traditional freshwater fishing in the Czech Republic
words and pictures by Jan Miřacký
Nestled in Czechia's lush South Bohemia region, the Rožmberk Pond fish harvest is an extraordinary sight. A longstanding autumn tradition for more than four centuries, the event captures the attention of locals and lures visitors from far and wide: there’s live nationwide media coverage. The largest fish pond in the country, Rožmberk makes a grand spectacle.
Anticipation builds over three days, with the key events taking place in the early morning hours. More than a thousand visitors came for the first day; and attendance is typically 50 thousand visitors. A quietly harmonious symphony of activity begins as the sun glows through the morning mist.
The Fishermen wade through mud to peg wooden poles, stretch nets, and prepare boats. A couple of groups in boats start closing in on the fish while another group wades in the shallower water, hauling the rope through the mud to encircle the fish. The fish are passed over to tanks before being trucked away.
Generations unite in this tradition, with seasoned fishermen imparting their wisdom to the younger ones, ensuring the preservation of a rich fishing heritage. The spirit of cooperation is palpable as each participant becomes an integral part of a collective team, working together to bring in the catch. Rožmberk yields a bounty of more than 100 tonnes of fish, mainly carp, which makes the traditional centrepiece for a Czech Christmas Eve dinner.
Visitors to this dynamic display of teamwork can feel the camaraderie of the fishermen, and the sight of seasoned hands guiding and mentoring the next generation is a poignant reminder of the importance of preserving traditions. Amid the hustle and bustle of the harvest, visitors can indulge in a sensory feast, with tantalizing aromas wafting from nearby food stands which offer traditional savoury meals and drinks. Exhibitions further enrich the experience, giving an insight into the region's fishing heritage and the historic significance of Rožmberk Pond.
A warm welcome is given to families, with a dedicated area of engaging activities designed to educate and entertain the children. This ensures that even the youngest attendees can appreciate the historical and cultural significance of the fish harvest. From learning to recognise different types of fish to hands-on activities, the younger generation can discover the beauty of the piscine world.
As the day unfolds, the air hums with the joyful energy of a community come together to celebrate its past, present, and future. With picturesque scenery as the backdrop, the Rožmberk Pond fish harvest stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of the Czech people, their reverence for tradition, and the unique bond forged between man and nature.
click the image to view. Photography by Jan Miřacký. To see the images in high res and discuss reproduction rights, please contact us (Please quote story ID 97194)
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