Kashmir: Fishermen in Anchar lake brace up for ‘shadow fishing’

The practice of shadow fishing began in Jammu and Kashmir during Dogra regime in the early 20th century

Srinagar: Fishermen in Kashmir brace up for the age-old practice of shadow fishing, locally known as ‘Tchaayi Gaad’ in Ancar lake in the Soura vicinity of Srinagar city.

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The traditional form of fishing is specifically associated with Anchar lake, where fishermen row their boats early in the morning, breaking the frozen part of the lake to catch fish with a harpoon.

The practice of shadow fishing dates back to the Dogra regime in Jammu & Kashmir during the early 20th century and is being practiced in the months of December and January, mostly when it is the peak of winter in Kashmir.

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“I go fishing at 8 in the morning, and I have to row my boat through the frozen part of the lake. As the night temperature drops and the lake freezes, it sometimes gets hard for us to reach our fishing area,” says Fayaz Ahmad, a fisherman from Anchar, Soura.

“It fetches us livelihood. We earn 300–1000 a day, depending on how lucky we are with the catch.” he adds.

The age-old technique is still practiced in the water bodies of Kashmir, especially Anchar Lake, as modern methods do not fetch bulk fish from these waters during the winter.

In shadow fishing, the fisherman creates a shadow on the nook of their boat by hiding themselves under a blanket or a makeshift umbrella made of straw to attract the fish and later strike the approaching fish with the harpoon.

However, fishermen from across the valley, especially from Anchar Lake, do not see fishing as a career for their younger generation.

“My son does not want to come to the waters for fishing. He calls the lake dirty because of the situation of the lake and often says there is no future in fishing,” says Abdul Majeed, a local fisherman.

“Even I don’t force my son to do this because I feel the lake will be no more in the next 5–6 years because we are polluting it.” he adds.

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