What is Chagan Lake Fishing?
Chagan Lake fishing or Changan Naoer fishing is traditional winter fishing in northeast China with a history of over 2,000 years. Chagan Lake is the only place that saves the oldest Mongolia fishing method. It is listed as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage of China.
Every year the chagan lake fishing attracts Tens of thousands of visitors both home and abroad to gather on the frozen lake to view the great winter harvest and to experience the centuries-old fishing culture. And most of the visitors especially the locals will bid for a big fresh fish to cook for their main course of their Chinese New Year dinner. This is very important to them as fish in Chinese pinyin is pronounced similar as abundant, so get a big fresh fish here meaning get a good start for the next year’ abundant and wealthy as well. Chagan fishing is currently one of the Top eight most worthy visit views of Jilin province in China.
Where is the Chagan Lake?
Chagan Lake or chagan Naoer locates in the northwest part of Qian Gorlos Mongol Autonomous County, songyuan County, Jilin Province, China. The name “Chagan” is from Mongolian, meaning sacred, pure or white, so the lake is often referred to as Sacred Lake or Holy Water Lake by local people. It is home to 70 different species of fish because of its water purity. Variegated carp or big head fish is the main fish people are catching. Chagan Lake Covers an area of 420 square kilometers. It is the biggest fresh water Lake in Jilin province and one of the eight biggest fresh water lakes in China. The weather there during fishing season could be extremely demanding for the minus 40 Celsius degree.
How does Chagan Lake Fishing Origin?
The traditional winter fishing in Chagan Lake can date back to prehistoric times. It got popular in Liao and Jin dynasty in Chinese history. Fishing during winter is easier for the fish to be kept fresh and transported, so the traditional kept till today. The local fishermen still keep this as part of ways of making a living. There are still quite experienced fishermen in each fishing team to keep this tradition well passed on. People still drive miles to here in every winter to watch their great harvest.
When does the Chagan Lake Fishing Begin This Year?
Chagan Lake fishing usually starts from the middle of December every year and ends in the middle of January the next year. During the season, fishermen will harvest over 1 million kilograms of fish which makes the lake a popular tourist destination in winter. The estimated fishing time for 2017 would be 26th December to February 2018. It depends on the actual movements of the fish. The time could change according to different time every year, but mainly end of December to end of January or February.
How do they Exactly Catch Fish on the Icy Chagan Lake?
First, each fishing team has a leader who is the most experienced one to pick out a spot on the ice to identify that which area would be most possible fishing area of the vast frozen lake;
Second, the team members will drill many holes through the thick ice and then place net or fishhooks under the ice;
Then usually after 20 to 40 minutes the fishermen and together with their horse driving carriages draw in the net full of fish from the frozen Chagan Lake;
Usually, the biggest or the most fresh bighead fish in the first single net would be bid by the team or the willing payers among the thousands visitors aside the scene;
In the end, all the fish they get would be packed and distributed to the whole sale market to become the delicious traditional Chinese new year meal on families’ table.
What to see of the Chagan Lake Fishing?
On the first day of the fishing, the locals hold an interesting ceremony call “offer sacrifice to the lake, wake up the net”. The activities including some religion rituals such as perform a Mongolian religion dance, read Buddhist scriptures, singing eulogies, drink farewell wine, milk cheese and so on. The fishermen will place many articles of tribute on the ice to pray for a good harvest for fish. The monks pray for those fishermen favored by nature and their ancestors for a great harvest as well.
Where does the opening ceremony start?
It starts at the Yugang wharf on the north bank of Chagan Lake.
Chinese address: 查干湖北岸渔港码头
On 1st march in 2009, the total weight of a single net of chagan winter fishing reached up to 168,000 kg broke the record of Guinness world record of single net fishing weight.
In 2009, State council named Chagan Lake Fishing to be a National Intangible Cultural Heritage of China.
Ticket Fare and Open Time
Entrance Fee: Free to visit
Open Time: 8:00-18:00 to public
How to get there?
First, you can take long-distance bus from Harbin (4 hours) or Changchun (2 hours) to Songyuan City;
Then take the special tourist bus at the front gate of Meng Bali (literally Dreamy Paris, near the Wulan Street) or the Passenger Bus Station of Songyuan City to the lake.
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