Caplin or Capelin
Are the capelin rolling, are the capelin in, any capelin or the capelin are rolling in Middle Cove? Those are the words you will hear as people anticipate the arrival of capelin season.
People scatter to their favorite beach to keep checking to see if there are any caplein. Most of us look forward to our first pan fry. I would go to my sister Diane’s house as she could cook capelin that were a delicacy to eat. I could never cook them like Diane.
We spent seven years on “the mainland” and most people had not heard of this silvery salt water fish. They automatically ask me,”what are caplin?”
I usually ask them if they are familiar with a smelt and most people are. Then I just say that they are similar in size and that caplin are a saltwater fish. They come in large schools and usually roll on beaches in late June or July.
Capelin rolling on beaches or the capelin roll or capelin scull.
Capelin come to shore and spawn on sandy beaches. It is my understanding that most male capelin perish or are eaten by gulls or other birds of prey.
You will find adults and children, on the beaches of Newfoundland Labrador, harvesting capelin. Word spreads very quickly when the capelin arrive.
Some people will have a meal of freshly caught fish and freeze some for later. Many people like them dried so they are salted and dried in the sun. It is a battle at times, to dry capelin, as the weather can be so unpredictable.
I remember, when I was a child my father and other families, in our coastal community, would use them as a fertilizer. If I remember correctly, they were placed in trenches and covered over with soil. Most of our vegetables were grown in what I remember were called beds and the trenched soil, with the capelin fertilizer, was shoveled unto the planted potato beds. This fertilizer, along with the manures made for a rich organic soil.
One of my favorite capelin stories is when my aunt Florence and her children came to visit us from Boston. We took them to Bellevue Beach. It was a beautiful sunny day and there were schools of capelin about ten to twenty feet from shore. Aunt Florence was a big woman and she wore a long black dress. It was quite a sight, when she stepped into the water and started to swim amongst the capelin. They were all around her. They scurried off. I guess they thought she was a whale.
We ate some of the fish that had rolled on the beach and had dried in the hot sun. They were a delicacy. Aunt Florence and my cousins had never experienced anything like it before. It was the high-light of their trip.
Do you have a capelin story or pictures that you would like to share? Please feel free to send an e mail,
Enjoy your capelin or caplin.
We are now back in Newfoundland and I’m looking forward to travelling to the beaches for a meal of fresh capelin and hopefully corning a few meals. My brother, who passed away in 2014, has a drying frame that can be turned over without removing the capelin. Also, it can be quickly brought inside, during wet weather, without removing the capelin.
Chattin About Capelin.. Patrick Dunn
Mature Male and Female Capelin