There are two main types of fisheries in the coast of Sri Lanka. The stilt fishing is one of the most interesting traditional fishing methods that will soon be lost. This old tradition only started during WW II. Fishermen perched on wooden poles driven into the coral reef wait unobtrusively until their unsuspecting prey swims along to be caught. The method, quite unique by any standard, is used by some 500 families living in the southwestern shore of Sri Lanka. Cross shaped, these stilts can carry the weight of one man and his catch. The fishermen hanging precariously on them bring the fish out of the water with graceful and swift moves. The art requires both know-how and skill but also amazing fitness. Still today, many stilt fishermen find tourism a much more profitable way to earn a living and accordingly they rent their stilts to any fellow Sri Lankan who would care to pose for a picture….
Today, the most usual fishing method is the net fishing. It is very common to see along the coastline two rows of fishermen pulling large nets that are left floating out at sea. Early in the morning, large nets are pulled out into the ocean by boats and left to sit there for few hours as they gather the day’s catch. The boats that pull them out, sit at the end of the net and eventually, when time is right, they stand up and begin waving their shirts in the air. Fishermen in the coast grab and hold of the lines that extend out from both sides the net and the pulling begins. This is a knowledge passed down to their skinny legs and scarred hands from grand fathers and fathers before him. Slowly, slowly the nets come closer and eventually after an hour or two the prize also comes closer, and the singing and chanting becomes louder, as the two sides cajole each other to keep working. Nets are pulled onto the sand full of fishes and thousands of sardines.