Mother Nature gives Mekong Delta alluvial soils, a huge network of rivers and canals, fruits and water animals. Local people earn their living from not only cultivating wet rice, growing fruit trees but also catching fishes, shrimps, crabs, frogs, snakes and others. The most popular traditional Fishing Equipment in Mekong Delta include chài net, câu giăng threads & fishhooks, câu cắm rods, xà di, lợp, lờ, vó, dớn which are interesting enough for you to learn about.
Câu cắm (Fishing rod) Equipment
“Câu cắm” refers to a popular method of catching freshwater fishes and also the fishing rods in Vietnam. Câu cắm is one of the most popular traditional fishing equipment in Mekong Delta. A fisherman usually owns some fishing rods, professional one has up to 120 rods. He sticks the rods with fishing lures to the edge of a rice field, swamp, pond, canal or river so that the distance between two neighboring rods is about 30 steps. He just relaxes or does something, comes back to check the rods every hour.
Although fishing rods can be bought at local markets, many fishermen in Mekong Delta like to make the rods themselves. They prefer old bamboo trees which can be used to make strong and stable rods. Thick threads are used to make câu cắm instead of thin threads used for normal fishing rods. The fishing rods are usually about 1.5 m long. Other tools used to catch fishes by this method include buckets for storing lures, caught fishes, big sized spoon nets for checking if fishes come up.
This method of fishing is suitable for water areas with clay soils, paddy soil or something similar. Fishermen are able to catch big or medium fishes, sometimes water birds and snacks.
Câu giăng (lines of fishhooks)
A famous Vietnamese song composed by musician To Thanh Tung (1944-2017) says :”Em hỏi anh đêm nay đi đâu. Anh nói rằng anh đi giăng câu. Anh đi giăng câu trên chiếc xuồng câu. (I wonder where are you going tonight. You tell me that you go fishing by giăng câu. You giăng câu on your fishing boat)”.
“Giăng câu” is another popular method of fishing freshwater fishes and other water animals in Mekong Delta. The main tool is “Câu giăng” which is a long rope with up to several hundreds of threads and fishhooks. Experienced fishermen know to keep the rope and thread from being tangled and looped. Fishermen check câu giăng a few hours after installing (or setting up) it in a canal or river.
This method is effective in waterways having high water levels. Water animals caught by câu giăng depend on fishing lures and fishhooks, the most popular animals are fishes and frogs.
Nơm (Sagrai, Bell-shaped trapping basket)
Nơm cá can be translated to English as Bell-shaped trapping basket thanks to its bell shape. Nơm cá – one of the most favorite traditional fishing equipment in Mekong Delta is made from bamboo and metal wires. One end is wide, the other is small enough to put hands through and catch fishes.
When fishermen see targets, they capture targets by keeping the baskets deep in the mud so that fishes (or lobsters, crabs, frogs) can not escape. If they successfully trap fishes, they often use hands to remove fishes from the baskets and put them into buckets or something similar.
Nơm is used in rivers, swamps, ponds or canals having low water levels. It is not for catching small water animals such as acetes, small fishes, etc.
Chài (Fishing net)
It has been said that if catching fishes by Chài (fishing net) is an art, the fisherman is an artist. Chài is a net and a fishing tackle, the net has a round shape and a diameter of several meters. The top (“đỉnh”) of chài is at the center, there are countless small traps (“đụi”) and metal pieces or something similar on the edge. When a fisherman throws the net, metal pieces make it sink, cover some water animals. When the fisherman pulls the top, water animals are stuck in small traps.
It is better to use Chài in wide and deep rivers or canal. Small animals can be caught by the fishing net.
Xà di (Bamboo fishing trap)
Xà di is a simple, light fishing trap used to catch Anabas (cá rô) – a medium-sized fish. The bamboo trap has one conical closed end and a wide opening at the other. The lure is often made from fermented fishes, ash and Chinese herbs. Fishes swim into the trap through the wide end and could not escape.
A fisherman in Mekong Delta told me that he had more than ten Xà di. Every day, he went around rice fields by boat, installed the traps in different places on water flows.
Lờ (fishing trap)
This cylindric bamboo trap is used to catch Trichogaster Trichopterus (cá sặc) because it has square cells. The openings at two ends are a little bigger than sizes of Trichogaster Trichopterus. Fishes can swim from outside into traps through two openings. Experienced fishermen know where Trichogaster Trichopterus live in quiet water. The fisherman put lờ in the right position, put some foam into the trap, the shoal of fish swims into the trap themselves after less than an hour. The upper part of lờ should be floating on the water. Crabs and shrimps can also be caught by this kind of trap.
Lợp (Fishing trap)
Lợp also has a cylindric shape and is made of thin bamboo sticks. It has one open at one end and is close at the other end. After entering lợp, water animals can not escape.
With the help of lợp fishing trap, Mekong Delta fishermen can catch small fishes such as Collared wrigglers (Xenisthmidae, cá bống dừa), shrimps, even arcetes (tép).
Other traditional fishing tackles include vó, dớn.
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