Fishing Trips on Lake Saimaa

Fishing Trips on Lake Saimaa

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Fishing Guide's Fishing Holiday on Lake Saimaa, August 2020!

On the second week of August 2020 I had a very important visitor at our cottage – namely me! It is relatively rare for me to be able to have a personal fishing holiday this time of the year. The beginning of my fishing holiday was cold and rainy due to northern wind. I used the first day of my holiday for outdoors work at our cottage.


On Tuesday evening I continued with a 4-hour fishing on areas max. 6 km from our cottage. The best time for soft bait spinning was after seven in the evening. With a sonar I found an active bunch of perches 7 to 8 m deep and caught good size perches for cooking during a crazy one-hour bite period. I used 3-inch swim baits with 10 gram heads and the best colours were black and silver which imitate the appearance of our ciscos. My biggest perches were between 35 to 40 cm and the biggest weighed 780 g. This fishing spot surprised me. I have used to catch well there this time of the year, but only when there has been wind from south to west. Now it rewarded me during a cold period of north wind.


On Wednesday a friend of mine joined me for a 6-hour evening fishing event. I chose a more distant area this time, 20 km east from our cottage. The weather was chilly, but waves were relatively small. In our first spot we caught a couple of small pikes less than 60 cm long as well as small perches. We moved around this area but kept getting the same: small zanders, pikes and perches. Hump after hump the bite was pretty bad and we started feeling cold and hungry. We saw some good size fish in our sonar, but they were totally passive. After six in the evening we started our drive back home and stopped at a spot I were a day earlier. Once again the flock of perches was there and they made our evening. After 30 minutes of fishing we had enough good size fish for cooking and headed home.



Thursday was a solo fishing day for me. I chose a new area 20 to 30 km west from our cottage. I started fishing after ten in the morning and immediately found good size perches near underwater rocks. The fish were moving fast, which made catching more challenging because they did not stay near my boat for longer than 5 to 10 minutes. I used a sonar to locate fish in deep areas of underwater humps, but found nothing. Long-term north wind had made them move close to shorelines, and so I found small flocks of perches there in areas 4 to 7 m deep. The biggest perch of the day was 39 cm long. The formation of big flocks of big (over 200 g) perches, which takes place every fall, had not started yet. I looked for zanders, too. I went through familiar zander spots 6 to 9 m deep, but they were empty of fish. When I moved to deeper water areas (9 to 12 m deep), the zanders started to appear. They were very picky of the size and colour of the soft bait I used. When I got them right, it was easy to start catching. I caught zanders from 40 cm to a good 50 cm long. The minimum landing length for zander is 45 cm and the allowed daily fish quota two zanders / fisherman, so I released quite a bunch. I got the first zander action about eleven in the morning and kept going until after seven in the evening.


Most of the clients of my company come from abroad. Their priority needs are accommodation, and boats and lures for catching. Many of them fish all by themselves using their own fishing tackle, but we also get many groups that purchase our tutorial fishing trip for learning the best spots, lures and biting times for the nearby areas of our cottage. Quite often they are familiar with spinning, but trolling is a less familiar fishing method for them. On these 4 to 5-hour tutorial trips we go through the basics of fishing methods, the tackle, etc. These tutorial trips are much more challenging than pure fishing trips with a group who are already familiar with fishing on our waters. I repeat the tricks/spots/methods I use until I am certain my clients handle them. If the bite is good, it is easy for them to be convinced that what I teach is relevant. If the bite is not so good during our tutorial, they may remain sceptical. As a result they do not follow the advice and information given, and quite often get much less satisfactory fishing results than they could have.

I want to tell you a short story of a successful learning process! A couple of years ago I had a fishing family of five persons visiting our cottage. They had a two-week holiday booked for fishing. When they arrived we went through the boats and the fishing gear as well as fishing spots on the map. I had to return home to Tampere the very same day as they arrived, as I work there during the week. So they fished by themselves for the first five days and when I arrived to help them the next weekend, they were not very happy about the results. First on Saturday we had a relaxing boating and picnic trip together, including some soft bait spinning. The next day we had a tutorial for soft bait spinning and trolling. When I showed them how I fish they said to me immediately that they had been doing it differently. We kept repeating the same manoeuvrers and spots I had strong faith for. Even though the bite was not that good we did catch pikes, perches and zanders. And so their last complete week of vacation became a whole different story. They did great with all species, and they were very happy with their individual fishing results and new individual record fish that they caught on the very same area we had circulated during the tutorial. Quite often people do not understand that a tutorial fishing trip is different from a guided fishing trip. Tutorial trips are all about the learning process, not how much fish you catch.


Friday was a guidance day with my old clients from Southern Finland. We’ve had two-day fishing events together every fall since 2018. It’s always great to see this experienced fisherman group again and do fishing together, and each time with them has taught me a little bit more about fishing. For years our target fishes have been perch and zander caught by soft bait spinning only. They have good lures of their own they want to test and use, and it has worked well. They change colours, models and weights of the heads until we find the best combination for catching. Quite often during a normal fishing day there are only two or three colours and models that work perfectly. This year we used relatively small, max 3-inch soft baits for catching perch and longer 4 to 5-inch ones with heavier heads for zander. There were also big differences in the shapes and tails of bodies used for different species. Quite often it is possible to use the same model, colour and even size of soft bait for perch, zander and pike. But if the fish happen to be picky, passive or nervous they quite often require different sizes and models to be caught. Our two fishing days were different from each other in terms of weather conditions, temperature, brightness as well as by the direction of wind and the size of waves. The lure colours that had worked on Friday did not work on Saturday anymore.


On our first guidance day we had a relatively calm and sunny morning. First the wind was blowing from the north but it got stronger and turned to blow from the west. The beginning of our fishing day was a success, we caught nice perches in our very first spot although the biting period was relatively short. We went through areas that had been lucky for me one day earlier, but the perches seemed to have changed their location. The flocks we saw in our sonar were constantly moving on, which forced us to change location quite often. As the waves started growing bigger it truly was difficult to keep up with the perches. Here and there I could locate them and have good action 20 to 30 minutes at a time. We did find a couple of great spots in which there were both perches and zanders present, but fishing and staying on spot became very uncomfortable due to the waves. As we couldn’t continue fishing as planned, we decided to return to their cottage and continue fishing the next day. Luckily we had been able to catch good size perches and zanders earlier that day. The perches were in average 30 cm long, the biggest ones being almost 40 cm.

Saturday was our second guidance day and we decided to use most of it for catching zander. The group wanted to go exploring the very same spot that had been our last fishing spot the previous day, but unfortunately it was empty of fish this time. To find them again, we decided to move along with the wind. We located a flock of zanders about 0,5 km north from our starting point. We drove around in circles and used a sonar to pinpoint the location of the fish. After that we chose our anchor spot for spinning. We stayed fishing in this first spot for about 40 minutes, changing our anchor spot a little bit when the fish got passive or moved. Normally these kinds of short changes of spot don’t need to be more than 5 to 10 m. When the fish quit biting for good, we made longer distance changes of several hundred meters and started finding a good anchor spot for fishing again. Pretty much all the spots where we located zanders gave us at least five landings. Did this just happen automatically? Oh no. We needed to work actively to find the colours that were attractive to the fish. In the end we managed to find the colour of the day, as we noticed that there was one colour and one model only that seemed to work everywhere. This time we were able to do evening fishing and it truly was the culmination point of the day. Zanders bit very actively that evening and we had the best action in terms of landings before we needed to start our drive back home with a very happy crew. We took two zanders for each fisherman and released the rest. The sizes of our zanders varied from 35 to 55 cm long, with the average being a nice 45 cm.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Mid-Winter 2020 Ice Fishing Season & Tips for Ice Fishing for Pike

Early morning on Lake Saimaa 4 January 2020

Early winter season started in mid-November, when first ice was formed in to our cottage pond. Both cottage pond and small bay area formed ice cover safe to walk before December, but big bay area was safe to walk near New Year 2020. Early winter season until mid-January was good for catching perches and pikes in shallow water areas of less than 4 meter deep. First ice trips in November and beginning of December were the best for catching perches.

Due Corona virus quarantene I had great possibility to visit our cottage and do ice fishing by myself during mid-winter 2020. I have collected some information & short fishing reports of my experiences. First of all, it is very important to understand that period from mid-January to mid-March is very challenging for catching. I wanted to create this blog article to help our visitors to understand how to find target fish for catching near our cottage. Most likely I do describe very same mistakes but also success our visitors have gone through while visiting our cottage winter time. The most important lesson is to believe there is allways some fishes in near by areas of our cottage and to be precise enough to find them.

Early morning 11 Janury 2020.

Fishing report of week-end 15 - 16  February 2020


Ice conditions were great. There was only 20 - 25 cm thick ice cover, which makes drilling easy, but is absolutely safe for moving on ice There was only 3 - 5 cm snow on hard ice, which made walking on it easy. Temperature was varying from - 6 degrees to +2 degrees of celsius during saturday and sunday.

Saturday 15 February:

In mornig time I caught smaller perches up to 100 gr from our cottage pond in water depth area of 1 - 1.5 meter deep. Later same day I walked in to the big bay area, near big island in level of our cottage to do some deep water ice fishing, but did not catch anything. After 1 hour fishing my ice fishing sonar also decited to stop working. Luckily problem was only broken electrical cable of battery and I was capable to fix it for sunday fishing trip. In area behind the big island, in area I do call small bay area, I was able to catch small perches and roaches up to 100 gr in depth area of 4 - 5 meter deep. Time to time bite was very good.

Picture of fishing area used near our cottage on Lake Saimaa

Sunday 16 February: 

I used all morning until mid-day in big bay area. I drilled 50 - 60  holes from our cottage level up to eastern edge of big island. Distance between holes drilled was 20 - 30 meters. I searched through depth areas from 2.5 meter deep up to 9 meter deep by using sonar and be able to find nothing. I was looking for flocks of smaller fish and big perch hunting well as big fish laying down bottom by banks.....none. When you read further, you will learn why I did not find the fish this time, but they were absolutely present there.


 Big perches are still hunting in deep water area of 10 - 20 meters deep which is normal this part of year. When spawning season get closer in the end of March  - Beginning of April, they do move close to our cottage and shallow water areas. Big pikes are quite often hunting where big perches are present. To catch roach & bream you must locate pools from 6 to 10 meter deep.

Snow situation on Lake Saimaa 15 February 2020.

Fishing report of week-end 29 February – 1 March 2020

February has allways been very challenging period for ice fishing on Lake Saimaa. It is one of the coldest moths of the year. It is difficult to move by foot on ice due snow layer of 30 - 40 cm thick. This winter has been extra ordinary warm. It has been raining water instead of snowing. This is why it has been easy to move on ice by foot and make holes in to the ice cover of max 30 cm thick.
Bite of the fish has been varying a lot. One day can be great and next one totally horrible for catching. This is normal for mid-winter ice fishing season.

We do have ice fishing gears needed available for use of our cottage renters.

Saturday 29 February:

This time I divided my fishing adventure in to 2 separate areas, which our visitors do know as map area 1 and map area 2. Map area 2 was disappointment by results. I went through deeper water area that we do use summer time for softbait spinning & trolling with my ice fishing sonar. Like previous week-end I did not found flocks of small fish or signs of big fishes either in this area. Every hole I made seemed to be empty in water depth area from 2 meter deep to 9 meter deep.

Weather was beautiful and sunny, which made my little over 6 km long route and fishing on it great experience. Some young couple did even drive on ice by bicycle`s. There was - 6 degrees of celsius in the morning. It went down to - 1 degrees of celsius before sunset. Beautiful but challenging fishing day which made me think that fish must be located in water depth area of 10 – 20 meter deep in this area.

Sunday 1 March:

Sunday was cloudy and snowy day. Temperature was 0 degrees of celsius in morning and +1 degrees of celsius at 12.00 when I ended fishing to be able to start almost 400 km journey back home from our cottage. This time I walked only 600 - 700 meters from our cottage to the earea of small bay be able to find fishes.

Ice fishing sonar is very important device for locating the fish. Picture was taken 1 March 2020.

First 2 holes of the morning were the best. They gave me 20 – 25 fishes in time of less than 30 minutes. It was balms for wounds. Later same day I did found a flock of small fish in very same area and water depth area as I was able to do catching in the morning. Water depth of this first fishing place was only 4 – 5 meter deep. Why did I not find fish during Saturday even I was fishing the same depth areas as Sunday? Answer is water area profile and differrences between bay areas 1 and 2. during saturday I was fishing much more bigger bay area which do have deepest depth areas of 30 meter deep. Average depth of this complete area is 15 – 20 meter deep. In February we should try catch and find in this average depth area. Later in spring, after mid – March and in the beginning of April fish do move to areas I went through in Saturday.

Flock of small fish found sunday 1 March 2020.

Area I did fish in sunday has average depth of 4 – 5 meter deep and this is why I did catch most of fishes near bottom from this same depth area. I was also able to find a fish flock from deep pool having max 9 meter depth. Flock was swimming around in middle water of 4 - 5 meter deep. Area in which this flock was located was quite small, approximately 15 meters times 5 meters. This is why it is very easy to miss a fish flock when ice fishing. I did succesfully catch above the flock and inside the flock for perch and bream with ice fishing jig & mormyshka. We can also learn that 2 fishing days are not enough for finding good results in ice fishing if we do not know where fishes are exactly located, what colors they prefer and what are their biting time`s. It is highly recommended to book 5 to 7 day fishing vacation to have enough time for both getting good fishing results and relaxing.


Fishing report of week-end 6 – 8 March 2020

In the beginning of March I was able to have long fishing week-end from friday to sunday on Lake Saimaa. Weather was changing from snowy friday to warm and sunshining sunday. Wind was blowing from west and temperature was varying from – 6 degrees of celsius to + 4 degrees of celsius.

Sledge, 6 inch auger, ice fishing sonar, seat, rods & lures are all you need for happines on Lake Saimaa.

Friday 6 March 2020

Friday was a dark, windy day in which tere was several snowy periods. Walking on ice was quite easy, because there was only 4 – 5 cm of snow on it. Once again I decited to explore long distance and deep water areas of big bay in distance of max 4 km from our cottage. These places are good for catching during open water season, but I was not able to locate any bait fish flocks or active predators on it. I got a lot of good exercise during friday fishing, but once again it was a huge disappointment by results.

6 March 2020 on Lake Saimaa

Saturday 7 March 2020:

Saturday morning was cold, we had – 8 degrees of celsius at night. I started my journey in to small bay area at 10.00 morning. It had been snowing last evening and night and there was appr. 6 – 8 cm snow on ice and some water under it. Walking was little bit harder than friday, but still comfortable.

I reached my first spot in distance of 700 meters (10 - 15 minute walk) from our cottage. There was active perches in that area. I did catch 20 pieces before bite ended at 11.30. I moved to my next spot and reached big flock of small fish in my sonar. Most of these fish were rudd`s, which we Finns do not like to use as food but there was also perhes among them. I did good catching in this spot, but eating period of the fish was ending and finally they were just teasing me. A lot of fish under me but no bite. I decited to finalize my day trying to find fishes from big bay area near our cottage, but it was total waste of time. I did not see any fish in my sonar or get any bute further to sunday description and you will learn why?

Sunday 8 March 2020
Sunday 8 march 2020:

Sunday morning was sunny and warm, there was only – 1 degrees of celsius when I started fishing at 8.00 o`clock. My first spot in small bay area was the same I was catching perches yesterday, but there was no action at all. It was too early for catching, so I gave up at 9.00. I moved to that place where I had found the flock of rudd`s and caught some fishes until fishes simply quit biting at 9.30. I did understand that best biting time for fish was from 10.00 – 11.30. Because conditions were perfect for walking I decited to take risk and move back to the big lake area and try to find biting fish there once again. It was absolutely impossible that all that big bay area could be empty of fish.....and it sure was not.

I walked to the middle of bay, the deepest area of it and started drilling holes in distance of max 20 meters from each other. I used my sonar to locate any fish. I had made 8 – 10 holes before I found it. There was big flock of small fish right under me. Previous hole made was empty and next one I did for the same line was also empty. Once again fishes had collected in such a small area it was easy to miss them when moving & finding. I changed direction of holes made 90 degrees. This way I  was able to locate where flock of fish ended. Now I started fishing and also catching. Most of the fish were big roaches who were biting well. Every time I dropped my ice fishing jig down, there was a fish hooked. Some of fishes caught were perches who also had bigger size than ones caught in small bay area. Bite started after 10 am and ended close to 11.30. This flock of fish was located only 400 meters from our cottage and I had missed it several times when trying to find fishes in that very same area. Luckily I did not give up and trusted the fact there must be fish near by. It gave me a good catch of 2 kg of fish in time of less than 1.5 hours.

Flock of roach found 8 March 2020.

This part of the year is still mid-winter. Fish are located relatevaly deep and they are not biting all the time as they do later in spring. By my experience this is turning point for spring time ice fishing and it is getting better and better for now on.

Fishing report of week-end 15 – 17 March 2020


Sunday 15 March 2020:


Weather conditions had changed since last week-end. Now I had clear ice and bright sunny day waiting for me. I walked in to deep area of big bay in which I had been able to do good catching last time and started drilling holes. 

Snow conditions 15 March 2020

Flock had moved a little bit and I had to make 10 holes to find them. Once again I noticed how easy it is to miss fishes in this area without possibility to use ice fishing sonar. Luckily we do allready have one ice fishing sonar for our cottage visitors use and I am absolutely going to purchase another for winter season 2021.

First I reaches smaller flock of perches who did bite well. I was able to catch appr. 1.5 kg of good size perches in time of less than 1.5 hours. I did also found big flock of roach in same deep water area, in distance of 20 – 30 meters from flock of perches. This time I did not use time for catching them because I wanted some tasty perches for cooking.

Monday 16 March 2020:

Weather was totally dark, windy and rainy, perfectly horrible for catching pikes in shallow water. Because I am made of sugar, I did not wear rainwear to do some active ice fishig in front of our cottage, but used Ismete gear for catching in evening time. My biggest pike caught in evening bite period of less than 2 hours before sunset weighted close to 2 kg and was caught in depth of less than 1.5 meter deep. So far bright days & right ice have`t give pikes in shallow water when we have got beautiful, sunny weather. I did cook this pike for fried pike fillets with smashed potatoes, which is one of my favourite way to prepare food of pike.

Tuesday 17 March 2020

I used my third fishing day in small bay area close to our cottage. Once again I got beautiful & sunny, but windy day for fishing. I walked appr. 700 meters from our cottage in time of little over 10 minutes and reached my first spot, 4 – 5 meter deep pool and started catching good size perches immeadiately. I made new holes and followed perch in the area of this pool until bite was over. 

My next target was deeper pool in which I had big flock of rudds and roach last time. Fish were in very same area as I left them and they did bite well. I noticed that there was hunting perches both above and under the flock. I started catching perches above and when I started getting rudds I did lay my ice fishing jig close to bottom and cotinued catching perches. When I had caught enough perches for dinner I walked in to shallow area with grass to do some ice fishing for pike. Once again sunny weather, bright ice and shallow water was a bad combination, I did not catch any. Time was also wrong for catching pikes because I had reached 12.00. Morning and evening are defianately the best for catching pikes, but also perches. Most of perch flocks as well as big perches were still in deep water of 5 to 10 meter or more. Most likely they will arrive to shallow water in time of 2-3 weeks from now and I will be there waiting for them.

Fishing report of week 26 – 30 March 2020

Due warming weather and ice getting thinner I decited to have 5 day fishing vacation with my mother in the end of March. I was curious to see if fish had moved in to shallow the water since my last ice fishing. I was also expecting to find some bigger perches over 500 gr.

Spring is coming and fish do eat well. Ice cover thickness was varuing from 15 cm to 25 cm. Average thickness was 20 cm.

Day 1, Thursday 26 March 2020:

We waked up early to be able to start fishing at 6.30 am. I did choose deep water area in distance of appr. 400 meters of our cottage on big bay area for my first spot and my mother walked in to 4 – 5 meter deep spot in small bay area, appr 700 meters from our cottage. After all both spots were good for catching. 

You can catch bigger perches starting from 150 gr when using balanced jigs or softbaits for ice fishing.

I started drilling holes in to the area I had been catching fishes one week earlier. My first 5 holes were emprty of fish so I did move little bit more shallow and found them. I caught 3.5 kg of perches in time of little over 3 hour period. Bite was good, but I was forced to use various tricks to make fish bite. I used both vertical ice fishing jigs & softbaits for catching. Traditional icefishing jig with mormyshka is the best for catching by number of fish caught, but if you are looking for bigger perches, balanced icefishing jigs and softbaits will offer that. None of perches caught by softbait weighted less than 100 gr. My biggest perches of the day weighted close to 200 gr.

Total weight of these fish in picture is 1.5 kg.

My mother caught 1.5 kg of perches from her spot. Perches caught from my spot were bigger in size, but we were not able to reach trophy size fishes. After 3 hour fishing we had total 5 kg of perches for cooking. We prepared bigger ones for fillets and removed skin of smaller ones. This method for handling small fish is fast and much more effective than scaling them. Years ago my grandmother teached it both to my mother and me. Fish handling tooked almost 1.5 hours for 2 persons to do. We fried fillets on a pan and prepared smashed potatoes with them, easy and tasty meal for 2 hungry fisherman. Smaller perches were used for finnish traditional fish food, kalakukko.

Day 2, Friday 27 March 2020:

Once again we did start fishing early, litte over 6 am. With high hopes we headed our trip in to the same area I had been catching day earlier. Beginning of fishing was very difficult, there seemed to be only few fishes in the area present. Once again I started drilling and finding. I moved both from deep to shallow and deep to mainland directions forming a grid. After 30 – 40 holes I did find a flock of perches in distance of 40 meters from Thursdays hot spot. During time of hour we did catch appr. 2 kg perches for cooking. There was also big roaches up to 25 cm long available, but we decited to release them. When bite ended, we decited to walk back to deep area and explore it. We learned that perch flocks were moving very fast from deep water area to shallower area near mainland. When I did loate a flock of fish under me, I had hardly time to drop my icefishing jig and catch one or two fishes before flock had moved forward. We decited to walk back to our cottage and continue searching next day.

In this picture you can see small flock of perches.

Midday was rainy and windy, even little bit too rainy and windy for trying to catch pikes in shallow water, so we waited for evening time to come. I had hig expectitions for evening time pike fishing in shallow water, but it was total flop. We had fishing from 2 hours before sunset until sun did go down to catch absolutely nothing. There seemed to be no pikes at all in shallow water.


We caught big roaches up to 25 cm long.
Day 3, Saturday 28 March 2020:

Saturday morning was sunny and beautiful. We walked to the spot which had been giving us perches yesterday only  to learn they had moved. My mother headed to deep water spots and I did continue drilling and finding fish with my fishfinder in to the direction of mainland and more shallow water. I needed 10 – 15 holes to find them in water depth area of 6 to 7 meter deep. Perches had formed a bigger flock in this area and bite was great again. This time we decited to select bigger species of 80 gr to 200 gr for cooking and release the rest. In time of little over 1 hour we had almost 2 kg of fish for cooking and we decited to walk longer in deep water area to explore flat bottom type area n which we have 8 to 10 meter deep water. During mid-winter period this kind of places are good for catching big perches, but not this time. Once again we were not able to find any fish figures in screen of my fishfinder. 

In this picture you can see big flock of perches.

Day 4, Sunday 29 March 2020:

Sunday morning was both sunny and windy. Wind had turned to north, but it did not seem to have effect on bite. We started our fishing event from my yesterday spot and did well. Fishes did bite well for an hour and half. In this point we decited to walk exploring familiar spots in small bay area. In our first spot where my mother had been catching couple of day ago was nothing. We moved longer in to the deep pool I had been catching rudds and found some small flocks of fish. Bite was pretty bad and we decited to move forward to direction of shallow end of the bay. We did find small flock of biting perches in water depth area of 6 to 7 meter deep, but none in more shallow areas. 

Monday morning 6.30 am. There was a lonely swan walking on ice when we started our final fishing morning.

Day 5, Monday 30 March 2020:

Monday morning was sunny but cold. We had -7 degrees of celsius in morning 6.30 am. We walked in to same spot I had discovered 2 days earlier and used only 2 holes in distance of 1.5 meter of eac other. Bite was wild when we used vertical ice fishing jig with mormyshka, but softbaits or balanced jigs did not work. I caught only 2 fish when using them. We did fishing from 6.30 to 10.30 am. Result was 2 kg of fillet size perches and appr. 6 kg of released smaller fishes. A lot of action and great morning to end our fishing 5 day fishing holiday. Biggest perch of the morning weighted appr 200 gr, we did not reach trophy fishes but had great time and a lot of action.

In this picture you can see 2 kg of fillet size perches.

Fishing report of Easter 10 – 12 March 2020!

During Easter week we had cold nights of - 10 degrees. That did extend our ice fishing season until 12th of April. We had got some new snow on ice as well and my swan friends were waiting for me on ice.

I had couple enjoyable warm & fish rich days in big bay area. Once again morning bite was the best and fish had located same area as they were one week earlier. I did visit in shallow water area of small lake, but big ones were not arrived that area yet. 

Swans on ice of Lake Saimaa, April 2020.

  As usul, Lake Saimaa was free of ice before 1st of May. From 13th April until 1st of May I did not do any fishing due fragile ice. My next event was softbait spinning 1st May 2020. I discovered small bay area and caught perches from 300 gr up to 500 gr as well as some nice pikes. 

Perch 500 gr

Pike 3 kg caught 1st of May 2020.


Tips for winter time pike fishing on Lake Saimaa!

Eary winter starting from end of November until mid-January and late spring starting from mid-March to mid-April is the season for catching pikes in shallow water of less than 4 meter deep. Active pikes can be found near shorelines & grass in depth area of appr. 1 meter deep to 4 meter deep. Pikes are either hiding among grass, by underwater stones or trees waiting for bait fish to hit or hunting actively in shallow area. Bottom type such we do have in front of our cottage, gradually lowering and relatively shallow, is the best for catching pikes.

If there is no even layer of snow on ice, pikes seem to favor dark, snowy or rainy days for eating. Both sunrise and sunset are good periods for catching pikes. If we have thicker layer of snow from 5 to 30 cm thick, pikes seeem to prefer sunny days better. Thickness of ice and temperature of water do have big effect on bite. When first ice form, water is not yet evenly cold in shallow water areas, which do attract fish. As the winter progresses both ice get thicker and water evenly cold, having temeperature fro 0 degrees of celsius to 1 degrees of celsius. During this period of so called mid-winter from mid-January until mid-March warmest water layers of 3 to 4 degrees are found from pools or deep water areas having 6 to 15 meter depth. Bait fish flocks are most often found from the same water depth areea in which the warmest, 4 degree of celsius water layer is formed, as well as big predators. We can easily understand that small fishes do escape predators if present. When whe locate bait fish flock, there must be bigger predators present in 100 meter radius of the flock waiting for time to eat. Pikes do prefer cover to lay for smaller fishes. Inactive pikes are most often found from underwater hill slopes, deeper rocks or humps and also shorelines located close to deeper pools, which do give them cover of grass and stones. If inactive pikes are laying on the bottom, they are reatively difficult to notice by using sonar. If they are laying little bit above bottom, you can notice them for sure when using sonar.

In this picture above you can find an example for finding winter time pikes. You can start near grass, following natural form of shoreline. Make first holes in water depth area of 0.5 meter deep to 2 meter deep in distance of max 5 – 10 meters of each other. Next rows can also be located 5 – 10 meter from each other. If shallow water fishing in depth areas of max 4 – 5 meter deep do not give you results, you can use your local area knowledge of bottom shapes as well as maps or sonar`s plotter to locate underwater structures that might be interresting for pikes, such as hill slopes, under water humps or pools. If you choose to try catching pool, it is good to remember that pikes are not very often located in deepest part of it. They do quite often lay for fishes in lowering slopes appr. 2 – 5 meters higher than the deepest part of pool. This way they can follow or more specific sense activity of smaller fishes present. Actively swimming and hunting pikes you can find anywhere.

When finding pikes during mid-winter period I do first locate flock of bait fish and finding out if there are predators hunting among this flock by using my ice fishing sonar. If not, my next step is radially discovering bottom around this flock and trying to find location of pikes for active or ismete ice fishing. It is hard work to locate inactive pikes if you are fishing alone, but if you can co-operate with 2 – 3 other fisherman you will most likely reach better results. Knowledge of underwater structure do help and it is important to remember that sometimes only 2 meters move from empty hole can be the game changer as well as 5 meter move shows you empty bottom.

Best ice fishing spoons for catching pikes

Most common lure type for catching pike both summer & winter time is wide body spoon of 6 to 10 cm long. Most often best spoons as well as jigs for ice fishing of pike do siply have metal color of silver, copper or gold with red nose. Very often they do have colored treble hook, hairy treble hook or treble hook with worm jig replacing normal treble hook of lure. Many winter time ice fisherman do also use lightened, so called trolling spoons for pike fishing due their slow sinking speed.

You can use traditional Finnish pike fishing poons such as Kuusamo Professor and Rasanen (Rasanen do sink little bit faster than professor), Jak Original, Bete Utö or Jämtland, Blue Fox Inkoo and Swedish Abu Carcia Atom for catching.

The most common color combinations are silver / copper, silver / gold, silver / blue, silver / red, yellow / black, yellow / red, parrot (green, yellow, red), red / black, orange / white, orange / black, perch model (gold / green / black), cisco model (silver / black) and of course white / red.


Saturday, January 26, 2019

Ismete bait fishing is an effective method for catching wintertime pikes on Lake Saimaa!

I first found out about this fishing method called Ismete in 2010, when I came across an internet article about a Swedish bait fishing method for catching pikes, perches and zanders. In those days there were no ready-made Ismete sets or accessories available in Finland, so I made myself some indicators and other accessories and started my learning process. From about 2016 onwards, Ismete fishing has became more and more popular here in Finland. Now it is possible to buy Ismete gear at most of our fishing equipment stores. Ismete is most commonly used for catching pikes.

What is Ismete fishing?
Ismete fishing is a bait fishing method in which we use 1–1.2 meter long rods with trolling reels and bite indicators to catch predator fishes by using 10–15 cm long dead bait fish. There are several commercial rig types for hooking baits for Ismete fishing available. When using Ismete gear, the fisherman sets it hunting alone and does active ice fishing near by while the bait fish is hunting.

Fishing license for Ismete fishing
It is allowed to use one Ismete rod and bait fish per one fisherman almost everywhere in Finland, when you pay the fisheries management fee of the Finnish state. This became possible in 2016 when our fishing law was renewed. Before 2016 paying the fisheries management fee allowed you to use a tip-up gear rigged with dead baitfish for catching, but these days you need to pay for both the fisheries management fee as well as local area hook fishing licenses to be able to use tip-up fishing gear.

When using Ismete gear, the fisherman must be able to see and handle his Ismete rod. In practise this means that the fisherman must be on the ice at the same time when his Ismete gear is hunting. The normal distance when doing both active ice fishing and Ismete fishing is 10–50 meters between sets of gear. It is not allowed to leave Ismete gear to catch unattended for over night, or if you leave the ice, or if you cannot see your gear.

The renewed license terms of the state fishing law say that if you do spinning, trolling or Ismete fishing with a rod and reel set of over one meter in length, the fisheries management fee must be paid. Regular active ice fishing with a short rod and such ice fishing lures as balanced jigs or ice fishing jigs is considered an “everyman’s right” in Finland, which means you can use them for fishing without any license in Finland.

Please take notice of one exception!
The only exception to this license system are certain special license areas (commercial fishing places), such as certain rapids and ponds or small lakes which have rainbow trout or other species planted in them especially for the purpose of commercial recreational fishing. To fish in such a place, you must pay for both the fisheries management fee as well as the special fishing license for that area. In those areas it is still possible to use tip-up gear for catching rainbow trout, as the areal license allows their use.

Why do I use Ismete for catching?
Ismete is a much more sporty way to do bait fishing than tip-up fishing. When the fish hits the bait, you must hook the fish by using your rod, the same way as you do when spinning. Landing the fish feels also similar as it feels in spinning or trolling. It is much easier to handle a big fish with Ismete gear than to do it with your bare hands. Because we cannot do spinning on ice, we do Ismete!

Another reason for the Ismete method is the possibility to release the fish caught the same way as you can do when spinning or trolling. It is highly recommended to use long pliers for unhooking the fish, and to use a release mat or a sledge filled with water when releasing the fish to avoid damages to their scales and skin. Release the fish within one minute from landing to avoid causing the fish frostbites from cold air. The recommended air temperature for Ismete fishing when releasing fish is less than -10 degrees of Celsius.

I have created a step-by-step introduction for using Ismete equipment for our wintertime cottage visitors. I can also organize our cottage visitors a guided Ismete fishing trip to get familiar with this fishing method and the best spots for it. We have ready-made Ismete sets available for our independently fishing cottage visitors, free of charge.

Jari Käyhkö, Fishing Guide and Owner of Sports Fishing Company Old School Trolling.

 Winter fishing season 2018 - 2019

This year I was able to start my winter fishing season in the end of November 2018 in shallow ponds and bay areas. Ice thickness was 6–8 cm and there was only a thin layer of snow on the ice.

My first ice fishing trip of winter season 26.11.2018 .

In the beginning of December I did some ice fishing with my dear old friend from Lapland. We have opportunities to do fishing together only 2–3 times a winter.

The wind turned from north to south and east, which launched a pretty good bite for us. We caught perches by active ice fishing and pikes by ismete fishing. The period of daylight was short, 5–6 hours only, but the bite started in the morning and lasted until dark. My friend was very happy with the action.

Because the larger water areas of Lake Saimaa were still open, we stayed in shallow water areas of less than 2 meters deep.
Ice fishing 8.12.2018

Around Christmas I enjoyed a 6–day holiday with my wife in our fishing cottage. Naturally I did some more ice fishing in snowy conditions. The bite of perches was not as good as during my previous visit, but I had a lot of pike action with ismete gears. The average size of pikes caught in this area is 1–3 kg.

During this visit the big open waters of Lake Saimaa had got a thin ice cover, but it was definitely not safe to walk on.

Christmas Pike 2018.
In mid-January we had a long cold period, having temperatures of -20 degrees of Celsius or colder. When the coldness subsided, it started to snow down a lot. That is why the walking conditions on ice are quite hard right now.

In the beginning of February I was testing my Raymarine Dragonfly sonar for ice fishing. Because I was not able to find a carrier bag I liked for my sonar, I made one myself. The screen angle can be adjusted by lifting and turning the device, and the bag has enough space for everything needed. So far I am very happy with the construction, size and functionality.

During a 4–hour test fishing I caught one pike of 2 kg as well as some small perches and roaches less than 100 g of weight. Using a sonar with actual ice fishing transducers is a big help for ice fishing. Earlier I had been trying to use boat mount transducers, which are pretty clumsy for ice fishing use.

With the ice fishing sonar I was able to see the fish coming to my ice fishing jig and see in which water layers the fish were moving. The best layers were the bottom and two meters down from the ice. It is also important to recognize that the fish and lure draw a thicker line when they are located closer to the transducer (for example 2 meters from the transducer) and thinner when they are located 6 meters down from the transducer. On one occasion I saw a relatively thin line raising up to my ice fishing jig from 6 meters deep, and thought it is a small perch. But when the fish hit, it felt like the lure had got stuck to the bottom. I was afraid to force it up because I was using a relatively thin, max. 2 kg line for perch fishing. I decided to wait for the movements of the fish. Finally it simply opened its mouth – and was gone. Well, that’s fishing.

I have also purchased some new ice fishing rods for catching bigger fish such as rainbow trout, pike and zander for our cottage visitors. I have been testing them for two winters now and I have been very happy with their action. We have an ice fishing sonar available for our visitors also.

 Mid-February 2019

After mid-February we had a cold period which made the ice conditions better. Now we have a hard ice cover of 60 cm and only 2 – 3 cm snow on it. That’s why I very recently decided to have a long fishing weekend of 4 days at our cottage. Walking on ice was easy: I was able to reach fishing spots in distance of max. 1.5 km from our cottage with a less than 30-minute walk.

Lake Saimaa 24 February 2019

The weather conditions kept changing a lot during my fishing holiday. When I started, there was wind from the north and it was -10 degrees of Celsius. I started by morning fishing on our cottage pond and caught a couple of good perches up to 150 – 200 g. I had also contact with smaller pikes, but I was not able to get them up this time. Next I moved to the big Lake Saimaa and started to locate the fish. I used a sonar while angling to see what was going on under the ice. I drilled holes from shallow waters of 2 meters deep up to 8 meters deep, but I only found some single fishes here and there. Later on you’ll learn the reason for that. My first fishing day was not a success, it was more like hard work.

I started the second fishing day on the deeper waters of Lake Saimaa. The weather was close to 0 degrees and the wind was blowing from the south. This time I concentrated on areas of 4 to 6 meters deep, which had been the best the day before. I followed the depth curves I was able to see in my chart plotter and drilled holes max. 10 meters apart. The sun was shining warmly and it felt more like the beginning of April than the coldest month of the year, which January and February in general are here in Finland. I drilled appr. 60 – 70 holes during this day and finally I succeeded. First I found a spot of appr. 10 by 10 meters, where there was a lot of small breams and perches from 50 g up to 150 g. The fishing was crazy: as soon as I lowered my jig in the water, it was hit by a fish. I kept some fish to be used as ismete baits and released the rest. My second hot spot was a little bit wider, appr. 20 by 20 meters in size. This spot gave me roaches and perches up to 100 g. The bite was good: every time the ice fishing jig went down, there was a fish ready to hit it.

Some bait fishes caught for Ismete use.

The crown of my second fishing day were a couple of whitefish, which I caught while looking for fish flocks. The whitefish were hunting 1 to 2 meters under the ice and when I dropped my ice fishing jig to the bottom they followed it. Normally whitefish are caught right under the ice, but this time I was able to catch them only from the bottom. When hunting big perches with sonar, you can also observe the following phenomenon in the behaviour of active perches: when you stop lowering your ice fishing lure when you have reached mid-water, you can see how perches rise up to it and hit your lure.

I also received messages informing me that the bite was good at a certain nearby rainbow trout fishing place. The sunny and warm weather as well as the clear ice had made the fishing successful with both active gears and tip-up gears in shallow waters of max. 2 meters deep. This particular rainbow fishing area is privately owned and the fish are planted there. The daily license price is 17 Euros / 1 fisherman. The fish quota is 3 rainbows / 1 license. To do rainbow ice fishing with tip-ups you also need to pay the fisheries management fee of Finland. The distance from our cottage to this place is only 35 km, and it is well worth checking out.

On my final ice fishing day the wind was blowing from the north and the temperature was -2 degrees. I only did morning fishing on our cottage pond until midday. The north wind was not good for the bite, but when the sun started shining, the bite got better for one hour. I have a funny story to tell about this bite. First I caught a pike of about 50 cm with a little mormyshka. I was lucky to be able to land this fish which I then released. Ten minutes later this very same pike was caught with my ismete gear in a distance of 20 meters from the first spot. Once again I released the pike. In less than 30 minutes this very same pike hit my ismete bait fish for the third time, and once again I released the curious and/or very hungry young pike.

Weather Conditions of Winter 2019 

You can find and explore useful information of the Finnish weather on this site:

Weather of past 30 days by Finnish Meteorological Institute

Air temperature from mid-January to mid-February in the year 2019

Air temperature in February 2019

Air temperature in March 2019

17 February 2018. Appr. 20 cm of snow on hard ice cover, temperature -5 degrees of celsius.

In this link you can find information of ice thickness in the southern Finland area:

Ice thickness in southern Finland area!

24 February 2019. Almost clear ice, temperature 0 degrees of celsius.

During spring-time ice fishing season from mid-March to mid-April we normally have cold nights down to -10 degrees of Celsius as well as warm days up +6 degrees of Celsius. Morning and evening bites are the best for catching during this period.

The fishing rod in this picture is 33 cm long. Both the perch and the bream weighed over 500 g. Spring-time from the beginning of April is the season for good catches and big fish.

Winter 2017

During last weekend of February I did some ice-fishing for perch and roach with my old friend near the Russian border. The sunny day had the perfect conditions for fishing: the temperature was -5 degrees Celsius, we had high pressure, no wind and only 20 cm of snow on ice.

My original plan was to do “ismete” fishing for pike, but instead of that we decided to do active ice-fishing for perch and zander. The start of our day was quiet, with not many fish caught before midday. From midday on we had a couple of hours of good bites from perches. The biggest perch for me was the one in the picture. It weighed 280 grams and my friend cooked it for dinner.

I had a little bit of bad luck also. I had one very strong and promising bite in my mormyshka during our day. I was able to swim this mysterious big fish for 10 to15 seconds before it released – and of course my friend had the same destiny, dropping his fish the same way as I did. We will never know what species this big one was, but it was definitely not a pike. But of course, all things considered, we had a very pleasant day of mid-winter ice-fishing.

Winter 2017

On the last day of the year 2016 I did some “ismete” ice-fishing for pikes. First I caught some roaches and perches to be used as bait. After that I hooked an “ismete” rig for catching pikes. An “ismete” rig is formed of a metal leader and two pieces of single or triple hooks. I adjusted the hooks into the mouths and sides of the dead bait fish, and set a small line weight of 20 grams on to the line, to a distance of 40 cm from the bait fish. By using removable line weights I can freely adjust the free length between the weight and the bait fish. Then I dropped my bait fish and line weight combo through the hole to the bottom and attached the line to a bite indicator. Now I was able to hear and see when the fish were moving or eating my bait fish. It is important to adjust the break of the “ismete” gear to be loose, otherwise the fish can feel friction, become suspicious and spit the bait fish out of their mouth before hooking. The basic idea in “ismete” fishing is to allow pike to swallow the bait and then strike back to get it hooked, so you need to wait for a while before you make the strike. Quite often pikes turn the bait around in their mouth first, so if you strike back for hooking too early, you will loose the fish.

I started my fishing day after midday and continued it until dark. Smaller fish were biting well after midday, but I needed to wait until dark to get my first fish. It is normal that times of dusk in the early morning and late evening are the best for “ismete” fishing. If you start fishing early in the morning, it is a good idea to set your gears down before sunrise. We have several “ismete” sets available for the use of our cottage guests, if you are interested in trying ice-fishing. You can get good advice and tips for fishing spots from our cottage owner and fishing guide Mr Jari Kayhko.

In “ismete” fishing we can select the fish we want to keep for cooking and release the rest, as we do in open water fishing also. We lift the fish from the hole by line or by inserting our fingers under the gill cover (lip lock move). We do not use a landing hook in case we want to release our catch. When the fish is landed, we put it into a water-filled vessel (a plastic sledge or box) and use pliers to remove the hooks. If we want to release the fish, we measure and weigh it before putting it back to the lake (there are specific weighting bags for this in shops).

Active ice fishing

Active ice-fishing (regular ice-fishing in which you use ice-fishing jigs and short rods which you hold in your hand) is free of any fees and licences in most of parts of Finland. There are some specific fishing areas in which you need a licence for using active ice-fishing gear also.

Balanced ice fishing jig

For “ismete” ice-fishing you need to purchase a licence by paying the fisheries management fee of the Finnish state. According to the law the rod must be at least 1 meter long (typical “ismete” rod is 1.2 meter long). In the law there are no specifications for the reel, so we are basically using bait caster reels instead of pulling the fish up by grabbing the line with our hands. With this licence you can use one “ismete” set per fisherman.

Ice fishing jig

You must notice that for using tip-up ice-fishing gear you need two licences. 1) the fisheries management fee of the Finnish state and 2) the bait fish licence of the local water area owner (“iskukoukkulupa”). Every single unit of tip-up gear needs to have their own licence. It is often quite difficult to find sellers for these local water area licenses, so I prefer “ismete” fishing more.

Tip-up fishing gear.

Winter 2016

On March 21st, we had a nice ice fishing day for rainbow trout with a Russian father and son.

On the day before there had been a big ice fishing competition for rainbow trout, namely the Finnish Championships with over 560 competitors. Fishing had not been good: only 56 competitors managed to catch any fish, and the winner got three fish in total.

This was not very promising for us, but we had good feeling about fishing. And our instincts proved right: we caught our first 2-kilo trout as we were only starting to set our tip-up gears down to water. Our young client Dima lifted the fish from the ice hole and our guide Jari helped him land it. A great start for our relaxed, sunny fishing day!

Our next fish was caught also with tip-up gear before midday. Sharp-eyed Dima noticed the flag, which indicates bite, and soon the fish was landed.

We took a break to have a nice picnic by campfire in the middle of day. When we resumed fishing, we had our last trout action at about 3 o'clock in the afternoon. This time the trout bit into one of Jari's special ice fishing jigs, but the fish was too strong and broke free after a 10-minute battle.

The day was quite difficult for active ice fishing, but still we were able to create action and contacts with the fish. The final result of our sunny day on ice: two trouts and three happy fishermen!

Easter 2016

During Easter holidays 25 - 28 March 2016 we did ice fishing for perch and roach. In the beginning we still had 5 to10 cm of snow on ice and a lot of small perches and roaches up to 100 grams to catch near our Fishing Cottage. Then the weather changed for warmer, melting the snow, and a couple of days later we got clear ice.

Ice fishing 18 March 2016

Our Fishing Guide Jari Kayhko did ice fishing in a radius of 3 km from our cottage by foot as well as in a radius of 30 km by car. He went through traditional angling places, known mainly to local ice fishing enthusiats. His catches were good every day in the morning and evening time. The caught perches were between 50 and 600 grams in size. As the weather was warm and sunny, making it easy to walk on ice, the conditions were perfect for having an enjoyable Easter time ice fishing holiday.

Ice fishing 2 April 2016. Perch + 500 grammes.


The custom of feasting on food in Easter has been maintained also in the modern Protestant Finland, although the Lenten fasting ritual, practiced among the Catholic and the Orthodox, is not practiced among the Finnish Evangelical-Lutheran Church. Finnish Easter is a mixture of western (Swedish, Catholic and Protestant) and eastern (Russian and Orthodox) traditions. The affect of the two different cultures is most visible in the traditional dishes served during Easter time. 

Serving Easter lamb, the symbol of the sacrificial death of Christ for the Christians, is becoming increasingly popular in Finland. The traditional roast leg of lamb, usually seasoned with herbs and garlic, may also be replaced with dishes made with lamb fillet, roast, chops or ground meat. Boiled, butter-glazed vegetables or oven-roasted root vegetables, onions etc, are typical accompaniments for these dishes. 

Besides the roast lamb, other meat dishes served are stews and potroasts of mixed meats, various cold cuts, meat aspics, liver pâtés etc. Also chicken dishes are popular at Easter time as well as various egg dishes and appetizers. Freshly cooked, marinated or salted fish along with herring dishes are a part of Finnish Easter. Smoked salmon, gravlax, various fish roes and marinated herring are especially well suited to be served with hard-boiled eggs. Southeastern Finland has a rich tradition of different pies and pasties, like the famous Karelian rice pasties.

An ancient Easter dish still commonly eaten in Finland is the cold malt porridge mämmi. Nowadays mämmi is mainly eaten as dessert. Other desserts served at Easter dinner may contain lots of eggs, cream, butter and quark, like pies with sweet quark filling, cheese cakes or creamy mousses and parfaits, served with fruits and berries.