They ‘roll’ in on the high tide in their hundreds of thousands. Imagine cresting waves three feet high, black with thousands of these diminutive fish. When they hit the beach, they spawn. The lucky ones are swept back to sea, the unlucky ones are left for the seabirds to scavenge and for the sun to dry, making it so that for days and weeks after the roll, the beach is littered with little mummified fish. The seabird bonanza continues.
But it’s not just the seabirds which take advantage of this sudden bonanza. You see, capelin are succulent little fish which can be eaten whole. Fried, pickled, kippered, smoked, sun dried. I’ve even met an adventurous fellow who enjoys them raw.
The problem for people, though, is the capelin rarely outright tell you where they plan to roll the next day, so generally the idea is to phone a series of friends in other outport communities during capelin season and ask one simple question, understood I’m sure by most Newfoundlanders - “Are dey rollin’ fer ye out dat way, by?”
Translation, being, “Are they rolling for you folks out that way, boy?” The ye, which may look archaic, is used colloquially as a plural of you. So, instead of saying ‘you guys,’ or ‘you people,’ some of us will say ‘ye’. The great thing about Newfoundland is that there’s no one single dialect. Different parts of the island use different mishmashes of Scottish and Irish influence, some parts get a lot from the English west country, while other areas get more of a French influence.
If you do, indeed, manage to catch the capelin rolling, then one need only stand in the surf with a five gallon bucket or a dip net and scoop up as many as you please. Less majestic, perhaps, than the whale’s method, but no less effective. We take what we need, enough to share with the immediate family, in all maybe two ten gallon buckets full of the tiny creatures.
The memory I hold dearest to my heart revolves around capelin, I’ll share it with you below.
My Pop (grandfather) and Nan (grandmother) own a small family farm farther inland on the island. From their home, you cannot smell the ocean, but I gather that my Pop made a call very similar in tone and vernacular to the example above, and discovered from a family friend that the capelin were rolling. Pop hurriedly started loading his truck with rubber boots and 5 and 10 gallon buckets, and in his stern but loving way pointed toward his detached garage and said ‘get the net.’
edit on 2/22/2013 by Monger because: (no reason given)