A lot of people want to go fishing in Finland and I don’t blame them, because it’s surely one of the most beautiful places in the world to sit somewhere for hours, not moving.  The stunning lakes, gorgeous green forests and the quiet countryside are a perfect backdrop for hours of sitting and waiting. Because – and this is how I see it – that’s what fishing is mostly about; just sitting still; staring at the view, lost in thought; perhaps enjoying a bit of time to yourself. It’s possible you might even catch something and if this happens it’s essential you take a grinning selfie with you and the fish – especially if it’s a big pike.

Fishing in Eastern Finland

I don’t know much about different methods to catch fish, but apparently there’s all sorts of ways to go fishing in Finland and to me the terms are a bit confusing. Angling sounds straightforward enough. I know what that means, but then people mention spinning and jigging, which to me just sounds like folk dancing. Do fishermen sometimes relieve the boredom by linking arms and dancing a jig along the lakeshore? There’s also a method called trolling. I can’t believe trolls are involved in this type of fishing, but who knows what really goes on in these fairytale Finnish forests!

During a recent trip to a lakeside cottage, I thought it was time to try this popular motionless pastime for myself. My sons were with me, so it was the perfect opportunity to do something together that might be fun. We could take a boat out onto the lake and have a fishing trip. It would be a little adventure for the boys; we’d bond; we’d catch fish; maybe even take selfies. Isn’t this the sort of thing that sons want to do with their fathers? It was a good plan, but these things never really turn out as you imagine they will.

Lakeside cottage in Hattusaari, Lakeland

Simple fishing – that was what we wanted to do. No need to involve any trolls, or start spinning around or anything complicated like that. And whatever jigging is, we had no use for it. We just had simple fishing rods, with hooks and lines and that was surely all we’d need to catch a bucketload of perch and wrestle giant pikes from the deep waters of the lake. But wait – what would we use to bait our hooks? Fortunately, the cottage owners had provided a simple solution.

If you want to try a bit of simple fishing in Finland, you don’t need to bring any bait with you. There’s no need to fiddle about packing maggots and grubs into your suitcase. All you need to do is dig. Cottage owners usually provide a spade and a designated patch of ground to dig for fishing bait – to dig for worms, in fact. My kids watched as I dug a hole in an area of upturned soil; all of us hoping it wasn’t part of the owner’s vegetable patch. We found several fat wriggly worms and dropped them into a plastic tub with a bit of dirt. Now we were ready to go fishing!

Digging for worms

The boys and I put on our snug orange lifejackets, we grabbed the fishing rods and our tub of worms and walked down to the rowing boat. We clambered into the boat and I pushed us off into the water and started rowing out onto the lake. At that point, one boy got cold feet and decided that fishing really wasn’t his thing after all, especially if it involved being on a boat, so we quickly rowed back to shore. Happily, the other boy was keen to continue, so despite being one crew member down, we set out onto the lake once more for our fishing trip adventure.

We rowed out, but not too far out, as my wife wanted to take some photos from the shore. We found what seemed a good spot to fish, we dropped anchor and we were finally ready to begin.  We got the fishing rods ready, did what needed to be done with the worms and then we cast our lines. We were fishing! There was a light breeze, the boat bobbed gently on the water, it was peaceful and the view of the lake and forest was just fantastic. It was a lovely moment for my son and I to share.

Ready to go fishing

After ten minutes or so, my son started to sigh and shuffle in the boat and wanted to know why we hadn’t caught any fish yet. I explained that when you go fishing, you need to sit and wait and sometimes the sitting and waiting can last a long time before you catch any fish and actually you might not even catch any fish at all. Well, my son was quite appalled by this and he didn’t see the point in continuing any longer. I suggested we waited a bit more, maybe even try a different area of the lake, but he was having none of it. We headed back to land.

We pulled the boat back onto the shore and packed away our things. The surviving worms were released back into the garden to continue their wriggly underground life. As we walked back up to the cottage, I asked my son if he would go fishing with me again sometime and was pleasantly surprised when he said “well, maybe, yes.” Our fishing trip had probably lasted around 15 minutes and not surprisingly, we failed to catch any fish, but it didn’t matter at all, because for a while there, I was fishing on a lake with my son and it was marvellous.

Here’s our top 3 things about fishing in Finland:

1. Great fishing opportunities

There are plenty of places to go fishing in Finland. The country has 187,888 lakes, 647 rivers and 1,100km of coastline.

2. Everyman’s rights for fishing

If you are using a simple rod and line, or if you are ice-fishing, you can go fishing in Finland without a fishing licence.

3. Plenty of fish

There are plenty of fish to catch in the clean lakes of Finland. Pike, perch and zander being the most common.