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A familiar sight that greets one on morning runs or leisurely evening trolls along the South Coast of Sri Lanka around Koggala, particularly in the hamlets of Kataluwa and Ahangama, stilt fishermen are the embodiment of the virtues, patience and endurance; perched on a cross bar tied to a wooden pole for hours at a time, one hand holding the stilt and the other the fishing rod.
This balancing act is a matter of livelihood as around 500 families are supported by this vanishing craft which is passed along generation lines. Primary purpose of going through all the troubles associated with this form of fishing is to make schools of fish stay longer in the locale without disturbing them as opposed to using a net or other instrument, which are far easier to engage in.
Stilt fishing or “ritipanna” as it is known locally is threatened by the very fact that it is attractive to the tourists as fish gets distracted by many people who get close to witness, take photographs and to engage in fishing.
A stay at The Fortress Hotel and Spa is ideal to get immersed in this picturesque sight and appreciate this precipitously disappearing art.