Fishing in India – Part 3 – My Fishing Experience

My Fishing Experience with my Dad in the Backwaters of Kerala

My dad, a fisherman and I went fishing in a handmade canoe with nets.  The fisherman paddled us about 3 meters from shore and then dropped a large net 5 meters deep by 25 meters long into the water. The net was placed in a straight line and had styrofoam buoys on the top of the net. When fish swim into the net, they got caught and make the buoys move. This movement indicates to the fisherman that he has caught something. The fisherman threw another smaller circular net into the water and it sunk to the bottom about 10 to 15 meters. Ten seconds later, he brought it up. This took a while because the water and the mud from the bottom were heavy. He only caught six fish using this strategy. Then, he brought us to shore because it was going to take some time for the fish to get caught in the larger net. About 30 minutes later, the fisherman went out on his own again and picked up the large net and caught about 40 to 50 small fish. He was excited about his catch and planned to sell these fish for about 300 Indian rupees ($6 CND) the next day.

Setting Out for Fishing in the Backwaters at Night - Scott & Matt

Setting Out for Fishing in the Backwaters at Night – Scott & Matt

Fishing in the Backwaters at Night - Scott & Matt Silloutte

Fishing in the Backwaters at Night – Scott & Matt Silloutte

Fishing in India – Part 2 – Chinese Fishing Nets

Chinese Fishing Nets – Backwaters of Kerala near Kollam  

The Chinese fishing nets came to Kerala in the 1300s to 1400s from the council of Kublai Khan. These nets sit at the end of the dock about 20 feet out from the mainland. Two long poles act like a neck and there are four other poles that reach over the water with the net attached to the end of each pole so that it looks like a diamond shape. There are weights attached to the end of the ropes that are connected to the top of the Chinese fishing net. These weights act as simple machines to pull the net up and down. There is another rope that is connected to the cone shaped center of the fishing net. When the net is put into the water, the ropes are released and the net drops into the water, with the cone shaped area dropping deeper. The purpose of the cone shaped area is to capture the fish when the net is lifted out of the water. Electrical wires run from the shore and are connected to the frame of the net.  At the top of the net, there are four light bulbs. The fisherman fish at night and use lights to attract the fish (which is illegal in Canada).  This type of fishing is still used quite a bit today in Kerala and will probably continue to be used for a while.

Chinese Fishing Net - Out of the Water

Chinese Fishing Net – Out of the Water

Chinese Fishing Net - Out of the Water

Chinese Fishing Net – Out of the Water

Chinese Fishing Net - About to be Dropped

Chinese Fishing Net – About to be Dropped

Chinese Fishing Net - Dropped In Water

Chinese Fishing Net – Dropped In Water

Chinese Fishing Net - Multiple Dropped In Water

Chinese Fishing Net – Multiple Dropped In Water


The Backwaters of Kerala, India


A small shack on Ashtmundi Lake

My family and I stayed on a houseboat for two days and one night – the 29th and the 30th of November. We left Palm Tree Heritage early in the morning, and started our backwater adventure at 11:30, from the Kollam Port.






Chinese fishing nets on Ashtamudi Lake

The first part of our trip was a three-hour ride through Ashtamudi Lake. On the way we saw many Chinese fishing nets, shoes floating in the water, palm trees, churches, mosques, Hindu temples and weird lighthouses in the shape of a naked lady. About half way through our trip our captain Mohan let Matthew and I steer the boat. The steering was loose, and whenever you left the wheel in one spot, the boat would turn, so I would have to constantly over rotate the steering wheel to remain on a straight course! It was a lot of fun. A little later, while we were watching the beautiful scenery pass by we had a delicious lunch made by our boat’s cook of fried fresh fish, dhal, rice, beetroot salad, carrot salad, coconut potato curry, poppadoms, tomato riata, and pineapple riata. It was amazing food with every dish cooked and seasoned to perfection.


Banana tree

Once we had arrived at Monroe Island, we got out of the boat and met the young man that was going to be polling us through some small canals in a canoe. We saw many different types of greenery and wildlife:

  • kingfishers with exceptionally bright blue backs
  • cormorants – similar to the ones that we have in Canada
  • kytes – small bald eagles
  • herons
  • prawns that were being farmed in the brackish backwaters
  • grazing cows that the people who lived in the backwaters owned,
  • pineapple plants – did you know that it takes 6 months to grow one plant and that one plant produces only one pineapple
  • suicide fruit – one of the most poisonous plants in the world
  • papaya trees
  • coconut palm trees
  • vanilla vines growing up the sides of trees.

Suicide fruit

I found it really cool to see how pineapples and vanilla grow, as I had never seen this before. The kingfishers were beautiful, with their exuberant blue backs. We have kingfishers in Canada, but they aren’t nearly as colourful as the ones in Kerala.






Me steering the houseboat

The ride to the place that we were going to dock for the night was rather uneventful, though the lake and shore looked beautiful with the sunset. Once we had reached our space for the night we learned that there was a wedding celebration taking place at the five star hotel across the lake, with fireworks blasting and music blaring all night! We weren’t excited as we were sitting down to dinner, but I cheered up when I remembered that we had A.C., as the pier that we were staying at had an electricity hook-up. Our dinner was amazing, consisting of okra curry, chicken curry, rice and beetroot salad. Hats off to Joseph, the cook, for such delicious meals during our stay!


A really weird lighthouse


The next morning I woke up from an undisturbed sleep. I had not once heard fireworks or music! I suppose that they turned down the volume? Who knows? We ferried back quickly, as we had a train to catch to Cochin at 11:15.

Our trip was so much fun, and I loved being so close to such a variety of wildlife. Overall, I extremely enjoyed our time in Kerala’s backwaters, especially the polling in the canoe, and completely recommend the experience.






A local canoe ferry


Lots of coconut palms








Prawn farming


A bright blue kingfisher


A pineapple plant


A heron