Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Different Kind of Fishing...

On one of my latest adventures here in Lithuania I tried something I have definitely never done before, or actually seen anywhere other than on television: ice fishing! It was a fun and fascinating experience to say the least.
Fishing is one of my favorite things to do at home. My family lives near a big lake that is split between the states of North Carolina and South Carolina. This lake is typically busy with fishermen and different fishing tournaments because it is full of big, hungry catfish. The main difference between this lake and the lake I fished on here in Lithuania is the water temperature; our lake in the Carolinas never gets below 10 degrees (or 50 degrees Fahrenheit as we would say). If there was any ice on the water we would all panic! We can fish from a boat or from the shore year-round. When I first arrived in Lithuania this January and saw the big frozen sheets of ice floating down the Neris River and the frozen Galvė Lake in Trakai, I saw no hope in continuing fishing while here. But this changed when I was passing a lake one day and saw people sitting on the ice in different places. Curious as to what they were doing I asked someone I was with, who informed me that they were ice fishing. Since then, I’ve been searching for someone who ice fishes who would be willing to take me along. I was able to find two gentlemen who frequent a small lake outside of Vilnius and were willing to take me and show me the ropes. 

Ice fishing is different than what I am used to, so I had a bit to learn when we got started. To ice fish, you have to drill a hole in the ice where you can put your fishing line and eventually where you can pull your big catch out of the water. To drill this hole, there is a special tool called an auger that turns in circles like a big screw to create a hole. Some augers come with motors, but the auger we used had to be worked by hand. When we created our hole for fishing, we used a ruler to measure how thick the ice was. It was very thick where we were fishing, a total of 38 centimeters (more than a foot)! 
After we each drilled our hole in the ice to fish through, we had to bait our hooks. For my hook, I used a few live mealworms. We hoped that since they were alive, they would grab attention and bring the fish out the depths. The poles we used were small; I’m not very tall so I’m used to my fishing pole being much taller than I am, but these were as small as my forearm. The day that we went fishing the temperature was well below zero and the wind was blowing very hard. It got so bad at times that if we got up from our chairs, they would blow over. Additionally, the holes that we were fishing in would freeze back over in minutes, so we had to use a tool to skim the new layers of ice off the top every few minutes. We sat outside in the cold and wind waiting for a bite on our hooks, but we were ultimately unsuccessful.
Overall, I do not really mind that we did not catch any fish! To have had the opportunity to try an activity that is actually completely impossible to do where I come from was a satisfying experience all on its own. I’m hoping to go ice fishing again before the ice gets too thin… I’m feeling good about our chances of catching a big fish!