Näsijärvi experience – big zander from a big lake

Näsijärvi is the biggest lake in the Tampere region. With its 256 square kilometres of open waters, it presents quite a challenge for an angler attempting to pull in big fish without prior knowledge of the local 'hot spots' and usual fish habitats.

Nevertheless, I have just spent what I consider to be one of my most fascinating fishing trips within Scandinavia in a decade. Accompanied by Adam – a usual fishing buddy, we set out to look for zander and pike, particularly in the northern part of the lake, known as Vankavesi.

Vankavesi has a certain advantage over the remaining parts of the lake, in that it hosts a number of small and shallow bays, overgrown with reed and underwater plants, making it a suitable fishing ground for pikes. Apart from this, there are also a number of shallow spots emerging from the 10-20m depths, which proved to be a good place for catching zander.

After a week of fishing there, here are the lessons learnt:

- If pike is what you're after, then you'd better head eastwards towards the Aland Islands in the Baltic. Näsijärvi's pike stocks are considerably lower and getting a big specimen is almost exclusively reserved for trolling.

- Zander is abundant but it takes a good while (a few days in fact) before you touch the hotspots and figure out the best techniques.

- The weather is a big factor: the worse the weather (rain, cold), the better the fishing. Of particular interest is a brief period prior to a rainstorm.

- Perch is everywhere but big perch is scarce. Catching fish in the order of 15-20cm is relatively easy, bigger ones are hard to track down and require larger baits.

My recommendation to all those wishing to fish in Näsijärvi/Vankavesi is to plan your fishing trip during a spell of rainy weather. This really helps! We had hardly any catch during the bright hours of the day when the skies were clear. On sunny days, forget about zander, unless you don’t mind fishing in deeper water. We preferred shallower plateaus of 3-5m of depth, which were perfect in the evenings and during the night.

As mentioned before, pike is not particularly abundant but it's always worth trying to catch some in the green and warmer bays, before or during the rain. Adam managed to get one which measured 94cm but the usual catch would be around 50cm.

As for zander, it usually stays within the 40-50cm limits but occasionally, the big beasts wake up and give you a fishing time to remember. On the very last day, we decided to check out shallow and rocky outposts in the middle of the lake, where the depth would not exceed 2m and where such areas would stretch for 20 or 30 m.

As the weather was deteriorating fast and as the waves were getting higher and higher, we managed to steer our way clear of the rocks and get 3 huge zanders (and 5 or 6 smaller pikes) within 2 hours; all caught with 12cm jerks. However, we only managed to get one of these fish on-board – the rest spat the hooks out just by the boat. The photo below shows a nice, fat 75cm zander. The remaining ones were at least as big.

So, all in all, the lake is a very interesting but at the same time rather demanding fishing spot, with success clearly determined by the weather.

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