Fishing Trips on Lake Saimaa

Fishing Trips on Lake Saimaa

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 fishing....to be able to find nothing. I was looking for flocks of smaller fish and big perch hunting them....none.....as 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.

 
Conclusions:

 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 either.....read 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.

 

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.



 



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