An Ancient, Remarkable Fishing Method

Ben Ruhe
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The use of kite to catch fish is very old technique, possibly dating back to the Stone Age, but can still be seen in selected regions of Southeast Asia where it remains a daily activity. Kite fishing occurs across 65 degrees of longitude, from Singapore and Java in the west to the Santa Cruz islands near the Solomons in the east, and it straddles the equator over that length of large and small islands.

While there are variations by area, some generalizations can be stated. Kite fishing from canoes is aimed exclusively, apparently, at the slim, nervous, tasty garfish, widely known as belone. Line is generally held in hand, although a rod is employed in certain zones. The kite is constructed of leaves or leaf-strips everywhere, although the shape differs locally and depends to a great extent upon the kind of leaf-sago palm, banana, epiphyitc fern, ivory nut-employed.

The lure and capturing contrivance is either a running noose of fiber or, more recently, wire, with small fish or shrimp attached as bait, or a tangle of sticky spider's web which becomes tenaciously enmeshed in the fish's long teeth and wrinkled jaws when the garfish strikes.

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