The stilt fishermen of Sri Lanka use an ancient fishing technique to catch fish and fill their bellies. Discover the life of a fisherman catching coral reef fish in Sri Lanka. We learn how to catch fish and the fishing tools needed to fill our plates in this extraordinary location.

My name is Shan, and I’m a fisherman. I live in the jungle with my family. I build my fishing rod using a branch from the Kitul tree, a tree similar to a palm tree but very hard to find. Using a knife, I make the branch smooth by cutting the small branches and leaves, and then I let it dry inside the house until it becomes dry and light, perfect for fishing.

I also make fishing hooks at home by sharpening a piece of metal so that it becomes shiny and attracts the fish. Each hook can be used up to fifteen times, but sometimes big fish might break them. To finish the pole, I use some nylon wire to tie the hook to the Kitul branch.

This kind of fishing is called “Stilt fishing”, a traditional and ancient type of fishing in Sri Lanka.

We dig a deep hole in the sea bed and plant the pole in it, and then we sit on a bar attached to it and fish. The pole is very precious to us because it’s passed down from father to son.

With this fishing technique we can only catch small fish like Bollu and Koramburuwo, small coral reef fish that can be caught at dawn or at sunset.

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