Wakasagi smelt ice fishing starts at Lake Abashiri

Wakasagi smelt hauled up from the lake (January 16)

Lake Abashiri stretches through both the city of Abashiri and the town of Ozora in the Eastern Hokkaido Okhotsk region. The season has started here for wakasagi smelt ice trawl net fishing, a form of fishing not generally found in other parts of Japan.

On the first day, January 16, approximately 30 Nishiabashiri Fishery Cooperative Association fishery operators travelled to the fishing areas on the frozen lake by snow mobile. At nine fishing areas, they opened multiple holes in the ice and inserted a 200-meter-long netting into the water. They spread out the netting, travelling by snow mobile, and hauled in fish using machinery and manual effort.

At the fishing area near the Yobito Fishing Port in Abashiri, when the fishermen pulled in the netting, ten-centimeter-long wakasagi smelts flipped vigorously around in the netting. The haul was 1,480 kilograms on January 16. A fisherman in his 70s said, “The number of fish is small, but the body sizes are nice.”

The haul amount of Lake Abashiri wakasagi smelt is the largest in Hokkaido. For this season, the haul is expected to be a total of 100 tons by late March, approximately the same as last year. Wakasagi smelt is mostly processed to make salty-sweet tsukudani and then shipped to areas around Hokkaido.

Location

Lake Abashiri

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