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Patterns of Fishing

Popularity 1Viewed 877 times 2015-3-21 23:03 |Personal category:On Everyday Life|System category:Life| fishing, net, basket, line

Patterns of Fishing


Shao-xiong Zhang


       In the Chinese context, there are many different expressions about fishing instead of one broad term “fishing” as there are many different tools and methods of fishing.

       Chinese people can employ many verb-object collocations to define the methods and the tools of fishing. In such collocations, the most frequent object is the general noun yu (fish), and there are more than ten popular verbs to go before the noun.

       The methods and the tools fall into many categories, making many patterns of fishing, the most popular of which are net fishing, basket fishing, and line fishing.

        Net fishing, fishing with a net or a net complex, is popular in water areas or waterside areas. There are nets of different shapes and sizes for different uses: covering nets, thrown to capture scattered fish; trapping nets, placed to capture grouped fish; and besieging nets, drawn to capture great masses of fish. If people go net fishing, they will say they go to da yu or pu yu, and these two verbs both mean capture with a net or a net complex or a series of nets.

        Basket fishing, that is, fishing with a basket or a series of baskets, is popular in inland areas with ponds, reservoirs and lakes. Again there are baskets of different shapes and sizes for different uses: small baskets with small holes to catch small fishes, in the sense, not of age, but of kinds and species; big baskets with big holes to catch big fishes. The baskets trap fish with one-way or no-return doors made of flexible plates. Most people make baskets and basket doors with bamboo plates, but plastic ones are sometimes found in modern times. When people go basket fishing, they will say they go to shi yu or zhuo yu, and shi or zhuo mean arrest with a basket or a series of baskets.

       Line fishing is, to and for most people, fishing with a line, a hook and a rod. To the fishing set, the line is the only necessary part; the hook, the rod and the bobber are the primary auxiliaries; and all the others are the secondary auxiliaries. Some people go fishing with the simplest set, composed of the line alone, with the bait tied to the line; some people, with the regular set, of the line, the hook, the rod, and the bobber, with the bait fastened to the hook; and some people, with the complicated set, of many primary and secondary auxiliaries. People who like complicated sets are always hard working, not with the fish, but with the heavy load of tools which they carry to and back from the place where they go fishing. People say they go to diao yu if they go line fishing, and diao means catch with the line. And there are many Chinese idioms concerning line fishing: “set a long line, and catch a big fish”, meaning that a long-term objective is more important than an immediate one; “the willing will take hook without bait”, meaning that there will be volunteers to do something planned or expected.

       Net fishing is primarily a pattern of fishing for professional fishermen, and without enough professional training, no one can manage the fishing net. Beginners of covering nets may easily throw themselves into the water when they try to throw the net. As diligence is necessary for all professions, Chinese people have a popular metaphor to refer to laziness and idleness: “Of three days for net fishing, they spend two days on drying the nets.”

       Basket fishing is, in most cases, a pattern of fishing for amateur fishermen. People usually place the fishing baskets in ponds, reservoirs and lakes in the evening, and take them back in the next morning, together with the fish caught in them, if any. In order to keep the baskets under control, they connect the baskets with long ropes to something steady on the bank. Seeing the fish caught, some people are so happy that they take the fish out and let go the basket. Hence, there is a popular metaphor to describe unexpected happiness: “get the fish, but forget the basket.”

      Line fishing, in most cases, is a leisure entertainment or a self-improving exercise. Many people go line fishing, not for the sake of fish, but for the sake of amusement or retirement or tranquility. To keep undisturbed, some people cast the line and the hook into the water, without any bait on the hook.

      In Analects, the book which records what Confucius said and did, there is a sentence: “The Master goes fishing, with the line, never with the net.” The sentence introduces a principle of fishing, and all of the true Confucians follow the principle.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Comment Comment (2 comments)

Reply Report voice_cd 2015-3-23 10:16
Thanks for sharing your opinion here. We have highlighted your blog.
Reply Report zhangshaoxiong 2015-4-6 11:46
Thank you, voice-cd.

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