Life in the archipelago
Read about different activities in the archipelago during the four seasons
In the summer the inhabitants in Maksamaa archipelago increase several fold. Summer guests, people staying in their summer cottages, tourists and other holidaymakers find their way out to the islands. They all enjoy the archipelago in their own way.
Maksamaa archipelago is an excellent area for cycling. If you are taking a longer bike ride through Ostrobothnia, why not make a turn at Ölis or Kaitsor and ride through the archipelago instead of going along the National Road 8. Österövägen runs through the whole archipelago. Along the way you can visit one of our cafés or stay the night in one of the cottages or rooms for hire. You can also camp out on for example the camping site in Västerö. When you are biking through the archipelago, don’t miss the smaller roads. Many picturesque places and villages lie close to Österövägen. For example, you can take a ride to Brudsund, Djupön, Pirklot or Ulot. And don’t miss the cozy farmer’s village Kvimo.
In Maksamaa archipelago there are excellent opportunities to paddle. You can choose between calm areas like for example Österöbrunnen, Särkimo coastal inlet and Särkimo or the Brudsund channels. If you long for the open sea, Pirklotfjärden and Himoitfjärden are well suited for paddling. Or why not cross Gloppet on a beautiful day? On Mikkelinsaaret you can neatly maneuver around in a kayak or on a SUP among the island group’s shallow coves, inlets and gloe lakes.
Many enjoy boating or jet skiing in the archipelago. The sea lanes are well marked out. Solrutten has in recent years improved the most important sea lanes. You can find the most common sea lanes on Merenkurkku nautical chart or on Sundom boat club’s nautical chart. At the store on Österö you can get gas for your boat. Public jetties where you can moor are situated at for example Stråkaviken and Abborrgrund. Västerölandet and Mikkelinsaaret are popular trip destinations with beautiful shores. Nearby guest jetties are located in Hellnäs and in Tottesund (Nabben’s guest jetty). Visit Solrutten.fi for more information about sea lanes and marinas.
In mid-May the Baltic herring fishing starts. The herring is caught with different kinds of traps. The herring is mainly used as feed. Bigger herrings are also caught with nets. They are often smoked. Net fishing is popular in the summer both among anglers and commercial fishermen. Perch, roach and whitefish are the most common types of fish. In high summer commercial fishermen catch whitefish and salmon with traps. With a casting rod the occasional Northern pike will bite next to the reeds. At the bridges those who like to angle gather. Trolling is something for those who is looking for peace and quiet and has lots of patience.
The fall is an excellent season for hiking in the woods. Why not visit the excellent hiking trail on Västerö? Here there are several different trails to choose among. Pack a lunch and enjoy the quietness that engulfs the sea and the forest. The view from the trail out over the open sea is breathtaking no matter the weather.
Those who reside in the archipelago like to spend time in the forest in the fall. Now is the time for berry picking. Many supplement their income by picking lingonberries and selling them to local buyers. Others pick for their own household use or share with relatives. Blueberries, cranberries and cloudberries are other berries picked. In the forest you can also find troves of wonderful mushrooms.
The hunt is a big and important hobby for many children and adults in Maksamaa archipelago. The fall is the highlight for all hunters. In the end of August the duck hunt begins and in the beginning of October the turn has come to the elk hunt. In the summer the elks wander out to the archipelago and they are often abundant when the hunt begins. The hunters mainly use dogs like Norwegian and Swedish Elkhounds. Several elkhound tests are organized every fall in the archipelago. The tests are needed in order to qualify the dogs. The best dogs are used for breeding and in that way one gets even better elkhounds in the future. In recent years also the white-tailed deer population and the number of roe deer have increased. This is a rather new type of hunt in our regions. For this purpose the hunters have acquired and train new dog breeds, like for example dachshund, drever and German Spaniels.
For fishermen the fishing for whitefish continues actively until the whitefish protection starts 15.10. This lasts until 31.10. Towards the end of the year one also fish for European cisco. The bigger ones are smoked and the roe is used to make tasty delicacies.
In winter the sea is covered by ice. Inshore the ice usually lies from December until the end of April. Gloppet is often ice covered only for a few weeks during the coldest time of winter. On the ice you can enjoy long walks, ice skating and skiing. Or why not take a good old fashioned kick sled and head out for a little excursion? Here you can also drive snowmobiles.
Before Christmas the burbot is a popular fish. For the people of the archipelago, burbot and burbot roe is a must on the Christmas dinner table. During rasputitsa the fisherman seize the opportunity to repair their fishing gear before the looming season starts. As soon as the ice is strong enough, the fishermen head out to set and see to nets and traps beneath the ice. It is important to have the right clothes and equipment in order to last a long day out on the ice with the cold water and the winter winds as work colleagues. The silence out on the ice on a winter’s day can be mesmerizing. In early spring ice fishing becomes more and more common. Many try to catch Northern pike close to the reeds by setting grapples into drilled holes in the ice.
In winter the hunters take care of support feeding when it comes to for example white-tailed deer and roe deer. These animals need extra food in order to survive and thrive. Fox and hare hunt is also conducted in the archipelago. The fox hunt is challenging when the ice settles, since the fox often take to thin ice to get away from its pursuers. The seals are increasing and they wreak havoc on the fish stock and fishing gear. The seal hunt is nowadays rather smallscale in our parts. There are plenty of pests like minks and raccoon dogs in the archipelago. Hunting them is important, since the animals cause a lot of damage in the nature. In 2018, 84 minks and 68 raccoon dogs were shot in the archipelago.
In the spring, several communal work days are organized in the villages in order to tidy up public gathering sites like the beaches, visitor’s jetties and marinas before the summer season.
When the frozen ground thaws and before the birch trees get their first small leaves, you can start to see white plastic buckets here and there in the forests of the archipelago. Now it’s time for sap tapping. For a few weeks a big part of the archipelago’s residents are busy sap tapping. The tapped sap is sold and exported.
As soon as it thaws the fishermen get ready to catch smelt. The time for smelt fishing is short and intense and usually lasts only a few weeks in April. Smelt is caught with traps and sold as feed or exported. In spring and early summer there is a lot going on in the fishing port at Stråkaviken and at the other fishing piers. Fishing teams fishing with traps come in with their fish and empty their boats. The emptying happens with the help of conveyer belts. Hundreds of thousands of kilos of herring are collected by trucks that transport the fish to freezing plants. The herring is used mainly as feed for fur animals. The fishing for herring is at its most active in May and June.