Best time to visit Sri Lanka

Stilt Fishing in Sri Lanka 2024

Once this kind of fishing was a necessity, now it is fading away

Best time: June–mid-July | late October–mid-December

Stilt Fishing
Stilt Fishing
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To fish while sitting on a stilt has been a unique way for fishermen to catch fish while in the water. It has also become a certain hallmark of Sri Lanka. Unfortunately nowadays, when there are lots of ships and boats, it is less and less necessary for fishermen to choose this option of fish. More and more the fishermen on the stilts are simply actors who pose for tourists to take pictures. On the other hand, even if they are not catching the fish, they look more than awesome.

The tradition of stilt fishing is actually not that old. It started during World War II when some inventive local men tried fishing on the water to avoid the crowds in regular fishing spots. Since then fishermen began erecting stilts in coral reefs.

Practical info

What are the best times of the year to visit Sri Lanka for stilt fishing?

Stilt fishing in Sri Lanka is best experienced during two primary seasons: from late October to mid-December and from June to mid-July. These are the times of the year when the monsoon seasons result in calm waters and better conditions for fishing. The calm surface of the water makes it easier for fishermen to balance on stilts and attract fish to their bait. Show more

Where is stilt fishing still practiced in Sri Lanka?

Although stilt fishing has been declining in recent years, some villages along the southwestern coast of Sri Lanka still engage in the traditional method. These fishing villages include Weligama, Ahangama, and Koggala. Several resorts also organize trips to these areas to provide tourists with opportunities to experience the cultural tradition of stilt fishing in Sri Lanka. Show more

How did Sri Lankan stilt fishing originate and evolve over time?

Sri Lankan fishermen began using stilts to fish during World War II to avoid crowded fishing spots. They found that the stilts allowed them to reach areas with more fish, especially near coral reefs. Over time, this innovative method gained iconic status as a symbol of the country. Today, while stilt fishing remains an important cultural tradition, it has become more of a tourist attraction rather than a necessity. Show more

Why did Sri Lankan fishermen start using stilts to fish?

Fishermen in Sri Lanka started using stilts to fish during World War II to avoid crowded fishing spots. By moving above the water's surface and into areas with more fish, they found that stilts proved to be an innovative solution. This method allowed fishermen to reach fish near coral reefs, and the tradition has been passed down from generation to generation leading to iconic status as a symbol of the country. Show more

What is the current state of stilt fishing in Sri Lanka and what is being done to preserve the practice?

Currently, stilt fishing in Sri Lanka is no longer a necessity but has transitioned into a tourist attraction due to the increasing use of boats and ships in the area. Many stilt fishermen have left the profession, but some still practice stilt fishing to preserve culture. Although overfishing remains a concern, some villages now regulate fishing to protect fish populations. Responsible tourism practices are also being promoted by resorts to ensure sustainable and responsible tourism. Show more

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Authors: Olha Savych