Today I’m featuring a photograph of Tara Harrison stilt fishing in Sri Lanka.
Tara is a writer behind ShaTara Blog while the shot was taken by her partner Shab.
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Photo Story: Stilt fishing – Sri Lanka
Being a long time vegetarian (and new vegan) this photo is quite ironic. I am not one for fishing for pleasure let alone for food.
Controversial ethical choices and inflammatory images aside… If you look a little closer, I think these fishermen must be vegetarians too!
Not one of us has a line or a hook on these rods! Or should I say, on our deceiving bamboo sticks!
These gentlemen are keeping an age-old Sri Lankan tradition alive just for the happy-snapping-tourists of our modern era.
They sit for hours on end, pretending to fish with their sticks, so that tourists can get the coveted ‘Traditional Sri Lankan Fisherman Photo” that graced the cover of the last Lonely Planet guide.
They charged us the equivalent of $5 to take their photos and an extra $10 for both of us to jump up on the stilts to get in on the action- letting all of their secrets out in the process!
This is one tourist trap I was happy to fall into. I am glad they charge tourists for a happy snap instead of trying to make money from their fishing that would realistically only be conducted to please foreign photographers.
Although, something tells me they wouldn’t be all that successful if they chose to go back to the former anyway! ;) No one ate fish for lunch on this day, that’s for sure.
Side note: I’m myself saw real stilt fishing in Sri Lanka, but you have to get out a bit of a tourist track, those close to Galle are indeed there only for pictures :)
Stilt Fishing is one of the most interesting traditional fishing methods of Sri Lanka.
Records indicate that it came into being just after World War II.
This mode of fishing was more widely used all along the coast until the tsunami in 2004 which caused such activities to cease temporarily until recent years.
The beautiful sight of fishermen perched branched poles as they fish skillfully during dawn, noon and dusk; can now be commonly along the southern coast in towns such as Koggala, Kaththaluwa and Ahangama.
Though stilt fishermen make the activity seem easy and comfortable; stilt fishing requires much skill and balance.
A vertical pole with an attached crossbar is embedded into the sea floor among the shallows, or on a riverbed.
The crossbar allows the fishermen to be seated a couple of meters above the water causing minimal shadows on the water and hence little to no disturbance amongst the sea life.
The stilt fishermen then use a rod from this precarious position to bring in a good catch of spotted herrings and small mackerels from the comparative shallows of the sea or from the river.
They collect the catch in a bag tied to the pole or to their waist.
Those who wish to learn more about stilt fishing should book a tour to Mirissa beach, Hikkaduwa Beach or Unawatuna Beach.
Some of the fishermen are quite happy to show how they fish, and speak about their lives.
There are also opportunities to try the activity if interested; not to mention the breathtaking photographic views provided by the fishermen silhouetted against the horizon at dawn and dusk.
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