When I was young, I used to go fishing at my grandfather’s pond. Because fishing can be a bit boring, I usually busied myself chasing frogs, digging up worms, and making mud pies. I would glance up occasionally, albeit hopefully and then seeing the slack line, I would shrug and continue playing.
As I grew, fishing became less and less exciting, it was no longer fun to pierce a worm over and over with a hook watching it squirm, and gutting a fish was just plain disgusting.
At Wat Opot, the kids occasionally fish with a stick, line and hook, but the quickest way to clear a pond of fish (especially large catfish) is to drain it and quickly gather them up. In theory it is a clean easy process, but in reality it is a bit more difficult and much dirtier!
The pond outside the boys dorm had some very large catfish in it that needed to be eaten or sold. The kids love to earn extra money doing random chores around the property, so once Wayne had it almost drained (the water going into another pond close by), most stripped down to their undies -or their birthday suit- and jumped right in.
Catfish like to burrow in the mud, which is one reason we drain out the water as well as use nets and baskets, but the preferred method is by hand.
Srey Moav used to be scared of live fish, but this time she jumped in with the others, although she preferred to not actually touch the fish with her bare hands.
When a fish was found, it was tossed up on the shore and someone would grab it from there and put it in a bucket. The flopping squirming thing mesmerized little Srey Nite!
Once the bucket had 2 or 3 fish in it, it was transported by Nak on his bicycle to the newly built holding tank (which makes it much easier to have fresh fish on call).
As Nak became tired from his many trips back and forth with the heavy bucket, the kids started hand carrying them. Some opted for a small fish and easily journeyed from point A to point B, such as Mr. Wey, the impossibly clean Davit and Touri (who conveniently and strategically placed his fish for a candid portrait after running with his catch).
Somnang, on the other hand, was determined to carry a fish almost as large as himself. He was doing fine until halfway there, when the fish squirmed out of his hands. He struggled to pick it up and with muscles bulging; he eventually ‘hauled’ the thing back up.
There were a few (such as myself) who chose not to partake in the fun. Mak Phan did a little hunting of his own and caught a large frog, posing like Huckleberry Fin.
You would never know that Rortana wasn't involved since she became just as dirty in the end. She wouldn't touch the fish, but preferred to have her own little shoe race on the sidelines.