Friday, July 11, 2008
a night of prawn fishing in front of my verandah
I have shown earlier examples of the prawns I eat caught at my Hingurakgoda property but have hitherto not explained how easy they are to catch.
Initially we caught prawns in a net while fishing for other food to eat, and once we realized we actually have prawns on the Oya in front of my cabin, we looked at the best way to catch them.
They emerge after dark to eat while hiding under rocks and holes along the waterway during the day. The villagers therefore did not really know they existed and certainly not those from Ratmale who never heard of prawns in Polonnarwa.
On the same day as my cane expedition, I arranged for an evening of prawn collecting. We set up a series of rods right along the river bank and dangling on a string was a small piece of coconut just below the surface of the water, specially tethered. Come dusk and through to midnight we just go from one to the other flashing a light, and if the eyes of the prawn twinkle in the light, we take a specially prepared net on a rod to scoop up the prawn into the net. Sometimes the prawns make a mighty leap from their hold on the coconut to escape the net but more often we were able to collect it into the net. It was interesting to note that as the night wore on the prawns we caught got bigger and the largest prawns were right in front of my cabin not more than 10ft from where I usually sit! The Ratmale guys who came with me had a story and a half to relate to their families who looked in disbelief at the catch we brought back after midnight, from barely 15km or 10miles from where they lived.
Of course we have to keep this secret lest the whole village descends on the river and then prawn the place out of existence and then there will be none for anyone. This experience for local and tourist alike is a fascinating one.