5 o‘clock in the morning, Port of Roses. Inky darkness fills the empty streets, dim and motionless spreads the sea out in front of the harbor walls, only a few scattered flood lights illuminate the water. The whole area looks like a sleeping animal, releasing its cool breath in the air. It‘s not deniable, that the latest offer of the Estació Nàutica and Confraria de Pescadors in Roses, where you spend one day with a fisher on his boat, is nothing for the faint-hearted – but the spectacular sunrise over the sea, which you would normally miss, is absolutely alluring.
Although the presence of the fishing industry is preceptible everywhere at the Costa Brava, the fishermen still seem to be untouchable – you think of them as those rough, bearded figures, which rarely speak a word and meet at dawn in a grim bar to discuss about the fishing areas of the day. A lonely life, enriched by the presence of the nature and the sea – that‘s the romantic idea of a fisherman.The work of the people, who bring the fish onto our plates, is a well-guarded secret – that‘s why the chance to gain some insight is even more enticing.The project was realized this summer after a three – year planning phase – fourteen boats offer the trip at the moment and you can choose between big trawlers, which take up to four people on board and smaller boats, intended for 1 – 2 people. The trip on the trawler lasts for a full day, including two meals – the served fish couldn‘t be fresher. The small boat leaves a bit earlier, but you‘ll be back around 1 pm.
Catalonia is the first region, which makes this cultural treasure accessible to visitors. It can be assumed, that more and more travellers will go on this adventure next summer. Our trip is one of the last of the season, because the weather will be too rough and mercilessy at the beginning of october. It starts again in Mai. Around half past five, tyre noise break the silence and vans roll into the parking lot. We shake hands with our fisherman between storehouses and wooden boxes in which nets are piled up – neither has our fisher a beard nor gray hair, he carries a friendly smile instead. We decided on the half day tour – for the simple reason, that we hope to hold some personal talks with the people.
Our boat is small but roomy, the voices of other fishermen come out of two speakers on deck. They discuss the price for the day, which is too low due to the national holiday. Jokes are made, cheerful laughs and the sound of the licking waves are in the air – no sign of bad mood in the morning.While the rocking boat pushes us slowly towards the day and we crave for another cup of coffee, our fisherman and his two helpers are already dressed up in their yellow rubber suits and start the motor – we head out onto the sea and we‘re suddenly feel tingling excitement.Our fisher isn‘t sparing of words – he tells us not only about the fishing industry at the Costa Brava, but also his personal story. The fishing lies in his blood, he and his brother never wanted to do anything else. Even his great-grandfathers and fathers had this profession – the long tradition behind the fishing industry shows for a moment its wrinkled face.
The inseparable ties between the fisherman and the ocean resounds in each of his words. He speaks of priceless moments on the high seas and of his love for the nature, which appears in all its roughness in the face of the rocky coast. A first red strip of dawn now gapes in the night blue sky and you suddenly get an inkling of the meaning of those words.The heavy smell of salt and fish fills the air and eats into the clothes, we let down the first net just before Roses.A few seconds later, the sea suddenly looks like a blood-red mirror, whose rippling surface is speckled with golden reflections of the rising sun . A sunrise from the beach can be breathtaking – from the boat, it feels like you‘re able to pick the light from the sky like a little diamond.
After the spectacle, it goes to work – the three men have already begun to haul one of the nets. The talking stops for a while, concentration is required. Like nimble animals take their hands the fish out of the tight meshes of the net and throw it into the bucket of water. We see sole, seabasses and carp, from time to time a shark – like catfish or a small skate gets caught in the net, but they‘re thrown back into the water. You‘ve probably never been that close to your food – you find yourself back at the origin of a manufactoring process, which eventually ends in one of the fishrestaurants along the coast. However, it can‘t be denied that the sight of the animals is not everyones cup of tea. The tour may be interesting and exciting, but it also reminds us, that our beautiful decorated food is based on a killing process.
After almost an hour, the fishermen are finished with the first net. It‘s a good catch, the bucktes are full and the fishers face carries a satisfied smile. On our way to the second net, he explains us, that the fish moves trough many hands until it finally ends up on our plate. He first sells it at the daily fish-auction in Roses, but the customers are rarely the restaurants themselves. They‘re mostly large enterprises, which resell the fish to the next customer. The fishing industry does not hibernate – the boats leave the port troughout the year.Two hours later, two more nets are on deck and we slowly drive back to the port – it‘s the perfect time to return, because the slopes of the Pyrenees are already hidden behind dark clouds. It‘s a warm goodbye on the quay – the typical clichés are hereby disproved. We‘re a bit cold and a bit damp and the whole car smells of fish on our way back – but it‘s worth it, because you‘ll hardly get any closer to a traditional profession and these moments are the ones, which make a trip unique.
The boats leave from May – September from Roses, Llança and L’escala. For bookings, contact the Ajuntament in Roses.