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Tears were streaming down my cheeks, with a runny nose and frost on my jaws; we were blasting away over the ice on our snowmobiles. It was with a tingling sensation of excitement in my stomach, that I finally had a chance to try one of these snow-beasts myself: Overpowering acceleration and a top-speed of nearly 200 km/h – a deadly contraption if you're not careful.10 jaemtland oestersund 20220211 1941816503

Out there on the huge, Swedish, ice-covered lake we were to try and catch the highly praised landlocked arctic char. I had already caught the sea-running version of this species in Greenland, and I must say that I found both its sport fishing- and culinary qualities very pleasing. Then how would it be with the lake variant?

I thought that summer time would be the busiest time in Jämtland, when tourists try their luck with the excellent grayling fishing, but I was clearly way off the mark. Winter is actually the busiest time of the year, because the locals themselves bring the whole family out (and I mean the whole family, women and children too) on the ice, in wind and frost, to spend the few daylight hours driving snow scooters and dog-sledges, even their cars, out on the ice of the lakes and rivers, drilling holes in the ice to catch frosty fish. The adventure is: outdoors in the worst possible weather without being cold, lying in deep snow watching for fish in the ice-hole, brewing a cup of coffee and frying sandwiches on the sledge-grill we bring with us, the ultimate freedom in driving a snowmobile in the mountains, where you often meet interesting wildlife.18 jaemtland oestersund 20220211 2070439087

Our friends picked up Morten and me at Östersund Airport, and already then it was obvious that we were going to need our warm clothes very much, as we were welcomed by a frosty landscape with metres of snow and very low temperatures. From Östersund, we drove to lake Ånnsjön near the Norwegian border and near the famous ski resort at Åre.

The drive took us a couple of hours, but it felt much less, as we enjoyed the beautiful landscape of snow-covered mountains in the setting sun. Nevertheless, we were getting a little tired after a frantic day at busy airports, and now looking forward to the warmth of the atmospheric little cabin. Only, when the car stopped, we realised something was wrong… where was the cabin?

Well, we weren't just going to step from the car into the cabin, as the cabin lies on an island in lake Ånnsjön, but shown to where the snowmobiles were parked. Neither Morten, nor I, had ever tried one of these beasts before, but there was no sympathy from our friends; we were given a crash-course in handling a snowmobile in a couple of minutes, dressed in warm overalls, boots, gloves and helmets, and then we were off - through a small forest and out on the lake.

We reached the cabin safely, and by then Morten and I were seriously into the whole snowmobile thing – we could hardly wait until the next day to "kick the mule"!

The wooden cabin was typically Swedish and cosy – a fire was burning in the corner of the living room and there was a wonderful smell of moose stew cooking. After dinner we went outside to admire the calm, cold weather and the immensely impressing aurora (northern lights).

11 jaemtland oestersund 20220211 1983923763Next morning we were up 0630. It was still very dark, and for reasons undisclosed I had a headache – could it have been the whiskey?

After a fitting breakfast we dressed in many layers of clothing, well-isolated boots, big gloves and crash helmet. As we packed the snowmobiles it started to get light, and what a glorious morning it became.

Even though it was very, very cold there wasn't much snow on the ice, which was a lot of fun and a little bit dangerous when running the snowmobiles at speed – it was fun to skid sideways, but one little mistake, and you could go flying instead with a heavy snowmobile on your tail.

Three kilometres from the cabin, we started fishing in a big, beautiful bay surrounded by high mountains covered in snow. Here our friends had had good results the week before. To our great amusement, we discovered two other Swedish anglers, who had made the trip onto the lake in their Volvo station car – not a common sight where I come from…

The ice was 50 cm thick and crystal clear with small air bubbles trapped inside - some places it was like walking on water – quite eerie, for a city person like me. However the most unnerving thing was that the ice groaned loudly and cracks appeared, when the ice shifted due to the rising temperature – I'll never get used to that, for sure.31 jaemtland oestersund 20220211 1625446916

We quickly made a series of holes in the ice with the motor driven ice-drill, and started jigging away with the pre-prepared ice-fishing equipment. Being the first time for me, it was really strange to fish with a 30 cm rod and a little spool on top of it to substitute for a reel. We used the miniscule jigs, called "mormyschka", baited with a couple of maggots, and a large spoon as "flasher" to attract the attention of the char.

We fished over quite deep water – probably 30 metres – but we only lowered the jig to about 4 metres depth, as the arctic char are swimming high in the water early in the winter. As winter progresses, the char seek deeper and deeper.

Anders explained about the arctic char: most landlocked artic char don't grow very big considering their age, because the wild lakes don't have much nutrition to sustain them. As a result of this, some char take up cannibalism, and these fish have a big growth potential. In this specific lake the arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus var. lacustris) have been caught to 3 kg, lake trout (Salmo trutta lacustris) to 8 kg, and Canadian lake char (Salvelinus namaycush) to 12 kg – where the arctic char and the lake trout are wild fish, as opposed to the introduced Canadian lake char.

Morten and I got the hang of it fairly quickly – well, with the help of local experts it couldn't go all that wrong – we managed to hook fish without much trouble. Ice fishing isn't that hard to do, anyway, but obviously there must be fish around to catch. You can choose to just waggle the rod and wait for bites, and the bites are not possible to miss. The other way to do it is the more fun (and more effective) way – you lie on a reindeer skin and look through the hole. It takes a while for your eyes to adjust to the lack of light, but if the water is clear, you can easily spot fish at several metres of depth. Morten and I got a huge kick out of using this method. The char we caught weighed 100-500 gr, and I assure you that a 500 gr char will keep you busy for a while!

54 jaemtland oestersund 20220211 1738488854After seven ice-fishing trips in two seasons, my biggest yet weighs 1.6 kg. I fought it on a quiver-tip rod with a traditional reel, which was a blessing in this case even though it was with 0.18 line, and the fight took 15 minutes. When the char got close to the hole it just bolted away again, and at one stage I had as much as 100 metres of line out.

At noon we drove to a nearby island, where our friends cooked us a lovely, warm lunch. For dinner, of course, we had arctic char, and those fish tasted absolutely delicious.

When we ice fish In Jämtland we also target burbot, grayling, whitefish, perch and pike, but that's another story…

If you want to know more about Swedish Ice Fishing, you can contact me on my email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and/or check out this website:

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