Cherthala is one of the most beautiful places on the earth for two reasons - its affable people and its sprawling backwaters, the Vembanadu Kayal.
Fishing in the Vembanadu Kayal was a ritualistic pastime for us children and livelihood for others. Early mornings, we went to the lake shore carrying fishing rod made of green bamboo stalk (Illikkana) and earth worms or smoked Tapioca (Chutta Kappa) or wheat bread (Godamb Appam) for fish bait. With no breeze and noise, the tranquil lake rested in the mornings reflecting the thousand coconut trees on its bank and us with fishing rods. It would remain so for about two hours until the wind starts blowing gently. This was the best time for fishing.
On Sundays and holidays, some of us (equipped with better fishing tools) continued fishing throughout the day. We went to the shallow streams that reach out to the lake and fished there. We used a variety of fishing tools that suited the nature of the stream. These were Vattavala, ottaal, veeshuvala, koruvala, pokkuvala etc.
This November I had the chance to witness such a fishing session in progress at Pallippuram. I saw two determined young men fishing in a nearby stream against all odds. They had a custom made fishing net resembling a Vattavala, but without the rim. It had a long tail instead of the typical short one.
Here are the pictures! (Photo Courtesy: Bobby Mathews)