November equals vendace in Finland

Even if November in Finland is considered by many the darkest thus depressing month of the year, it represents exciting times for those who love fishing. This is when a small lake fish called vendace approaches the shore to lay eggs, making it easy to catch it by nets.

In the western part of Finland where our summer house is located the vendace season usually begins around All Saints’ Day. Depending on the weather (how fast the lake freezes) the season lasts from one week to one month.Β  As this fall has been exceptionally warm, the season has had a rough start, resulting in less fish with less eggs. During a typical season, every other fish caught has eggs inside, whereas this November only one in ten has had eggs!

Fishing in Finland in November represents a delicate balance between nature and man.

Fishing in Finland in November represents a delicate balance between nature and man. Photo credit: Juho Niskanen

Catching the vendace is hard work. The nets need to be dropped in the lake in the late afternoon as the vendace approaches shallow waters after the sunset (remember that at this time of the year it gets dark before 4 p.m.). Those fish that are not trapped in the nets lay the eggs and leave for deeper waters after the midnight and at the crack of dawn the harvest can be collected. Careful weather observation is required because if the temperature rapidly falls at night, the lake starts freezing, making collecting nets impossible or at least difficult!

The vendace movements are not very well researched, but locals like my father who have been fishing for decades in the same place know their rhythm. By observing the weather, the lake and how it starts freezing they know more or less when the time is right to throw the nets to the lake. Despite the rather odd weather this fall (temperature fluctuation from below zero to 15 Celsius!) our summer house freezer is home to some one hundred or so vendace…

PS You may remember my post from last summer Grilled vendace: a typical Finnish meal afterΒ sauna? It is possible to catch vendace during the summer, too, but one requires special nets and needs to go farther away, to deeper waters. Naturally, the fish caught does not contain eggs.

48 thoughts on “November equals vendace in Finland

    1. Miia Post author

      Indeed, what a coincidence!!! Maybe it is a traditional Father’s Day dish in Finland without us knowing πŸ˜‰ ?
      Did she buy them or were they caught by someone in the family?

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      1. Miia Post author

        Vanha Kauppahalli looks really nice but I think it is Hietalahden kauppahalli that benefited most from the renovation –it is very spacious inside.

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      2. Vasilis Meschinis

        To be honest I rarely go to Hietalahti, although it is the nearest to our home. I find it kind of soulless.
        By the way, have you ever tried smoked vendace soup? I had it once in Kuusamo and it was divine!

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      3. Miia Post author

        Have you been there since the renovation? It really looks like a different place, so much more light. I guess you know how it was before, when the antique vendors where there? That was dark, small spaces and a bit depressing….

        I am not sure if I have tried the soup –maybe in Lapland, but I don’t remember. Is it like a normal fish soup (with cream and potatoes?) but just with smoked vendace? I think I would love it!!

        The summer I left Finland I did summer studies and I drove a bike from Kamppi where I lived to Eiran ranta. I read and had salad with fried “neulamuikku” for lunch with me πŸ™‚ You know those tiny fried fish you can buy in Stockman (maybe other places too these days). I love them.

        That’s one thing about Finland: you have much better offer of fish. I almost never buy fish here in Paris because e.g. salmon tastes chemicals and looks funny. We sometimes buy mussels and octopus, and usually we buy oysters every other week in winter, but just not fish…. A pity!

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      1. Hayley

        Its still spring but has been very hot and feels like summer. I’m told the hottest months are December and January. It will be strange to have a hot Xmas!

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      2. Miia Post author

        Have you already swum in the ocean?

        I spent Xmas in New Zealand in 1990 (was an exchange student then) and we had BBQ for lunch. It was different but lovely.
        Are you going to have family coming over? I hear KLM/Malaysian Airlines have great prices to Australia.

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      3. Hayley

        Not yet! We have only dipped our toes so far πŸ™‚ We have family and friends visiting in Feb, March and then my Mum and Dad will visit at the end of April. I cant wait to see them!

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    1. Miia Post author

      Thanks, I will pass on your photo compliment to my brother πŸ™‚

      I guess the number depends also on the length of your nets, but anywhere from 10 to 100 per night would be normal to us! I went vendace fishing when I was a child and miss it! Do you ever fish?

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      Reply
      1. freebutfun

        Heavens, no, I might actually catch fish then πŸ˜‰

        Pretty good attitude to the granddaughter, daughter and sister of somebody who used every bit of free time for fishing… But I’m happy to eat them πŸ™‚

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      2. Miia Post author

        πŸ˜‰ I don’t take active part either but I can prepare any fish and I know how to cook them πŸ™‚ What is your favorite fish?

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      3. Miia Post author

        I like that too, but never famed it myself! Have you? I am impressed!!

        Burbot is delicious and very diversified when it comes to cooking (soups, tajine…).

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      4. freebutfun

        I love the flaming part sitting by a fire late in the evening, creates an amazing atmosphere!

        Then again, I think I have never prepared burbot! hmm, maybe something I should try?!

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      5. Miia Post author

        Have you done it on a grill or “loimulohi” style? “Blazing” says the Internet — I just learned a new world πŸ˜‰

        At our summer house we have always eaten mainly lake fish –to the extent that we would rarely buy salmon at the super market (even if it is ridiculously cheap in Finland) ! My dad is so proud of his fish that every time I would suggest let’s buy salmon he would kind of get a tiny bit upset. Moreover, he still refuses to believe that one gets different vitamins from the sea fish compared to fresh water fish πŸ˜‰

        The tricky part that scares most ppl is removing the skin of burbot but it is not that difficult after all. If you make a soup, you can boil the chunks with skin, and after some time the skin comes out very easily. Try πŸ™‚ But it is probably not the season yet, need to wait until December/January.

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      6. Miia Post author

        Interesting! We have never tried it in our family but my Dad has a friend who prepares flamed/blazed salmon for Christmas. Maybe not so much in the “lake culture” πŸ˜‰ ?

        Where did you grow up if I may ask?

        Anyhow, where do you buy those “sticks” that hold the salmon and prevent if from falling? I guess that is a crucial part of the process πŸ™‚

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      7. freebutfun

        On few of the islands south/south east of Turku πŸ™‚

        Have to admit that I don’t know where to buy those “sticks”, my cousin got them somewhere. But otherwise we’ve just pierced the fish with eg a big nail (sterilised…) or even a stick to keep it “hanging” on the wooden backgrounds.

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      8. Miia Post author

        Along Saariston Rengastie? I took some French ppl here a few years ago and it was lovely. I had not been there for ages.

        Yeah, I am sure the “sticks” are not the problem. I will try next summer πŸ™‚

        Have a great weekend!!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Miia Post author

      No vendaces in Canada?

      My dad has been preparing special “vendace dinner for two” bags for the freezer and as my parents are coming here for Xmas, they will personally deliver them πŸ™‚
      Like they did last Xmas; we received about 30 pike perch plus berries!

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    1. Miia Post author

      The weather has been really weird where my parents live, up and down, and today it is 9C! But it has also been minus 9. Not a lot of snow yet.

      My parents are coming here for Xmas so I probably won’t go to Finland before next summer. Your plans?

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      1. Packing my Suitcase

        hahaha no Im not. My mom loves fishing, but only that kind you sit somewhere and wait for the fish to come… I dont have much patience for that… hahaha but it must been fun helping your dad, after all you grew up seeing him doing it, so I guess is nice experience to share with your dad πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Heyjude

    Popped along to have a read of that post you told me about and (as usual) got distracted! I have never heard of vendace so perhaps we (English) know them by a different name. Tell me do you want to catch them with eggs? Do you eat the eggs (I’m thinking of something like caviar here) and if so don’t you have to be careful you don’t “overfish” as you need some fish to lay their eggs presumably. I’m no fisherman/woman and know diddly squat about fishing in Finland, but I found this post very interesting.
    Jude xx

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    1. Miia Post author

      Hey Jude, vendace is the name they use in Finland in “official texts” but I am happy to hear about an alternative if you know one? The Finnish vendace is like a sardine but it is a freshwater fish. It only exist in the Nordic countries and around the Baltic sea, so the name may be invented over there…
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coregonus_albula

      The easiest period to catch them is autumn, and that is when they have eggs, but many ppl don’t eat the eggs… It requires some preparation and cleaning and you know these days ppl are getting lazy… Our family appreciates the eggs and we freeze them. You can find these eggs also at selected restaurants and supermarkets. I have heard that the price can be as high as around 150€ (!) and vendace “caviar” is one of the finest fish eggs available. Also in size, the eggs are very tiny.

      It is more difficult to catch vendace at other times of the year, but if you do, the quality of the fish itself is as good even in summer.

      At our summer house (like everywhere in Finland), there are strict regulations, but there is no limit vendace fishing, so there are plenty and I have never heard of an authority putting a stop to vendace fishing because of scarcity, but I will ask my Dad πŸ™‚ He is in close contact with a local office of environmental research & protection and regularly participates in research programs. There are many regulations re: other fish and if we catch an undersized fish (e.g. pikeperch or white fish) we throw it back to the lack (unfortunately sometimes seagulls are faster than the fish 😦 )

      Thanks for your interest toward fishing in Finland πŸ™‚
      Have you been fishing in Finland?

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