Crayfish catching at Ulvasjomala

Posted by ~Summer~ on September 06, 2011

It was a nice and warm afternoon last Sunday. We were invited to the house of a local Swedish lady named Inger who stayed in a beautiful house by the lake in Ulvasjomala. Their family owned the piece of land surrounding their house, which implied that they also owned part of the lake and part of the forest. That was cool. I would like to own a lake too, or at least a pond. But well, the largest I have is a fishing tank in Singapore.

Owning the lake gave them the liberty to go fishing and go on boat rides whenever they pleased. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to go crayfish catching. In case you are not sure, crayfish are freshwater crustaceans resembling small lobsters, to which they are related. A summertime tradition which originated in Sweden is a crayfish party, where you go through the tedious work of shelling tonnes of crayfish, eat them and then reward yourself with lots of alcohol. By the way, you should always suck out the juice before peeling off the shells of the crayfish.

We had a really great view over the lake and since there was only one boat but over 30 of us, we had to patiently wait for our turn. In the midst of waiting, we started to entertain ourselves and threw stones into the water. I was trying to master the art of stone skipping, where you throw a stone (preferably with a flattened surface) across a lake or body of water in such a way that it bounces off the water surface. Shucks. I thought I would be good at it but my stone at most skipped once whereas jw could make it skip 4-5 times. Not to be daunted, I didn't give up trying for the next half an hour while jw was fishing and whenever he wasn't looking in my way, I shouted "Look dear! My stone jumped 3 times!"

As for Angel, she loved to follow what we did and she picked up stones of all sizes (one was as big as my fist) and hurled them into the water one by one. Then she took a branch and attempted to fish up the stones. When that didn't work, she started using the branch to hit the water instead and was fascinated by all the ripples it made.

This was how the crayfish trap (we liked to call it the booby trap) looked like. Basically you just had to put some raw fish meat into the tiny yellow container, dangle it by the side and throw the whole booby trap into the water. Within a short time, the crayfish would crawl in naively through two small holes on the sides and then discover they were unable to find the way out. All you had to do after that was to retrieve the traps by pulling the ropes which had been tied to a float.

But first, the harder challenge was to paddle your way out to the lake using this small boat and wooden oars. The even harder challenge was to have two people rowing the oars and having to get them to coordinate. Either one was going too fast, digging too deep with the oar or not rowing hard enough and ended up we would miss a turn or turned too much.

There, the white piece of styrofoam was a marking for the booby trap. We proceeded to retrieve more than six traps and each trap contained dozens of crayfish. Angel was so excited on the boat that she also wanted to pull up the trap but when she saw one crayfish which got loose and was flipping around in the boat, she had second thoughts. But she was definitely more interested in rowing the boat. I would have let her tried, but that meant we would take at least 5 hours to row back to shore, so hmmm, next time baby.

Here was one of the poor fellows who was trying to make his grand escape but alas failed.

We taught Angel how to hold the crayfish by the head so that you would not get pinched. She was very apprehensive about it and despite all our persuasion tactics, we failed to make her grab one.

Still, at least she had the courage to use a twig to hold onto one. Bravo, baby!

All the poor victims of our crayfish catching trip were trapped in this green pail, just waiting to be cooked for the BBQ dinner later.

Time for some pictures with the crayfish before we sent them to the kitchen. It was my first time in contact with an alive and ferociously kicking crayfish. They must be hating us humans for being so cruel to them.

To show the compassionate side of us, we had a rule that we would have to let go of the small crayfish. A rough approximate was that a big one would be over 10cm in length and anything smaller, we would let them back into the lake again. Where they would be free to grow bigger and end up getting caught again. Ok. At least we are not exterminating the crayfish species.

As the last of the small crayfish swan back into the arms of nature, it was also time for us to leave this little paradise. Despite suffering some annoying mosquito bites, we had a fun first time experience in crayfish catching. I'm definitely going to appreciate these little creatures more when I buy a box of frozen crayfish from the supermarket next time.


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