toyed around with a few different flys and moved up and down the pier to varying depths. While it was a beautiful way to spend the morning, I ultimately wound up with no bites. A bad day fishing is better than most. After two days in Gotland, I was packed up and back on the bike. Well, not after another ferry ride of course. I biked south from Oskarshamn to Kalmar in order to gain access by yet another ferry to the longer, skinnier island of Öland. Though I probably would have been content with a longer stay on the mainland. If Gotland is the "Island Paradise" of Sweden, then Öland is the desirous younger brother that doesn't quite have a hang of it yet. While the island itself is abounding with cultural sites like castles and nature preserves, it lacks something in the vein of individuality. Much of the landscape is gradual and tame, allowing for a good deal of farming and less so of scenery. The western coast where I was cycling is fragmented with claustrophobic camping sites, tacky tourist traps and the occasional windmill. So I pushed on to the northern village of Borgholm where I was able to find a very nice nature preserve where I could escape from the crowds and do a bit of exploring.
Just outside of Borgholm, the preserve was a water-protection habitat that used marshland to act as a natural filter for the agricultural runoff spilling into the sea. But fishing was still allowed
for free. Not so sure that my hammock-camping spot was totally kosher but I ran into no issues. Situated right by the water, my campsite gave me the opportunity to try out some more Sea Trout angling. Though, my experience on Öland was very similar to the fishing to be had on Gotland. Lots of running around, rearranging and daydreaming without any action on the rod. I have a feeling that Sea Trout are a more exacting beast than I had imagined. But I was happy just to have the opportunity to clear my head by the water watching the sun trace up and down the horizon.