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Fishing with nets

April 27, 2012

My father-in-law is a fish expert – the District Fisheries Officer for the municipality he works for. He knows virtually everything about fish.

Every year when the ice arrives on the big water, he goes through the normal routine of dropping nets through the ice to catch fish. In the past he and his brother-in-law shared the catch, but he no longer takes part, so it is up to my in-laws (I’ll call them Isä and Äiti) to maintain the nets and take care of the catch.

I’ll let the pictures explain themselves, but here is the long and short of it.

Isä and Äiti put out three nets just off the shore of an island on the big water of a lake in central Finland. The nets are about 30 metres long and they are weighted so they stretch out, maximizing their catchment area. They are laid out in a line and left to soak for a week. When they go check them it takes about an hour and half – two hours including the round trip to and from the nets, which can be done by foot or on skis. The normal catch is pike (hauki), pike-perch (kuha), bream (lahna) and the occasional whitefish (siika). Bream have to be rather large to eat, so Isä often pulls them out of the net and leaves them on the snow for the birds. I am uncomfortable with this though, I see it as wasteful, but Isä maintains that once the fish have been exposed to the cold air they will die because the protective coating on their skin has been flash-frozen. So, putting them back in the water is counter-productive.

After the fish have been removed from the nets, the nets are sunk back under the ice and left until the following week. Once home, Isä pulls out his cutting board and fish cleaning tools and goes to work. The idea is to fillet them and then pack them in plastic so they can be frozen.

On this particular day, Isä cleaned a good amount of fish, Äiti fried them up and we had fresh (fried) fish for supper. Yummy! 🙂

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