Ice fishing, by nature, can’t be said to be very complicated. Find ice, drill a hole, lower some bait, catch a fish. Well, at least it’s simple up until that last bit. Some call arctic char the Greta Garbo of fish. Partly because of its beauty: few fishes can offer a more stunning colour. But also because of its nature, because few fishes are more elusive than the arctic char. I’ve often used that simile myself. And sometimes you just can’t fail when you’re fishing for arctic char. But more often you can’t seem to succeed at all. So lately I’ve more or less decided that arctic char is more of a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde character. And more often than not it’s the mean Hyde, rather than the good-natured doctor.
For most of us, ice fishing is something that happens in spring. Under a warming sun, up in the mountains and on a reindeer skin, we enjoy ourselves as the sun heats up our faces as well as our souls. To be outside in the sun is more important than the fishing as such. Often we are pulled from our dreams by the pulling sensation on the line. One way of making ice fishing more exciting is what we call peeking. Drill a hole where it’s no deeper than a couple of metres. Clear all the ice and slush from the hole and lie down so you can look down into the water. The eyes will soon get used to it, and you start tracing the bottom of the lake. After a while, you might see some shadows moving. It’s exciting when large arctic chars begin swimming past. Peeking is kind of ice fishing version 2.0.
But true fanatics know, of course, that it’s the first ice that’s the big thing and not spring. That’s when your chances of catching fish are greatest. To venture out on that first, black ice is always life at the edge. It’s like standing on a cliff with your toes already over the edge. You have to enjoy that dizzying feeling, even if four centimetres of ice can hold nearly 80 kilos.