Fish on frozen lake in China

Winter fishing season has come once again to Chagan Lake in China

Winter fishing season has come once again to Chagan Lake in northeast China's Jilin Province, the first-ever since measures on coronavirus prevention and control became the new norm.

Each year, local fishermen use a centuries-old fishing technique to catch fish and are joined by visitors from across China coming to witness the carnival as temperatures fall from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius below zero.

Before the pandemic, local authorities warmly welcomed all to gather during the peak season either for fish or just to appreciate the ancient and splendid tradition, but they have to be more cautious this year due to a resurgence of the coronavirus in other parts of northeastern China.

The fish market is buzzing with business as usual and if not for the masks, you would not be able to tell that it's been a year of uphill battles against a global outbreak.

Visitors from downtown and neighbouring cities drive all the way to the lake to pick their favourite fish, fresh out of water.

"I bought a fish as a gift, and another for me. I enjoy the taste of the bighead carp, so I come to Chagan Lake to buy some each year," said Songyuan resident Ma Lina.

For Chinese people, having fish is a must during important holiday dinners such as the Chinese Lunar New Year.

The word fish, or "Yu" in the Chinese language, sounds the same as the character for abundance and good fortune, so having fish at a family dinner has become more meaningful after a tough year like 2020.

Although residents from cities that have clusters of infections may not be able to come and purchase the fish in person, there are always other channels such as e-commerce, as the fish farm is on schedule to meet demand.

Shan Junguo said that their plan was to yield 1.5 million kg of fish this season and so far they are seeing an even more optimistic market expectation.

The fishermen beside Shan said that the COVID-19 outbreak does not affect their enthusiasm for the annual carnival.

So far, Songyuan city had two confirmed cases reported this year both cured and discharged. It has been infection-free for more than 300 days and the city intends to keep the record.