And old method of fishing smelts and vendace in winter by rotating bobos and pulling a fishing net through a hole in the ice surface of the lake is little known in Lithuania. However, as far as the locals remember, it has been applied uninterruptedly since the end of the 19th century in the area of Baltieji Lakajai lake in Mindūnai village, Molėtai District Municipality.
Firstly, fishermen cut an ice hole to put a net into the water, next to it, 26–32 smaller ice holes are cut on each of the two opposite sides – they are used to push 20 metre fir poles with attached 100–200 metre ropes under the ice, then at the end of the row there should be one bigger ice hole to pull out the fish. Secondly, the poles with robes (whose other ends is tied to the wings of the fishing net) are dragged under the ice, and when they reach the final hole, the robes are pulled out and attached to bobos. Fishermen hold on 4metre long poles and pull the net by rotating it. Smelts and vendace swim into the bag of the net called motnia – it is taken out through the hole. Finally, the catch is emptied and put to boxes.
This method of fishing is usually applied from mid-January to mid-March when the ice surface of the lake reaches 25–40 centimetres. The tradition has survived and preserved thanks to a well-known traditional winter fishing craft bearer Albertas Kaminskas and a fishermen group trained by him.
Every year, in the second half of February (when the ice is the thickest and the weather is most wintery), Mindūnai Lake Fishery Museum and Mindūnai community organise the Winter Fishery Festival. It attracts around 1500 guests, which are interested in seeing and learning about the old method of fishing smelts and vendace, tasting local fish soup and watching fish smoking process. In 2013 the tradition, which remained only in this region, got a certificate of national product of heritage.
Fishing by steering boba
Photograph of Mindūnai Lake Fishery Museum Archive, 2014
Submitted by Molėtai Regional Museum, 2017