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8 March 2015 / leggypeggy

Twelve men, two boats, two nets and two fish

fishing nets, Chilika Lake

Nets abound in Chilika Lake

minding the boat

The boat minder watches the nets being dragged

Chilika Lake in the Orissa state in eastern India is Asia’s largest brackish lagoon. Separated from the Bay of Bengal by a 60-kilometre-long sandbar, the lake is home to more than a million migratory birds and who knows how many fish.

We didn’t see many of the birds. They flock to a particular island that is now off limits to tourists without a permit. We were told that a while back too many tourists (not foreigners but Indians) left too much rubbish around the island and many birds died after eating the junk. You’d think they just ban everyone from taking food and containers aboard the boats that cruise the lake.

Anyway, we didn’t see many fish either, but we certainly saw the evidence. Vast networks of nets are strung around the lake, plus we saw an impressive fishing technique being carried out by 12 men. Their efforts are possible only because so much of the lake is extremely shallow.

dragging net, Chilika Lake

Men dragging nets across a shallow part of Chilika Lake

dragging in nets, Chilika

Curving in to join the nets

two fishing nets meet, Chilika

Two nets come together

Here’s how it works. While one man (who looked like a teenager) was left to mind the two boats, the remaining 11 divided into two groups to wade and drag two nets towards one another in an attempt to corral fish in the middle.

The dragging process took about 20 minutes as the two groups tugged and hauled the long nets and their frameworks together. They then formed a circle and worked inwards.

managing nets

Tightening the circle of nets

Our boat driver (yes, we cruised the lake for about five hours) explained that lots of fish escape this tactic, but the fishermen are happy if they get one or two of the most valuable fish. These sell for about 700 rupees a kilo, or about A$12.

Our fellows, if I can call them that, did capture two of the pricey fish, probably weighing a total of five kilos, maybe more.

After the ‘catch’, they folded up their nets and headed off to another promising fishing spot. We were told they make four or five similar attempts per day, and are likely to finish the outing with 25–30 kilos of fish.

That would earn them up to 21,000 rupees for their efforts. Assuming the money is evenly split, each man could take home A$35 a day. Not bad by Indian standards.

Oh, and we were told that, in this case, the boats and nets belong to the middleman who buys the fish. Each net alone is worth 100,000 rupees (1 lakh) or A$2000. That’s a lot of fish!

If you love fish, here’s a great African stew recipe I learned in Ghana.

folding nets, Chilika

Folding the nets

moving on, Chilika

Getting ready to move on


Leave a Comment
  1. Derrick / Mar 8 2015 7:55 pm

    Hi Peggy

    Do they fish the lake every day ?

    How long have they done this ?

    Do they give the lake time to regenerate ?

    Maybe a huge lake, but even that can be over fished, but quite a novel way of fishing

    Really good photos, thanks for letting us come along on this trip


    • leggypeggy / Mar 8 2015 11:09 pm

      Hi Derrick, yes they fish everyday, but I was told the fish population in the lagoon/lake is quite good. I guess 12 men taking 12 fish a day isn’t going to deplete the supply too quickly. We didn’t see any commercial boats, only the small ones like you see in the pics.


      • Derrick / Mar 8 2015 11:47 pm

        Yes you are right, I cant see 12 blokes making much of a dent in the fish population

        (great if you like fish every day)

        I thought all the photos were very good, I liked the ones where they are all up to their shoulders in water

        Did you manage to get any photos of how they cook their catch and what these ‘best’ fish were ?


  2. Andrew Petcher / Mar 8 2015 8:23 pm

    I like this, especially the first picture!


  3. Midwestern Plant Girl / Mar 9 2015 12:16 am

    Very sad that humans can’t control their litter!
    Pretty neat fishing techniques. At least you can be in the cool water while you fish!


    • leggypeggy / Mar 12 2015 8:08 pm

      The litter here is unbelievable. I’m so dismayed by how careless and thoughtless people can be with rubbish.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. lulu / Mar 9 2015 1:41 am

    These photos me remind of Vietnam. Isn’t it amazing how success is achieved through such primitive technique?


    • leggypeggy / Mar 12 2015 8:09 pm

      Yes, the technology is simple and much less intrusive than commercial operations.


  5. Dillard Griffith M.D. / Mar 9 2015 1:57 am

    Jer 16:15 But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.
    Jer 16:16 Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.
    Joh 21:6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.
    Joh 21:11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.

    Your vivid description and pictures reminded me of the above scriptures! A clues to interpretation are: 1. Lost tribes of Israel 2. End times fishing 3. Net is the Torah (first five books of Bible) 4. The Gematria of 153 spells out Sons of Israel.

    May we participate in the end-time harvest of souls for His Kingdom!


    • leggypeggy / Mar 9 2015 11:24 pm

      Thanks for your comment. I suppose the pictures and writing also remind people of other religions of many stories in their histories.


  6. jakesprinter / Mar 9 2015 10:05 am


  7. Mike / Mar 9 2015 12:17 pm

    I would love to go fishing with those guys! Of course, when you do it for a living it’s not near as much fun. Two fish doesn’t look like much of a catch to me, but if it feeds their families it’s all good.


    • leggypeggy / Mar 9 2015 11:26 pm

      I can probably arrange a fishing expedition with them. When do you want to go? I’ll buy the beer. 🙂

      By the way, they don’t eat the fish. They collect the money and spend it on other food.


  8. Bargainhumidors / Mar 9 2015 4:21 pm

    Love your photos!


  9. David / Mar 13 2015 12:17 pm

    Must be really tasty fish!


  10. Ray / Mar 6 2016 7:06 pm

    Love how you capture these “off the beaten path” experiences so well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 6 2016 7:32 pm

      Thanks Ray for stopping by. I feel fortunate to be able to visit so many ‘off the beaten path’ places.


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