Ice fishing in Finnish "miljoonapilkki"-fishing competition.Ice fishing on the Ottawa river, near the capital of CanadaParticipants of large Finnish ice fishing competition Miljoonapilkki in 2005.

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Ice Fishing

Ice fishing is the sport of catching fish with lines and hooks or spears through an opening in the ice on a frozen body of water. Fisherman may sit on a stool on the open expanse of a frozen lake or sit in a heated cabin on the ice with bunks and amenities. more...

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It is a popular pastime in Canada, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Russia in Europe.

In the United States, Alaska, the states around the Great Lakes and other areas with lakes and long, cold winters enjoy the activity. Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish settlers brought the sport with them to Minnesota; most Minnesotans who engage in ice fishing are from Nordic families. The sport came to Alaska as settlers arrived from Minnesota.

Except for Lake Erie, the Great Lakes seldom freeze over entirely, but bays of the Great Lakes do freeze and are popular ice fishing spots, with northern pike and yellow perch being the most common catches.


Many fisherman fish with no protective structure, merely heavy coats and gloves and other winter wear. Longer fishing expeditions can be mounted with simple structures. Larger, heated structures can make multi-day fishing trips possible.

A structure with various local names, but often called a fish house, bobhouse, ice shanty, or ice hut, is sometimes used. These are dragged or trailered from shore using a vehicle such as a snowmobile or truck, to a suitable location on the lake. Some fish houses are elaborate, and can be equipped with lights, heat, bunks, cooking facilities, and the like. At the opposite extreme are portable, tent-like structures designed to be easily moved.

In North America, ice fishing is often a social activity. Not infrequently, the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol is involved. Some resorts have fish houses that are rented out by the day (called ice huts); often, shuttle service via snowmobile is provided, eliminating any need for sobriety on the part of the participants.

In Finland, solitary and contemplative isolation is often the object of the pastime, but the copious consumption of alcohol is the same, perhaps more so. In Finland, fishhouses are a rare occurrence, but wearing a sealed and insulated drysuit designed out of space-age fabric technology for emergency rescue teams is not.

In North America, lines of fishhouses often develop over underwater ridges or other areas where fish are particularly plentiful.

Fishing Equipment

Icefishing gear is highly specialized. First, an ice spade, saw or auger is required to cut a circular hole or larger rectangular hole in the ice. Power augers are sometimes used. A strainer is sometimes required to remove new ice as it forms.

Three main types of fishing occurs. Small, light fishing rods with small, brightly colored lures may be used in jigging for fish. Tip-ups, which carry a line attached to a flag that "tips up" when a strike occurs, allow unattended or less-intensive fishing. The line is drug in by hand with no reel. In spear fishing a large hole is cut in the ice and fish decoys may be deployed. The fisherman stands over the hole while holding a large spear attached to a line. This method is used for lake sturgeon fishing on Black Lake in Michigan.


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