While FISHBIO staff in Laos were traveling into the field one weekend, we saw fishermen riding on scooters carrying a bunch of fish traps and looking for suitable fishing habitat in the rivers. It was interesting for us to see how they had updated traditional fishing gear materials. In the past, the traps were made of bamboo strips, but now fishers have replaced bamboo with black plastic nets. This simplifies producing the traps, and saves time needed to harvest bamboo. The trap is designed to target individual species like freshwater prawn. We talked to the fishers and asked how they know where to find a good fishing spot when they pass it on the river. The fishers said when they fish for prawns, they look for flat, shallow water, and see if they can observe groups of the fish Rasbora.
The fishers said that at the end of the rainy season (around November), they like to go fishing part time in the evenings, and use a mix of rice bran and pickled fish as bait for their traps. The gear has to soak in the water all night, and they check the trap in the morning. They said they usually catch about 8 pounds (3-4 kg) of prawns per day when setting 80 traps. The freshwater prawn features in many Lao dishes mixed with hot spices, herbs, and Lao whisky. Some people eat the prawns raw in a dish called “Dancing Prawns,” which is a spicy salad with lots of lemon, and some people eat the dish spicy prawn laap, a cooked meat salad. We wish these clever fishers good luck with their prawn hunting!