For these fishermen, who know to fish only in the river, the monsoon is not a great season.
There are six fisher families – who live in tents along the 2km-long Gurupura river in Kuloor – depending completely on the income they generate by fishing. But as Chandra, head of one family, says, “It is not a good season to fish in the river. We don’t get a good catch.” The value of the catch would not exceed Rs. 200 to Rs. 300. Much of the catch is shared by the families.
On two occasions The Hindu team tried to see these fishermen in action, but they said they could not venture because water current was strong.
And they know it best. “Fishing is the only business we know. And, this is what our grandfathers depended for their survival,” Mr. Chandra says. “People come to us asking for fish, but we hardly get to sell in this season. If we try, fishing net comes off. Mainly, we fish early in the morning when water is calm,” says Shathamma, who is in this trade since she was a child.
But the catch is good from January to March when the water is calm. The varieties known locally as kane, payya, maala, thede and crabs are caught in good quantity. Some people have a liking for river fish. On a peak day, the fishermen — always hunting in pairs — manage to catch fish worth Rs. 1,000. They usually take the fish to Bunder area to sell.
Most of these families are originally from Chikmagalur. “Our relatives, too, are engaged in fishing at places like Gurupura, Kannur, Jeppinamogaru and Tannirbavi,” says Ms. Shanthamma. “We are commonly called as fishers (bestharu) while a few call us ‘Gange makkal’ (children of Ganges),” she says.
A uniqueness of these families is that they all use round-shaped small boats which are locally known as buttis . In all six families have about 10 buttis among them.
Shanthamma regrets not giving importance but says two of her grandchildren are now in a primary school. Families here have to bear with frequent problem of theft of nets besides the perennial issue of water scarcity.