Cormorant Fishing – traditional fishing practice on the Li River
Last Update: 4th October 2020
What is Cormorant Fishing?
With a history of more than 1,000 years, Cormorant fishing had played an important role in local life for hundreds of years in Yangshuo and Guilin. But nowadays, just a few of fishermen in Yangshuo still use the very traditional way to catch fishes.
Cormorant Fishing Fast Facts
- Chinese Name: Yuying Buyu (鱼鹰捕鱼)
- History: more than 1,000 years
- Things to do there: Photography, Culture
- Who visits: Photographers, Culture Lovers
- Time required: 0.5 hour
What to expect from Cormorant Fishing?
Cormorants are good at diving and catching fishes in the water by using the long and hooked mouth. Local fishermen usually tie ropes around the neck of the bird. They drive the bamboo raft to the area where they plan to put the cormorants down into the water. Before letting the cormorants catch fishes, they train them to understand their own instructions. They use a special language to order the cormorants to dive into the water. They develop deep relationships with the cormorants.
The fishermen shake the bamboo raft with legs and a bamboo pole when they arrive at the fishing point. In order to make the cormorants catch fishes more actively, the fishermen usually don’t feed them on fishes for one or two days before fishing. One of the legs of the cormorants is tied by a long rope. When the hungry cormorants see fishes in the water, they’ll swim to catch them in a very fast pace. In a while, the cormorants swim up to the surface and the fishermen catch their neck to make the fishes out. As the neck of the cormorants is tied by a rope, they can’t be able to swallow the fishes. All the fishes are in the long neck. Again and again, the cormorants and the fishermen cooperate with each other during the procedure of fishing. After that, the fishermen always reward the cormorants with relatively smaller fishes. The fishermen also let the cormorants take a rest in the two days after fishing to refresh them.
Nowadays, cormorant fishing appears on the Li River in Xingping Old Town and Yulong River Basin. If you’d like to appreciate the cormorant fishing for photography purposes, it is suggested that you book the cormorant fishing with the local fishermen in advance. The background of 20 RMB note, Reflection of Yellow Cloth across the Li River at Xingping Pier is a good point for the Li River sunset and the cormorant fishing. In the evening, the traditional lights on the bamboo raft make the cormorant fishing more attractive. If interested, you can take photos with the bamboo pillar where the cormorants stand on together.
Best time to enjoy Cormorant Fishing?
If you’d like to enjoy cormorant fishing for photography purposes, the best time is at sunset.
The best months to enjoy are from April to October..
How to get to the Cormorant Fishing area?
If you are planning to enjoy the cormorant fishing at Xingping Pier, you can take a direct bus from Yangsho to Xingping Old Town. Then, walk to the Xingping Pier.
Additional Cormorant Fishing Advice
- If the water level in the Li River or the Yulong River is too high, the cormorant fishing will be unavailable.
- Please book the cormorant fishing demonstration in advance.