Across China: China keeps centuries-old ice fishing tradition alive
CHANGCHUN, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- At around 5 a.m., Ma Wenyan pulled on a thick cotton-padded jacket before he rushed to Chagan Lake, one of China's largest freshwater lakes, with the temperature sitting at a bone-chilling minus 30 degrees Celsius.
Accompanying the 35-year-old fisherman was a herd of galloping horses, which can help him pull heavily laden nets of fish out of the frozen lake in Songyuan City, northeast China's Jilin Province.
For centuries, fishermen and women living by Chagan Lake have kept alive the tradition of ice fishing -- hand-drilling holes through the thick ice and lowering nets into the frosty waters to catch fish. The technique has been listed as a national-level form of intangible cultural heritage.
On Tuesday, a winter fishing-themed tourist festival opened at Chagan Lake, marking the beginning of the golden season for winter fishing.
Over 20 activities such as skiing competitions, nature watching and an ice dragon boat contest will be held during the annual festival, which runs through Feb. 28 next year, according to the publicity department of Songyuan City.
Yet mere decades ago, Chagan Lake was a very different place. The lake had dwindled to only dozens of square kilometers due to drought and overfishing.
To restore Chagan to its former glory, the local government adopted a raft of measures such as diverting water from the Songhua River to the lake, planting vegetation in the surrounding area, and improving the quality of the lake's water.
These measures have worked. The lake now boasts an area of 500 square kilometers, and its fish resources have recovered. A growing number of tourists have flocked here to soak in the ancient ice fishing tradition. The lake has so far received more than 1.8 million visitors this year, up 29.4 percent compared with the same period of the previous year.
"The charm of ice fishing at Chagan Lake lies in keeping the fishing culture of our ancestors intact and carrying forward this tradition," said Cao Baoming, a folk custom expert.
The popular fishing tradition has galvanized many e-commerce platforms and courier companies. Residents across China are able to taste fresh fish from Chagan Lake less than 48 hours after being pulled out of the water.
Fatter wallets and the rejuvenated environment have convinced more young locals like Ma to stay in their hometown. With their injection of fresh blood into the industry, they have optimized the size of their fishing nets and made ice fishing more efficient, all without the aid of modern technology.
"I believe Chagan Lake will only get better," said Ma. Enditem