Last modified 15.3.2011 at 13:25
Ice, sunshine, smiles and a couple of fish
Text: Aleksanteri Pikkarainen Photos: Pekka Kallasaari
Ice fishing, or "pilkkiminen", is a popular Finnish leisure activity. Fishing with lines and hooks in an ice drilled hole is best in the spring months, when the sun shines high and it is not too cold anymore.
It’s mid-March and I’m standing in Nallikari, the biggest beach in Oulu. I’m not there for sunbathing though because the sea is full of ice and snow. I see people standing nearby the lighthouse doing something with rods and an ice drill: Looks like it’s time for ice fishing.
On the ice I find seven bold youngsters from five countries: Belgium, Spain, Slovenia, Poland and Czech Republic. They are here as exchange students and for all of them it’s the first time ever to fish on ice. Thankfully they all are warmly dressed and have a very positive attitude.
- Ice fishing seems very cool, I am expecting to catch something too. It is amazing to see how much nature there is here in Finland, because my home country is so densely populated, says Benjamin Cauchie, an engineering student from Belgium.
Exotic arctic nature provided
Finland has a climate very different from continental Europe. To see the long and cold winter is an experience in itself.
- It’s always great to show ice fishing to foreign visitors. For us this is everyday life but for most of them even standing on the ice and for example seeing open fire is very exotic, explains Markku Koponen, who represents Martinniemen erä- ja kalakerho and is one of the two men guiding the students to the world of ice fishing.
Once everyone has finished drilling their holes and setting up their rods and hooks with little red worms, the fishing can really start. Some of the exchange students, like the Czech Pavlina Prikazska are experienced fishers in their home countries, but not in a way quite like this. Pavlina came to Finland to study international business but nature was one of the factors bringing her here.
- We do fish a lot but only in the summer. If I would suggest ice fishing, they would probably think I’m crazy. I’m liking this a lot already even though I can’t really feel my toes, says Pavlina laughing.
It feels good even though I didn’t expect it to be this small.
The reward waits in the end
After half an hour the guests really seem to have caught up with ice fishing. It might seem easy but it takes a lot of skill and patience to actually catch a fish. Benjamin from Belgium is the first one to shout he has a fish! This brings smiles to everyone’s faces: there actually is something living under the ice.
- It feels good even though I didn’t expect it to be this small, laughs Benjamin, who just caught the first perch in his lifetime.
This winter has been bad for ice fishing in Oulu due to too much cold and snow, but the exchange students have gotten lucky. Even though it is -15 Celsius the weather is almost perfect, because the sun is heating the air and shining brightly. As a bonus they are even getting fish. Dariusz Desz from Poland ties the playful competition with another small perch for himself.
- It feels amazing. My first fish! Looks like we’ll be having fish for dinner tonight and everyone’s invited, jokes Dariusz. The size of the fish will most likely grow when I tell about this, he continues with a grin on his face.
After roughly two and a half hours of intense fishing, the competition ends in an amicable draw. It’s time for warming the numb fingers beside a fire with some steaming sausages and hot drinks. It seems everyone has had a satisfying experience.
Osako brings the action
The ice fishing event was organized by the student union Osako. Laura Tuhkala is responsible for arranging events and international affairs in Osako.
- Every month we organize something nice for the foreign students. In January we had Sauna Night, in February it was snow football in Raahe, for March it was this ice fishing event. Coming up in next moths we have a cooking night and some type of picnic, explains Laura. The exchange students are usually participating in the events very actively and they are always having fun, she continues.
Osako also arranges events for new students every semester. Tour de Oulu is an orientation happening repeated every autumn and is meant first and foremost for newly started students. The events are usually free of charge, or very affordable for students. For example guided ice fishing only cost two Euros, all included.
- Looks like everyone is enjoying the event and having fun, thinks Laura. No one is complaining even though it is a little cold out here.
You can find more information on Osako’s student events on Facebook.>
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