In winter time as the ice is thick on rivers and lakes in Lapland, the Lapish people want to go fishing anyway. Besides ice-fishing done through a little hole in the ice with a short rod, there is also the winter net fishing. As I learned during my time in Lapland: Fishing is the only necessary.
The fishermen spread the nets under the ice at an early stage of the winter, as soon as it is possible to walk on the ice, preferably already in November. Of course it is also possible to put the nets at a later time of the winter, but as the ice is then probably a lot thicker, that demands a lot of efforts to saw through the ice to get the holes required for the net fishing.
This is a picture I found on the Internet. With this I try to explain how the net is supposed to be spread between two holes in the ice. The net is not supposed to float near the surface as it then will freeze to the ice and it is after that not movable. You net to get it sink at least 1 meter down from the surface by using weights of some kind.
This is the hardest part of the winter net fishing. You make two holes at approx. 60 meters from each other and then you have to get a line between those two holes. To me that seemed absolutely impossible. I even imagined someone to go diving in between these holes with the line….Then I got it explained to me. There is an equipment called “uittolautta” in Finnish, that in an absolutely amazing way searches its way from one hole to another as the fisherman pulls the rope attached to this uittolautta. This procedure will never stop to amaze me. Here is a picture of a “uittolautta” and also a picture of all kinds of equipment you need when spreading the nets under the ice.
You can put several nets in a row under the ice. You just continue from one hole to the next with help of this uittolautta.
When checking on the nets after they have been in the water for some days, you start by opening the hole in the end of the net and attach a rope to that end. Then you open the hole in the beginning of the net and start to pull out the net and loose the fish, if there are any. After checking the first net, you have to pull it back in place by the 60 meters long rope.
Winter net fishing could be a very cold experience, at least for your hands as you have to deal with wet nets and fish. During the sunny days of April this is not such a big problem as during windy, ice-cold days earlier in the winter when the nets freeze before you put them back into the water. The nets should be checked on at least once a week during the season to get fresh fish, in spite of any weather conditions. There could occur all kinds of problems. But the reward is of course always the fish. Mostly you get pike or perch on winter net fishing, but also salmon and pike-perch is possible to get, and also this ugly, but delicious fish, living on the bottom of the lake is a good catch; burbot.
There are several possibilities also for tourists to take part in winter net fishing at several different places and tourist villages in Lapland.