Most of us are accustomed to seeing large pools of live carp pop up around Prague at the beginning of December as people scurry to prepare their Christmas feasts. However, the whole process really gets underway about months earlier on the banks of hundreds of fishponds scattered throughout Bohemia.
Výlov rybníku – loosely translated to mean “fish harvesting” – dates back to the Middle Ages, when many of these ponds were first built by monasteries to breed carp for Lent. It took a couple of hundred more years, however, to turn fish harvesting into a serious business.
Today, this beloved tradition is a much-anticipated fall cultural event with many commercial fisheries eagerly encouraging residents to come survey the action at their ponds – a misleading term as many of these “ponds” are actually several hundred acres wide.
The fun typically includes refreshments (many fishermen are reportedly partial to slivovice, so plenty of that is usually on offer). There are also small markets set up along the shore where you can buy handcrafts or pick out your holiday meal – dead or alive.
To find a harvest near you, click here for a complete list of locations for autumn catch events in Prague.
Outside of Prague, the autumn harvesting of fish ponds in Třeboň, a region famed for its carp ponds and fish delicacies, sees local fisheries organizing catch dates that are open to the public. A line-up of dates and more details can be found here.
To read more about the carp-catching phenomenon, see our 2013 article Fishing for Tradition.