As temperatures in China’s northern Jilin Province continue to plummet further below zero, the winter fishing season carries on at Chagan Lake, now frozen over. The ancient tradition not only enriches cultural heritage – but also the local economy.
At this small restaurant specializing in fish by the Chagan Lake, business has never been better.
"We are fully booked from the 25th of this month to the 4th of January next year," Qi Yujie, restaurant owner in Chagan Lake, Jilin Province, said.
For 14 years running, the annual ice fishing festival here has attracted thousands of visitors. People travel from far and wide to experience the famous centuries-old fishing tradition – and of course, to taste fish from the icy catch.
"For those unable to visit the area in person, we have an express delivery service available from Changchun airport. Our logistics network covers over 100 cities across China," Wang Haibing, logistics manager in Chagan Lake, Jilin Province, said.
In many supermarkets we go to around the country these days, we can find fish with a "Chagan Lake" label written on the packaging. Locals are taking full advantage of their product's good reputation, in the hopes that more people will visit during fishing season. Many new infrastructure projects are being built, like this airport, which will start servicing flights as early as next year.
This time next year, tourists from Beijing and Shanghai will be able to take direct flights to the fishing destination. And with business booming here, the fishing village has undergone enormous changes.
"It was difficult for us when we first began this construction project due to harsh weather conditions. This infrastructure project has a huge investment from the local government," Yang Yao, construction manger of Songyuan Chagan Lake Airport, Jilin Province, said.
The winter fishing tradition continues to awe crowds annually. Without the aid of modern machinery and carried out in freezing conditions many people would find absolutely unbearable. Despite the subzero temperatures, the Chagan Lake is certainly helping heat up the economy.