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. 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!
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 after 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.