As you explore Sri Lanka’s famed South Coast, you will come across something most intriguing; as you near the beach from afar you will notice a long stilt some way out to sea. Perched on it, rather precariously it must be added, is what looks like a human form, deftly holding on as the waves move to and fro. As you get nearer you will realise that it is indeed a person, who seems to be balancing himself on a small bar while with his hands he casts a line into the vast blue waters beyond. He is not alone in his endeavours as several feet apart are others on stilts engaged in the same practice; this fascinating sight is what is known as stilt fishing and provides a most unique insight into the livelihoods of the island’s fisher communities, not forgetting some truly stunning photo opportunities.
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to seeing stilt fishermen, Sri Lanka has certain locales where one can view this activity like Ahangama, Kathaluwa and Koggala. If you are looking to combine a coastal getaway that includes visiting areas where one can see stilt fishing then consider staying at one of the Cantaloupe Hotels on the South Coast.
A traditional and arduous means of earning a livelihood, stilt fishing does not require any sophisticated equipment. All that is needed is a stilt (called a ‘ritipanna’), a small bar on top for sitting, a fishing rod (called the ‘pitta’) and of course hours of patience and endurance. Sunrise and sunset (nearing dusk) are amongst the times of day that these fishermen climb atop their lonely perch above the waters and cast their line hoping to catch mackerel or spotted herring that can be sold. Sometimes fishermen may even let you climb up and see what it is like to be seated balancing on the small pole above the waters; keep in mind though most fishermen will expect some money for such activities.
Chandrishan Williams is a travel writer who writes under the pen name, Caleb Falcon. He specializes in writing content based on the many exciting world adventures that await intrepid travellers.