Smoking like 400 years ago…

By Michael Dalder

After eighty-four successive days without catching a fish, the old man Santiago tells his young friend Manolin that he will go β€œfar out” into the ocean. And there, a huge marlin takes his bait but Santiago is physically unable to reel him in. Nevertheless, Santiago refuses to let him go, so this leads to a three-day struggle between the fisherman and the fish.

This famous scene of Ernest Hemingway’s novella “The Old Man and the Sea” was in my mind when I first contacted the Bavarian fisherman Thomas Amort from Lake Koenigssee.

I heard about Amort – a third generation fisherman who lives in a fishing cottage on a remote peninsula, reachable only by boat, next to St. Bartholomae – from a tourist boat captain of the Lake KΓΆnigsee fleet.

“Amort uses the same traditional techniques which were used some 400 years ago to produce the smoked fish which takes up to four hours of smoking on an open fire made from beech wood”, the boat man told me.
A great picture story I thought, as fishermen have caught and smoked fish from Lake Koenigssee since the 11th century, and even provided the delicacy for the Bavarian royal court. I was really curious as to what sort of person he would be, living on a peninsula with his boat and his nets in one of the nicest tourist areas in Germany.

After our first call we agreed that I should meet his employees at 0500 GMT at a pier in Schoenau at Lake Koenigssee. “Servus, I’m Vestl I hope you brought a cap!”, was the first thing I heard from a voice out of the thick fog before dawn. Vestl and Melli loaded equipment on the metal skiff before they started the outboard engine for our ride into the darkness.