Isonkylä schools and the former teachers’ dormitory on the shores of Lake Kemijärvi.

A small, idyllic village of 450 inhabitants floating on the eastern shore of Kemijärvi, where the inhabitants enjoy the lake scenery. There are hardly any unoccupied houses, although the residents are ageing. There are plenty of good sandy beaches for swimming, but the best is Kalkonniemi with its fireplaces and changing rooms. Geocachers also enjoy searching for caches in Kalkonniemiye. Kalkonniemi Piilop Dam is also a good fishing spot in winter and summer. In winter, and especially in spring during the ice-out in May, the rapids of the dam are a sight to behold.

The dam is a great place to fish for pike, and in the spring it attracts bait fishermen to the shores of Kalkonniemi.

The beautiful lake scenery can be admired from the top of Ämmänvaara and from the observation tower of Kotavaara. Kemijärvi is also a good lake for whitefish, and purse seiners are busy catching whitefish in summer.

Fishing nets being prepared on Ämmänselkä, with Ämmänvaara in the background, on top of which is an ancient sacrificial site.

The sands of Ailanga are renowned for their beauty. The miles of sandy beaches in Kenttäniemiye and Ailanganlahti provide a tranquil wilderness. The fire site is on the Ailanga Gulf side, and it is less than a kilometre’s walk from the car park to the fire site. Along the same Ruuhiniement road is the Seitapirtti of the Isokylä Hunting Society on the shore of Marjalampi. Kemijärvi is famous as a fishing lake and thousands of kilos of pike from Kemijärvi were exported as dried pike to the courts of Central Europe and Sweden every year during the Catholic era for Lent. Settlers and Lappish people fought over fishing rights, and deaths were not unknown in the fish disputes of the time.

There are plenty of pike in Lake Kemijärvi for both winter anglers and traditional trap anglers in the summer. And pike are no stranger to anglers or anglers either. In recent years, the pike population has also recovered in the world’s northernmost lake.

Fishing buddies with winter nets at Kemijärvi Askanseljkä.

Salmon ponds have also been kept in the Kemijärvi straits and on the stems of peninsulas. The most famous salmon dams have been the dams at the parsonage in Luuksinsalmi and the most recent at the Patojärvi drainage ditch. From these dams, the vicar received so much salmon for his hirelings that a clause was entered in the church books stating that salmon could only be served five days a week, and that on two days the hirelings had to be offered other fish.

Kemijärvi offers experiences and a lot to do even for the mushroom fisherman.

Photos and text by Jorma Särkelä