Ice fishing is a popular winter activity in the land of thousand lakes

24.1.2022, Kati Jukarainen

Ice fishing is an easy-going activity. Besides the refreshing it provides to a person’s mind, very often you can bring home ingredients for a meal. The activity itself is inexpensive; however, it requires a lot with regard to dressing up. Olli Kaarlejärvi from Ranua, a province located in the southern part of Lapland, has been an active ice fisher ever since he was a little boy. A persistent ice fisher is often rewarded with a catch.

Ice fishing is an ’everyman’s right’

Ice fishing is a nice winter hobby that you can start easily and without spending very much money on it. To begin it, you need only a few basic pieces of ice fishing equipment. Then, it is easy to expand your repertoire after your enthusiasm and skills improve. A vertical lure is a handy way to start. In addition to it, you’ll need an ice auger. A device made of two spiked handles connected by a string (naskalit in Finnish) are an ice fisher’s safety equipment that is always carried along.

Olli Kaarlejärvi is an active enthusiast starting ice fishing when the lakes get frozen until the very last ice of the spring. Olli admits that sometimes his enthusiasm takes him to ice fishing already too early. Sometimes, you need to remain sensible also with ending the season.

In daily life, the easiest way is to head to those lakes that you can reach easily. ‘I make also a few nights’ trips to ice fishing places with a goahti lean-to a couple of times per season. The peak of a season is approx. a week’s trip somewhere in Lapland, deep into wilderness’, Olli tells us.

For Olli, the most important thing in ice fishing is nature and calming down. Finding new fishing places brings new enthusiasm to the activity.

‘When I’m ice fishing, I forget all the worries of daily life. There, I can calm down and relax. I also enjoy the fantastic landscapes. And of course, when I succeed in getting catch, I get an unbelievably good feeling’. 

jäällä-pilkkiminen-northoudoor

Ice fishing is everyman’s right. The only restriction regards certain fishing waters, where winter fishing is restricted.


Olli doesn’t worry about small things. He also heads to ice fishing with a positive attitude. Being calm and persistent are the trump cards also in ice fishing. 

‘I don’t get tired of trying to find even the fish skulking in strange lakes. I guess it is the persistence that helps me to find them often’, Olli laughs.

And what would fishing be without fishing stories? Olli, has a number of them, too: ’I’ve planned a trip to the north after ‘sail fins’ also for this spring. I hope the weather is favourable and the fish are biting. Last spring, I caught a 57.5-cm-long grayling. Now my aim is to find a place where I could catch an even bigger giant grayling’. 

The most important thing, however, is staying in the wilderness. A catch would be then a fantastic addition to it.

Olli Kaarlejärvi is an eager ice fisher. He shares actively his experiences also in social media. You can view stories about Olli’s fishing and trips on the Instagram and Youtube


metso-merinovillapaita-northoutdoor
Merino wool sweater Metso is made of 100% merino wool.

Olli, the fisherman

Olli headed to the ice for the very first time as early as when he was a little boy, with his parents. In most cases, they headed to the ice of the River Simojoki or the home lake nearby. Following the parents, it was easy to become interested in the activity. Olli has always been interested in fishing in all its forms. 

‘As a child, I mean when I was only a few years old, my older brother had called me ‘Olli the fisherman’. I guess he anticipated something, because I’ve been fishing ever since, when I’ve had a chance’.

When he got a bit older, Olli went eagerly to the nearby lakes also with the neighbourhood boys. Brave little boys packed their lures in back bags and travelled several kilometres’ journey either skiing or walking: ‘We were only at the elementary school and managed well. Ice fishing continued eagerly until I went to vocational school’, Olli tells us.

Even though the hobby had been interrupted for a couple of years, he had found the sparkle for ice fishing again: ’After I entered working life, the hobby has gradually returned, and I think I’m becoming just more enthusiastic’, gloats Olli.

Olli advises beginners to ask about good ice fishing places from more experienced enthusiasts. ‘If you don’t have anyone to ask, then you should take a look at the depth map of those waterways on the Internet. And then you should go and drill holes in the area with variations of depth, lumps and pits. You’ll often find fish around them’. 

Good places are also those near reefs, straits and their mouth areas. Olli calls for patience: ’You should not forget either the fact that even a good place may look worse if the fish simply isn’t biting. An echo sounder will help you a lot to see, whether there is any fish down below. If there is, and it isn’t biting, then you’ll know that you should change the way you make the lure swim or change the actual lure. If nothing works, then put the back bag on your back and go to find active fish. Return to that same place on your next trip to try if the fish were about to bite then’, Olli gives a tip.

icefishing-northoutdoor

Olli makes ice fishing trips every year. The best trips are to the northern waters with graylings. The best thing is to lay on the ice and stare into the hole in the ice when the spring sun is shining: ‘To look at big graylings swimming, and to see how a fish bites the lure’, Olli laughs.

Proper equipment has an important role in ice fishing 

Because Olli is ice fishing in all kinds of weathers, this makes the importance of the right kind of clothing even greater.  The fact that they are the correct ones for the purpose is emphasized in wilderness trips in particular. 


‘Clothes must be warm and easy to dry, if they happen to get wet. It is of course important that they feel comfortable when you wear them, and that they are easy to put on. Very often when you are ice fishing and on trips, you work hard even you don’t notice it. Therefore, the clothes should not make you sweat a lot. Underwear set and the midlayer play an important role here.’ 

’Merino wool is absolutely fantastic!’

Olli praises the benefits of merino wool: ’Merino wool is absolutely fantastic! Merino wool garments won’t get sweaty, they are really warm and feel very comfortable to wear’.

Metso merino wool sweater is Olli’s favourite because it looks so good. He has also other long-time favourites: ’I like very much North Outdoor’s Arctic 260 midlayer with a turtleneck shirt with a zip’.

It is important to protect your head and neck when ice fishing: ’Those two products mentioned above are absolutely top products for ice fishing. They have a high neck and keep you warm. You should also keep your head warm, and Kulo beanie is just the top merino beanie for that task’.

metso-merinovillapita-northoutdoor

It is worth packing enough snacks for your trip. 

Very few pieces of equipment are needed for the actual ice fishing. Olli gives a tip that you’ll get the hobby started well with a 4-inch ice auger. ’Nevertheless, I’d recommend a 6-inch ice auger, so that you won’t lose the big catch because of a too small hole’.

You’ll manage well with a single ice fishing rod and a quick release. ‘And a few different lures into the box, so that you can easily change it if you wish to try a different one. The basic vertical lures you’ll find at supermarkets are suitable for several species of fish. I ice fish a lot using jigs. In addition to this, you’ll need a skimmer, an ice fishing stool and a thermos flask, those are the things you need to enjoy your time on the ice. A rod with a weighted hook has saved several trips’, Olli lists.

An ice auger is important also for the safety’s sake.

’If I have any doubts about the thickness of the ice, I immediately drill a test hole near the shore. If necessary, I’ll drill several of them on the way to the actual ice fishing place. Especially at streams and straits of lakes you should be careful. I myself always inform someone about where I’m going and approximately when I’m returning. They know when to worry, if they don’t hear about me. I always carry along spiked handles, equipment needed for producing a fire and phone in a waterproof bag. I’ll always have a knife, an axe and a rope, if I’m travelling with a sled. I always take along enough to eat and to drink, so that I’ll manage until the next day, if something happens’.

kosketusnäyttösormikkaat-merinovilla-northotdoor
Invest in these! When ice fishing, a high-quality merino wool baselayer set rewards you. A sweater with a high neck protects and provides additional warmth. Don’t forget either thick merino wool socks and a merino wool beanie and a tube scarf. Merino wool garments feel comfortable and breath under an ice fishing overall or a shell layer set.
#icefishing