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National ice fishing contest on Lake Pyhäselkä
Finland’s national ice fishing championships were arranged in Joensuu on Saturday, March 5, enticing over 1,500 eager ice fishers from across the country to participate. The contest isn’t an easy one, as the ice has reached a thickness of 60 centimetres (24 inches), and catching fish in the dark deep water is a real challenge.
Championship took place under nice conditions: cloudy or partly sunny skies and mild single-digit freezing temperatures. There was also very little wind. As it was presumed, fish were rather passive. Mr. Pekka Korhonen from Ylä-Keiteleen Koukku fishing club got the biggest catch, 2,887 grams.
Prizes used to be great
Mr. Pertti Melto was participating in the competition for the 20th time, while his fellow Imatrans already had over 30 years of contests under their belt.
“Needless to say, we are competing in the veteran category. And if you use our age as an indicator, we most certainly are: the 100-year mark is looming close for each of us,” he says.
The seasoned ice fishers recall that just thirty years ago, the Joensuu competition attracted up to 6,000 participants annually. Melto says one reason for the drastic reduction is that the prizes aren’t as tempting anymore.
“The prizes in the old days were really good, but now they’re just junk.”
His friends chime in: “These days the only payoff is the recognition.”
New generation not interested
Another reason is ice fishing enthusiasts are getting older.
“Young people aren’t as excited about ice fishing as they were in our day. Fortunately there are still some youngsters here, but they are an increasingly smaller percentage,” says Melto.
The nationwide ice fishing competition is an important retail and marketing venue for manufacturers of the requisite gear like saws, augers, rods and jigs. Many of the competitors are experts in the field.
Also next years contest will be held in Eastern Finland; in Rantasalmi on the ice of Lake Kolkonjärvi on March 5.
SMpilkki2016.fi (in Finnish)
Photo above: Ismo Kolari. "Ice fishing is great fun whether you compete or just relax and enjoy the beautiful nature and nice spring days."