Perch on GammarusSince I've mostly fished in waters fairly far north, I haven't caught many of the species that are found in the southern parts of Scandinavia. The past year I've partnered up with a supplier of baits a little further south in Sweden, and this has opened some interesting opportunities. One is to learn more about modern bait fishing. Another is that I've caught a few species that I haven't caught before. Last weekend it was Bream. I have caught bream before, just not from the ice. Ice fishing became a big passion of mine after I moved to Sweden. Not that I hadn't fished from the ice before, but because as a kid I didn't have or could get the right equipment, and when I later got the right equipment, we rarely had any safe ice. Climate change reduced our winter ice from being maybe safe ice on the fjord once a decade, and safe ice on the lakes once every fourth or fifth winter, and then only for a week or two at best. 


Russel called me, asking if I wanted to go to a Mormyshka competition with him. I said yes right away. Partly because I wanted to try the fishing south of us, and partly because of the competitions coming up the next could weeks locally, and that I could pick up bait for them while visiting him. The plan was to drive down Friday afternoon, but due to some delays, and my car acing up I didn't get off until 3 am Saturday morning. With the car still playing me tricks I arrived a little late, but still just in time to jump over to Russel's car and ride with him to the competition. The weather was not at all it's best. It was windy and cold, and a little snow now and then. The competition was very small, only a handful of people. Besides Russel, I recognized a few faces from other competitions. One was "Mankan", a known ice fisherman and youtube blogger. Another was the owner of a small shop specialized in ice fishing. We where a total of about ten anglers competing, and only one woman. Friendly competition and quite a leisure one as it was decided that we started the competition early, and compete until 14:00. Being new to Mormyshka competitions I decided to follow Russel's actions, and learn the ropes. Ice fishing using a Mormyshka is well known to me, but not the process of feeding, and using the markers to claim holes. We got each two markers with our start numbers on. The one Marker is to be put in the hole one is fishing in, and the second marker is used to claim a second hole. It is not allowed to fish in a hole with a competitors marker, and holes are supposed to be at least 5 meters apart.
I found a spot where I wanted to start. Made my first hole and put my first marker out. I added a little feed in the hole. While most of the other anglers made their second hole only five meters from their first, Russel and I went out to the middle of the competition area, and made each our hole about ten meters apart, marked the hole, and added some feed. During the first half of the competition, we would walk back to this second hole and add some feed every 15 minutes or so. 

Siseable catchAfter setting up my second hole, (feed hole), I went back to my start position and started to fish. It wasn't long before I caught my first fish. A beautiful 750g perch. I looked around to see if anyone else was pulling fish, and saw only Russel pulling up something small. After a few minutes, the other anglers started to move around. One angler went to the one corner of the competition area, the female contender went toward land and started to fish just outside of the weed bed. After about a half an hour of fishing, everyone besides Russel, the woman, and I had gathered in the one corner of the competition area. I had lost a few fish, but not caught anything more, so I started to try various areas. First I fished a few holed near the weeds. Then I went to the far side of the competition area, where no one else had been, still no action. Finally, outside of a small point, I caught some small perch. There were lots of small perch in that area, but they were not very active. I'd catch two-three fish, then have to change hole. After fishing three holes I saw that Russel had started to fish in his feed hole. It looked as if he was pulling fish as well. Probably small roach. I decided to test my feed hole. It wasn't long before a nice 300g roach hit my Mormyshka. Then there was a pause before something started to chew on my bait. Something heavy set off, and I had a nice fight before my first Ice fished Bream ever landed on the ice. Shortly after another bream, and then stop. I started to wonder if I had lost the bait, so I pulled up and changed maggots. Bam! another two bream and then silent. Again I started to wonder if I had checked for bait, pulled up and changed maggots. Two more bream struck, and then stop. A big glob of fish slime floating in my hole got me to think that after two fish there might be so much scent from my catch on the maggots that the fish wouldn't strike. I pulled up, wiped off my Gammarus Mormyshka, and put on new maggots. Two more fish. I had found the key to catching them. Two fish, then change bait. For another hour or so I kept pulling fish. Russel in the next hole was also pulling fish, but obviously no Bream as his fish where much smaller. He made a second hole, right between his feeder hole and me. After a while, the bite died off. I made a new hole five meters out behind me, and set my marker, and started to fish. After a few minutes, I pulled a couple of Bream here as well. Then nothing. Back to the feed hole, and more Bream. One of the guys from the corner of the area came over and started fishing a little closer to land from me. I asked him what they were catching. He said roach and Bream, and that the fish were biting the entire time. I asked if they were catching big fish. Both big and small he said. a little later he packed his gear and went back to the others. A few minutes later I heard the stop shout. I packed my gear and started walking to the shore. All the other anglers caught up with Russel and me, and even though we were the closest to the start area, we ended up being the last to arrive on shore. For my own sake, I just have to say that it was a heavy load of fish was the reason. 
I had caught 11117g of fish, Russel had a little over 5300g, and to my big surprise, no one else had over 5000g, meaning that I had won the competition with Russel being second. After a simple hand out of the prizes, a piece of cake and a soda for everyone, we got in our cars and headed back home. 

While in the car I tell Russel that it was a lot of fun, and thanked him for inviting me to the competition, and told him that this was my first time to catch Bream from the ice. Russel laughed and said. "Do you know that we totally smashed the competition and that three of those guys have represented Sweden in the world Championship ?"