Ice fishing in Finland is to sit out in the white expanse of the country’s frozen, snow-covered lakes, watching for that tantalising tug on the line, waiting. You’ve walked out over the ice to your favourite spot, perhaps with a friend, and drilled a hole that you now huddle over, waiting. Out here in the middle of nowhere, with no-one else around, the silence rings in your ears at first, fresh snow settles around you, and your mind drifts meditatively away as you stare at the water’s surface, waiting.
And then you might see the tug on the line, the water splashing and writhing as you pull out the first fish of the day. The fish is a bonus though, not the point.
While you patiently wait for a bite that may never even come, you are simultaneously free to focus on your task undisturbed and to let your mind wander. Seemingly boundless space surrounds you. The experience is almost mystical as the snowflakes glisten in the air and the spring sun beams through the cloud, and, despite the world around you being so still, you know the watery world beneath the ice is a hive of activity. Just like the water beneath you, the busy life of the city seems like another world entirely.
Ice that’s 5-8cm thick should be okay for you or a group to walk on, assuming it’s in good condition, but the rule is never to go on it if you’re not absolutely sure! Many factors play a part in the strength of the ice, so prepare well to avoid a disaster. Don’t go out onto the ice alone. Wear warm clothes since you’ll be quite exposed to the elements and bring spare clothing in your backpack and car if you have one. Equipment such as safety-gear and ice grippers for your boots are great extras to have with you to prevent slipping on the ice or to help in an emergency.
When spring comes to Saimaa, along with the sunshine, it’s the perfect time to escape into the frozen beyond. You don’t need a licence to go ice fishing in Finland, but you can easily pick up an ice fishing rod very affordably, as well as other essentials like an ice drill or auger, in larger towns such as Mikkeli and Savonlinna which have both been established on the lake’s shoreline.
The sunshine and blue skies of the spring, along with the fish’s voracious springtime appetite, definitely make it the best time to be out ice fishing around Mikkeli and Savolinna. Finland’s lakes are famed for their natural beauty and purity. Where better to take up ice fishing than on its biggest, Lake Saimaa?