Vung Tau people hunt mullet

Seeing a school of mullet swimming about 20 meters from the shore, Mr. Phan Anh Tu, holding a stone to chase them ashore, then launched a fishing net to catch more than 15 kg, selling nearly a million dong.

At noon on the first day of November, Mr. Tu, 40 years old, in shorts, and a T-shirt, picked up nearly a hundred stones bigger than an adult’s big toe, put them in a basket, put them on a 5-meter-long fishing boat, and rode a motorbike to the beach. catching mullet. When he arrived, there were dozens of people carrying fishing nets gathered at the sea embankment on Ha Long Street, voices laughing. After a brief conversation, they dispersed to their “fish fields” to work.

That day, the tide was low in the afternoon, the waves were calm, and the blue water was clear enough to see the bottom. Mr. Tu guessed that there would be much fish ashore, but for many hours after the group of fishes, it was like a test of the patience of a fisherman who has been working for nearly 20 years. “There are days when the sun burns your skin, your face is bruised and you return empty-handed. When you’re lucky, you only need one fish to make millions,” he said.

Anh Tu harvests sticky mullet
Mr. Tu is harvesting 15 kg of mullet after casting a fishing net, on the afternoon of November 4. Photo: Truong Ha

A few minutes later, the man spotted a school of mullet swimming in a blue-black stream, some of them galloping out of the water to reveal a silver belly. Mr. Tu took a fishing net, picked up a bag of ice, ran quickly to the water’s edge, and threw the rocks away with all his might to chase the fish swimming towards him. Shocked, they leapt out of the water. Once he was able to locate them, he used all his strength to create a full circle.

Mr. Tu slowly collects the fishing net so that the lead stays close to the bottom to prevent the fish from escaping and to avoid hitting the rocks below and tearing the net. After nearly 5 minutes, the fishing net was narrowed, inside the school of mullet fighting and cracking. Carrying a mackerel fish on the sand, he removed the small fish and released them into the sea. “Fuck it and eat it up, years later there’s nothing left to beat,” he said. In this net, he collected more than 15 kg of fish and sold nearly one million dongs.

Mullet with long round body, can live in brackish or salt water. They live in groups, especially during the breeding season. Mr. Le Van Son, 67 years old, is an experienced mullet hunter, said that every August, mullet pulls flocks from estuaries in Can Gio, Ho Chi Minh City, and Phu My town to Vung Tau sea. A flock of fish swim from Bai Dau towards Bai Sau beach, standing in pairs can see clearly.

Mr. Le Van Son, while sitting on the embankment of Ha Long street, observed mullet running near the shore to spread the net to catch.  Photo: Truong Ha
Mr. Le Van Son, while sitting on the embankment of Ha Long street, observed mullet running near the shore to spread the net to catch. Photo: Truong Ha

Following in his father’s footsteps forty years ago, Mr. Son said that in the past, Vung Tau’s sea was full of mullet. Every morning he only casts a fish or two and his wife has money to run the market. “People just catch big fish. Sometimes they don’t sell all of them when they win, so they have to give it to their neighbors to eat,” he said.

Later, when crowded, the fishermen divided the fishing area to avoid confusion. In order to keep the fish close to the shore, the owner of the beach put all his effort into carrying the reefs to create empty areas on his beach that look like fields. Along the nearly 8 km long coastline, there are owners. Particularly in the area of ​​Bai Truoc beach, people catch fish on a rotation.

Beach owners often place rocks on the sea embankment to announce their presence and when the stone is removed, strangers are allowed to come in and catch fish. “One day, a school of fish ran past a few dozen steps away, but they were not allowed to throw a fishing net or throw stones at them because that’s the law,” said Mr. Son.

In recent years, mullet in Vung Tau sea has become less and smaller than before. In order to exploit effectively, Mr. Son purchased a seine net nearly 100 m long. Every day, he gets up at 5am to go to the fish field to watch the water. Seeing the fish come in, he called his friend to keep one end, while he went far from the shore to let go of the net.

The woman displays the mullet that has just been caught and sold to tourists.  Photo: Truong Ha
The woman displays the mullet that has just been caught and sold to tourists. Photo: Truong Ha

After more than 10 minutes, the net was dropped to form a circle of fish. He and his fisherman quickly pulled the two ends of the net close to the water to prevent the fish from escaping. Any lucky turn, Mr. Son earns several tens of kilograms, sometimes even a kilo of fish. After selling, he divided to you two parts, the rest I enjoy. Sometimes the net is not having any children, he sends you a few tens of thousands of coffee and gasoline to stick together for a long time. At the end of the fishing season, Mr. Son went fishing or stayed at home to help his wife with errands.

Along the coast of Vung Tau, there are more than 50 people catching mullet. Fish after being caught by people are sold on the spot to tourists and local acquaintances for 50,000-150,000 VND depending on the size. Fish is processed into grilled, fried, braised sauerkraut or steamed with raw vegetables and rice paper.