Tuesday, 26 October 2010
Carp Harvest at Olsina
Two years ago my husband and I watched the carp harvest at Lake Olsina near our house. This time I came with Salamander and stayed at her house by the lake, this meant we could be up before dawn.
For three weeks the lake has been slowly draining, until yesterday evening I was able to walk almost to its middle. There the carp were bunched in a channel of low water, running the gauntlet of hungry gulls, herons and egrets. I woke at 6 and just had time for a cup of tea, before hunting horns announced that the harvest was about to take place.
We climbed up on to the lake dam wall just in time to see the men start dragging their flat-bottomed metal boats out along the channel. The water had fallen even lower and the carp were now restricted to the area near the sluice. A net was dropped and then the men in the boats began banging on their boats and hitting the water to herd the fish towards the shore.
The sun started to rise and the wet mud glistened. The nets tightened and the water started to boil with fish. On the shore a line of men hoisted the fish out of the water and into plastic barrels. When these were full, their flapping contents were emptied into scales and weighed. Most carp were then sent up a conveyor belt and into vast tanks on the back of a lorry. These will then be transported to holding places, from whence they will make their way to the large barrels one sees in the middle of Czech towns in the run-up to Christmas. Quite a few however did not make it that far, but went straight to the stall on the side of the road. Locals arrived in their droves (not to see the harvest as we did) but to buy carp so fresh and recently caught that it was fighting to get out of their carrier bags.
One could not help but feel sorry for these lovely creatures with their bright scales and their mouths opening and closing in the alien air-filled environment. Only a few months ago I swam with them in the warm waters of the lake. But my sorrow for them was not so great that I did not buy two bits of freshly fried carp, which I ate with my fingers from a paper plate. They were delicious. As I commented to Salamander it reminded me of eating fish and chips on a British summer holiday - it was even raining.
Salamander has been doing some interesting posts on her blog about the history of the Czech fishponds