Winter Fishing – an Affordable Pastime
Even if you never have been fishing before, winter fishing is something you can easily do on your own without the need for a guide. It’s an easy, simple, effective and relatively affordable pastime, yet the feeling of sitting out on a lake, contemplating life is very soothing. All that’s required is to just concentrate on your little ice fishing rod and stare down the hole that’s drilled in the ice.
The equipment for winter fishing costs a few dollars and with it, it’s possible to hook fish like perch, trout, brown trout, grayling, whitefish and pike. It’s easy to get lost in the jungle of fishing lures and jigs, it´s often enough to have just a few trusted jigs and some simple hooks. Ask most fishing shops, and an ice auger can be rented if you do not have your own. Remember to wrap up warmly (preferably a wool base layer) and sunglasses since the spring sunshine in March to May reflected in the ice can be extremely strong. Bring snacks, a well-insulated mat or reindeer skins to sit on and of course safety ice spikes around your neck, should an unfortunate accident occur.
Be sure to keep track of the thickness of the ice. So much can happen so quickly on a warm spring day. Test the thickness of ice by drilling a few holes. It can also be beneficial to study the map before you go out on the ice and watch out for the inlets and outlets to the lake you are on. Ice is always weaker where there is a constant water flow. Another tip is to avoid hanging near the docks and bridges that can make ice weak in the warm spring sunshine.
Catching Arctic Char
Use a char spoon together with a streamer, or blinking light is a typical setup. The rig is approximately 10.15cm long and on the hook is normally some sort of live bait (maggots, prawns, worms). Alternatively it’s possible to use a fly (the same kind as used while fly fishing). The char constantly moves around under the ice so you can sit for a long time at the same hole when all of a sudden a char can bite as they swim long distances looking for food. While it’s good to be alert, you don’t have to necessarily sit staring into the hole the whole day. Rig your gear and fasten it while you get some “swedish fika” (coffee, sandwiches, cookies) and let the lure do the job by itself to lure the fish.
Winter Fishing with a “Mormyska”
A Mormyska is a small spoon shaped jig built into a mounted hook. On it goes live bait (you can buy maggots from a local gas station or a specialty shop where they sell fishing gear – remember to keep it in a container that does not leak and keep it from freezing). The Mormyska is normally small and light so you need a light ice fishing rod with a thin line to make it “dance” in your drilled hole in the ice as you twitch and jerk the rod tip.
Winter Fishing with a Minnow Bait
A minnow bait is constructed to look like a small fish in the water. When you jerk and twitch your rod the lure will look like an injured fish that is swimming on its side. You need to be very active and repeatedly keep the lure moving since the “fish” (bait) need to look interesting to lure the char or the trout closer and eventually take the bait.
Winter Fishing with a Vertical Jig
Bring different sizes of vertical jigs for different depths since you may have to drill a number of holes before you find out where the perch are hiding. It may be tough to drill a hole through thick ice so pay some attention to where you place them. Perch are sluggish when the water is cold and they do not move very much. They usually remain still on the bottom of the lake. If you catch one perch, quickly get your lure back into the same home, there may be more perch close to your first one. If you are lucky there may be experienced fishermen nearby who are generous about sharing some winter fishing tips with you.