Ice-fishing is not only a hobby, but even competitions are also organized all over Finland! I had the opportunity to try it last spring few times when the temperature wasn’t anymore too low but the ice on the lakes was still thick.
It is more complicated than normal fishing, but you should definitely give it a try if you have a chance!
The best time for ice fishing
The best time for ice fishing is when the weather is not (so) cold, but the lakes are still frozen. In Lapland, the season starts in December and ends in May, but the spring months are more pleasant for spending hours outside than December or January. In spring the length of the days are also much longer (compared to zero in December), so you don’t need to sit in twilight but can do a bit of sunbathing as well 🙂
Related article: Lapland Road Trip (Winter Edition)
How long does it take to catch a fish
It is hard to tell. Experts say if you didn’t catch anything in 30 minutes, you are in the wrong spot. The whole fishing adventure takes from 2-3 hours up to even a whole day.
Ice fishing gear
- ice drill: the most important equipment is the ice drill. You need it to make a hole in the ice to access the water and the fish. The drill has to be long and sturdy enough for comfortable drilling. You can also sharpen/change the blades if needed after regular use.
- rods: ice fishing rods are short, 20-30 cm in length.
- baits: in Finland, the most popular baits are small worms that you can buy even in bigger supermarkets throughout the winter, so you don’t need any special shop for them.
- boots: make sure your boots keep your feet warm and dry and have a good grip on ice as well. You can buy special ice fishing clothing in stores if it’s not a one-time activity.
- sled: a practical tool to transport your ice fishing equipment from your car to the lake. The drill is heavy on its own, and you may want to bring a chair, etc as well.
- chair: to be comfortable while waiting for your catch. Shanties are not popular in Finland.
Related article: 2 Weeks in Finland – Road Trip Itinerary
Ice fishing safety rules
Keeping yourself warm and dry will decrease the risk of hypothermia. Your head, hands, and feet are the first body parts that start to feel the cold. Make sure you don’t only watch the thermometer but observe the forecast’s temperatures with the wind chill. On a windy day, the temperature may feel 5-10°C lower than the measured one.
Be aware of thin ice
Ice doesn’t freeze evenly on the surface of a lake or river, and thin patches can’t always be detected by sight alone. River confluences or wastewater pipes or vegetation all can affect the depth of the ice. Make sure it is thick enough for walking, pulling a sled or driving a snowmobile on it. Falling through the ice is a real danger! Be careful!
For an ice fishing trip the ice should be over 7.5 cm thick for a group to walk on the ice, and for vehicle access, it needs to be even thicker. Yes, here in Finland we have ice roads across lakes and rivers (for example in Koli National Park, between Kolinkylä and Vuonislahti). Usually, it is open after the ice is over 20 cm.
|LOAD ON CLEAR AND SOLID ICE
|under 4.5 cm
|NEVER GO ON ICE
|one person cross country skiing
|one person walking
|group of people walking in one line, snowmobile
|a small car
|2.5 t truck
Pack adequate equipment
Picks, ropes, and a life jacket are essential if you fell into the water and had to pull yourself out.
Do not drink!
Alcohol will affect your perception of cold and you may not notice in time that your body isn’t dressed properly.
Related article: Best Nature Attractions in Finland
How to do ice fishing
Drill a hole (or more)
First, you need an ice-drill to drill a hole through the thin ice. It is the most laborious part if the ice is really thick. After you finally drilled through to the water, you need to remove the little floating ice pieces from the hole before they freeze again.
2. Prepare your bait
Put your bait (for example the little worms) on the hook. And dip into the water.
3. Enjoy fishing
Sit down on your chair and start fishing, move the rod upwards time-to-time. Ice fishing rods are much shorter than normal ones.
4. Be patient 🙂
Enjoy the winter scenery from your chair while you keep an eye on your rod.
5. Catch or no catch?
If you did not catch anything in the first 30 minutes, move along and drill a new hole! In case you see a fish, don’t get too excited and drop it back – I did for the very first time,
6. Prepare a meal
If you did catch several yummy perch, enjoy your dinner!
Ice fishing tours in Finland and Lapland
Based on your preferences, you can do only ice-fishing, or combine it with snowshoeing or snowmobile riding. Check your options here!