Lars with the first 'monster' of the trip!
During the journey from the airport to the cabin where we were
going to stay, the sun went down and darkness descended around us- and as if it wasn't
already cold enough to make your fillings drop out, the temperature plummeted like a
stone. In fact, as we sat in the people-carrier, I realised that even though there were
seven of us in there nattering away, with the heater on, the condensation was still
freezing on the inside of the windows. Apparently the temperature was hovering around the
minus 25 degrees point.
we're gonna fish in this?" I thought.
After stopping for supplies on the way, we
eventually pulled up at the cabin, and took several trips to unload all the goods between
us, dragging them up the path and into the digs, crunching through thick snow and ice
under the clear, bright moonlit sky. Boy how good did it feel to get into the warmth of
our home for the next few days and have a few drinks.
The morning dawned bright and clear, with sharp crisp air forming
steam around us as we collected the snowscooters. After an induction on how to use the
things, we were soon winding our way through the thick pine forest, following in the wake
of the supply-scooter.
perhaps half an hour's drive we found ourselves skidding across open ice for the
first time at high speed, which was a truly exhilarating feeling, and once we had arrived
at the first spot, the engines cut and we found ourselves in absolute silence. The sun
beat down (although the temperature was still below freezing) and the air hung still and
sharp with the crunch of our feet on the ice the only sound. Marvellous.
A quick drilling demo for those of us who had never tried this kind
of thing before (erm... that would be me then), and soon we were all perched like gnomes
over our freshly excavated ice-holes waiting for a passing Char to make a mistake. For the
most part, the rigs consisted of a silver and orange spoon-like teaser fixed in place
about 30cm up the line, with a lighter leader tipped off by a small, coloured lure made
from a wrap of wool and tinsel around about a size 12 hook. This was further
embellished with a maggot on the end. The technique appeared to be to gently tease and jig the end rig
about in the hole to induce a take- and having stared down an ice hole for hours watching
the maggot and fur cocktail flutter about beneath, I can vouch for it's hypnotic
properties after waking up with my forehead frozen to the perimeter of
my hole. Nothing seems to happen for ages... and then suddenly... 'Er, that's funny,
my jig seems to be going sideways... I wonder why that is?' Occasionally I'd even snap out
of my trance quick enough to pull sharply on the line and set the hook. I'm sharp like
We fished for a few hours
in the area, every now and again shifting spots to drill and try a new hole, and after a
while we had several small Char in the bag- which would make our evening meal that night.
As the sun went down (the days are very short up there at that time of year) long, blue
shadows cast themselves across the icy lake, contrasting against the very last of the
sun's rays glancing off the mountains forming the valley, treating us to our last
spectacular view for the day as we packed the scooters ready for home. As darkness and
the temperatures closed in, we picked our way back through the pine forests by headlight.
Our host Burre cooked us up the Char back at the cabin, and I'd
forgotten how delicious fish so fresh can be. Dead simple- Char, pan fried with butter and
seasoning and served with crusty bread and potatoes... but after a day out in the ice it
tasted so very good. This was followed by the usual post-fishing drinks as the wood
crackled on the stove, and soon the gin, vodka and wine was taking a bit of a caning,
the concept of preserving supplies for the next three nights going straight out the
window. At least we slept well.
next morning we were to head off on a long scooter trip to a favourite lake of Burre and
Lars-Goran's, where although the Char were somewhat scarcer than where we had fished the
day previous, they were of a higher average size, and there was even a chance of catching
something quite special. So away we went on a dull morning, with the temperature a little
lower than the previous day, but still quite comfortable due to the still conditions.
It was very much a long journey too, and with the constant slalom
through trees and rocks, there were a few sore thumbs about from constantly operating the
throttle and brakes, but once we exited the tree line and spilled out onto the surface of
our destination, it all looked to be worth the journey and effort. The small ice-bound
lake appeared to be nestled within a tight, enclosed pine coated valley, and gave the
impression it hadn't been visited in years (and maybe it hadn't), and for some reason it
even felt quite special. Again, the air hung still and silent as we set about readying the
ice holes, and once the scraping of the ice drills had abated the deathly quiet
us again as we all concentrated on extracting a Char or two. Pretty as the lake may have
been, it was sure stubborn when it came to giving up any of its inhabitants. I'm sure
Thorke caught a fish that I had just missed a moment before though- and it was the only
fish I saw pass through the ice hole in the whole time we were there. After I had missed
the bite I said to Thorke 'Shit missed one! And it's heading your way...' (His ice hole
was only some 3 metres away from mine), and with that Thorke said 'Got one!'. Beaten by
the Char Champ yet again! And apart from one lost by Lars Goran, the Champ's fish was the
only action we received at the lake. But it was a place worth visiting whatever- simply to
see it, and to put ourselves in with a chance of a very large Char- it's just unfortunate
it wasn't to be this time.
our bikes again, and our trail passed over miles of frozen tundra, through ravines and
passes, and we found ourselves picking our way around gnarled and twisted old birch trees,
curls of silver bark hanging from the trunks like torn strips of thin tissue, each bough
looking like petrified fingers reaching up out of the snow. An almost eerie landscape
straight out of Narnia.
As we reached our destination, we all stopped the scooters as one,
when as we rounded an outcrop of ice encrusted rock, in front of us a landscape
reminiscent of some of the scenes shot in the Lord Of The Rings films stretched out in
front of us. The sky was glowing like a wash of white, grey and orange, and the horizon
blended with the clouds some 150 kilometres distant. Below us the sun had burst through
in a patch and glistened on the iced surface of Dorsjonn Tarn as it sat in its bowl.
The view just knocked all of us for six as we sat a while and took it all in.
We eventually set about fishing the lake, but this
proved more difficult than I expected. Firstly, due to the increased altitude the
temperatures were correspondingly colder, so not only did this make things a little more
uncomfortable on the hands, but it also meant that the ice was considerably thicker at
about 6 feet. And I can inform you that drilling your way through this was not a lot of
fun. It was noticeable that no one was making many changes of pitch up here!
The ecosystem must have been about as harsh for the fish as it was
for us humans though, because until Jesper pulled a tiny Parr
of about three inches long
out of his hole, we were convinced that nothing could exist in there, although Thorke
the zoologist did
point out that the advantages of living up there as a fish would be that there was little
competition for the available food - and no predation. Which begs the question what the
hell were we doing fishing there if not even the other fish like it!?
Still, it was well
worth seeing just for the view on the approach, and I have to say there was a certain
stark beauty to the place- especially when the sun poked through the clouds touched it's
highlights across the ice and a train of dogs and sleds passed by us on the
other side of the frozen lake.
fine evening was had by all, drinking and eating as usual. But by now a few things were starting
to worry me. Like how some of those Scandinavian boys would insist on prancing about the
place in nothing but a skin-tight set of thermals. I mean, it could never
ever be described as
pretty, but when you can tell who's had a vasectomy at a glance, then that's
clearly too much detail. And when you're trying to tuck into a plate of new potatoes, well
I'm sorry... Being modestly English of course, I kept my jeans well and truly on.
Dawn the next morning saw us heading out
through thick snowfall. And what a difference to the balmy climate we had been
experiencing now we were confronted with proper arctic conditions.
After another fun-filled drive through a series of
thick pine copses, we found ourselves at an 'ice fault' on Ansjonn Lake- an area where a
warmer spring of water finds its way up through the lake bed, causing a large irregularity
in the surface ice running right across the surface. Luckily one of the other local
fishermen there had a motorised drill... what a result. In minutes we all had a nice fresh
hole each and were fishing. If I was a regular ice-fisher that would be the first thing on
the Christmas list.
it cold. The wind howled across the frozen surface, occasional snow showers blasted into
us almost horizontally, and soon we were doing our best to make sure we stayed warm and
comfortable. One or two Char put in an appearance- as did the sun- but only
intermittently. The snowscooter supply vehicle really earned its corn that day, both in
terms of making fresh, hot coffee and warming my feet on the engine.
By our final night, the booze supplies had been fully
exhausted at the cabin. A potentially disastrous situation. What could we do? Finally
Burre took command, rang the hotel in the village where we were staying, and they agreed
to open the bar up just for us to go and have a drink. So off we went, and very pleasant
the beer was too (and so it should have been, cos when my credit card statement came
through for my round it was about eight quid a pint- arrgghh!). But Uncle Burre had just
one more little surprise up his sleeve, because arriving back at the digs he produced a 3
litre box of red wine he had kept hidden from us when he saw the rate the rest of the
supplies were being whittled away. What a star! He did look after us you
And after another really nice evening of food, drink
and fishing talk, we all crashed into bed to be rattled to sleep by the breathtaking duet
of Thorke and Lars-Goran's snoring concerto. Little do they know how close they came to
the pillow treatment.
Thanks to Burre and
Lars-Goran for looking
after us out there in the spectacular frozen north. Burre's 'Go For It' web site can be
here, with pictures and maps of
the whole area and arctic experience- well worth a look.
spotting through the ice hole.