Jul 07

Desert Fishing

by in Africa, Kenya

Most people think you can’t fish in the middle of the desert in Kenya. You can, of course. Just not for fish.

The first type of fishing we were introduced to was fishing for scorpions. To do this you took a long stick, preferably alive as they eat alive things, and chew on one end. When it is sufficiently wet with your spit you roll it around in sand and dirt until it is black. You then stick it down a scorpion hole. You can tell which hole is a scorpion hole by looking at the shape. The holes are long flat rectangles and slant down gradually like a ramp.


When the stick is in the hole you poke it around until you’ve capture the scorpion’s attention.  It will clamp on the stick and then you must play tug of war, very slowly dragging it out. You should be blocking the sun with your body, meanwhile, so it will think that it is night. When the little guy (and sometimes big guy) is close enough, shift to the side and fling it out, provided the spectators are far away. Occasionally it will not work, but that’s alright. There are thousands of holes all over. Did you know the bigger the scorpion the less deadly?

Another thing we fished for is ant lions. This was my least favorite as it was very hard and kind of mean. Not to the ant lion, but to the ant. You see, the ant is the bait. You take a medium sized and throw it in the hole. The ant lion will immediately surface. It looks like a big tick except it is grey, it also looks like it has many eyes but I am not sure that is so. All in all, it is the insect version of a platypus, in the sense that it looks like it is made up of many different creatures. Anyway, it will throw sand on the ant when it tries to escape. Let me explain. The hole is like an upside down volcano, with the ant lion instead of lava. The walls are designed to look stable but in reality are super slippery and will crumble the second the ant tries to escape. It will then enjoy a succulent meal. You have to wait until it finishes feeding, and then right when it is about to go under put your stick underneath it. Slowly drag upwards until he is out of the dune. Place him in your hand or on a leaf, Voila!  Did you know ant lions can only walk backwards?

Lastly, we fished for baboon spiders. Baboon spiders are huge and hairy, not totally unlike a tarantula. They have huge gross fangs like a baboon which is where they get their names. They are highly venomous and super mean. The fishing pole is the same as the scorpions but a bit longer. It is a bit easier to fish for baboon spiders because the bottom of their chest is upper sticky. Also like the scorpion they eat grasses so the spider instantly latched on when it came out, and we were done looking at it. It refused to go back in. It was evidently really hungry and I felt a little bad before it started snapping and spitting at us. After a lot of poking, prodding, and push it finally went back into the hole. I studied its home. Of all the holes this one looked the most like a nest, with twigs arranged in a neat circle. It was hard to imagine such an ugly creature making something so pretty, but isn’t that the whole book cover lesson? Did you know that wasps sometimes attack baboon spiders?

Overall, we got a pretty nice haul.


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