Mild winter reason for big catches at annual Ice Fishing Championships
As many as 2,600 ice fishing enthusiasts gathered on the ice sheet covering the Vesijärvi Lake in the southern municipality of Vääksy to take part in the annual Finnish Ice Fishing Championships on Sunday.
Collectively, the jiggers managed to remove a respectable nine tons of perch from the icy waters beneath.
The most fish were caught by the competition’s overwhelming winner, Petri Suoperä from Hollola, whose catch of the day contained a stunning 16.2 kilograms of perch.
One of the participants in the contest, pensioner Mikko Rajaranta from the nearby city of Lahti, had bored his hole in the ice around a hundred metres from the shore. A dozen or so perch, which moments earlier were still swimming happily in the dark waters underneath, now lie dead or dying inside the polystyrene cool box that the jigger uses as his stool.
Rajaranta is efficient in his effort to remove fish from their natural habitat four times a week. The pensioner has lived close to Vesijärvi for 43 years and knows his catch’s behaviour.
On the day of the competition the fish are somewhat reluctant to take to the bait. This is because the ice cover recently received more fresh snow, Rajaranta knows to tell.
The larger perch Rajaranta cooks and eats. The smaller ones end up as a snack for the neighbour’s cat.
So, you don’t have a pet yourself?
“No, just a wife.”
Presumably most of the fish caught on Sunday end up to the top of the food chain, as sustenance for people.
Another jigger, Meritta Leppäniemi from the western city of Pori, explains how the perch she catches end up in a stew accompanied with pork. Braised slowly for several hours in a clay stewpan the only spice the dish really needs is a pinch of salt.
Catches were abundant, way above the norm for these affairs, partly because of the mild winter we have had.
The fish have not been suffering from the usual attrition of people hoiking them out of the water from above the ice, since there has basically not been enough ice to venture out.