China travel

Published on October 21st, 2011 | by Paz


Cormorant Fishing in China

Choke a bird, get some fish!

Cormorant fishing is a fishing method used in Southeast China, we were able to witness it first hand. This was  the best excursion and almost the cheapest of our visit to Yangshuo. Funny thing is we had actually watched a video on cormorant fishing from our living room in Wisconsin almost one year ago. Who knew we would get the opportunity to do it. In Guilin, China, cormorant birds are famous for fishing on the shallow Lijiang River.

Cormorant fishing has been around since 970 AD. so cool that we were able to participate in an activity over a thousand years old. Nothing has changed since then either. Crazy! For malta holidays you can check them out here.

The fishermen go out on their bamboo raft with basket and birds in hand.

Then birds do this amazing dive into the water to get their fish. 

There is a string attached to one of their legs so that the fisherman can scoop them out of the water with his pole.

There is a string around the birds throat so that it prohibits them to open their throat very big. Allowing smaller fish to be swallowed. The larger fish on the other hand cannot get through and the fisherman pushes the larger fish out of the birds throat and them and into his basket. Interesting isn’t it.

What I find even more interesting is why these birds stay?! I am not sure and wasn’t able to ask.


I love this picture because it represents why we are living abroad. The kids loved watching the birds catch the fish and then the fisherman retrieve their catch. A learning experience for us all. 

Here is what 6 birds will get you these days. I can only imagine that in 970 AD there were much more fish and they were probably a bit bigger too. Not bad though.

Here we are getting friendly with the fisherman and his birds!

I don’t know if I like the picture or the fisherman’s expression better. lol




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About the Author

Paz is an avid adventurer in life and food. Traveling across the globe with her family they enjoy cultural immersion and checking out the local eateries.

7 Responses to Cormorant Fishing in China

  1. roy says:

    zeek stylin a groovy hat, you rock it dude!!

  2. That is simply unbelievable, I have never heard of anything like that. I wonder how they train the birds not to swallow the fish as soon as they get it into their mouths. You would think as soon as the fisherman takes it from him the first time they would be all about eating it as fast as they can the next time. Very interesting post!

    • Paz says:

      Yes it was crazy! The fishermen put a thread around their necks so that they can’t swallow anything really big. The larger fish actually get stuck and then they push the fish out of their mouths. I don’t get why they stay with the fisherman. Thanks for reading! Take Care, Paz

  3. Angela White says:

    Fun you got to see this in person. Paul and I watched a program on this once. Pretty smart way to catch fish!

  4. Louise says:

    It saddens me to know that man will continue to exploit animals as long as their are tourists with money. You wonder what keeps the bird there? Might have something to do with the rope around it’s leg!

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    We are a family of four: dad, mom, sister, brother, who decided to leave our job, home, and community to live life in China. After a year abroad we decided to become permanent nomads. We road school our children and try to enjoy every minute.

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