Stealth fishing

Monday, December 19th, 2016
  • Harpoon fishing

    In the countryside of northern Thailand I came upon a man crouched on a bridge with something resembling a gun in his hand. I went passed him and looked over my shoulder and saw that it wasn’t a gun, but a home made harpoon that he was using to stalk fish in the river below.

    My curiosity got the better of me, as it often does, so I did a U-turn and went back to the bridge to see if the man would allow me to take a closer look at what he was doing.

    He was friendly enough, but neither one of us spoke the others language, and so it wasn’t easy to ask any questions. Also, he was clearly trying to stalk something in the river so the last thing he needed was some chatty “farang” (white person) spoiling his chances of catching dinner! I crouched down a little bit behind him and he pointed at the river showing me something. I wasn’t sure what. A fish I assume, though if there was one, I couldn’t see anything.

    He showed me his home made harpoon, a little spear with a hook that was attached to a coil of fishing line that he would pull in manually if, and when, he caught his prey. I was hoping he would take aim and shoot something while I watched, but he was clearly in it for the long game, so I wished him good luck, shook his hand, and left him there on the bridge.

    I’ve never seen anyone fishing this way before, or at least not from a bridge. I wonder if this was the best way to catch whatever he was stalking, or if there was an element of sport to his chosen method? He wasn’t there when I passed by later, so I imagine he caught his dinner and was grilling it somewhere nearby.

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