Fishing, Thai village style

In between the various building projects that we had on the go (those entries will soon be published I promise!) I tried to make time to take the kids down to the river for a swim at least every other day.

As it was the end of the dry season the water level was always too low for me to join the kids in a swim so I usually took a book with me to read while half supervising.

On one trip I watched with great interest as two women slowly made their way upstream towards me bent over with their hands constantly doing something under the surface of the water.

I walked over to them to see what was happeneing and discovered that they were actually fishing! They would lift up any decent sized rocks and scare the small fish that were hiding underneath into their bag.

One lady was very proud to show me the Jorakhe จระเข้ or Crocodile fish that she had just caught. Can’t quite see the resemblance myself but I didn’t want to dampen her enthusiasm so decided to keep quiet.

The two women had been at it for about two hours and said they had enough for dinner for both their families but would push on for another 30 minutes in the hope of finding a few more.

Many rivers in Thailand (especially in the Issan (north east) area) have almost been completely fished out and what you see in the above photo is generally as big as most fish are allowed to get to before ending up on someones BBQ.

I remember as a kid being frustrated by the size and limit quotas that were (and still are) set on the delicious Barramundi that is found in our local waters here in Australia. When I see what has happened in Thailand, I am now really thank full for them.

6 responses to “Fishing, Thai village style

  1. First time I’ve read your blog, but have to say there’s plenty of decent sized wild fish left in Thailand. Its rivers are home to some of the world’s largest freshwater, some are in trouble of course but to say that the fish in the pictures here are as big as they get is very wrong, and in fact in many places they are wildly abundant. Heck I even see guys catch bigger fish in khlongs in the heart of Bangkok

    • Hi Bangkokburt,

      Thanks for dropping by. I just had a quick look at your website and quickly established that you more then likely know a lot more then I do about fishing in Thailand! I agree with most of what you have said and have just gone back and tweaked my paragraph about the rivers being fished out in Thailand. I changed the word ‘most’ to ‘many in the Issan area’ which is really all I know about fishing in Thailand. I go off what I see and what I hear. What I see in my immediate local area is that the fish in that photo is all that people can now catch compared to just one generation ago. The locals also tell me that the same can be sad for many other places in nearby provinces like Sisaket and Buriam etc.

  2. Pingback: Fishing, Thai village style | Isaan Five O

  3. “As it was the end of the dry season the water level was always too low for me to join the kids in a swim.”

    I am not going to say anything 🙂

    When I head out to Noot’s grandfather’s village and see the endless cast netting, long lines and nets set in the Mekong, it is sad. The elders talk about how the fish have virtually disappeared and when they could catch enough fish in 15 minutes but now takes a day to feed their family.

    As you said Memock, thank goodness for quotas in Australia, and restrictions and closed seasons. Even with all our laws there are still species being fished out.

    Fishing licences were brought in Victoria and so many cried foul but this was a great idea and should be nationwide so this money can be put back into the conservation of species and habitats.

    So many people used to risk not buying a day licence, week, month or year and when caught cried wolf. We have taken our ocean and fish stock for granted for too long and if we are not careful Australia will one day be like Thailand and our kids and their kids might be just like these old ladies, hunched over trying to find a feed for their families.

    Okay I have rambled on too much now. If you jumped in the water it could have raised the level for the kids to swim :0

    Couldn’t help myself……

    • Hello Brunty,
      You not saying anything? That would be a first!
      Thanks for confirming the stories about a lack of fish that I keep hearing about at least in your area anyway. I normally hate licensing and and kind of regulations but sometimes for the sake of our kids they need to be made.

  4. Halloh Memock! Well, as usual, I appreciate your no-nonsense, ‘clean’ and honest-styled blogging. I share similar attitudes with you (and others) on this particular subject (in particular, government intervention in Australia re fishing. I have always understood the long term effects of public policy matters on conservation no matter how much a pain in the bum it can be at the time).

    Anyhow, where you have ‘limited’ quantities of food and vast numbers of people…, well, the inevitable occurs. Like you, I don’t know much else about fishing in Thailand and whilst I concur with bangkokburt on one end (for example, Mekong (giant) catish – which may soon become ~ to say the least ~ endangered [re the ‘Dams Projects’ in Laos]) ~ I agree with you at the other [end].

    Each year Noi and I ‘seed’ about 1,000 or so fish (varities), purchased from the ‘fish markets’ in Ubon; we place them in Papa’s Holes [dams] and some into the local wetlands and a few hundreds to rellies. Rarely do any of the fish survive to grow to their maturity. For example last year, due to flooding, the water levels rose so much that the fish simply swam out of Papa’s ‘holes’ and into the rice fields and… .

    However, and apart from poachers (muk muk), various birds and other ‘natural’ predators, I came across Papa fishing long before I thought the fish would be ready and …, I was a bit cranky thinking maybe from small fish grow more fish later, no. Little Bird (my wife, Noi) explained that the local (Isaan) villagers don’t like them [bra dook (phonetic) species] too big. They [the fish] are much nicer when they are smaller.’ DOH!

    Papa and most of the other fisherman in the village (probably 99% of the men and a number of women) are prolific fishers because a large (and favoured)part of the diet is fish (and sauces of/from fishes). They build nets such as the ‘condos’ (Hahaahah ~ funny buggars, houses for fishes lol). These people are prolific fisher-people (lol, you like that? No! Sorry) and I have eaten some of their better catches and they [the fishers] are always pleased to show you their ‘arm or top of their leg’ refering to the size of the fish they catch from our local ‘wetlands’ and riverways. I like ’em BBQ’d (bing phonetic).

    I’m raving again! Please forgive. Anyways, once again, thanks mate ~ cheers
    Anyways, it is worthy to see you ‘reporting’ on this subject, though one needs to research a little more into local customs. I do get a little jealous thinking about you in Barramundi country ~ count your blessings young man and thanks for being so ‘aware’. Cheers

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