Fishing Trips on Lake Saimaa

Fishing Trips on Lake Saimaa

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 thin layer of snow on 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.


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

Because open waters of Lake Saimaa were still open we stayed in shallow water areas of less than 2 meters deep.

Ice fishing 8.12.2018



In time of Chrismas I enjoyed of having 6 day christmas holiday with my wife in our fishing cottage.
 Of curse I did some more ice fishing in snowy conditions. Bite of perches was less good if compared to my previous visit, but I had a lot of pike action with ismete gears. Normal size of pikes caught this area is 1-3 kg.

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

Christmas Pike 2018.
We had long cold period having over -20 degrees of celsius starting from mid-January. When frost falled we had a lot of snow coming down. Due that walking conditions on ice are pretty worse 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 carriage bag I liked for my sonar, I did one of my own. Screen angle can be adusted by lifting and turning the device and carriage has enough space for everything needed. So far I am very happy with construction size and functionality.



During 4 hour test fishing I did catch one pike of 2 kg and some small perches and roaches less than 100 gr. Sonar with actual ice fishing transducer 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 ice fishing sonar I was able to see fishes coming to my ice fishing jig and notice in which depth layer fishes were moving on. Best areas were bottom and 2 meters down from the ice. It is also important to recognize that fishes and lure do draw thicker line when they are located closer to transducer (for example 2 meters from transducer) and thinner when they are located 6 meters down from transducer. I had one such a experience in which I saw relatively thin line raising up to my ice fishing jig from 6 meter deep. I thought it is a small perch.....when the fish hit it feeled like bottom.....I was afraid to force it up because I was using relatively thin, max. 2 kg line for perch fishing. I decited to wait move of the fish. Finally it simply opened his mouth....and was gone. Well, thats fishing.


I have also purchased some new ice fishing rods for catching bigger fishes such as rainbow trout, pike and zander for our cottage visitors. I have been testing them for 2 winters now and I have been very happy for their action. We have ice fishing sonar available for our visitors also.










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