Reel deal: Italy has hundreds of small lakes designed for novices, hungry pros
Stars and Stripes August 25, 2009
Fishermen are famous for their stories about the one that got away.
So what happens if they don’t get away? What’s left to talk about?
Italians who visit the hundreds of small, artificial lakes that dot the country don’t seem to be short on conversation. And they’re certainly not lacking in fish either.
The head of the Bertoldo clan, who declined to provide his first name, had no problems at all reeling in fish after fish (after fish, after fish) during a recent outing at the Lago Orzaie manmade lake between the town of Vigonovo and the city of Sacile — about 20 minutes from Aviano Air Base.
"Just relax. Enjoy yourself," he said of his secret.
It might be easier to do that when you expect to catch between 20 and 30 fish in one hour, as Bertoldo did. He and his son took turns catching fish, then taking out the hook and putting their catch in a plastic bag. Mom sat on a bench and watched.
But what about the challenge?
Bertoldo said that many such lakes have competitions to see who can catch the most fish in a set amount of time. But that wasn’t the goal on a recent holiday weekend. The family was looking to spend a few hours in the sun then dine on fish when they got home.
Giovanni Pizzinato, whose family created Lago Orzaie in 1968, said the lake, which is stocked with trout, is a side business for a fishery operation. New fish are normally introduced once a week, though more will be added during busy times. August is actually kind of slow traditionally, he said. Spring is the busiest time of year.
Fishermen pay 4 euros a kilo for the fish they catch. Prices — and varieties of fish — vary from lake to lake. Some charge admission. Most are busiest on the weekends and holidays. Some offer places for people to cook their fish or have picnics. Many, including Lago Orzaie, have restaurants so even unsuccessful fishermen don’t have to go hungry.
Not that there appears to be many unsuccessful fishermen.
Tizziano Rosada was a first-time visitor to Lago Orzaie. He and his wife, Simona, brought along their children — who occasionally seemed interested in helping out.
He was doing most of the fishing, but admitted that his wife would have the harder job — cleaning and cooking them at home.
It didn’t take long for them to catch a handful of fish.
Pizzinato said he doesn’t get a lot of American customers and many of them seem to have a hard time accepting that they can’t release their catch back into the lake. That’s not allowed and the fisherman who does it will be told to leave. Fishermen must take home what they catch, he said.
Many of those who come to such lakes own their own gear, but that’s not necessary at many of them. Lago Orzaie will rent out a rod for 2 euros a day. It also sells various kinds of bait.
People don’t even need a license to fish at such lakes, which is an exception to policies covering streams, rivers, larger lakes and the sea.
After they were satisfied with their haul, the Bertoldos took their bags to be weighed. The total came to a little under 40 euros for more fish than the three of them — and a few friends — could possibly handle in a few sittings at the dinner table.
Everyone seemed satisfied. Except, probably, the fish.
Valentina Lehman provided translation for this report.