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Try ice fishing for pond smelt and eating tempura at Lake Akan in winter!

Try ice fishing for pond smelt and eating tempura at Lake Akan in winter!

Try ice fishing for pond smelt and eating tempura at Lake Akan in winter! 

It is a very popular thing to during this cold season.


Once you have drilled a hole into the frozen lake surface, you can enjoy fishing! It is part of the Hokkaido winter experience and Lake Akan provides the perfect setting. Let us introduce it to you!

※ This content was originally from “Hokkaido Labo”.

1 – About Lake Akan in Winter

Lake Akan is located in Eastern Hokkaido. It is one of only six travel destinations in Hokkaido to receive a 3-Star rating from the Michelin Green Guide Japan. It is very popular and a prominent marker of Eastern Hokkaido.


In the cold winter, the surface of Lake Akan is frozen and all white. Many tourists come to enjoy the ice festival, as well as ice skating and snowmobiling over the frozen lake.


Pond smelt ice fishing is particularly popular during the winter.

Even beginner fishermen can easily enjoy the experience, in addition to the natural hot springs and delicious food.

2 – Enjoy Ice Fishing for Pond Smelt

Ice fishing is not difficult at all. And after catching the pond smelt, they can be cooked tempura style!

However, because of the Hokkaido winter, we strongly recommend you to protect yourself against the cold weather.

3 – Where to go Ice Fishing


It only takes about 3-4 minutes on foot from the center of the hot spring town to the lake. They also have a parking lot near the lake, so visitors can reach there by car. Once at the lake, you do not need to walk all the way from the shore to the center of the lake. Also, it is not very slippery because the lake is covered in snow.

4 – Ice Fishing for Beginners

First timers do not need to bring their own equipment. You can rent a rod, bait, and a chair from the ticket window at the lake. After that, you are ready to go to a tent to fish. It is really easy!

The fee is ¥1,500 per person, which includes a tempura ticket to use after fishing.


One of the staff will help you prepare your rental fishing equipment.


It may seem quiet on the outside, but inside the tents, there are people enjoying their ice fishing experience.


5 – Getting Ready to Fish

Inside the tent is like this picture. The maximum number of people per tent is 3, but it might feel a little tight. After you choose your tent, a staff member will help you to clean the ice with a hole.



6 – Let’s Start Ice Fishing for Pond Smelt

They also have a large tent for 8 people.

After stepping into your tent, zipping up the opening, and sitting in your chair, it will not feel as cold as outside. Today, it was -12℃ but we did not need to wear gloves.


The fishing rod comes with 4 fish hooks. Inside the bag is the crimson worm bait. It feels squishy. If you don’t like worms, baiting your hook could be a little difficult for you.



First, put the baited hook into the ice hole and let it dangle deep into the water. After that, just slowly lift and lower the rod. It is really easy, even for beginners and kids. About 3 minutes later, I felt my rod move a little, but after checking, I did not find any fish on my hook.


I tried it again and soon afterwards, I felt the rod twitch. When I lifted my fishing rod, I noticed that I had caught 3 pond smelts!


It was really exciting! The pond smelts are small fish, so it is easy to remove the hooks. I just placed the fish that I had caught next to my chair on the ice.


Just keep doing this and catch more fish!


I also caught a pretty big pond smelt too! It was about 6 inches long.



In about half an hour, I caught 20 fishes.


7 – Cooking Pond Smelt Tempura♪

I brought all the fish that I caught to the lakeshore restaurant about 200 meters away from the equipment rentals ticket window.


I gave the staff my fish and the tempura ticket that I received when I rented my fishing equipment. After about 10 minutes, the cook returned with my pond smelt tempura.


It is really delicious!

Lake Akkan’s water is so fresh that lake moss balls grow there. You can never go wrong with fishing at this lake. Also, compared to pond smelt from brackish lakes, Lake Akkan fish do not have a strong fishy smell or hard bones.


A bigger sized female pond smelt even has eggs! It is also very delicious.

I spent only ¥1,500 and about 1 hour, but I enjoyed it a lot! I was really satisfied to try this Hokkaido winter experience.


8 – Other Places for Pond Smelt Ice Fishing in Eastern Hokkaido

There are several destinations for visitors to try ice fishing in Hokkaido. However, only certain places have equipment rentals available, so it is best to check first.

Lake Abashiri
(Abashiri Tourist Association)

Lake Nukabira
(Kamishihoro Tourist Association)

Horokayanto Marsh
(Taiki Town website)

Iceland Akan

1 set ¥1,500 (includes fishing equipment and recreational fishing fee)

Business Hours: 8:00 – until sunset (beginning of January until the end of March)

Telephone: 0154-67-2057

※ This content was originally from “Hokkaido Labo”.