a different side of Israel

Northern Exposure: Journey To Northern Israel Year After War

North Israel Kinneret 2007
My curiosity had been nagging me for some time as to what was going on in Israel’s northern regions following last summer’s 34 day Lebanon II War. I was also wondering if there were still trout fishing possibilities in Nachal Dan, that pristine stream located a few kilometers east of Israel’s northern town of Qiryat Shmona.

For those of you who aren’t aware, the Dan stream is one of the water sources for the Jordan River. It begins as a series on springs near the border with Lebanon and later joins another stream, Nachal Senir, before running into the Jordan somewhere in the Hula Valley. More than fifteen years ago Kibbutz Dan, which adjoins Nachal Dan, embarked on a project to raise rainbow trout for commercial sale in both Israel and abroad. During this process, a number of trout managed to escape into the Dan and have even reproduced there, introducing a new and interesting addition to the aquatic eco-cycle of the region.

My friend Norm and I are both avid fisherman; and we decided to travel to the area to see for ourselves if these beautiful and very sporting fish were still present in this stream. I hadn’t visited that area for nearly ten years, and still remember seeing trout flashing in the clear stream water while wading there during an organized ‘tiyul’ (trip) of the Dan stream.

We didn’t exactly pick the best time to go up there as it was in the middle of a severe heat wave with temperatures in the area soaring to more than 39 degrees Celsius (105 F) Taking this in stride, we arrived there in mid day heat resembling a natural blast furnace; which would have been normal had we gone south to Eilat instead of north. We were happy to see that Kiryat Shimonah was still in tact, with virtually all of the property damage from last summer’s war already repaired. The quietness of the area can make one wonder how things can “heat up” there so quickly. The only ‘heat’ that could be felt there during our stay, however, was the excessive temperature.

After circling the entire area, like an aircraft trying to land at JFK airport during the morning rush hour, we finally found the ‘pristine stream’, which turned out to be not more than a trickle due to it being mid-summer. The trout were nowhere to be seen; and what we thought were members of the species oncorchynchus mykiss turned out to be another species altogether, catostomidae otherwise known as suckers.

Finding a place to fish was also very problematic, and when we finally did so, it was several km downstream, where Dan joins up with Nachal Senir. This section of the river is very popular with vacationers, especially those who enjoy floating leisurely along in either kayaks or rubber dinghies. We had to compete with these people for a bit of space to throw our lines into the fairly swift moving water.

In the end, we did catch some fish, but like those we had seen submerged in the Dan, near a fish restaurant called Dag Al Hadan (fish on the Dan), the ones we caught were also of the same species catostomidae. We came to the conclusion that that was all that was swimming here; from a fish standpoint that is. The experience made me recall a saying by the immortal comedian W.C. Fields when he quipped: “Never give a sucker an even break” This time, however, all the suckers we caught were put back into the river, enabling them to help perpetuate an aquatic species which has probably been indigenous to this area ever since time began.

Having enough of the heat, flies, and of course the suckers, we gave it up and returned back to central Israel, circumventing both Tiberias and Haifa on the way to make they were still there.

Despite the absence of the trout, and the unseasonably high temperatures, this part of northern Israel is certainly worth a visit. Just try to go there when the weather is a bit cooler!

1 Comment

  1. Trout – in Israel? Really now!

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