Lake Oulujarvi, Finland

Lake Locations:

Finland - Lakeland -

Also known as:  The Kainuu Sea

Lake Oulujarvi, located in the Kajaani region of Finland’s Lakeland District, is the perfect holiday destination all year round. Called the ‘Kainuu Sea’, the lake is not actually a sea but the result of melting and receding glaciers. The fifth largest lake in Finland, Lake Oulujarvi is drained primarily by the Oulu River, with water regulated by the Jylhama Dam and power plant near Vaala. Because the lake possesses several long stretches of unbroken water, far enough to make the opposite shore invisible, it is easy to believe this is a true sea. Although the huge 219,183-acre lake is a tea color from run-off from the surrounding peat bogs, the water is very clean. Obviously, the fish don’t mind the color, as this is one of Finland’s most prized pike-fishing lakes. Fishing is not the only reason so many visitors visit Lake Oulujarvi each year, however.

Lake Oulujarvi’s sandy beaches are the longest in Finland. Nearly everywhere one looks, the perfect sandy swimming beach appears. All of the towns along the lakeshore have plentiful swimming facilities, with children’s beaches available in some locations. One of the favorite beach destinations is on Arjansaari Island, others on Manamansalo Island. Arjansaari has spectacular high dune banks and is a photographer’s delight. Although Arjansaari must be reached by boat, both islands are favorites for swimming and sunbathing. Boating enthusiasts love the opportunities Lake Oulujarvi offers for a mid-day dip and picnic lunch. Other areas of the shoreline are rocky and very picturesque.

Although there is no scheduled ferry service on Lake Oulujarvi, a number of cruise ships and charter services make enjoying the vast lake easy. Boat and canoe rentals are located along the shoreline and in many of the ‘guest harbors’ created to provide services for visiting boaters. Guest harbors can be found in Sahanranta, Vaala, Ruununtorma, Saraisniemi, Teeriniemi, Martinlahti, Manamansalo, Jaalanka, Koivuniemi, and Kankari. Even with all of these boating services, the lake is still mostly empty. Two of the larger open-water stretches are typically referred to as lakes in their own right: Arjalanselka and Niskaselka. These wide-open stretches of water are favorites for sailing, wind-surfing and kite-surfing. Other water sports are engaged in with canoeing, kayaking and rowing among the most popular. Finland is a country of outdoors enthusiasts. Paddling the small inlets and bays to view the abundant wildlife is a treasured opportunity at Lake Oulujarvi.

Fishing is where Lake Oulujarvi outshines the competition. Pike, perch, zander, brown trout, landlocked salmon, whitefish, burbot, bream and roach are all caught, but pike is the acknowledged king of the fishery. Pike over 10 pounds are the norm, and catches weighing over 20 pounds are not unusual. Trolling for pike is a sport unto itself. Every year, Lake Oulujarvi hosts the European Championships in Pike Trolling, where you’ll need to catch a total of more than 220 pounds of pike in order to win. Professional trolling teams train here, with trolling charters and guides ever ready to introduce the novice to the sport. Zander and burbot are also popular sport fish, and ice fishing for perch can’t be beat anywhere!

Of course, a holiday isn’t all about the water, and the area around Lake Oulujarvi holds a number of attractions to keep every visitor happy. A cycling trail circles much of the lake, while hiking and horseback riding paths allow for days of exploration. Much of the shoreline is open to caravan camping. In winter, these same trails can be used for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and nature viewing. At the north end of the lake, the Rokua Geopark explores the unique geology and natural habitat of the sand dunes and ridges. Two interpretive visitor centers are provided.

A few miles east of the lake, the Kainuu Highlands offer excellent ski opportunities, with ski schools, beginner slopes and family-oriented snow activities. At Vuokatti there is a ski tunnel that allows for skiing even in summer. Long ski treks to the eastern border region are common, and more difficult ski slopes for advanced skiers are lighted for evening use. Hundreds of miles of cross-country and snowshoe trails cross the hills and frozen lakes. Ski safaris traversing the taiga forests are available, and the snowmobile safaris can even take you as far as Russian Karelia. And in summer, the town of Hyrynsalmi produces their own special Global Swamp Soccer Cup, with a mud-splashing good time had by all.

Lake Oulujarvi visitors can also visit the ‘Wild Taiga’ with its vast nature reserves. This area, along with the adjoining protected areas in Russia, form a part of Europe’s Green Belt. It is one of the best areas in Europe for spotting wild brown bear, lynx and wolf. One can arrange for bear-viewing safaris. Two information centers are there to offer guidance. In Kuhmo, between the lake and the highlands, the International Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival in July is one of the biggest in Finland. A large number of the activities planned are directed to increase children’s appreciation of both the arts and nature.

A central theme running throughout all of the Wild Taiga activities and cultural events is the essence of Finland’s national epic poem, The Kalevala. Written in the 19th century, the Kalevala is the compilation of ancient Finnish poetry and folklore and was usually sung. Dr Elias Lonnrot spent many years compiling the oral traditions of the rural people – stories of creation, pre-history, religion, wars and family life. In collecting and editing this great work, Dr Lonnrot clarified the origins and meanings of much of the Finnish language and the history of the Finnish people. His work is recognized as one of the greatest works of Finnish literature, and the epic tales recounted are often played out in plays and dramas. The Finnish people identify strongly with the poetry of the much-beloved Kalevala and feel it defines their national identity. The Kalevala was considered instrumental in creating the climate for independence from Russia in 1917. Many opportunities to experience portions of the Kalevala are designed into the fabric of the Wild Taiga experience, a living history lesson.

Holiday accommodations at Lake Oulujarvi are plentiful. Small guest house resorts and private home and cabin rentals are common. One of the favorite locations to find holiday lodgings is on the Island of Manamansalo, connected by bridge to the main shore. The City of Vaala has several hotels and guest cottages surrounding the Sahanranta Beach. Real estate may be available as most Finnish families own a lake cabin and occasionally sell them. So come to the Kainuu Sea and experience the very essence of Finland. The sandy beaches are calling.

Things to do at Lake Oulujarvi

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Kite Surfing
  • Wind Surfing
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing

Fish species found at Lake Oulujarvi

  • Brown Trout
  • Burbot
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Roach
  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Whitefish
  • Zander

Lake Oulujarvi Photo Gallery

Lake Oulujarvi Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Fortum Power and Heat Oy

Surface Area: 219,183 acres

Shoreline Length: 634 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 401 feet

Average Depth: 21 feet

Maximum Depth: 125 feet

Water Volume: 5,837,135 acre-feet

Drainage Area: 19,800 sq. miles

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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