From Issue Two of the Gear Patrol Magazine. Free shipping + 15% off in the GP store for new subscribers.
Out past the breakers on a stretch of southern Sri Lankan coastline, men perch on simple stick crosses, flicking short poles with a hypnotic rhythm, fishing. Their technique, stilt fishing, has been practiced by two generations of fishermen, for roughly 70 years. Though the 2004 tsunami devastated the country’s fishing industry, and many in the country to-day pose on their stilts for money, the men we met around the towns of Weligama, Ahangama and Unawatuna fished to supplement their other jobs. Proof of this was hauled onto the beach every day, descaled, gutted and ready to be barbecued right on the beach.
Kavishka and Vihanga Kavinda, 14 and 11 years old respectively, trap sardines in the shallows using a t-shirt.
Podi Piyaradha, 34 years old, lives in a home right on the beach in Weligama. He fishes two hours every morning from an inner tube, using flippers and a short line, for butterfish and barracuda. He barbecues his catch to sell every night in front of a local hotel; he also cleans the beach for hotels and sells fresh coconut meat.
The stilt from which 22-year-old Buddika Chakar fishes is made from almond trees harvested 15 kilometers inshore. He fishes for sardines twice a day, in the morning and evening, and sells his catch to the market or to other fishermen, as bait.
Gune, 41 years old, mounts multiple fishing poles on his stilt..
Julius, a 60-year-old local from Weligama, has fished his entire life. He uses a rod, casting from rocks along the shore.
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A version of this story appears in Issue Two of the Gear Patrol Magazine
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