Il Pesch sbatta, or: The poetry of ice fishing and the rediscovery of silence

Ice fishing

In Switzerland there are currently 10 mountain lakes where ice fishing is permitted. These are the following lakes:

Arnensee (Canton: Bern, altitude: 1,543 m.a.s.l.).

Engstlensee (Canton: Bern, altitude: 1,850 m.a.s.l.)

Hinterstockensee (Canton: Bern, altitude: 1,595 m.a.s.l.)

Lej da Segl (Canton: Grisons, altitude: 1,796 m.a.s.l.)

Melchsee (Canton: Obwalden, altitude: 1,891 m.a.s.l.)

Oberglegisee (Canton: Glarus, altitude: 1,422 m.a.s.l.)

Lake Oeschinen (Canton: Bern, altitude: 1,578 m.a.s.l.)

Seblisee (Canton: Schwyz, altitude: 1,430 m.a.s.l.)

Stsausee Garichti (Canton: Glarus, altitude: 1,620 m.a.s.l.)

Tannensee (Canton: Obwalden, altitude: 1,976 m.a.s.l.)

In Switzerland, the ice fishing scene is still relatively small and manageable. However, this is changing from year to year. More and more people are becoming fascinated by ice fishing in this country. The fascination lies not primarily in the catch, but just as much in the experience of nature. This also includes persevering for hours in front of an ice hole as well as practising lost virtues such as patience, mindfulness, modesty or strengthening one's very own intuition, because the fish keep well hidden under the black ice and cannot be heard either. It is a strange mixture of hope, serenity, tension and suspense that a fisherman's soul must bring. On the one hand, you have to stay in the apparent nothingness with a deep and bodily relaxation, knowing that there is plenty of fishing luck swimming down there in the depths, on the other hand, you have to switch to instant concentration and tension at any time when an emergent and very often highly exciting event suddenly develops out of the silence after all. For the fish it means final death, for the fisherman it means life, at least in countries like China, Finland or Russia, where ice fishing has a tradition that is partly over 2000 years old and also ensures survival.

In her research, the cultural scientist explores the question to what extent ice fishing may even be called a school of life. In addition to a cultural-scientific-philosophical view of ice fishing and the question of the longing for silence and deceleration, she also looks at current environmental problems. What is the state of fish stocks? Which species are endangered and by what? And how long can ice fishing continue in a climate that is changing so rapidly?

The book is a tribute to the rediscovery of slowness and the rod - and at the end it also gives very practical tips for those who want to experience the Petri Heil of an ice fisherman or simply the silence for a day.