Fishing in Finland – The Ultimate Guide
Aug 7, 2020 | 11 minute read
Reading Time: 11 minutes

Finland – the happiest country on the planet. When you come here, you’ll discover that there’s more to this nation than the bitter cold and savory licorice. Unlike anywhere else, here you get to enjoy spectacular views from the fjords, admire the largest archipelago in Europe, all during the time of the midnight sun. And if you’re a passionate traveling angler, then fishing in Finland will blow your mind.

An aerial view of broader Helsinki metropolitan area

Finland is called “The Land of a Thousand Lakes” which from the get-go sets high fishing standards. Add to that the easy access to the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia, and you’ve got a fishery that’s incredibly vast and diverse. One in three Finns will tell you that fishing is their favorite pastime, and once you’ve tried it yourself, you’ll easily understand why that’s the case.

Top Catches in Finland

Whether you’re a lover of freshwater fishing or you prefer saltwater action, there’s plenty for you to do in Finland. Fishing here is open year-round, the only thing that changes is the technique.

Warmer months are reserved for fishing cottages, which are one of the most popular vacation options. Winter brings world-class ice fishing opportunities. There are dozens of species that you could pursue here, but still, there are several that are favored by most. Here they are!

The One, the Only, the Best – Northern Pike

When asked what their favorite fish species is, most Finns would reply Pike in a heartbeat. These hard-fighting, toothy critters are abundant and trophy catches are in the cards all year. And when we say trophy, we’re thinking specimens that can weigh over 20 pounds!

A happy kid holding a big Northern Pike on a lake in Finland

Pike fishing is always open, and you can find them in coastal waters and numerous lakes, so there’s no shortage of fishing grounds. The best time to go after Pike is from May–December, though the seasonality slightly changes depending on the area.

Go ice fishing for Pike from November–March, and if you don’t mind the cold, you’re in for a treat. In the south of the country, anglers have been known to target Pike on the fly in shallow open waters, even during the winter. Now there’s a fishing battle to remember!

European Perch – The National Fish

The importance of Perch in Finland can’t be overstated. You can catch them in lakes, rivers, and even in the coastal areas. Perch are so loved that anglers, before hitting the water, say “Let St. Andrew provide me Perch” no matter what species they’re actually targeting.

A close-up of European Perch with a frozen lake in the background

Fishing for Perch is open year-round, and they’re the most frequently caught species in Finland. These fellas usually weigh around 1–2 pounds, and they move around in schools, so find one, and you’ll find many. And a lot of tasty fish in the same spot is something every fisherman lives for.

Perch prefer warmer waters, so the best time to go after them is in mid-summer, usually from July–September. Ice fishing is equally productive, especially after the first ice and towards the end of the winter.

The peak of Perch fishing coincides with the days of the “midnight sun.” During that time, the sun doesn’t set for weeks and the daylight is everlasting. Now there’s a one-of-a-kind fishing experience if there ever was one!

Atlantic or Landlocked Salmon – The Choice Is Yours!

We can’t talk about fishing in Finland without mentioning the superb Salmon bite. Anglers from all over flock to the Teno and Tornionjoki Rivers, the Gulf of Bothnia, and the Gulf of Finland for their share of Atlantic Salmon. Landlocked Salmon are a prized catch on the major lakes, including Puula, Pielinen, and Saimaa, to name a few.

An angler with sunglasses and a cap squatting in running water, holding a nice-sized Salmon

If you’ve set your sights on big Atlantic Salmon, come to Finland in summer (May–July). Salmon in the rivers can be in the 30–40 pound ballpark, which means plenty of trophy catches to go around. For the ultimate challenge, target these beauties on the fly.

Lake fishermen have it just as good because landlocked Salmon is a coveted and hard-fighting species. They’re more active in colder water, so the optimal time to go after them is in late spring and fall when they come closer to shore. These Salmon are smaller than their ocean relatives, usually in the 5–10 pound range.

Finns love their Salmon and in some places, the species is protected and there are strict regulations that you should be aware of. Stay informed and enjoy the Salmon action in all its glory!

Zander Fishing Is Something to Write Home About

When you pair gorgeous nature and a strong relentless fish on your line, you’ve got the makings of a fisherman’s heaven. That’s exactly what Zander fishing in Finland is all about.

A fisherman in sunglasses and a hat, sitting on a boat, holding a Zander and a rod

Though lakes are the best place to target Zander, they’re no stranger to coastal bay waters. They also hang around in some rivers and archipelagos. You can target them anytime from late spring to early fall (May–September).

Zander are another schooling fish, so multiple catches in the span of minutes are a possibility. Trolling and jigging seem to be the preferred methods to get them to bite, with jigging being particularly productive. When it comes to size, you can find anything from a 5-pounder to a 20 lb lunker on your line, depending on your luck and the time of year.

If you’re not sure where to go to get the most out of your Zander adventure, lakes in southern and central Finland are known for first-class Zander bite.

Trout – The Star of the Fly Fishing Scene

Whether it’s Brown or Rainbow Trout you love chasing, Finland’s waterways have you covered. You can find them in lakes and rivers all over the country, especially in the fast-running water. These beautiful fish love cold and clear waters, so it’s no surprise that so many diverse bodies of water are their playground.

A smiling fisherman holding a fly rod and a sea-run Trout

Lapland is one of the best destinations for anglers targeting wild Brown Trout, and they come in good sizes. If you don’t feel like venturing that far to the north, you’ll find plenty of excellent fish in the Lakeland. The best time to target Browns is in May and June, and later in the year, when waters cool down (October–mid-December). Rapids fishing for Browns can start as early as April.

Fishermen who love nothing more than having a Rainbow Trout on their line will also have a great time. Fly fishing for Rainbows is very popular, and you can spend a day in the wilderness, casting your line into rushing rapids where both Browns and Rainbows feed. It’s nothing if not exhilarating!

Trolling is a tamer way of obtaining Trout on lakes, but still very fun and productive. Wherever you decide to go, remember that Trout are considered endangered in some parts of Finland. Trout with an adipose fin (small fin behind the dorsal fin) should be released immediately, but you can still go after the ones with clipped adipose fins. Know the rules before you go fishing, and you’re in for a good ride.

Something Extra, Something Special!

Need a new entry for your fishing bucket list? if you want to try something uniquely Finnish, well, locals have an ace up their sleeve – the Lamprey. These ancient eels are not fun to look at but Finns love chasing them. Don’t let its nightmarish appearance deceive you, they’re actually quite good to eat (once you cut their head off).

A close shot of Lamprey with its mouth open

Anglers wanting to try something different, but very much a part of Finnish tradition can go Lamprey fishing on the Simojoki River. This river is known for its active Lamprey population, especially from late summer and all through December. After you’ve caught a few, you can have them pickled and eat them as a delicacy… if you dare!

Types of Fishing in Finland

It’s not just the awesome species that make fishing in Finland so appealing, but also different ways to catch them. Aside from conventional fishing with a guide, ice fishing and fly fishing are just as popular. Here’s what you need to know about the types of fishing you can do in Finland.

Fishing with a Guide

A charter boat on the water with a crew and customers fishing from the back of the boat

The good news for fishermen coming to Finland for the first time is that they don’t have to do it alone. Since fishing in Finland has been on the radar of Europeans for many years, there are a lot of professional guides ready to show you where the fish hide.

Whether you’re looking for a local to show you the best fly fishing spots, or you’d like to try risk-free ice fishing, there’s a guide out there to help you out. They’ll put you on the fish and provide all the tackle you need, so you don’t have to bring your own.

There’s usually an array of trips you can choose from, depending on your preferences and free time. No matter your level of experience and knowledge of the local fishing grounds, having a guide by your side is a good way to ensure a successful day on the water.

Fly Fishing in Finland

A fisherman fly fishing from a snow-covered lake shore

Finland boasts everything any fly fisherman would want – stunning, untouched nature, endless fishing possibilities, and plenty of destinations to choose from. Whether you venture to Upper Lapland for top river action in the country or go rapids fishing in central Finland, it’s up to you!

Fly fishing for Finns means a fun day on the water, going after anything from Northern Pike and Whitefish to Trout and Salmon. The season usually lasts from April–September, when the rivers are brimming with hungry fish.

One of the absolute best fly fishing spots in Finland is the Kairi River in the northeast part of the country. Here, good-sized Trout and Grayling are daily catches, and nature is breathtaking.

River Teno is another fabulous destination, especially for fly fishermen looking for trophy Salmon.

Ice Fishing in Finland

Ice fishermen digging fishing holes deep in the ice of a frozen lake

Finns are very fond of ice fishing and have a special attitude toward this cold-defying activity. They see it as a quiet time for you to reflect, gather your thoughts, and enjoy winter bliss in peace. It’s no wonder then that millions of locals spend so much time on the ice.

Ice fishing gets into the spotlight in November and the season lasts until mid-April. The best time to go out is usually as soon as the first ice sets and in early spring, when the sun is warm and the ice is still stable.

There’s a good variety of species you could find at the end of your line, including Perch, Pike, Whitefish, Roach, and Burbot. Arctic Char is also on the menu if you can brave through the cold of the northernmost part of the country.

You can go ice fishing pretty much anywhere, as long as the ice is safe, you’ve got your drill, fishing gear, very warm clothing, and a sense of adventure.

Top Fishing Spots in Finland

Don’t know where to go to get the most out of your fishing expedition? It’s true that it’s not easy picking just one spot for your angling escapades, but there are destinations you definitely shouldn’t miss out on. Here are some of them.

Finnish Lakeland

An aerial view of Finnish Lakeland

Welcome to the fishing treasure trove of the country, with over 180,000 lakes, big and small, at your disposal. There’s no fish you can’t find in these vast prolific waters and whenever you come here, something will be biting. In summer, you can rent a classic fishing cottage and spend several days fishing and relaxing like a Finn.

From Carp and Whitefish to Zander, Pike, Trout, and Salmon – all the greats are here. Fishers from all over the country (and world) come to Lakeland with their ambitions high, and more often than not, those ambitions are fulfilled!

Lapland

Northern lights with a town in the distance in Lapland, Finland

There’s more to Lapland than Santa Claus, though when you go fishing there, you’ll think Christmas came early. A lot of sought-after species call these remote pristine waters home, and fishermen in the know will confirm – here is some of the best action in Finland.

Come here in pursuit of fantastic Salmon on River Teno, and stay for the exotic and huge Arctic Char and Grayling. Big Northern Pike, Perch, and Zander are also present. Lapland is huge and prone to sudden weather changes, so make sure you’re well-prepared and let the fishing games begin!

Helsinki

A view of Helsinki, Finland from the river

Maybe you don’t feel like leaving civilization for your fishing endeavors, and that’s ok. Nestled right on the Gulf of Finland, Helsinki sports a lot of angling opportunities, right there, in the city center. You can cast your line in one of the many local waterways or head out to the Baltic Sea, either way, you can’t go wrong.

In the broader metropolitan area, you can find around 50 fish species to target, including Salmon, Trout, Zander, and Pike. In the winter, you can spend a couple of hours ice skating on the frozen Vantaa River, and then go ice fishing in the afternoon. Helsinki is the perfect combo of city vacation and excellent fishing.

Oulu

An aerial view of the city of Oulu in Finland

Another in-demand angling destination is the city of Oulu, right on the Gulf of Bothnia, with good access to freshwater fishing. The best proof of good fishing is the sheer number of professional fishing guides who run their trips from the city.

One day you could be targeting Trout, Grayling, Whitefish, or Pike. Then the next you can do some fly fishing or spend a memorable day on the ice in the winter, there’s a bit of everything here. Lake fishing with snow-capped mountains as the backdrop, incredible rapids’ action, and angling excursions on the coastal waters are all available in Oulu.

Åland Islands

An aerial view of Aland Islands in Finland

Right between the Gulf of Bothnia and the Gulf of Finland, you’ll find the marvelous Åland Islands. Despite its remote location, the Åland archipelago is one of the favorite haunts of local fishermen, with beautiful seascape and abundance of fish.

Trophy Pike catches put the islands on the map, so if you want to break your personal record and land a 20 lb monster, this is the place to be. Zander, Perch, Trout, and Salmon are also among frequent catches. The best time to stop by is in late spring and summer when the weather is fair and fish are biting left and right.

Fishing Licenses in Finland

A picture with a notice that a fishing license is required

Finns love and respect their spectacular nature, and they want everyone to explore and admire it, free of charge. That’s why they respect their unique law, Everyman’s Rights, which allows everyone, including anglers, to freely roam the wild and fish at will. This law allows you to go ice fishing and fishing with a single line and hook completely free of charge.

If you’re between 18 and 64 years old and plan on trolling, spinning, or jigging, you’ll need to pay a small National Fishing Management fee aka buy a fishing license. You can buy day, week, or yearly licenses online, in Nature Centres, and local R kiosks.

If you’re fly fishing on a river or with more than one rod, you’ll also need to get a permit from the owner of the water area. Some parts of Finnish waterways are privately owned, so it’s important to check whether you need a permit. These are available in tackle stores and gas stations. After that, you’re free to fish at will!

Finland – A Fishing Dream That Keeps on Giving!

An aerial view of lakes in the south of Finland

There’s so much beauty in Finland. So much to experience, witness, and explore. If you’re longing for epic views, nature in all its might, and angling that will blow your mind, you’ve come to the right place. Fishing in Finland is one of those dream-like experiences, where things might look too good to be true, when in fact, the reality is even better.

Have you been fishing in Finland? What are your impressions? Do you have any recommendations for traveling fellow anglers? Let us know in the comments below!

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