Food from the sea

Fishing season in Hiiumaa

Tuuli Tammla

From October, when the water is cooler, until April, trawlers catch sprat (with herring thrown in). Whitefish are also caught between the marshes during the autumn spawning season in October-November, and this has been quite good in recent years.

If you manage to put nets under the ice in February-March, you can catch catfish, pike and perch, but the numbers are very small. In spring, March is the start of the sparkle and shine season, and that’s when large numbers of recreational anglers come from the mainland to fish the rivers. April to early May is also the time for spring weaving. In the old days, it was mainly herring that were caught, but less so now that there is no big industry. At the beginning of May, when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, the breeze starts to come in, then it is known that half of the herring fishing is over. Windfish lasts until Midsummer in good years, but depends largely on the direction of the winds (as the name suggests). Around Midsummer’s Day, it’s completely quiet for a week or two – there’s usually nothing coming in from the sea. In July, the plaice starts to recover, migratory perch are also caught out of the water and pike come in nicely on the strait side. Of course, the best time for plaice is August-September, when they are nicely plump. They are often fished quite far away, in deeper and cooler waters. Before the plaice gets waterlogged in late autumn, it’s time for sprat. It is true that perch and bream are caught more or less all year round, and pike too (except during the spring spawning season).

 

Windfish

Windfishes are the name given by the people of Hiiumaa to the garfish, which comes to spawn in the waters of Hiiumaa for a month with the south-westerly winds each spring. The arrival of the windfishes is an event in its own right in Hiiumaa and is highly anticipated. With its long “beak” and green bones, wind pike is loved in every possible way in Hiiumaa – fried, boiled, marinated, smoked, dried, etcetera.

“Äkine”

“Äkine” is a quick-salted fresh fish that fishermen have been making for a long time. “Äkine” should only be made from very fresh, preferably freshly caught fish. Perch, whitefish – all these fish are suitable – are filleted, the fillets are cut into pieces and put in a jar with salt and, if possible, onion to season for a while. It is not suitable for longer storage as it will run out or become too salty. Thus the name.