Gulf of Bothnia - an ever-changing brackish water basin
Photo: Lentokuva Vallas
Waters in the Maalahti Archipelago are shallow and rocky.
The Gulf of Bothnia, lying between Finland and Sweden, is a mixture of the arctic ruggedness of open seas and the vivid lushness of river deltas and bird bays. For anglers it offers sure-fire pike spots, the country’s best sites for ice-fishing perch and mind-numbing salmon fishing for hours on end without a single bite, suddenly followed by a thrilling experience of chasing a big salmon beside the boat.
The Gulf of Bothnia is divided into three sections: the Bothnian Sea, the Kvarken and the Bothnian Bay. The long coastline is the most open coastal area in Finland. There are some charming archipelagos in the region, but the insular belt is almost non-existent in places. Typical features of the region include rocky ground and scarce vegetation.
Pike from the inner archipelagos of the Bothnian Sea
The most important game species in inner archipelagos is pike and there are good chances of catching big ones. The area around Kristiinankaupunki is one of the excellent fishing grounds where you can catch specimens weighing over 10 kilos.
Zander have spread into the archipelagos of the Bothnian Sea. The best zander areas are located in the River Kokemäenjoki delta off the City of Pori and in the Ahlainen Archipelago next to it.
The Oura Archipelago off the Municipality of Merikarvia consists of more than 300 rocky islets with no or few trees right on the edge of the open sea and it is known for a rare stock of sea-spawning grayling.
Photo: Jari Tuiskunen
Spinning sea trout on the rugged shores of the outer archipelago and on the surges of shoals in autumn or on the mouths of bays in the inner archipelago in spring may offer a pleasant surprise – a trout that may weigh up to five kilos.
The archipelago located off the coast of Rauma is a spacious and diverse area. There is talk that a new Bothnian Sea National Park may be established in this area. In the Pyhämaa and Luvia archipelagos, fishing traditions go back a long way. These areas are great trout sites.
On Raippaluoto Island and in the town of Uusikaupunki, people go ice-fishing whitefish on the last of the ice in early April.
Photo: Jorma Koivuniemi
Big perch are eager to strike bait in the Luoto Archipelago.
The rocky and well-stocked Kvarken
The fragmented Kvarken Archipelago located in the narrowest part of the Gulf of Bothnia has rugged beauty. This is the first UNESCO Natural Heritage Site in Finland and it is perhaps the best perch area in the country and also full of pike. The extensive bay waters between the main island, Raippaluoto, and other major islands are extremely rocky but excellent fishing grounds. The bridge from the mainland to Raippaluoto Island is the longest in Finland and it is a popular whitefish angling spot from spring onwards.
Photo: Risto Jussila
The Vaasa Archipelago is a famous ice-fishing site. Raippaluoto Island, Panike Village.
The wide open Bothnian Bay
With the exception of the Luoto Archipelago between Pietarsaari and Kokkola, the coast of the Bothnian Bay is open sea. The area off Kokkola is a good sea trout and salmon site. Pike and perch are the most common game species in the Bothnian Bay as well. Off the coast of Oulu lies the third largest island of the sea area, called Hailuoto, which is a great site for ice-fishing perch and renowned for its diverse birdlife.
In early summer, salmon migrate from the main basin of the Baltic Sea into rivers along the coast of the Bothnian Bay and they are pursued by trolling outside the outer islands and islets throughout the Gulf of Bothnia. River Kemijoki Fishing Centre, located at the mouth of the river below the Isohaara power plant, is a popular salmon fishing site.
Photo: Jorma Koivuniemi
The area off Pietarsaari is a good salmon trolling site in early June.
Winter is hard up in the North and the Bothnian Bay is covered in ice for a period of six months. The water is clear and brackish, with sodium content between 4 and 6 per mille. Water quality is satisfactory at the mouths of rivers, good along the coast and excellent out in the open sea.
The coastal waters of the Gulf of Bothnia are rocky along the stretch between Rauma and Kokkola. Moving around on a boat is challenging – or virtually impossible in the worst areas. The rockiest area is in the Kvarken Archipelago while the Bothnian Bay is the least rocky section. It is definitely highly recommended to hire the services of a local fishing guide.
Photo: Jorma Koivuniemi
The Mikkelinsaaret island group north of Vaasa is part of the Kvarken Natural Heritage Site.