The vastness. The cold. The endlessness. And at his feet, a hole: metres thick, through the ice covering a frozen Lake Sils. 15 years ago, Antonio Walther brought ice fishing to the most beautiful of the Engadin's lakes.
Catch Of The Day
The host, who runs the best fish restaurant in the Engadin, the “Murtaröl” on the lakeside, sits on the frozen mountain lake for 30 to 40 days between January and March. Surrounded by nature, at 1,796 metres above sea level, exposed to wind and weather and ready for an adventure that you'll remember for the rest of your life.
With a self-drilled hole, ice rod or hand rod, line and hook, you... Wait. Wait. Wait. And wait some more. The biggest test of patience of your life, almost a meditation in itself – until the fish takes the bait.
A Waiting Game
It is possible to catch large trout and American Arctic char, which can be up to 20 years old and one metre in length – a rarity that complements the mindfulness experience. Only 30 ice fishermen are allowed on Lake Sils each day and just over 100 fish are caught per season – so, whoever pulls such a vertebrate out of the water under the ice hole, which is up to 71 metres deep, is a real hero!
But according to Antonio, “Regardless of whether a namaycush bites or not, I'm overcome with happiness every time. For me, it's not the catch that matters but that satisfying feeling I get from a day of ice fishing: I feel like a new man every time.”