There are moments in life that are nearly perfect. A sunset after an amazing day at the lake, followed by an equally serene night. A great restaurant right by the sea with a neat little terrace. A cosy table and good wine that encourages lively discussions. And then there is this fish. It’s simply incredible, melting on my tongue like butter. The tasty nuances explode into a multitude of flavours and then fuses into a single, discreet and thus perfect whole, making each and every bite a wholly new experience. Like I said, there are moments that are nearly perfect. After the table has been cleared, I simply cannot resist asking the friendly waiter about the origin of this fish. And, of course, I don’t forget to also forward a message to the chef expressing my gratitude. “It’s right from the Wallersee lake around here. We always get the fish from the O-Fischers. For many years now,” the waiter immediately responds. Oh, so it’s from the O-Fischers.
With the O-Fischers at Wallersee lake
Back at home, I can’t stop thinking about the delicious fish, the best whitefish that I’ve ever had. And so I start reading up about the O-Fischers. The name derives from “Achfischer”, which is based on family Kapeller’s right to maintain a fishery at the Fischach, Wallersee lake’s outflow close to Seekirchen. An old name for a long-established fishery family, whose ancestors first arrived at Wallersee lake more than 130 years ago and took over the fishery business. Another thing I discovered during my “research” was that the O-Fischers not only supply restaurants with their excellent fish, but that it can actually be purchased directly at the fresh fish shop in the Kapeller family’s courtyard. Well, then I guess I’ll have to pay a visit to this shop soon and buy some fish for my next grilling session. The Salzburg Lake District in general is one of the most beautiful regions in Austria with its four lakes and gentle hill landscape and I always love to pay it a visit. Well, let’s get started then.
Just before the town centre of Seekirchen, turn right and follow the road until you see the O-Fischers’ courtyard. When I arrive, I am immediately greeted by a fish. Carved into stone, standing at the roadside and preparing visitors for what they are about to see. Because this place is all about fish. And four generations work their craft here. In the shop, I am immediately welcomed by a friendly voice. “I will be there in a second, why don’t you look around a little bit?” Sure! Magnificent fish are taking their turns a big water tank, aromatic pastes stored in a cabinet make my mouth water and the smoked fish is also, as I must admit, rather irresistible. “Well then, here you go,” a friendly face smiles at me. I introduce myself and talk about my wonderful culinary experience I had at the Winkler fish restaurant on the other side of the lake. He is, of course, very happy to hear this and thus Christoph Kapeller starts talking and taking me on a tour through his world. And they do have quite a story to tell, the O-Fischers from Wallersee lake.
4 generations of passionate fishermen
The entire life of the family, currently consisting of 4 generations, revolves around the Wallersee lake and its magnificent water. Christoph, his father Christian and his grandfather Christian senior operate the fishery together and share the labour. Christoph’s son Noah completes the O-Fischers in their four generations and has begun to help out as well. Sticking together and mutual support is very important here and thus grandfather Christian Kapeller senior, now 87 years old, continues to ride onto the lake with his grandson Christoph on a daily basis. Then they throw out their nets and pull them back in at night, while Christian Kapeller is busy smoking the catch. Much has changed over the years, the senior tells when we meet him at his Zille boat, but he still loves to ride onto the lake. In the beginning, there were quite a few professional fishermen in the region, but they stopped over time and thus the fishing rights were slowly passed over to the O-Fischers.
But he never thought about quitting himself. The passion for the lake and his profession are too great. Around 70 percent of the caught fish is sold directly to local eateries. Next to the Winkler restaurant, you can also enjoy the specialities from Wallersee lake at the gourmet restaurant Weyringer in Henndorf am Wallersee as well at restaurant lust.reich at the Genießerhotel right at Mattsee lake. The fish served here is primarily pike, zander, whitefish, perch and, depending on the season, carp. The population of the fish are monitored by the O-Fischers themselves and continuously replenished. Occasionally even via their own breeding programs. It’s beautiful here. There are several basins for breeding behind the house, a few metres further we reach the boathouse at the Ache outflow from where the journey to the lake begins every day. And that’s where Christoph Kapeller takes me then, proudly showing me the boat rental service that is, along with dock facilities, also part of the business. Truly a life from and for Wallersee lake.
Later, when I sit down in my car and place the wrapped fish and the delightfully aromatic fish salad from the shop next to me, I think back to what the Kapellers have been telling and showing me in the last half an hour. What this visit clearly demonstrated to me all over again was that good taste comes from excellent quality