Give a man an auger and he’ll fish… eventually
All is calm in the sleepy wilderness of Torassieppi Reindeer Farm. Located in the far north of Finnish Lapland, this is where people come to escape suburbia and hope for a front row seat at one of world’s greatest natural spectacles – the Northern Lights.
At mid-morning, a grey hue of cloud cover reigns overhead. After a hearty breakfast with my fellow travellers, I’m informed by our guide Emilia that we have to work for our next meal. She leads us from the Farm’s cosy Reindeer Cafe to a nearby frozen lake. We walk for a few minutes, slightly unnerved that the surface we’re walking on might give way at any point, until Emilia comes to a sudden stop.
‘Right – now we’re all going to break the ice and fish.’ she says, half matter-of-fact, half pun-intended. ‘This is an auger drill – watch what I do.’
Always smiling with bright, friendly eyes and pig-tailed blonde hair, Emilia’s appearance is somewhat deceptive. She cuts through the ice with menacing speed and creates a fishing hole within a matter of minutes (the hole, it must be added, is at least 60cm deep).
Hardly breaking a sweat, Emilia pulls the augur out of the ice and says, ‘Right, who’s next?’ Rather worryingly, everyone in the group is looking at me. We’re a relatively young collective but, at an ancient 32 years old and the ‘senior’ within the pack, I’ve been given the nickname of ‘Holiday Dad.’
OK, so a dad’s got to do what a dad’s got to do. I grab the augur with purpose, find a spot to drill (there’s plenty of choice on this expansive lake!) and turn as though my reputation as a man was on the line. So I turn, and then turn some more, and then a little more, and then…
After fifteen minutes of sturdy turning, all I’m greeted with is more and more fresh layers of ice. Emilia offers some assistance, ‘Do you need some help? she says. ‘No, I’m fine thanks’ I say, clearly lying (and sweaty profusely), also wary the group is watching on expecting Holiday Dad to succeed. I manage a few more turns and, sensing defeat, hand the augur back to Emilia.
‘I think this spot was at least one metre deep, maybe more’ Emilia says, trying to soften the dent to my pride.
Finally, I’m ready to fish. Emilia hands me what looks like a toy fishing rod, no bigger than my hand. ‘Any tips?’ I ask. ‘Just drop the line and wait’ Emilia says. So that’s what I do. I wait, and then wait some more, and then… was that a bite? I pull the line up in expectation. It’s a… oh, nothing. OK, back down with the line…
Ice fishing is a game of patience. There’s no complex technique to master, just drop your line and hope for the best (hope being the operative word in my case). An hour passes as we chat amongst ourselves, most of the conversation drifting towards my inability to drill all the fishing hole by myself (didn’t you hear what Emilia said? It was at least a metre deep!)
There’s something wonderfully calm about sitting on a frozen lake waiting for one of the fish below to snag on your line, especially in these still surroundings, dominated by an endless line of enormous, neck-craning pine trees.
‘How many fish have you caught on this lake Emilia?’ I ask.
‘Oh, about two,’ she responds, a little flatly. ‘In the last four months.’
There’s a pause.
‘Maybe best we call it a day?’ I suggest. With that, we bring up our lines and head back to the Reindeer cafe, with empty stomachs and nothing to show for our morning’s work. Back at the Reindeer Cabin, hunks of fresh salmon are laid out for lunch. Maybe we’ll return to the lake with our augur tomorrow.
Disclosure: I travelled to Torassieppi Reindeer Farm courtesy of Three UK as part of their Feel at Home campaign. All the photos were taken on an iPhone 6, provided by Three UK for the trip. All views and opinions my own, all ice fishing holes are also my own (well, mostly my own – it was over a metre deep, remember?!)
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.