Locations: Where to Fish

photo © Visit Finland

The choice of destinations for anglers in Finland are as varied as its remarkable landscape. The Baltic Sea coast in the south, and the tens of thousands of islands that make up the archipelagos from Kotka to the Åland Islands; the many lakes, rivers and rapids of Southern Finland; the Lake District of Central and Eastern Finland; the shores of the Gulf of Bothnia and the Kvarken Archipelago; the lakes and rivers of Lapland. Each has its own unique charm, each presents the angler with the chance to enjoy memorable days of fishing.

The Baltic Coast

Along the southern coast of Finland, anglers can find fishing destinations close to all the major population centres. The Baltic Coast affords those enjoying the many cultural treats and tourist attractions the possibility to take a moment out of their schedule and enjoy the tranquility and beauty of the wilderness which is always close by. Fishing grounds are always accessible, even for those staying in the heart of Finland’s capital, Helsinki.

The Baltic off Finland’s southern coast is comprised of the Archipelago Sea and the Gulf of Finland, which forms the largest archipelago in Europe. Tens of islands of islands define this unique area, and its brackish waters provide anglers with the opportunity to catch freshwater fish in a marine environment, as well as saltwater fish such as flounder, turbot, cod, sculpin, Baltic herring, and Atlantic salmon. Easily accessible fishing grounds, combined with a vast network of guides and charters, mean that the visitor can explore the myriad of isolated spots amongst the islands, all the while surrounded by natural scenes of breath-taking beauty. Pike, perch, and zander are plentiful all the year round; in fact, this is the region of Finland where anglers have the best chance of landing a pike weighing more than ten kilos. Other game species include whitefish, burbot, sea trout, and various cyprinids.

Southern Finland

This is a region of plentiful lakes, numerous rivers, and some fine rapids. The largest lake,  Lohjanjärvi, is especially well known for its zander, while Lake Kivijärvi and the deep Lake Vuohijärvi are renowned for its big salmonoids. Small lakes present excellent opportunities for fishing with a rod and line as they are teeming with roach, bream, and perch.

The river Kymijoki which flows through Kotka has excellent casting platforms at Korkeakoski, Siikakoski, and Langinkoski making it ideal for fly-fishing, and it is reputed to have the best salmon fishing in southern Finland, as well as brown trout, whitefish, and grayling. Further west, the Tampere region is known as ‘Zanderland’, and is 15% water. Lakes abound here, but for the fly-fisherman it is the rapid-flowing waters of the Tammerkoski Rapids and the Kuokkalankoski and Herralankoski Rapids, or the gentler flowing waters of the Kihniö Trout Rapids and in the Putajankoski Rapids in Suodenniemi, that are most attractive, teeming as they are with brown trout, rainbow trout, grayling, ide, and large asp.

Throughout the region, there are a multitude of smaller, pristine rivers, twisting their way to the sea. Particularly popular fishing destinations here include the rivers Aurajoki, Fiskarsinjoki, Karkkilanjoki, Laajoki, and Mynäjoki, as well as the Latokartanonkoski Rapids on the river Kiskojoki.

West Coast – The Gulf of Bothnia

The west coast of Finland is charecterised by endless sweeping green fields and expansive swamplands through which numerous, endlessly meandering, rivers flow. The best of these include the rivers Merikarvianjoki and Kokemäenjoki in the area between Rauma and Pori, where sea trout, rainbow trout, Atlantic salmon, and grayling abound; the Kokemäenjoki is rich in zander and asp; the rivers Lestijoki and Iijoki in the northernmost tip of the Gulf of Bothnia are famed for where trout, grayling and rainbow trout;

Great river fishing sites in the southern part of the region, in the area around Pori and Rauma, include Rivers Merikarvianjoki and Kokemäenjoki, where game species include sea trout, rainbow trout, grayling and Atlantic salmon. Zander and asp are also pursued in River Kokemäenjoki. At the northernmost end of the Gulf of Bothnia known as the Bothnian Bay, Rivers Lestijoki and Iijoki are the best river sites, where game species include trout, grayling and rainbow trout. Other fine rivers in the region include the rivers  Lapväärtinjoki or Isojoki, Kyrönjoki, Ähtävänjoki, Kalajoki, Pyhäjoki, Siikajoki, Oulujoki, Kiiminkijoki, and Kynäsjoki, where the main game species are trout, grayling, rainbow trout, zander, pike, perch, cyprinids and whitefish.

The waters of the Gulf of Bothnia also provide a fertile environment in which most freshwater species of fish thrive, this is especially true of the islands in the magnificent Kvarken Archipelago, where magnificent specimens of pike and perch are regularly landed. The Gulf also contains the Rauma Archipelago, the Oura Archipelago in Merikarvia, the Ahlainen Archipelago north of Pori, and the archipelago off the stretch of the coast between Pietarsaari and Kokkola. These uniquely delightful island groups provide excellent breeding grounds and shelter to a wide variety of fish species, including sea trout, Baltic herring, whitefish, burbot, grayling, salmon, and many cyprinids.

Central & Eastern Finland: The Lake District

The Finnish Lake District accounts for the vast majority of the country’s inland waters, and is home to the most extensive expanse of unbroken lake in Europe, offering an endless selection of rich fishing grounds for the angler. In the Lake District, there are over 30 lakes that are greater than 100 sq. Km in size, including Lake Saimaa – the largest lake in Finland,  with an area of approximately 4400 sq km.

The other major lakes include Höytiäinen, Kallavesi, Keitele, Näsijärvi, Päijänne, Oulujärvi, Pielinen, and Puula. In addition, there are literally hundreds of medium-sized lakes, thousands of small forest lakes, and a dizzying number of rapids and channels joining them all together. Another distinctive feature of the landscape is the incredible number of islands and bays, all of which means there is an incomparable variety of different fishing grounds to choose from.

The main game species in the Lake District are pike, perch, zander, whitefish, burbot, bream, carp, roach, rudd, vimba, vendace, asp, and ide, as well as brown trout and landlocked salmon, and rainbow trout and grayling in the faster waters. The fact that the region’s largest cities, Lahti, Jyväskylä, Kuopio, Joensuu, Savonlinna, Lappeenranta, and Savonlinna, were all built on the shores of the lakes means that you’re never more a few kilometres from a good fishing spot, and by travelling just a little further you’ll be sure to find some idyllic spot where you can enjoy total peace and tranquility! The district has a number of National Parks and protected areas under the Natura 2000 and National Shoreline Protection Programs, making it one of the most popular destinations for those who enjoy all aspects of nature.

Northern Finland: Lapland

As beautiful as the rest of Finland, the jewel in its fishing crown must surely be Lapland, a truly wild and untouched landscape; occupying an area of almost 100,000 square kilometres, its sparce population of less than 185,000 is concentrated in the main cities and towns like Rovaniemi, Kemi, and Tornio. Seven of Finland’s National Parks can be found in Lapland, and all twelve of the country’s Wilderness Areas, which combine to offer the most diverse, and challenging, natural landscapes in the country.

The speciality of the region is the Arctic char, which attracts thousands of anglers to Lake Inarijärvi and Lake Kilpisjärvi, and to the waters that run through the fells. It is also home to the best salmon and grayling spots in Finland – the river Teno is recognised as the best salmon river in Europe, with the river Tornionjoki also ranked very highly; every year salmon weighing from 15 to 25 kilos are caught in these rivers.

Lapland’s speciality is the brightly-coloured arctic char, also spelt ‘arctic charr’. Anglers in pursuit of arctic char head to Lake Inarijärvi or Lake Kilpisjärvi, or to the smaller waters of Mountain Lapland.

River Teno is the best salmon river in Europe, while River Tornionjoki is also among the top. Both offer chances of catching big fish. Anglers catch 15-to-25-kilo salmon every year. Salmon are also pursued in Rivers Simojoki and Näätämöjoki. For those in search of grayling, the best sites are the headwaters of the river Torniojoki, river Teno, Lake Inarijärvi and the waters of the Vätsäri and Kaldoaivi wilderness areas to the north of the lake. Meanwhile, Lake Inarijärvi, the rivers of the Kuusamo area, and the area around Vätsäri present the angler with opportunity to land wild trout several kilos. Whitefish may present the greatest challenge for the fly-fisher, and can be found in many small lakes and the larger slow-moving pools of the big rivers. The many wilderness lakes are home to large perch and the waters of central and southern Lapland teem with pike. Ice fishing in winter yields plenty of grayling, arctic char and trout.

In summer, visitors should always carry a few bottles of mosquito repellant, as the insects can be very abundant during their season, and are a considerable nuisance for those unused to them.