Angling is a serious business in Meghalaya!

On our way to work, we came across a large gathering of men. They were all fishing enthusiasts participating in a fishing competition.

Close to about 300 men were in one place with their fishing rods, neatly aligned, and they were at work. Patience was etched on their faces and bodies. Occasional cheers would break the silence when one of them got a catch. This was happening at a place called Kynshi village in Mawthadraishan subdivision of West Khasi Hills district in Meghalaya, India.

Angling is a popular sport, and such a sight is quite common in many places in Meghalaya. While rules may vary slightly, the basic idea remains pretty much the same. The registration or entry fee to the competition ranges up to about Rs. 3000 on the higher side. In addition, participants need to buy one ticket for one fishing rod, and they are good to go. The prize money can be as high as Rs. 6,00,000, and winners might even receive a vehicle like a Bolero! There are many consolation prizes one can take home.

“This is fast becoming a lucrative business”, said one of our friends, Ms. Mayfereen from Shillong. “Recently my friend bought two truckloads of fish from Guwahati to organize one such competition”, she added.

Throughout Meghalaya, one would find many fish sanctuaries preserved by the local communities over decades. Such fish sanctuaries would have strict regulations or a ban on fishing, thereby allowing them to regenerate a rich population of aquatic biodiversity. The population of native varieties of fish had almost diminished due to overfishing and ill practices of fishing in the past.

Well, for us, seeing hundreds of men peacefully fishing together was quite a sight. Not even one complained of their rods, wires, or hooks getting entangled with the others. It is events like these, that help preserve traditional community fishing practices while also protecting the natural aquatic environment. It’s all about finding creative ways to coexist in harmony with nature”.



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