Guide for travelling anglers in the Land of a Thousand Lakes 
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Perch - the national fish of Finland


Photo: Risto Jussila
Perch (Perca fluviatilis). River Vaskojoki, Inari. Lake Enonjärvi, Karstula. Gulf of Finland, Tammisaari. Perch lures. Left vertical row: Rapala Team Esko, Rapala Original, Rapala Mini Fat Rap, Salmo Hornet, Rapala Jointed and Räsänen. Spinners from left: Bete Lotto, KUF, Kuusamo Spinner, Vibrax and Kuusamo Volfram Spinner. In the right: different kind of soft plastics. Undermost in the middle: Rohmu Leech.
Perch (Perca fluviatilis).

Before heading out to the waters, Finnish anglers have wished, 'Let St. Andrew provide me perch' – and their wish has almost always been granted. It's almost impossible to think of not catching any perch on a fishing trip in Finland – as long as your lure has a hook!

Perch is the most common game species in Finland. Perch are found throughout the country, with the exception of the northernmost part. Regardless of whether you're going fishing out on the sea, on small ponds or on wide open mid-lake areas, you stand a good chance of catching a nice whopper of a perch on the end of your line.

The warm summers of the 21st century have strengthened Finland's perch stocks substantially and perch weighing from half a kilo to one kilo are commonly swimming around in Finnish waters.

Perch spawn in May. They start to snatch lures in June as the waters warm up and the fishing season continues through to late autumn.

Photo: Veli-Pekka Räty 
In summer, perch move around the surface waters in mid-lake areas, where good catches are made by trolling.
In summer, perch move around the surface waters in mid-lake areas, where good catches are made by trolling.

How and where can you find perch?

During the open-water season, the best time coincides with the peak holiday season in July and August. That's when you'll also find perch in shore waters. In summer, a good spot can often be found right at the end of the jetty on the shore of your cottage. Tree trunks that have fallen into the water and self-made spawning tufts made of conifer twigs provide catches for anglers using a hook and line.

Jigs and bottom fishing rigs can be used to catch perch in shallows and sounds, often at 1 to 5 metres. Shallow bay waters yield super catches from time to time. On good vendace lakes, big perch also thrive in mid-lake surface waters, where they can be caught by trolling with plugs.

Photo: Risto Jussila 
Fluorescent jigs work well in dark waters.
Fluorescent jigs work well in dark waters.

Perch from the bottom with jigs and bottom fishing rigs

The perch season continues throughout the autumn. Hot spots include shallows close to deeps and fast-flowing sounds. In September and October, shoaling perch strike jigs, spinners and bottom fishing rigs and, on a good day, you can catch big ones. When the first perch hits the jig, you can see the school of fish rising from the bottom close to the surface. When perch are biting, the jig barely has time to sink below the surface when it's already devoured by a voracious individual.

Depending on the lake, you can catch perch in autumn at 5 to 10 metres, sometimes even just below the surface. Hot spots are often found where gulls are striking at the surface; that's where the whoppers are preying on smelt.

Perch anglers do not look down on small lakes either. Many small waters give catches of real humpbacks; on a good day, a forest lake may even reward the angler with a record whopper weighing over a kilo.

Photo: Jari Tuiskunen 
The period of the bright first ice is the high season on small ponds.
The period of the bright first ice is the high season on small ponds.

The most common ice-fishing catch

In winter, the best fishing seasons are the first-ice season and around March and April. On limpid lakes, anglers ice-fish for perch in deep waters, at 7 to 15 metres during the peak fishing season. The catch depth varies considerably depending on the water area and a school of big whoppers can be found in just one-to-two-metre deep waters in spring.

In midwinter, perch are more passive and catches are pursued at 2 to 6 metres. Good perch lures include vertical jigging lures, balanced sinking lures and mormyshka jigs. Big perch often strike balanced sinking lures a metre or two from the bottom.

There is an untold wealth of great ice-fishing sites. You can find fish at the edges of shallows, in sounds and shore banks. All ice-fishers have their own secret spot for big perch. In order to keep it secret, they try to bluff other anglers.

One of the largest perch (2.48 kg) caught in Finland in the 21st century was snatched with ice-fishing tackle from Lake Kukkianjärvi in Luopioinen.

Photo: Ismo Kolari 
Lake Rautavesi, Sastamala.
Lake Rautavesi, Sastamala.
© 2013–2024

Distribution: Whole Finland
Typical size: 20–500 g
Record catch in Finland since 2000: 2,87 kg
Best season: 1.6.–31.9.


1. The surface seething with perch chasing small fry in August and September

2. When a school of perch start to strike your lure

3. The thump of a whopper perch on a balanced sinking lure

4. Ice-fishing on April mornings in the bright spring weather

5. Freshly caught perch in a frying pan

Additional information

At some point in their life, almost every Finn has sat by an ice hole, ice-fishing for perch, the national fish of Finland.