Urban Fishing in Danish Lakes
By Rodney Hsu, Fishing with Rod | Published in December 2001
After spending several months researching on the angling opportunities in Denmark, I had been eager to wet my fishing line in some of the productive lakes that I read about. At last, I arrived in Denmark for the annual Christmas stay with my girlfriend's family. The jet lag took me several days to get over as usual, but I was eager to fish once I was fully functional.
Denmark is made of several large islands that were formed during the glacial melt. Unlike British Columbia, it lacks mountains and streams. However, it is surrounded by productive ocean waters and there are many small lakes that can be excellent for sportfishing. Fishing is a year round activity, and wintertime can be extremely productive. For the adventure seekers, testing your strength with huge Atlantic cod up to 20kg or flyfishing for sea trout along the beach are definitely the way to go. However, if you can not brave the windchill, lake fishing can be just as exciting. Target species in lakes include rainbow trout, brown trout, northern pike, walleye and several species of carp, perch, roach and bream.
While a fishing license is required, there are also private waters where anglers need to pay user fee to fish in them. One such type of waters is known as the "put & take lakes". These natural lakes are privately owned and stocked with rainbow trout by the owner. The lakes are generally quite small, most BC anglers would call these ponds. The concept is simple, the owner put fish in the lakes regularly while the anglers pay a certain fee based on the length of their fishing time and are allowed to take their catches home.
My first fishing destination was one of these put & take lakes that was only minutes of bike ride away from where I was staying. Initially I thought these lakes were simply child's play. If the lakes are small, relatively shallow and stocked with rainbow trout that are regularly fed with fish food, they must be extremely easy to catch. I also thought I was dealing with tiny stocked rainbows that only reach one foot in length like the ones we often catch in the Lower Mainland lakes. I was in for a big surprise.
When Nina and I arrived at the lake, there were two anglers already braving the cold, hoping to catch a fish or two. The kiosk at the lake was closed, so we spent awhile trying to figure out how to pay for our fee before we started fishing. After chatting with one of the anglers, he informed us that the user fee is done with the honour system, we simply had to sign in at the booth, submit our payment in the box and hold onto these passes that we filled out. After it was all taken care of, we were ready to fish. The next problem arose, what gear should we use? I figure no fish can resist a shiny spinners, so we decided to cast a couple of spinners to see if these fish would chase them.
After thirty minutes of casting, we saw no action. There were no rises, no hits, no one was catching a fish. I was ready to give up, catching hatchery trout from a small lake should be as easy as netting goldfish from a bowl, there must be no fish in the lake! As I was losing my spirit, my girlfriend screamed out incoherently, saying there was a big fish following the spinner. I didn't believe her of course, when fisherman wants to catch fish desperately they often see figures of imaginary fish, as we all know. However, ten minutes later, as I stood by the shore, I saw this huge rainbow swimming right by the bank. It was enormous, must have been over eight pound easily! That made my eyes wide open, heart pumping fast. I was no longer cold, it was time to catch a fish.
It was a good thing that I never gave up, because after an hour of fishing, I finally had a small hit. I lifted my ultralight spinning rod as fast as I could, the rod was bending to the maximum immediately. Fish on! It was no small one foot rainbow, this fish ran and put my gear to the test. The same angler who I talked to earlier ran towards me with his net. After a couple of minutes, the fish was brought to shore. It was the fattest rainbow I had ever seen! This fish turned out to be 2.1kg, my first Danish fish. Just before we were leaving, I hooked one more fish that was slightly smaller than the previous one. It must have been first timer's luck, because I was the only one bringing fish to the shore that day. The other anglers told me that these fish were smaller than average, the largest ones grow to as big as 13kg!
It turns out the really large ones are known as steelhead to the Danes. These fish are farm raised in the sea pens before transferring to the lakes. The smaller fish are raised in freshwater farms and their average size ranges between two to four kilograms. Once the fish are released into the lakes, the owner will not feed them so they will adapt to the surrounding habitat. Why exactly were they so hard to catch still remains a mystery. My guess is that if they have enough time to residualize in the lake after being released, they will just behave like the wild trout.
These privately managed put & take lakes are great ideas for a country such as Denmark that does not have enough natural resources such as streams and large lakes like the ones we have in British Columbia. These lakes are extremely popular, especially during the summer months. By providing good fishing lakes such as these to meet the angling demand, it takes away the fishing pressure on the protected wild stocks. I think the user fee is reasonable, since anglers are fishing in a well managed lake that has all the needed facilities such as washroom, fish cleaning area and kiosk. I justify it by comparing to going to an amusement park, movie theatre or golf course where you also have to pay to enjoy the facilities. At this particular lake where I was fishing, it costs CDN$13.00 for two hours, CDN$20.00 for four hours, or CDN$27.00 for eight hours of fishing. Overall, put and take lakes can be a lot of fun for anglers of all ages who often dream to catch a big trout without having to trek to some exotic lakes or streams.