They say, nature provides, but if you were lost in the jungle, marooned on a desert island or trapped in the wild wastes of the Arctic – how would you fare?
Over millennia, native peoples around the world, have honed their fishing equipment and techniques to ensure that they not only survive – but thrive.
Here is just a taste of the ingenuity that man has employed in using what’s around him to catch his, or her dinner.
Hungry otters in India
Clearly, when fishing in the hotter parts of the world, it pays to let others do most of the work. River Ganges fishermen have perfected the art of training otters to chase fish into their nets.
The animals are captive bred and reared, and when fishing, are held on leashes attached to poles. As the fishermen gradually work their boat closer into the bank, the otters frighten fish up from the river bed, and into the net.
The otters fish best when they’re hungry so considerable skill is required on the part of the fishermen to stop the animals from eating the catch before they’ve got it into the boat. Rest assured though, the furry fishers are well rewarded for their day’s work!
Collared cormorants in China
Practised in China, Japan and Europe – cormorant fishing is these days practised only for the amusement of tourists and by a few traditional purists. The tame birds are reared from hatchlings and spend their lives doing what cormorants do best – fishing.
To stop the birds swallowing the catch, they wear a line tied around their throat. When they catch a fish, they’re brought back to the boat and made to spit it out. If that seems a bit mean, don’t worry, the line is loose enough to allow the creature to swallow smaller fish. This keeps the bird happy, but hungry enough to keep fishing.
Fake fish and a sharp stick in the Arctic
First to the frozen North. We are all familiar with the image of the fur clad figure, sat hunched over a hole in the ice, fishing, but just how does your average Inuit catch his Arctic char? Well not always with a hook, as it happens.
After cutting the hole in the ice, a fake fish is lowered into the hole. The fisherman then jigs the lure around until a live fish approaches – and then spears it. In the warmer months, when the ice floe thaws, canoes are used for fishing. In shallow waters, a multi pronged harpoon is often used to spear fish, which, like a lot of traditional inuit foods is usually eaten raw.
Noose and club on the Pacific islands
The Pacific islands are a paradise of palm trees, white coral beaches and coconuts. But if you want to eat – you’d better get busy. That’s because, the remoteness of these pinpricks of land in the vast ocean, means they don’t have much variety of flora and fauna. One extraordinary technique is employed for catching sharks.
Take along the following fishing equipment: a canoe, a rattle, a fish head, a noose and a heavy piece of wood. Throw the fish head in the water, then use the rattle to attract the sharks. When a suitable specimen goes for the bait, just slip the noose over the shark’s head, and clobber it with the piece of wood. Make sure it’s definitely dead though, before bringing it into the canoe.
Poisonous plants in the Amazon
You stand poised on the bow of a dugout canoe as it drifts noiselessly on the gentle current. In your hands, you hold a bow and arrow – the traditional weapon of choice for native fisher peoples throughout the world’s tropical regions. Only – there are no fish. That’s probably because you’ve strayed into Nukak territory.
Here, in the Amazon, the locals have opted for another traditional, and altogether more effective means of fishing. They grind up the root of the Nuun or Lonchocarpus plant – and chuck it in the water. Natural poisons are released that stun the fish. Locals just pick them up in baskets and carry them home.