JILIN PROVINCE, China - When you go out to a restaurant in northeast Ohio, you expect to pay anywhere from say $10 to maybe $50 for a fish dinner, depending on the restaurant you choose.
But get this. At an annual winter fishing festival that opened Thursday in China's Jilin Province, a fish weighing 33 pounds was auctioned off for a record high price of 340,000 yuan, or $54,500.
The winter fishing festival is held at Chagan Lake and lasts until March 18. It's the largest inland lake in the province.
It's a long tradition to auction the heaviest fish caught on the festival's opening day. Last year's first fish sold for just over $48,000. Every year, some 3,000 tons of fish are pulled from the lake.
In ancient times, the first fish were used by Chinese emperors to entertain guests that came from afar. Even today, when the festival opens, local fishermen hold a ritual to offer sacrifice to the lake god before they begin the winter fishing.
The money from the auction will be used in ecosystem protection efforts for Chagan Lake and surrounding areas. A fishery farm, built around the lake, is used to restock it.