Activity Booking for Hokkaido travel – Sapporo, Otaru, Furano, Biei, Asahikawa

Ice Smelt Fishing in Sapporo


Wintertime Sapporo is peak season for smelt fishing!

smelt ice fishing in sapporo

For visitors planning a visit to Sapporo in the winter, we highly recommend trying out wakasagi (smelt) fishing. Once the smelt fishing ban is lifted in January, this activity quickly becomes a wintertime favorite for many.
This amateur-friendly activity can be enjoyed by fishing through a small hole made over a frozen body of water. Let’s do a deeper dive into the specifics of
wakasagi fishing! 

First step in smelt fishing: drilling a hole

smelt ice fishing in sapporo

Smelt fishing can be enjoyed along the Barato River, which is only a 40-50 min drive outside of Sapporo. Bigger fishing areas usually have a big tent where visitors can enjoy ice fishing while keeping warm, but there are options where visitors can begin the activity by drilling a hole in the ice using a drill themselves.
Many visitors usually find great fun in drilling the hole themselves – we highly encourage everyone to do this as this is part of the fun!

smelt ice fishing in sapporoVarious amenities are provided inside the tent to provide maximum comfort – cooking appliances to enjoy the smelt on the spot, high-quality chairs/furniture, and a bottle of wine to keep visitors warm.
Typical ice smelt fishing experiences provide cheaper chairs that might cause backaches to visitors if they end up fishing for too long, but this package will provide maximum comfort and luxury, a sure relief even for first-time participants.

Are you ready to fish in Sapporo?

smelt ice fishing in sapporo

For visitors who might be worried since they’ve never done fishing before – no need to worry as an expert instructor will be with you, guiding you along the way and answering any questions that may arise.
It’s also important to note that the fishing rod for smelt fishing is much easier to handle than a typical fishing rod.

smelt ice fishing in sapporoSince the fishing rod isn’t too heavy to handle, this activity can be enjoyed by participants of all ages – families with small children, adults with their elder parents, etc.

What are some ways to enjoy smelt fishing in Sapporo?

smelt ice fishing in sapporo

One key thing to keep in mind is the fact that the smelt can be tempura fried on the spot! Not only do participants enjoy the pure act of fishing over ice, but they can also enjoy freshly fried smelt immediately after!
For larger groups, this can be a fun way to split the group into fishing experts and eating experts. 

But why fish inside a tent?

smelt ice fishing in sapporo

One might wonder why there is a need to fish inside a tent. The first reason is for the participants’ comfort – the tent protects the participants from the cold wind/air so that they can focus on the fishing. 

smelt ice fishing in sapporoThe second reason is for the ambiance – participants can enjoy hot wine or hot chai tea inside a kuksa, a traditional Northern Scandinavian drinking cup made of wood.
smelt ice fishing in sapporoGuests can enjoy a hot drink, recline on a comfortable sofa bench, and experience ice fishing all inside a cozy tent.
smelt ice fishing in sapporo

What makes the smelt in Sapporo so special?

smelt ice fishing in sapporo

Smelt is known to taste good when they come from pristine waters and the Barato River is no exception. The water quality of the Barato River, designated as a Class A River by Japan, is held to a very high standard by many local initiatives and organizations that work tirelessly to maintain its pristine quality. Participants can be sure that they’re fishing and eating the best quality smelt in all of Hokkaido. 


What kind of gear is needed to enjoy smelt fishing?

smelt ice fishing in sapporo

Please make sure to come dressed in warm clothes – the tent does provide warmth (along with rental fishing gear) but it’s always a good idea to come extra warm and cozy. Please dress in layers so that you can take off clothes if you’re feeling a little hot inside the tent, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry! Please take extra precautions to keep your hands, feet, and ears warm. Having a package of wet wipes will also be handy for when you need to wipe your hands after touching the baits and the smelts.

Please definitely consider smelt fishing during your next visit to Hokkaido! We’re looking forward to hosting you. 


You can join Ice Smelt Fishing in Furano area too! If you prefer to join in Furano, click the link.

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