When you think of Switzerland you probably think of the Matterhorn and snow capped mountain peaks, exquisite chocolate, cheese fondue and a reputation for very good watches. You probably wouldn’t think you’d find a professional fisherman selling his catch of the day by a local quay.
Samuel Progin has been a professional fisherman for 33 years, working on the Lac de Neuchatel to catch whitefish, perch and other fish of the lake. Although he’s far from the sea, Switzerland is home to some 7,000 lakes, around 100 of which are perfect for sailing and fishing, with dramatic mountain backdrops and chocolate box villages. But when it comes to fishing, it’s not exactly a career choice than many would associate with the town of Neuchatel.
Although he competes daily for his catch with the local cormorants, this is a job that he still loves, more than 3 decades on. In fact for Samuel, fishing is more than his livelihood, it’s a way of life. His passion has also been passed on to his son, who has followed in the footsteps (or perhaps in the wake) of his father and is now too a professional fisherman.
“There’s a sense of freedom on the lake”, says Samuel, “I came straight from school to become a fisherman… I have many happy memories of my time as a fisherman”. And with the stunning scenery surrounding Lac de Neuchatel, why change that for an office job? In fact despite the challenges of fishing here, the lure of the lake is irresistable. For Samuel there is nothing else he would rather do.
Here at Baabuk, we’re (sort of) locals. So we went to explore Neuchatel lake for a day out with Samuel and to experience what it’s like to be a fisherman in a country known more for skiers than for fishermen. Getting away from the normal expectations is exactly what we’re all about, so we went to explore beyond our comfort zone. And in keeping with the typical image of the Swiss, we took three skiers with us to enjoy the other side of our beautiful country.
Although Lac de Neuchatel isn’t quite the wild Atlantic Ocean, at 218 square kilometers (84 square miles) there is plenty of lake to explore and search for fish. When Baabuk headed to the lakeside the sun was shining, the perfect day for exploring the open water. Our skiers had a great time getting to know the natives of the lake (the fish) and helping Samuel pull in his catch.
And what did our skiers make of this experience getting out of their comfort zone? Although they definitely felt like a fish out of water at the start, life is all about embracing new experiences. There was even time to put our feet up on deck and enjoy some of that incredible Swiss scenery! With all the new experiences, our skiers even invited Samuel to explore beyond comfort, and join them on the ski slopes. But perhaps that’s a story for another day...
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