Adriano, the best-known fisherman in Malcesine
The weather today is really bad so Adriano can't fish. When we meet, we talk about fishing on Lake Garda, the rhythm of his daily life, nature, the underwater world and its fragile equilibrium.
How is a fisherman's typical day?
I start fishing at 6 p.m when I lay out the net and I finish at night or, early in the morning, at around 5 a.m.
If I want to catch sardines or lavaret I have to pull the net back at around 11 p.m, before the northern wind starts blowing. Moreover, sardines can't be left out in the net too long, as they get soft, especially in summertime, when the lake gets warmer. During the warmest months I carry ice along in my boat. If I want to catch perch, pike or trout I have to leave to pull back the net at around 4 a.m.
A fisherman is allowed to sell by his boat up to 100 kg of fish a day.
Selling fish takes up the whole afternoon.
I deliver a part of the fish I caught to local restaurants, au naturel, without even cleaning it.
The fish left gets processed by a laboratory situated in Riva del Garda: we produce fillets, fish meatballs and smoked fish. I don't freeze any fish. I also hand-deliver processed fish to restaurants and customers.
Once I finish selling fish I have to remove mud and grass from the net and mend it.
Are you allowed to fish all year round?
Yes I am. Fishing is allowed all year round.
But, from the second half of November to the second half of January catching lavaret and sardines is not permitted in order to allow reproduction.
What is the most sought-after kind of fish in the local market?
The most sought-after fish are lavarets and sardines.
The trout is a trophy fish, it's a beautiful fish and it is also tasty.
What kind of net do you use for fishing?
The fishing net to catch sardines is called "pendente" while the one to catch lavaret is the "volantino": they are free nets, meaning that they aren't anchored and they are drifting with the current.
I lay the net across the lake, in the middle, I choose the depth with the floats, the nets can move for kilometres. When I need to pull them back I use coloured lantern or a lights with a pulse. Nowadays there are nets with gps making it easier for fishermen to get them back.
For other kinds of fish I use gillnets, which are anchored to the lake floor: these kind of nets do not move so I always pull them back exactly where I lay them.
How much weather affect your activity?
If it is raining or it is cold I get out with my boat, while if the the wind is too strong I can't.
The law establishes that nets must be removed within 9 a.m. but, in case of really bad weather, when wind is too strong or if there is a storm an exception to the current regulation can be made.
Fishing isn't a dangerous job but we must be careful, nature deserve respect.Weather at Lake Garda must not be underestimated as it can change very quickly and huge storms can come all of a sudden.Being born here, observing the lake and knowing how the weather is here help me understand when dangerous conditions could occur.
Why did you choose this job?
I fish for a living and because I like it.
When I was a child I used to go fishing with my father, he was a fisherman too. I did many different jobs in my life and I've been fishing full time for ten years. It's a hard job, really demanding, but I like it.
What is the biggest fish you have ever caught?
Last month I caught a pike weighting 21,6 kilos. Once I caught a 11,3 kg trout. My son, last year, caught a trout weighing 9 kg with his fishing rod.
Do you also use a fishing rod for fishing?
I did it in the past, I don't have enough time now. Everybody can fish with a fishing rod, while fishing with a net is different as you have to know how to employ it.
Fishing with a rod is a recreational activity, doing it with a net is a real trade.
How is fishing regulated here?
Fishing at Lake Garda is disciplined by a regional regulation. It's very simple, you are required to pay a postal giro slip to have a rod fishing licence. Tourists don't pay much as their permit lasts only a month, it's really cheap. Underage and retired people are nor required to pay. You are allowed to fish up to 5 kilos of fish a day and every fish is subject to capture restrictions.
I know you are working at the recolonization of the main fish of Lake Garda: Carpione. What happened?
Carpione has completely disappeared, it used to compete against lavaret which extended its dominion and threw it out. The Bottatrice, a ugly but tasty fish coming from Val di Ledro, and the killer shrimp originating in the US also played a role in Carpione's disappearance. Both of them eat carpione's eggs.
Dirlindana, the fishermen association of Malcesine to whom I take part, is trying to bring it back. We put pre-incubated eggs on spawning grounds where Carpione should depose them. We put them up to 150 deep, inside a huge cage in order to protect them from predators and then we supervise them.
These is a unstable and important equilibrium that should be preserved.
The equilibrium has been broken, unfortunately: the presence of fish is now guaranteed only thanks to recolonization. Without recolonization, the only fish we could find, would be the sardine.
If everything works, Carpione will come back in our lake!
I really hope so!