If you see the diagram mentioned below,
1) The canal that is coming from river and reaching to the lake.
2) Pathway for diverted water to flow through the Pathal Kattai
3) Mud pot will be buried with just mouth opened that serves as temporary storage of fish
4) Kazhungu – An outlet that provides air circulation for pathal kattai
5) Canal is blocked with sticks and sand bags for restricting fish traveling towards opposite direction to approach pathal kattai. This is also helping to adjust the level of water flowing through the pathal kattai.
6) Smooth surface filled with muddy grasses further upwards near pathal kattai
7) This portion is filled with very nice mud (technically called Nenju kali) that feels smooth as marble that is a sure trap for fish to jump upwards above pathal kattai.
During my childhood days, we used to go as a gang from my village for fishing during winter season. All we had to do was to perform some initial work in laying a proper structure for water to pass by the pathal kattai and we are almost done for fishing nearly a month.
Firstly we will go to the paddy field and get huge amount of clay that is key player in the whole process. We will also get some muddy grass & clay to form the smooth surface (6-7) for fish to come towards the pathal kattai.
After collecting the clay & grass, we will dig the pathway for flow of water in the area (2), (7) & (6). Then pathal kattai will be placed and will fill the surrounding area with clay. Area (7) is filled completed with smooth mud clay stacked layer after layer that is very crucial for fishes to come onto the pathal kattai and jump over it.
Then In Area (5) barrier is created by filling with Sand Bags, cut tree branches to regulate the flow of water through pathal kattai path way. Once this is done water will make it’s way through pathway (2) and comes out from the pathal kattai.
Now everything is set, all we need to do is just wait for the fish to come onto the pathal kattai and jump over to the pot. Only during night time there will be variety of fishes will start to fall. It is important that we need to maintain silence and sit still without much of movement around area (6) & (7)
At the time of Sun raise and set, Ayirai fish will be the first catch. Followed by that we get variety of fishes like Kezuthi, Kendai, Uluvai and all sort of other Lake fishes during the whole night. We will just have to keep emptying the temporary storage fish pot all night. The next day morning we will share the fish that was caught with full of sacks that we have. What to do with such a large quantity? We cook very little from them and make the rest of it into Karuvadu (Salted Dry Fish).
When the lake water level goes down after farming, the whole village will come down for fishing using Kacha (net) and lot more other techniques handled that is countless.
For now, Let me leave you with a short clip and snaps that I have taken about unique method of catching fish by using Pathal Kattai…