Life cycle

The landlocked salmon spawns in fast‑flowing, gravel‑bottom rapids between early September and November. The fingerlings hatch in the following spring and find territories in the rapids.


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Photo: A recently hatched alevin with attached yolk sac

In a natural habitat, the fingerlings live in their home river for 2 to 4 years. The river stage of their development ends when the fingerlings enter the smolt stage.

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Photo: A 2-year‑old landlocked salmon smolt

After entering the smolt stage in the spring, the fish begin their feeding migration from their native rapids in the Pielisjoki River and its lateral branch, the Ala-Koitajoki River to scatter across Lake Saimaa. Likewise, smolts hatched in the Lieksanjoki River migrate to Lake Pielinen. The smolts may migrate up to 300 kilometres in one direction. Their annual migration routes and, apparently, migration speed are dictated by the size of vendace populations in different in open lake waters, for example.

The salmon feed for a few years in the lake, until they reach sexual maturity at the age of 5 to 7. Sexually mature fish leave the lakes and migrate back to their native rivers to reproduce.

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The natural life cycle of the landlocked salmon has been cut off by water construction. Fish migrating to reproduce cannot get past the Kuurna power plant in the Pielisjoki River or the Lieksankoski power plant in the Lieksanjoki River. Their access to their natural breeding grounds has been blocked.

Today, landlocked salmon are caught below the dams for fish farm brood stocks. The farms collect and incubate their seed. The farms usually cultivate the fingerlings until they are two years old. The fish are then stocked in the waters below the dams. Today, landlocked salmon breeding and the river fingerling stage practically depend on fish farming.




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The project is co-financed by the LIFE+ -programme (EC)