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In posh restaurants gourmets may eat lobsters, but enjoyment of such treats will be much more exciting in Latvia. We do not have lobsters, but you can find crayfish in Latvian waters, and they taste as good as lobsters. Catching crayfish in darkness, boiling the catch with dills on a bank of a lake and enjoying the meal with the delicious Latvian beer is an unforgettable experience.
Season of catching crayfish begins in 1st July. It is important to know that catching crayfish requires a licence. You may catch crayfish with not more than five traps or by hands. A trap is similar to small cage, which can be bought in stores for fishers. It is sunk with bait in water; crayfish like slightly rotten meat, which is a great treat for them. Then you just have to wait, enjoy the silence of nature and then get the trap with the catch out of the water.
However, real crayfishers believe that it is a boring method and they prefer catching with hands. By paddling in a lake, you must carefully look in the water and skilfully catch the crayfish by back and avoid claws, because their pinch is very painful.
Catching crayfish is permitted in very few places annually determined by the Ministry of Agriculture. In 2010 such places were Age Lake, Dziļezers, Kuksi Lake, Lade Lake, Lielauce Lake, Puduli Lake, Salaca River in the territory of Salacgriva, Tervete (Gulbji) storage pond and Vaidava Lake. The locations of lakes can be studied in a map here. Licences can be bought on site from the manager of the storage pond. The prices differ by places and amount to LVL 5 – 15 per time.
Also the permitted volume of catch differs by places. In Age and Lade lakes you are allowed catch up to 50 crayfish a day, in Kuksi the permitted number is only 20, but in the popular Tervete storage pond the permitted volume is 40 crayfish. In Salaca you may catch only the signal crayfish, which has been brought to Latvia and which are alien to our fauna, but here are no limitations for catching them. You can also rent boats and catching traps from lake management.
The requirements of fishery regulations must be met by catching crayfish. The minimum length of a crayfish to be kept in a catch and by measuring from the “tip of the nose” until the end of tail plates is 10 cm. Catching crayfish is forbidden in the period from 1st October until 30th June, but female crayfish with visible spawn must be spared for the entire year. Crayfish must not be used as bait for fishing.
Experienced crayfishers suggest catching the big males and spare the females. One male and three females is enough for successful propagation of the clawy creatures. If there are too many males, they occupy the best areas and even are a burden for others.
By making a soup put the crayfish in boiling water. Add dills, garlic, salt, peppers, and also lemon juice, if you like. Tails are the most delicious part of a crayfish and the treat must be carefully sucked out of the shell.