Stilt Fishing in Sri Lanka


If you ever decide to take a vacation to Sri Lanka, make sure to check out the wonderful tradition of stilt fishing while you’re there. Stilt fishing consists of wooden poles standing above the waves a few meters in the sea.  Typically, mean are seated on top of these poles with fish hooks in one hand and fishing rods in the other.

Although it may seem odd, stilt fishing is famous as Sri Lanka’s traditional technique. The wooden poles that the men sit on are typically constructed only two meters away from the shoreline.


 Stilt Fishing

Here the fishermen sit or stand on a wooden crossbar. While they could easily use nets to gather much fish at once, this usually scares the fish away so they choose to go the old-fashioned route with rods and bait.

It’s tedious and time-consuming work, but it is something that never fails to draw the wonder and amazement from tourists and passerby who love to watch these fishermen go about their work.

Only a handful of families still continue to practice stilt fishing for a living while many pick up the practice as a tourism stunt.

Thanks to travel media that showcases the act of fishermen on stilts to the world, such as National Geographic, tourists have been drawn to places like Sri Lanka to see it for themselves in person.

Because it’s become such a photography subject, the art may not be as authentic as tourists would typically hope for and expect.  

Unawatuna Sri – Lanka

Visitors craving to witness the act of stilt fishing should head to the beach towns of Unawatuna and Weligama in the south-west coastal belt of Sri Lanka.

Some fisherman will approach tourists who have been seen snapping a photo of the old tradition asking for tips.

The sad truth is, these fishermen make more money from tourist donations in a day than they would from selling the fish they catch sitting on these stilts.

Next time you find yourself in southern & western beaches of Sri Lanka, do not miss the opportunity to witness stilt fishing. You may not realize it, but you are helping keep this old tradition alive.


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