Guide for travelling anglers in the Land of a Thousand Lakes 
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Lapland Finnish Lake District West Coast South Finland, Archipelago

Lake Oulujärvi - the well-stocked Kainuu Sea


Photo: Jari Tuiskunen
Lake Oulujärvi is one of the best pike waters in Finland.

Once upon a time there was a lake with a trolling competition where the winning team caught 157 kg of pike in seven hours. The widest open mid-lake areas of Finnish inland waters, Ärjänselkä and Niskaselkä, can be found on this major lake in the middle of the country. Alongside plump mama pike, ravenous zander, brown trout and big perch are waiting for anglers in Lake Oulujärvi.

Lake Oulujärvi, located to the west of the City of Kajaani, is the fifth largest lake in Finland. Its nickname, Kainuu Sea, is descriptive of this vast fishing paradise.

Lake Oulujärvi is a site popular among trollers. The most common species found on the end of a line include pike, zander, brown trout and landlocked salmon. The best pike and zander areas are concentrated in the eastern parts of the lake, whereas hot spots for salmonoids are located in the western parts.

A five-kilo pike is the rule

Lake Oulujärvi is known as a first-rate pike fishing destination. You can find big pike throughout the lake area, with the best spots located around islands and bays and in mid-lake shallows. A five-kilo pike is a typical catch on Lake Oulujärvi, but more than ten-kilo specimens are not uncommon either. Every year, Lake Oulujärvi hosts the European Championships in pike trolling, where you'll need to catch a total of more than 100 kilos of pike in order to win.

Photo: Arto Kojo 
The European Championships in pike trolling are going on.
The European Championships in pike trolling are going on.

Abundance of pike spots

In spring, you can find spawning pike in places such as Painuanlahti Bay or Lake Kaaresjärvi next to Manamansalo Island. The rocky northern parts of the Niskanselkä area, dotted with islands, are well-known pike waters, including the bays of Kiveslahti, Soutulahti and Kankarinlahti, the head of River Oulujoki and Jaalanganlahti Bay. People catch plenty of pike spinning around the Mölykari and Nurmiluoto islets, Kaivannonsalmi Sound or Karhusaari Island.

Pike spots in the Ärjänselkä mid-lake area include the shoals off Vuottoniemi Point, Myllylahti Bay, the flanks of islands in Pehkolanlahti Bay and the southern edge of Neuvosenniemi Point.

Photo: Jari Tuiskunen 
The Paltaselkä mid-lake area yields nice catches of zander.
The Paltaselkä mid-lake area yields nice catches of zander.

Back to the elite of zander waters

In the 1950's, Lake Oulujärvi was ranked among the best zander waters in Finland, until stocks failed. Now there are plenty of zander once again and the species is one of the most important in the lake. The surest way to find zander is to head to the edges of mid-lake deeps. The Paltaselkä area in the eastern part of the lake is a great zander site. In the Ärjänselkä area, sure-fire zander spots include the mouth of River Mainuanjoki and the areas surrounding the ferry route to Manamansalo Island.

Brown trout from sandy shallows

You can go after brown trout in open mid-lake areas and sandy shallows, where they rise to feed. The areas off Säräisniemi and Teeriniemi Points and Lake Kaaresjärvi in the Niskanselkä area are well-known trout sites.

In winter, people go ice-fishing for perch. Catches are good and there are plenty of big perch. The even lake bottom areas are deserted, but as soon as you find some fragmented bottom and mid-lake shoals, your ice-fishing rod will start to bend. As spring draws closer, whitefish will also start snatching ice-fishing lures on the flanks of Säräisniemi Point in the Niskanselkä area.

Lake Oulujärvi is renowned for its big burbot. Dark midwinter nights offer unforgettable experiences when a burbot weighing several kilos hits your lure. One of the great burbot spots is Mieslahti Bay in the Paltaselkä area.

Photo: Lentokuva Vallas 
Ärjänsaari Island with its high sand banks is a distinctive landmark of Lake Oulujärvi.
Ärjänsaari Island with its high sand banks is a distinctive landmark of Lake Oulujärvi.

Sand dunes of the inland sea

In addition to its wide open mid-lake areas, Lake Oulujärvi has unique beaches and sand dunes. Typical characteristics of the area's landscape are lichen heaths and pine forests.

Lake Oulujärvi is shallow and the quality of its brownish water is good. The lake is surrounded by swamps, which explains the darkness of the water. On the eastern side of the lake rise hill sceneries and dense forests.

Some bare rocks break the surface in the midst of open lake areas, but there are few islands. Manamansalo Island, located in the middle of the lake, is the lake's largest island and a well-known camp site.

Services at the site are efficient, which means that it is suitable as a fishing destination for families – in particular since Finland's last pirates were expelled from the islands of Lake Oulujärvi in the 1860's. Anyone venturing out on the wide open Lake Oulujärvi would do well to read the weather reports carefully.

Fishing grounds around Lake Oulujärvi: Rivers Oulujoki, Emäjoki (a.k.a. Kiehimänjoki) and Kajaanijoki, Lakes Kivesjärvi, Nuasjärvi, Ontojärvi, Lentua and Kiantajärvi, and Uljua Reservoir.

© 2013–2024
Area:887 km²
Length:60 km
Shoreline:1 021 km
Mean depth:7 m
Maximum depth:35 m
Number of islands:665
Game species
Brown trout


1. Finland's highest sand banks on Manamansalo and Ärjänsaari Islands.

2. Mid-lake rock piles heaped up by ice

3. Fishing grounds on limpid small ponds on Manamansalo Island

4. The sense of liberty in the middle of the wide open lake

5. First-rate odds for catching pike

Additional information