Fishing in the Niger Delta

Fishing in Niger Delta

Two young boys walked to the edge of a quiet creek and set down a yellow plastic bucket which they had improvised from an old paint pocket. It was about 7am in the morning. At that time of the day in the Soku community of Niger Delta, southern Rivers State, the oil workers would have just begun to disperse into the creeks to continue their daily operations in the area. The boys had earlier noticed that that particular narrow creek is always free of the turbulence created by passing speed boats. The buys had set out from their village, armed with a fishing hook, a handful of palm oil-saturated cassava flour paste (locally known as “gari” or “eba”) and a long fishing string wound around a short wooden stick.

After the boys had tied the fishing string to a sharp metal fishing hook, one of them stepped closer to the edge of the water, took a small portion of the palm-oiled-garri and rolled it into a tiny ball. He carefully loaded the fishing hook with the tiny ball of garri, and flung the loaded hook (with the string attached) into the water and allowed it to sink to the river bed. He was going to wait for the slightest nudge on the string.

After waiting for a while, he got impatient began to pull the string slowly. Then waited again. In less than a minute, he began to feel a repeated light nudge on the string as the string stretched taught between the short stick in the hand of the boy and the water surface. He quickly yanked up the string and started winding the string around the short wooden stick. In a few seconds, a fish dangled out of the water with its mouth hooked to the end of the string. The boy lifted it out of the water, and passed it to his friend. The friend grabbed the fish with his palm and removed the hook in its mouth, squeezed the fish till it stops breathing, then dropped the it in the bucket. The boy with the hook loaded another oiled-garri onto the metal hook and again flung it into the water, repeating the whole process of waiting till another fish swims-by and picks up the bait.