An Arctic Fishing Adventure for Monster Greenland Sharks

Looking for something different? Try fishing for one of the world’s largest shark species through the ice and from small boats in icy seas.

Greenland shark caught ice fishing
A 670-pound Greenland shark caught from the ice, captured by the photographer (middle), Niels Krog (left) and Morten Vihlmann.Johnny Jensen / jjphoto.dk

Longtime Sport Fishing contributor Johnny Jensen recently showed us some amazing photos from an adventure to fish the wild coast of Greenland. He's allowing us to share those here with SF enthusiasts.

"This Greenland trip was centered around a Discover Channel documentary series of the world's largest sharks," Jensen explains. Danish clothier Geoff Anderson sponsored clothing and fishing tackle. "We stayed at the famous Hotel Arctic in Illulissat, where the food was absolutely world class." Jensen said with lots of local assistance, "We made sure we had plenty of fish guts, dead seals and so on. It was all very disgusting but apparently irresistible to Greenland sleeper sharks."

While a majority of viewers probably won’t be rushing out to book a similar trip, you’ll find the images compelling, fascinating and unlike anything within your frame of reference.

Maniitsoq, Greenland
AT THE ARCTIC'S EDGE
The actual fishing adventure was based in Maniitsoq on the west coast of the country. Its nearly 2,700 residents make this the sixth-largest community in Greenland. (This aerial view also proves the truth to the saw that Greenland is more ice and Iceland more green.)Courtesy Google Maps
Fraveyard near Illulisat, Greenland
SPECTACULAR GRAVEYARDJohnny Jensen / jjphoto.dk

A graveyard near Illulisat, with an ice-strewn fjord and Disko Island in the background.

Coast of Greenland near Maniitsoq
WHITE WILDERNESSJohnny Jensen / jjphoto.dk

The rocky, snow-covered, austere coast of Greenland near Maniitsoq greets us on approach to our destination.

Map showing location of Greenland shark fishing
X MARKS THE SPOTJohnny Jensen / jjphoto.dk

Local fishermen show us on a map where we should find Greenland sharks.

Drilling fishing holes through Greenland sea ice
A HOLE TO THE OCEANJohnny Jensen / jjphoto.dk

One of the initial steps to fish for Greenland sharks calls for drilling holes through the sea ice.

Spotted wolfish ice fishing Greenland
SURPRISE!Johnny Jensen / jjphoto.dk

One of our first catches wasn’t a shark but a spotted wolfish, flashing an awe-inspiring, tough-guy grin as we hauled up into the ice hole.

Wolffish caught fishing Greenland ice
HANDLE WITH CAREJohnny Jensen / jjphoto.dk

The powerful jaws of the wolffish demand caution. This one weighed about 25 pounds.

Ice fishing fisherman wearing survival suit
FISHING ON THE EDGEJohnny Jensen / jjphoto.dk

Ice fishing on the edge — and only to be attempted when wearing a survival suit, as here.

Discovery Channel film crew Greenland sharks underwater
CLOSE ENCOUNTERJohnny Jensen / jjphoto.dk

I was able to join the Discovery Channel film crew to film Greenland sharks underwater.

Greenland wolffish aka catfish
TOUGH BUT TASTYJohnny Jensen / jjphoto.dk

Another large wolffish (known as catfish around much of Greenland). These are a superb-eating fish.

Greenland shark fishing boat
EN ROUTE TO THE SHARK GROUNDSJohnny Jensen / jjphoto.dk

Anglers on a calm morning headed to the shark-hunting grounds. These sharks are taken both through the ice and from boats when the waters are open.

Ice bergs and ice fields in lower Davis Strait, Greenland
GROWLERS 'N BERGY BITSJohnny Jensen / jjphoto.dk

In some areas, smaller pieces of ice bergs and ice fields drift about in lower Davis Strait, making travel by boat hazardous.

Greenland shark Arctic Ocean
MONSTER FROM THE DEPTHSJohnny Jensen / jjphoto.dk

It was eerie to see huge Greenland sharks rising near the boat from cold, deep waters of the Arctic Ocean.

Fisherman shows fishing tackle for Greenland sharks
SERIOUS GEARJohnny Jensen / jjphoto.dk

A local fisherman shows the tackle he uses to catch Greenland sharks.

Rotting seal carcass deep sea fishing
WHO CAN RESIST A ROTTING SEAL CARCASS?Johnny Jensen / jjphoto.dk

Whole, rotten seals like this are used to get the attention of Greenland sharks. Also, we typically we chummed an area with fish intestines and putrid seal meat.

Greenland shark fishing
LEVIATHANS OF THE ARCTICJohnny Jensen / jjphoto.dk

Greenland sharks are one of the largest species of shark, approaching the size of great whites. While they eat mostly fish, they’re known to prey widely on seals as well.

Blacklegged kittiwakes Arctic seabirds
SENSATIONAL SEA-BIRD COLONIESJohnny Jensen / jjphoto.dk

The rugged coastal landforms here are home to great numbers of Arctic seabirds. These are blacklegged kittiwakes.

Maniitsoq hotel atop rocky headland
HOTEL AND HARBOR IN MANIITSOQJohnny Jensen / jjphoto.dk

We stayed in this hotel, perched atop a rocky headland.

Coast Guard vessel icy mist Illulissat
SURREAL MORNING MISTSJohnny Jensen / jjphoto.dk

A coast guard vessel slowly makes its way through the icy morning mist off Illulissat.

Greenland ice fields fishing information
IN CASE YOU'RE JONESING TO FISH GREENLAND ICE FIELDS....Johnny Jensen / jjphoto.dk

I don't know about the Greenland Shark Challenge guys, but they're on the internet and appear to offer the chance to do what we did for anyone brave enough to try.

For general information about Greenland, see Visit Greenland.

Greenland fishing scenery
ARCTIC IDYLLJohnny Jensen / jjphoto.dk

The beauty of Greenland can be breathtaking. In addition to the gargantuan sleeper sharks, these waters offer anglers the chance to catch wolffish, Greenland halibut, redfish (similar to the rockfishes of the Pacific) and, for fly-rodders, sea-run Arctic char in good numbers.

Johnny Jensen fishing photographer
About the Photographer
Johnny Jensen has traveled to many of the world's remote jungles, rain forests, mountains and deserts. In addition to his lifelong passion for sport fishing, his photography also displays his general interest in the natural world. Jensen's photos appear in many European and American fishing magazines, including Sport Fishing, as well as in books, photographic libraries and more.Courtesy Johnny Jensen / jjphoto.dk