An autumn archipelago
The boats approach each other side on and one end of the trawl is mounted on the other boat. The winch slowly feeds out the net as the boats move forward, slowly. Any snag or tangle could lead to costly downtime and repairs. The net lies in a large horseshoe shape between the boats to capture the vendace as the boats dance across the sea. Trawling is always done in teams of two with precise spacing, back and forth across the small bay for hours.
The archipelago is not very deep, and it takes years of experience to know all its shallows, rocks, stones and rubble. Sunlight glistens on the water; the clear autumn air and the swaying movements are gently lulling. There is time for plenty of coffee and talk about life.
— At least the weather is nice. A fortnight of a storm isn’t quite as much fun, says Mats. He laughs and scratches his stubble.
When the fishermen decide it is time to start taking in the net, hundreds of gulls start circulating above the stretched-out mass of fine-mesh yarn. They say it is the sign of a good catch. Mats and Arne don oilskins and rubber boots. Most of the work on deck is tough, fast and efficient. Ice-cold seawater mixed with tonnes of vendace gushes into the large crates inside the boat. No one wears gloves, they are just in the way, Mats explains.
There are virtually no by-catches; the right size mesh means that the net only catches vendace of the right size and only rarely are pike, perch or other fish lifted from the sea. Sometimes an old log on the seabed gets stuck in the bottom and in the worst case, it tears the net.