Guide for travelling anglers in the Land of a Thousand Lakes 
Home Destinations Waters Species Fishing methods Services Fishing facts > Waters > Lakes > Lake Pielinen 
Lake Ähtärinjärvi
Lake Höytiäinen
Lake Inarijärvi
Lake Kallavesi
Lake Keitele
Lake Kiantajärvi
Lake Kitkajärvi
Lake Kivijärvi
Lake Konnevesi
Lake Kyyvesi
Lake Lappajärvi
Lake Lohjanjärvi
Lake Näsijärvi
Lake Oulujärvi
Lake Päijänne
Lake Pielinen
Lake Puula
Lake Pyhäjärvi in Pyhäjärvi
Lake Pyhäjärvi in Säkylä
Lake Saimaa
Lake Suvasvesi
Lakes Kulovesi & Rautavesi
Lakes Kuusamojärvi & Muojärvi
Lakes Pielavesi & Nilakka
Lakes R-M-P
Lakes Ruovesi & Tarjanne
Central Finland rapids
River Iijoki
River Kemijoki
River Kiiminkijoki
River Kokemäenjoki
River Kymijoki
River Merikarvianjoki
River Simojoki
River Teno
River Tornionjoki
River Vantaanjoki
Rivers Juutua and Ivalojoki
Rivers Kitka, Kuusinki & Oulanka
Ruunaa Rapids
Coast and Archipelago
Archipelago Sea
Gulf of Bothnia
Gulf of Finland
Small waters
Lake Matildanjärvi
Lake Peurajärvi
Lakes Niemisjärvi, Evo
Pond Kaunislampi
Pond Teerilampi

Lapland Finnish Lake District West Coast South Finland, Archipelago

Lake Pielinen - North Karelia´s majestic major lake


Photo: Lentokuva Vallas
The mid-lake areas of Lake Pielinen are split by ridge islands with sandy beaches.

The treeless top of the Ukko-Koli peak overlooks the most well-known national heritage scenery in Finland. The oblong mid-lake area of Lake Pielinen with its string of ridge islands is a feast for the eyes. Anglers will still be in a hurry to climb down, as they spot the flicker of a shadow of a big fish below the surface.

Lake Pielinen, lying between Juuka, Nurmes and Lieksa to the north of the City of Joensuu, is the fourth largest lake in Finland. Lake Pielinen is a diverse fishing destination. While it is an excellent pike and zander lake, it is also home to landlocked salmon and brown trout.

Big pike and plenty of zander

The lake is rich in big pike and over 10-kilo specimens are caught every year. Good pike sites include bay waters and island areas. You can also find big pike on wide open mid-lake areas and on the flanks of shallows. There are numerous extensive rocky shallows in Lake Pielinen. The Nurmes and Lieksa areas and the southern part of the lake abound in excellent bay waters.

The edges of mid-lake shallows are great spots for catching zander. Zander thrive in the darkish waters of Lake Pielinen and the largest specimens weigh several kilos. In late summer, a good way to make a catch during daytime is jigging for zander at 4 to 10 metres.

Photo: Karelia Expert Matkailupalvelu Oy / Keijo Penttinen 
A major lake can be as smooth as glass.
A major lake can be as smooth as glass.

Lake Pielinen provides nice hauls of perch and, thanks to the strong vendace stock, people also find big humpbacks.
The vendace waters in the wide open areas of the central part of Lake Pielinen are the best sites for trolling landlocked salmon and brown trout. The lake used to have its own natural stocks of landlocked salmon, which spawned in River Lieksanjoki that flows into the lake. Nowadays catches of landlocked salmon are maintained by stocking the lake with fry.

Lake Pielinen has strong stocks of cyprinids and anglers can go after these in bay waters and around island shores using a hook and line. It's possible to catch whitefish weighing more than a kilo by casting jigging lures and flies from island shores. There is a relatively scarce natural stock of grayling living off the shores of mid-lake islands.

Photo: Matti Kettunen 
A landlocked salmon has snatched a lure.
A landlocked salmon has snatched a lure.

Big mid-lake islands

Lake Pielinen has many big islands, the largest being the inhabited Paalasmaa Island, the highest island in Finland. Other major islands include Porosaari and Hattusaari and the narrow Kynsisaari Island, which is more than 11 km long. Next to Paalasmaa Island, there are two big islands with rather original names – Toinen saari and Kolmas saari – meaning ‘Second Island' and ‘Third Island'. The largest open mid-lake areas are Kojonselkä, Ristiselkä and Suurselkä.

Lake Pielinen is a pristine and rugged wilderness lake, characterised by majestic hill scenery with pine forests. Its islands and shores form a mosaic dotted with cliffs, beaches and deciduous woods. On the western shore of the central part of the lake rise the Koli Hills in Koli National Park, which form one of the most well-known natural sites in Finland. Rising 250 metres above the surface of Lake Pielinen, Koli hilltops make for a splendid spot to admire the beautiful mid-lake waters and islands of this well-stocked major lake.

Photo: Jari Tuiskunen 
Tempting fishing shoals on the edge of the long mid-lake area of Lake Pielinen.
Tempting fishing shoals on the edge of the long mid-lake area of Lake Pielinen.

You can cross Lake Pielinen on a car ferry in summer and there's an ice road over the lake in winter. If you are the sporty type, you can take a kick sled to speed across the slick spring ice to the lake's fishing grounds.

Anyone heading out to the waters should bear in mind that the long and open mid-lake area makes Lake Pielinen particularly exposed to the winds.

Photo: Karelia Expert Matkailupalvelu Oy / Keijo Penttinen 
Angling in the waters of Nurmes.
Angling in the waters of Nurmes.
© 2013–2024
Area:894 km²
Length:93 km
Shoreline:1 718 km
Mean depth:10 m
Maximum depth:61 m
Number of islands:1 259
Game species
Brown trout
Landlocked salmon
Other notes
Landlocked salmon are protected on Lake Pielinen. Protection does not concern fishing for salmon whose adipose fins are clipped – except closed season for landlocked salmon fishing 1st June to 31st August.

Catch quota one adipose fin-clipped landlocked salmon per angler per day.




1. The view over Lake Pielinen from the Koli Hills

2. The majestic scenery made up of the major lake and the surrounding hills

3. A break on one of the ridge islands during a fishing trip

4. The peace and quiet of the wilderness lake and the vastness of the long open mid-lake area

5. Paalasmaa Island

Additional information