HuntingLife in Swedensportswinter

Learning to Ice Fish

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Spring is here. We easily get some +6C days and the sun is shining. We still have tons and tons of snow and ice up here and Norrland, but quickly the roads are clearing, and slowly the snow is melting. Very slowly.

Besides watching the local hockey team play (and Skellefteå’s team SAIK is going to the finals!), another Swedish past time in spring is ice fishing. Not everyone enjoys this sport, and sadly I had a bit of trouble finding someone to take me. Luckily I have twitter, which the national (and local) paper follows closely. I tweeted my woes (@SwedishFreak), Norran wrote me back and was able to help hook me up with a guy at the local fish club who could teach me att pimpla*.

Sweet. I called Sven-Evert and we set up a time to take me. He asked me what I had for ice fishing. Nothing. He said he would bring everything. Double Sweet!

I had some heavy duty overalls from my Swede’s work, which he claimed, if I fell in the ice cold water, any Swede would survive for 1 hour. He said, for me, I’d probably survive 10 minutes. Great. What shoes do I wear? Well, I had some rain boots which is something I needed, something water proof. And I put 3 pairs of socks on to make sure I was warm (two being wool socks).

My far*-in-law brought some more clothes for me so I had choices, and he borrowed an ice fishing box from a family friend. This box is pretty cool. It has a place you can sit on (you don’t want to be sitting on the ice), a little hole to throw the caught fish in, and behind that a place to keep all your fishing supplies. Now I was set!


Ice Fishing Boxice fishing box open


Sven-Evert came by to pick me up in the morning and off we went. He was a nice gubbe* and we had some small chit chat on the way. We headed to a lake not far from Skellefteå that he knew well. And it was a gorgeous day!

Lake Krok in Norrland

The first thing Sven-Evert gave me was a red safety thingy that went around my neck. This is in case I fall in the water. You can pull off the red plastic to get sharp metal that you can use to grab onto the ice and pull yourself up again. Safety always first!

safety first

Next I was surprised that Sven-Evert had a bunch of wood he took out. This, of course, was for our fika* break. You need to have fire while you are having a snack and some coffee in the middle of the woods!

fika preperation

As we walk to on the frozen lake I notice there are already many ice fishing holes in the ice frozen over. They are so small, the nice thing is if you do trip on one, probably the worse that will happen to you is you will fall on your face, not in ice cold water.

old ice fishing hole

Now I’m getting really excited! Let’s start ice fishing!

First, we need a new fishing hole. Sven-Evert gets to work and in about 30 seconds we have a new one. He is a pro at this!

making the ice fishing hole

Once the hole you made is ready, you sit down and start fishing!

ice fishing

Now the fishing rod is very simple. It isn’t a casting rod, and you don’t pull the fish out with the rod itself. Where the fishing line winds is a screw. The line goes out on a piece of plastic that is a little bendable so the line bobs a bit when you pull it. You have a silver weight, and then the colorful hook.

ice fishing rod

To ice fish, unscrew the screw to loosen the fishing line and let it drop to the bottom of the lake. Next, wind the line up two full circulations, and tighten the screw. Every 10 seconds, give the line a little jerk up to try to hook the fish. When you have a fish, simply pull the line out with your fingers. Do not wind it up with the rod.

ice fishing in action

Once you have the fish, remove the hook, kill the fish, and throw it in your box! For me, the first hole I fished in I got 4 fisk*! While they are small bass, they are fish none the less and keepers!

Fish caught!

However, if after 5 minutes you are not getting any bites in a hole, just make a new one! At least that is what Sven-Evert did. I’m not sure if the fish don’t move around much or what, but you just move a few feet away and start a new hole and try again. You can also go back to old holes to try your luck a second time.

It was a lot of fun. But my feet were FREEZING! Definitely need to get some winter water proof boots. Rain boots do not work, even with 3 pairs of socks. Oh, and highly recommend sunscreen. Yes, I got sun burned in the face ice fishing!

But hey, I was happy with my catch! And my new pimpelkompis*!

Prize Fish!


This blog post was from my experience last week. Today I went fishing again today with Sven-Evert and this time a report and camera man from the local paper Norran followed. They are starting a fabulous section called “Mission Possible”, and Missfoster ice fishing was the first completed mission! What an honor!

going ice fishingWe were at the same lake as before, but this time it was super windy and we didn’t catch so many fish. I got a few for some photos though!

Later we headed to a different lake not far away. The cool thing is that I got to see a motorized ice drill!

motorized ice drillAnd I caught some more fish. Can’t complain!


Swedish Vocabulary

att pimpla – to ice fish

en fisk – a fish

en gubbe – an old man, but used more like “dude”

pimpelkompis – ice fishing friend

fika – coffee break with food

far – father

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The Author



Hilary lived two years in Norrland, Sweden (Northern Sweden) and fell in love with the country. She lives in Prague, Czechia and hopes to one day soon return to Sweden.