Scandinavia

FINNISH LAPLAND: ICE FISHING IN RUKA

Ice Fishing excursion with Rukapalvelu Safarihouse in Ruka

Located just 200 km to the South East of Rovaniemi and the Arctic Circle, Ruka is a thriving little village in Finnish Lapland.  Close to the Russian border, the landscape is stunning in winter with beautiful snow-capped forests and frozen lakes covered with deep powdery snow.  Ruka is famed for having snow for more than 200 days of the year, which is why the Ruka Village attracts so many winter tourists.   In March, snow clouds give way to clear blue skies and the low sunshine streams through the abundant pine forests.  Having visited Finnish Lapland in 2016, we knew what to expect from the weather and had high hopes for our planned excursions with Rukapalvelu Safarihouse; which included Ice Fishing in Ruka.

FREEZING, FISHING AND FLAT BATTERIES

Outside the temperature was -30°C and our first holiday excursion is Ice Fishing, or ‘Pilkki’ as it’s known in Finland; booked with Rukapalvelu Safarihouse for 09:00.  It’s extremely cold, it’s extremely early and it’s beginning to dawn on us that maybe Ice Fishing in Ruka wasn’t the best idea for the first morning of our holiday!  Nonetheless, we get dressed like onions with lots of layers in the hope of keeping the cold at bay.  Overnight there had been a flurry of snow and the car had to be cleared and defrosted.  Unfortunately, our cabin neighbour had parked in front of our Hertz hire car blocking us in.  Politely we asked them if they could move their car, they couldn’t…flat battery!  After jump starting the dead car we embarked on a short 15 minute journey to Rukapalvelu Safarihouse for Ice Fishing in Ruka.

IF THE SHOE FITS, WEAR IT…AND GLOVES, AND HATS

Rukapalvelu Safarihouse is situated right in the heart of Ruka and is the meeting point for all of their excursions.  At reception we were warmly greeted by Senja and introduced to Henri, who would be our Ice Fishing guide for the day; both of whom spoke perfect English.  Henri led us to the back of the shop and informed us that we would have to put on even more clothes in order to keep warm whilst Ice Fishing in Ruka on the frozen lake.  Rukapalvelu Safarihouse provide all the clothing that you need for an excursion.

READ ALL ABOUT OUR MAGICAL STARLIT SLEIGH RIDE

DRESS TO IMPRESS OR DRESS TO KEEP WARM, YOUR CHOICE

To add a little extra warmth, Henri advised us to wear our own clothes and simply add a Rukapalvelu Safarihouse snowsuit over the top for extra insulation.  Surprisingly, Henri also informed us that we would be swapping our own snug and comfy ski socks and boots for merino wool socks that your Granny would wear…and, as Henri put it; ‘boots that are far too big’!  I chose not to wear the socks as I have a ‘thing’ about feet (other peoples) and putting my own little piggy’s into other peoples socks or shoes…big no no!  There was a method in his madness!  If your boots are tight or snug, your feet get colder much quicker.  However, if you have space in the boot, air warms and circulates around the feet keeping them toasty.  Ice Fishing in Ruka tested this theory and yes, it works remarkably well!

P-P-P-PICK UP A PENGUIN

Wrapped up to the point that little Matilda was waddling like a p-p-p-penguin, and Lily-Belle was about to faint, we promptly jumped into the bus.  Our next stop…Ice Fishing on Lake Ruka.  You’ve all seen or heard of the Michelin Man right….well, enough said!  The sun was low and the wintry landscape of forests and lakes was stunning, even if it was -25°C .  Thankfully the day was calm and no breeze, which, no doubt; would have made it feel much colder on the frozen open lake.  I’ve done plenty of lake fishing in my time and know for certain that when it’s cold, fish tend to seek out deeper water.  With that in mind, and the fact that it was fr-fr-freezing cold, I was optimistic of catching at least one fish.  And just to note, Daddy and Mummy are hugely competitive so it really was game on!

ICE FISHING AT LAKE RUKA

On the open lake Henri produced a large manual ice auger (drill) to penetrate through the 60 cm thick ice.  Of course, Henri made it look easy so I had to have a go myself.  And, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy-but-tiring it actually was to make a hole in the ice.  After making 5 holes, a stool was placed beside each and we all found our spot.  Lunch for the fish would be little red maggots, and lunch for us would be fish…hopefully!  As each hook was baited and lowered through the ice hole into the lake, we sat chatting about Finland, its cultures, its folklore and of course, its weather.  Every now and then Ice Fishing in Ruka would cease briefly in order to remove ice that began to gather at the top of the ice hole.  20 minutes in…no fish!

ANGELS AND CASTLES

On top of the frozen lake there was plenty of soft snow to keep the girls occupied if they got bored of Ice fishing in Ruka.  Children…short attention span!  Matilda made merry in the fluffy snow by making snow-angels, and Lily-Belle attempted to make snow castles but the snow was too powdery.  Bump….Henri had a bite, but unfortunately the bite didn’t convert to a fish on this occasion, or the next, or the next!  I was beginning to think that there was a chap under the ice, employed by Rukapalvelu Safarihouse, to tug the line to maintain our Ice Fishing interest.  Of course, this thought would be improbable….wouldn’t it?  In turn we all got bites but we all failed to land any fish.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY

After 90 minutes of fishing, Henri produced lunch…not fish, cheese on rye bread with hot berry juice and coffee.  Rye bread, if you haven’t tried it; is dry, hard and crusty.  But, in its favour is the flavour and the fact that it’s healthier than white bread.  I had an idea!  Back in the UK when I once fished for carp, I would often use bread as bait.  Thread the hook through the crust, then hide the hook in the bread flake.  Would I be able to tempt a roach or indeed any species of fish from the watery depths?  The bread bait was only in the water for seconds and bump, I had a decent fish on…gently, line tight and nooooooooo, fish off!  The one that got away…it was t h i i i i i i s (stood here with my arms outstretched) big!  Honest it was!

A BIG FISHY FAIL

Our Ice Fishing excursion drew to a close just as the wind was beginning to pick-up and the snow began to fall.  Ok, so we didn’t manage to land any fish (cold weather, fish move to deep water, I said it earlier) but we did have an amazing morning Ice Fishing in Ruka with Henri.  A great character, full of charm and he just loves to chat about his fishing trips.  Henri is a great ambassador of Rukapalvelu Safarihouse and a perfect host, plus he makes a great cup of ‘Joe’!

RIVER FLOATING IN RUKA

After returning to Rukapalvelu to return our clothing we took a short tour around Ruka Village.  The following day we’d be returning to Ruka Village for the girls to ski.  As we didn’t catch any ‘whoppers’ or indeed any fish whilst Ice Fishing in Ruka, we opted for lunch at Hanki Baari.  Simple wholesome food but delicious and in a cosy retro-ski environment.  I hasten to add that had we indeed caught any fish, it was strictly ‘catch and release’ so no fish would have been harmed.  On the way back to our cabin we came across a group of people on a River Floating excursion with Rukapalvelu Safarihouse.  I stopped to take photos and I really can’t wait to return and give this a try as it looks like so much fun!

WOULD WE GO BACK?

In the flick of a fishy fin yes we would.  Ruka is in a great location to explore the Finnish landscape with or without a guide.  Rukapalvelu Safarihouse has year round activities but in winter, as well as Ice Fishing in Ruka; they offer starlit sleigh rides, snowmobile safaris, husky sled rides, river floating and snowshoeing.  Plenty for everyone to enjoy and I’ll definitely return to do the river floating, looked amazing!

With a very special THANK YOU to:

  • Rukapalvelu Safarihouse – for your exceptional kindness and generosity.
  • Pirjo – for your efficient communication and for organising our excursions.
  • Henri – for a great morning ice fishing, for keeping us safe and for a lovely lunch.

We are very grateful to you for making our trip to Ruka memorable and our Ice Fishing excursion lots of fun.  Hope you enjoyed the Bailey’s Irish cream…see you all in 2020.

LILY-BELLE SAYS (10)
Getting dressed in lots of different clothes was really stressful but I enjoyed the ice fishing.  Maybe next time we’ll catch a fish. The snow on the lake was really deep and fluffy but now I know why there’s no snowmen in Finland, it’s difficult to make one!

MATILDA SAYS (4)
I liked the ice fishing lots but enjoyed making snow angels more.  The hot berry juice was delicious when it went cold but the sandwich was hard and a bit yucky, I didn’t like it!

Travel Itinerary

Ice Fishing Excursion:  booked with Rukapalvelu Safarihouse in Ruka.
How to Book:  we recommend contacting Rukapalvelu Safarihouse via their website prior to your trip.
Website: click to visit Rukapalvelu Safarihouse
Contact Tel: +(00)358 10 2710 500
Pricing:  from €89pp – children under 12 are half price, children under 4 are free
Price Includes: guide, equipment, snack and transportation (meet/return to Safarihouse in Ruka)
Date of visit:  4th March 2019

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Information, currency and prices are correct at the time of publishing.

Views, opinions and experiences are that of The Callaghan Posse and are correct at the time of publication.
Photos, unless credited, are taken by The Callaghan Posse for use and distribution by Around The World In 18 Years.
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[AD disclaimer: our Ice Fishing in Ruka excursion from Rukapelvelu Safarihouse was gratis in return for social media and blog coverage]

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Millie
    27th March 2019 at 12:46

    omg I am freezing just reading this!! How on earth have you for your gloves off in that photo!? Apart from that woah what a place to go! I haven’t been anywhere like this before!! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Reply
      Around The World In 18 Years
      27th March 2019 at 13:15

      Hi Millie, it’s the age old cliché…it’s a ‘different’ kind of cold than the UK and Ireland, much dryer. Although temperature was in the minus (-25 when we were fishing) it didn’t actually feel cold. The chap with the gloves off is Henri, the guide. But, have to say, it was much easier to eat, drink and take photos without gloves on. You really should add Finnish Lapland to you bucket list, it really is a beautiful wintry wonderland. 🌏 ✈️ ❤️

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